Joseph's Dilemma: "Honor Killing" in the Birth Narrative of Matthew
Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2009. Pp. 104
Paperback. $13.00 ISBN 1556358253.
On the Special Laws, 3.11, 31, 52–53, 58, 72–73; Hypothetica 7.1; On Joseph, 43–44; and the Mishnah: Sanhedrin 7.9; 9.1; pp.51-52). Marohl concludes the chapter by investigating how the OT prophets utilized the metaphors of adultery and honor killing to speak of Israel's waywardness (e.g. Hos 2:2-3; Ezekiel 16:35-43; pp.52-53), and how early Christian interpretations support the author's reading of Matt 1.19 (e.g. Protevangelium of James 13:1-14:8; Patrologiae Cursus Completus, 56:633; Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew 4.7; pp.53-60).
Mary and her unborn child face expected death, the author of Matthew tells
another story of violence and murder. The story is dramatic and continues
to capture the imaginations of all who hear the account. It is easy to imagine
Herod’s men searching for and killing all male infants. The story makes
clear that this is a moment of expected death. However, just as an angel of
the Lord visited Joseph in the midst of his dilemma, again an angel of the
Lord visits Joseph in the midst of Herod’s violent plan. Just as Mary and her
unborn child were granted unexpected new life, Jesus is again spared and
new life prevails (66).
death, they will experience a surprising, unexpected new life in him"(68). Also, Jesus' teaching via use of the parabolic method is also explored as the author points to the example of the "Parable of the Lost Sheep" (18:12-20), noting that "in this parable, there is great rejoicing when the expected loss, the expected death, of one sheep turns into the unexpected discovery, the unexpected new life, of the animal"(69). Marohl also sees this theme in Jesus' commissioning of the disciples in 10:5-15. They too, are expected to bring "unexpected new life to those expecting and experiencing death"(69). Finally, a discussion about Jesus' death and resurrection (Matt 26-28; 69-71) rounds the discussion out as the author astutely concludes:
The birth of Jesus and his death and resurrection make perfect “bookends”
for the theme of new life. It is expected that Jesus will be killed while
still in the womb. As Joseph agonizes over his dilemma, he is visited by an
angel of the Lord. From this situation of expected death comes unexpected
new life. The theme weaves throughout the ministry of Jesus. Both literally
and metaphorically, new life emerges from death in the deeds and words
of Jesus. Again at the end of the story, unexpected new life triumphs over
death, even death on a cross (70-71).