Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

"All things under his feet": Psalm 8 in the New Testament and in other Jewish literature of late antiquity
by Kinzer, Mark Stephen, Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1995, 310; 9542876
Abstract (Summary)

Ps 8 is a prominent Christological text in the New Testament. It is quoted three times (1 Cor 15:27, Heb 2:6-8, Matt 21:16), clearly alluded to three times (Phil 3:21, Eph 1:22, 1 Pet 3:22), and may be echoed in other places as well (e.g., Rom 8:20-21, Phil 2:6-11, Mark 12:36). Ps 8:7b ("You have placed all things under his feet") is often combined with Ps 110:1, and is seen as expressing the victory and dominion of the Messiah over the angelic powers. This Christological appropriation of Ps 8 is strange, for the psalm seems to be speaking about human beings in general and their authority over the animals. In Jewish literature apart from the New Testament there is no evidence that the psalm was ever understood to refer to the Messiah.

How did this psalm first come to be seen by Christians as a messianic text? The most common view today is that Ps 8 first entered the orbit of Christological reflection through the similarity of vs 7b to Ps 110:a; the latter psalm was more obviously messianic in nature, and was one of the earliest and most important Christological texts in use among the first Christians.

It is the contention of this dissertation that such an explanation is simplistic and pays too little regard both to the use of Ps 8 in Jewish literature and to the way it is actually applied in the New Testament. Through an analysis of rabbinic, pseudepigraphic, Samaritan, and Gnostic texts we seek to demonstrate that Ps 8 was already understood in many first-century Jewish circles to speak of an individual (e.g., Adam, Enoch, Abraham, Moses) and his exaltation above the angels. The New Testament appropriation of the psalm was thus based on a pre-existing exegetical tradition. Though the similarity of vs 7b to Ps 110:1 may have facilitated the New Testament's Christological reading of Ps 8, the primary impulse came from this pre-existing exegetical tradition.

As a result of this new explanation, we can better appreciate how the relevant New Testament texts present Jesus as a new Adam, who is greater than Enoch and Moses.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Fossum, Jarl
School: University of Michigan
School Location: United States -- Michigan
Source: DAI-A 56/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Biblical studies, Theology
Keywords: Christology, Psalms
Publication Number: 9542876
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