Jesus the Meek King

Article excerpt

Jesus the Meek King. By Deidre J.Good. Harrisburg, Pa.: trinity Press International. 1999. xii + 131 pp. $16.00 (paper)

Jesus the Meek King by Deirdre Good makes a unique contribution to the study of Jesus, particularly in the Gospel of Matthew. Its focus is the quality of meekness, but in particular as a characteristic of Hellenistic kingship. Linguistic and cultural analyses are woven together to enable Good to paint a picture of Jesus, the praus king, and of meekness as a practice which is to characterise the Jesus community.

The study opens with a focus on "words" and "dictionaries" but expands to include the semantic domain of the word praus, which elicits "contrasting as well as shared meanings" (p. 17). These are tested within the value system constructed by the Matthean gospel and located within an exploration of the broader cultural context of the emerging Christian communities in which love of the adelphoi [philanthropic) is named a foundational virtue.

These introductory chapters prepare the ground for chapter 3, as the pivotal point of this study. It constructs, by way of an analysis of key Classical and Hellenistic texts, the concept of the "ideal king." One significant royal virtue was philanthropic, especially in relation to one's own subjects, but the praus king would be gracious and compassionate toward his enemies even in times of conflict. Good demonstrates how such virtues could temper the more competitive ones by way of a study of Plutarch's depiction of Alexander and other texts.

It is against this interwoven linguistic and socio-cultural background that Good is able to undertake her study of Matt. 11:29-30 and 21:4-5, interpreting Jesus as a praus king and in particular, linking kingship with virtue. …