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The Soldiers’ Inscription and the Angel’s Word

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The Significance of “Jesus” in Matthew’s Titulus

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Abstract This article defends the rarely encountered suggestion that Matthew’s insertion of “Jesus” in the titulus (27:37) recalls the word of the Angel to Joseph: “You will call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (1:21). The reading has precedent in the work of John Gill but is altogether absent from Matthew commentaries and mentioned only in passing in a select few exegetical studies. The structure of Matthew’s gospel, components of his form and style, the narrative shape of his crucifixion scene, and his attempt to associate the death of Jesus with the forgiveness of sins, all suggest that “Jesus” on the titulus is more significant than hitherto realized. Like the fulfillment of Scripture in the casting of lots and the words of mockery from the passersby, the inscription unwittingly witnesses to Jesus as the Savior of his people.

Affiliations: 1: Pittsburgh, PA


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