Here's the first paragraph of my approved research proposal:
My thesis will argue that Matthew 2:15-22 was originally recognized as a historically contextualized narrative, evoking audience memory of the recent Judean past - specifically, the brief window of time during which Archelaus functioned as presumptive King of both Judea and Galilee. Recognizing this context enables an “historical” reading of the text which employs dramatic irony, as follows. The writer of Matthew sets Jesus’ return from Egypt during an infamous political transition, using proximity of travel and continuity of story time to evoke Archelaus’ catastrophic and “frightening” debut as presumptive king (Antiq.17.194-218). A year from ‘now’ Augustus will have split Herod’s kingdom, demoting Archelaus to a regional ethnarch and upgrading Antipas’ Galilee from subordinate to independent tetrarchy (deliberately controverting Herod’s will; Antiq.17.189,317-20; Cf. Mary Smallwood, Harold Hoehner, Arnaldo Momigliano; contra Emil Schürer). Knowing this ‘future’ imbues Matt.2:22 with dramatic irony because an Archelaus “reigning in Judea” and “replacing his father” has not yet sailed for Italy to stand before Caesar, but God and the audience possess foreknowledge about Joseph's near future. Soon, Archelaus will lose control over the “district” of Galilee, but Joseph must trust and obey God’s instructions right now, without knowing at how God will provide safety. From a critical perspective, this thesis attempts to reconstruct the original reception of a first century Jewish audience, who would have imaginatively integrated the story world of Matthew’s narrative into the remembered world of Judea’s recent past. Whether or not this contextualization of Matthew’s discourse in any way reflects real events from the actual past is a separate question, but this “historical” reading potentially offers multiple insights which might help direct historiographical inquiries and other future research.For their many years of encouragement, I especially want to thank all of the biblioblogging and facebooking scholars who've tutored me freely online since 2008. When my thesis is finished, its awesomeness will be due to your generosity. Thanks so much! This one's for you...
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