Readings

First Testament:      Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17

Psalm:                    Psalm 23:1-2, 2-3, 5-6 (1)

Epistle:                   1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28

Gospel:                   Matthew 25:31-46

 

Commentary

This is the annual Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King.  The lesson is that Christ is King, even over death.  This is not just some abstract point of view.  Catholic funerals stress the notion of everlasting life, that Christ has conquered death.  The fact is that the dearly departed, in either a casket or a crematorium, has a resurrected life with Jesus.  Death changes, but does not take away life.  This change in relationship happens not only to the one suffering physical death, but also to those touching that life before death.

 

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Annotated Bibliography

Material above the double line draws from material below the double line.  Those uninterested in scholarly and tangential details should stop reading here.  If they do, however, they may miss some interesting scholarly details.

 

Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17

Ezek 34:1-31

Adrian M. Leske, review of Clay Alan Ham, The Coming King and the Rejected Shepherd: Matthew’s Reading of Zechariah’s Messianic Hope[1]

Leske disagrees with Ham that the covenant refers to King David.  Ezekiel 34:1-31 in the context of Deutero-Isaiah transfers the covenant to the Faithful, which seems to be the sense of the Lectionary verses.

 


Psalm 23:1-2, 2-3, 5-6 (1)

The 23rd Psalm is available online in the Codex Sinaiticus.[2]  I am able to read the typeset Greek but not the photocopy of the original manuscript.  I am thrilled to have gotten this far.  Perhaps I will be able to understand the photocopy later.  At least I have the Greek version, the Septuagint, of some parts of the First Testament.  Prior to this, I had no access to that Greek.

 

Psalm 23

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, United States Catholic Catechism for Adults[3]

The Bishops use Psalm 23 in Chapter 19, Anointing the Sick and the Dying [sic] in a Meditation section, titled Good Shepherd Psalm.

 

Psalm 23:5

Margaret Barker, The Great High Priest: The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy[4]

On the basis of the 23rd Psalm, Barker reasons “the belief that the ruler in Israel would come forth from the House of bread …”  In the verse, you spread the table before me, the me, Barker asserts, is “beyond doubt the Davidic king with the lion of Judah (Gen. 49:9; Rev. 5:5) and the table prepared for him (Ps. 23:5).”

 

1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28

The original manuscripts offer special difficulty in verse 28. I will try to note the difficultly in the various translations.

 

Lectionary (1998)                         … then the Son himself will also be subjected …

The Vulgate (circa 410)                … tunc ipse Filius subiectus erit illi …

Douay-Rheims (1582-1610)          … then the Son also himself shall also be subject …

King James (1611)                       … then shall the Son also himself be subject …

Catholic RSV (1969)                    … then the Son himself will also be subjected …

New American (NAB) (1970)         … then the Son himself will (also) be subjected …

New Jerusalem (1985)                 … then the Son himself will be subjected …

 

The word also is apparently missing from some Greek manuscripts.  More importantly, the son is also missing from some manuscripts.  In the eclectic Greek, son would always be in the lower case, but in English, Son would be capitalized.  Even if the Son is omitted, the sense of the verse requires the Son.  The Alands point out that difficult verses, such as these, are important for understanding the total meaning of what is present.  Grappling with such differences can offer valuable insights.  I leave that to the scholars.

 

1 Cor 15:1-58

Duane F. Watson, review of John Paul Heil, The Rhetorical Role of Scripture in 1 Corinthians[5]

Heil subdivides 1 Corinthians into six rhetorical demonstrations, one of which is 15:1-58.  Heil argues that Paul saw all segments of the First Testament as interrelated.  As Watson puts it, “Each quotation and reference speaks with the authority of the whole.”  Watson thinks highly of Heil, even if “… the rhetorical analysis is often limited …”

 

1 Cor 15:1-47

David J. Downs, "`Early Catholicism’ and Apocalypticism in the Pastoral Epistles”[6]

Downs argues that Pastoral Epistles are written with “the dynamic eschatological tension between the already and the not yet found in the authentic letters of Paul (1 Cor 15:1-47; Phil 3:20-21) …”

 

1 Cor 15:20-23, 25

Frank J. Matera, "Christ in the Theologies of Paul and John: A Study in the Diverse Unity of New Testament Theology"[7]

Matera writes, “… Paul identifies Christ as the aparche (“first fruits”) of a greater harvest (1 Cor 15:20, 23).”  That helps to account for why the Josephite magazine is entitled The Harvest.  The Josephite apostolate is to African Americans.

 


1 Cor 15:20-23

Jean-Francois Racine, review of Larry W. Hurtado, The Earliest Christian Artifacts: Manuscripts and Christian Origins[8]

Hurtado argues that the abbreviation for the name of Jesus, IH, with a horizontal bar above it, would have a numeric value of 18.  I do not understand how one might get from IH with a horizontal bar to XVIII for 18.  Racine observes, “Unfortunately, he [Hurtado] does not provide evidence of a correlation between the name of Jesus and the Hebrew world for `life,’ so there is no way to validate his suggestion” that from 1 Corinthians 15:20-23, “Jesus could be thought of as the embodiment of resurrection life, even the life-giving Lord …”

 

1 Cor 15:20-22

Bernardin Schneider, O.F.M., "The Corporate Meaning and Background of 1 Cor 15,45b—`O Eschatos Adam eis Pneuma Zoiopoioun"[9]

Schneider explains, “In vv. 20-22 Paul lays the foundation for a clear understanding of the doctrine of the resurrection by appealing to the idea of the totality or corporate nature of the human race.”

 

1 Cor 15:10-15, 19-25

Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism, 2nd ed., Erroll F. Rhodes, tr.[10]

The Universiteits Bibliothek in Amsterdam has a Fourth/Fifth Century manuscript with these verses.

 

1 Cor 15:12-28

Ronald D. Witherup, S.S., review of Michael F. Hull, Baptism on Account of the Dead (1 Cor 15:29): An Act of Faith in the Resurrection[11]

Witherup cites 1 Corinthians 15:29 as crucial to understanding the Pauline letters.  The Lectionary uses the verses before and after on various Sundays, but not verse 29.  Verse 29 is: ”otherwise, what are people up to who have themselves baptized on behalf of the dead?  If the dead are not raised at all, what is the point of being baptized on their behalf?”

According to Witherup, “The upshot of the argument [that Hull makes] is that Paul sees the rite of baptism as a strong affirmation of the Christian belief in the resurrection of the dead, and he [Paul] uses himself as a model.  In other words, ordinary baptism `on account of the dead’ means that one undergoes the rite as testimony to the fact that the dead are ultimately destined to new life by means of the resurrection, just as Christ himself was raised.”  This relationship is well borne out at the funeral services before Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Newport News, Virginia.

 

1 Cor 15:23

Kenneth Schenck, "2 Corinthians and the PistiV Cristou Debate"[12]

Schenck argues that faith in the resurrection of Christ leads directly to faith in the resurrection of Paul and the rest of the Faithful.

 

1 Cor 15:28

Margaret Barker, The Great High Priest: The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy[13]

Barker explains that Paul “summarized the Christians’ future hope: after the time of the Kingdom `then shall the Son also be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God maybe all in all’ (1 Cor 15:28).”

 

1 Cor 15:28

Khaled Anatolios, "Oppositional Pairs and Christological Synthesis: Rereading Augustine's De Trinitate"[14]

Anatolios explains, “While the [anti-Nicene] homoians took this text [1 Corinthians 15:28] as proof that the Son is ultimately subordinate to the Father, Augustine [354-430] interpreted it christologically as referring to the two stages of the reign of God,” which is how I understand it.

 

1 Cor 15:28

Germain Grisez, "The True Ultimate End of Human Beings: The Kingdom, Not God Alone"[15]

After referring to 1 Corinthians 15:28, Grisez concludes his article,

 

Therefore, while the created goods that pertain to fulfillment in the kingdom are and always will remain distinct from their creator, those goods will not be things apart from God, and it seems to me reasonable to suppose that blessed creatures’ joy in created goods will somehow be within, although distinct from, their joyful intimacy with the divine Persons.

 

Mark 11:9, 10

 

Matthew 25:31-46

The original manuscripts offer special difficulty in verse 41.  I will try to note the difficultly in the various translations.

 

Lectionary (1998)                         … into the eternal fire prepared for the devil …

 

The Vulgate (circa 410)                … in ignem aeternum, qui praeparatus est Diabolo …

 

Douay-Rheims (1582-1610)          … into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil …

 

King James (1611)                       … into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil …

 

Catholic RSV (1969)                    … into the eternal fire prepared for the devil …

 

New American (NAB) (1970)         … into the eternal fire prepared for the devil …

 

New Jerusalem (1985)                 … to the eternal fire prepared for the devil …

 

Prepared is the key word. Some manuscripts use a different tense, which I do not understand.  Some manuscripts also have prepared by my father.  Prepared carries the sense of get ready.  Some of the translations above have the fire.  The Greek does have the.  It would be interesting to see a scholar get at this.  Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar, passes it by.

 

Matt 25:31-46

Kenton L. Sparks, "Gospel as Conquest: Mosaic Typology in Matthew 28:16-20"[16]

The problem is between the “… difficult tension between the Mosaic command to kill the Gentiles and the messianic command to love them.”  The Lectionary reading places both Jews and Gentiles under the judgment of the returning Messiah.

 


Matt 25:31-46

Daniel W. Ulrich, “The Missional Audience of the Gospel of Matthew”[17]

Ulrich writes, “The Gospel’s sectarian polemics provide clear evidence that the author did not expect Matthean missionaries to be welcomed by all Jews” or all Christians.  The missional audience of Matthew would not necessarily be hospitable.

 

Matt 25:31-46

Jeffrey A. Gibbs, review of Alistair I. Wilson, When Will These Things Happen? A Study of Jesus as Judge in Matthew 21‑‑25[18]

Gibbs writes, “Wilson also succeeds in linking Matthew’s `Jesus as Judge’ to both the prophetic and the wisdom traditions in Hebrew Scriptures and (to a lesser degree) Second Temple works.”

 

Matt 25:31-46

Irene Nowell, O.S.B., Jesus' Great-Grandmothers: Matthew's Four and More"[19]

Nowell uses Matthew 25:31-36 as a sign of direction for “where are Jesus’ great-grandmothers today?”  Grandmothers is a metaphor for those women caught in such realities as human trafficking.

 

Matt 25:31-46

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, United States Catholic Catechism for Adults[20]

The Bishops use Mt 25:31-32 in Chapter 13, “Our Eternal Destiny,” which has a “Christian Funerals” section.

The Bishops use Mt 25:36, (I was) ill and you cared for me as a prayer in Chapter 19, “Anointing the Sick and the Dying [sic].

The Bishops use Mt 25:31-46 in Chapter 31, “Seventh Commandment: Do Not Steal—Act Justly.”  They almost come out in favor of liberation theology, when they write, “our tradition … instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.”  Liberation theology is not in the index.

 


Matt 25:31

Margaret Barker, The Great High Priest: The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy[21]

Barker notices the angels and writes, “The convention of the apocalyptic writings is to describe mortals as animals and angels as `men,’ familiar in the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matt 2:31 ff.) …”

 

Mat 25:31

Annette Yoshiko Reed, review of Daniel C. Olson in consultation with Melkesedek Workeneh, Enoch: A New Translation: The Ethiopic Book of Enoch, or 1 Enoch, Translated with Annotations and Cross-References[22]

A reflection by the reviewer, Reed, helps explain the frequency of multiple translations here, in Personal Notes.  “Although Nickelsburg and VanderKam’s excellent translation has been lauded as authoritative, the textual issues surrounding 1 Enoch are complex enough that the use of multiple translations remains advisable.”

 

Matt 25:32

Mark F. Whitters, "Jesus in the Footsteps of Jeremiah"[23]

Whitters points to and all the nations will be assembled before him to point through Jesus to Jeremiah to the nations (see Jeremiah 1:5).

 

Matt 25:34

Dino Dozzi, "`Thus Says the Lord' The Gospel in the Writings of Saint Francis" [24]

Francis sings, “”Come, you blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world” (Mt 25:34) …”  The Greek word for prepared at verse 34 is the same type of participle as in verse 41.  The difference is that prepared modifies fire in verse 41 and kingdom in verse 34.  The apparatus shows no differences among manuscripts for verse 34.  The parallel construction may account for why the scholars have settled on the words they have.

 


Matt 2:40

Christopher Pramuk, “`Strange Fruit’: Black Suffering/White Revelation”[25]

Pramuk writes, “the cross of Christ casts an accusing shadow over every center of White power in America.”  Pramuk goes on, “… the Christian community … know[s] it because they have been formed by Christ to accept in reality the oneness of humanity: `Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me’ (Matt 25:40).”  The Christian community extends from life in this world to life in the next.

 

Matt 25:41

Karl A. Kuhn, “The `One like a Son of Man’ Becomes the `Son of God’”[26]

Matthew 25:41 is a passage Kuhn uses to argue that the `One like a Son of Man’ becomes the Son of God,’” by subjecting evil powers.

 



[1] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 1 (January 2006) 145.

 

[3] Washington, D.C.: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2006, 258-259.

 

[4] London: T & T Clark International: A Continuum imprint, 2003, 90, 243.

 

[5] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 69, No. 2 (July 2007) 357.

 

[6] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 67, No. 4 (July 2005) 659.

 

[7] Theological Studies, Vol. 67, No. 2 (June 2006) 245-246.

 

[8] Theological Studies, Vol. 68, No. 4 (December 2007) 925.

 

[9]  the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 3 (July 1967) 145 ff. as found at http://63.136.1.22/pls/eli/ashow?ishid=n0008-7912_029_03&lcookie=2792486&npage=450-467, 145.  070115.

 

[10] Grand Rapids, Michigan, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989, 127.

 

[11] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 69, No. 1 (July 2007) 151-152.

 

[12] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 70, No. 3 (July 2008) 529.

 

[13] London: T & T Clark International: A Continuum imprint, 2003, 157.

 

[14] Theological Studies, Vol. 68, No. 2 (June 2007) 238.

 

[15] Theological Studies, Vol. 69, No. 1 (March 2008) 61.

 

[16] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 4 (July 2006) 655, 657.

 

[17] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 69, No. 1 (July 2007) 78, 79, 80.

 

[18] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 69, No. 3 (July 2007) 603-604.

 

[19] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 70, No. 1 (July 2008) 13.

 

[20] Washington, D.C.: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2006, 156-157, 160, 259, 423.

 

[21] London: T & T Clark International: A Continuum imprint, 2003, 126.

 

[22] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 69, No. 3 (July 2007) 556.

 

[23] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 2 (July 2006) 231, 246.

 

[24] Greyfriars Review, Vol. 18, Supplement (2004) 93.

 

[25] Theological Studies, Vol. 67, No. 2 (June 2006), 365, 367.

 

[26] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 69, No. 1 (July 2007) 33.