Baker Academic

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Le Donne and the Son of David--Chris Keith

I'm currently in the midst of finishing revisions on my inaugural lecture, "Social Memory Theory and the Gospels: The First Decade," to be given here at St Mary's in October.  It provides an assessment of social memory theory applications to the Gospels in the past ten years and, yes, of necessity will engage with recent criticisms that I regard as not wholly out of line but seriously misrepresentative of the breadth of the discussion.  I hope this essay will display just how many different applications the theory has already spawned.

Regardless, the writing of this (two-part) essay has provided me the opportunity to reconsider Anthony's  tree-hugger manifesto The Historiographical Jesus: Memory, Typology, and the Son of David (Baylor, 2009).  Anthony is rightly praised for the methodological contribution that this volume makes.  It was at the time the fullest application of memory studies to Jesus studies.  Furthermore, it did not rely solely on memory studies to make its contribution, but rather situated memory studies against a larger hermeneutical backdrop that included discussions of critical realism, Bultmann, Schleiermacher, and the whole kit and kaboodle. 

Unfortunately, though, I don't think Anthony has received proper due for just how groundbreaking the second half of the book is.  To my knowlege, it is the fullest discussion of the Davidssohnfrage.  Anthony argues convincingly that "Son of David," although a Davidic term generally, was more importantly a Solomonic term specifically.  He tracks the reception-history of this typological category and thus provides an excellent discussion of how Mark and Matthew, in their own ways, appropriated the category for Jesus.  It's an excellent demonstration of the methodological principles of the first section of the book in a concrete example--the Gospel authors were influenced simultaneously by their presents and their inherited pasts.

Since I've elsewhere in print criticized aspects of this book, I hope that readers of this blog will take my commendation of these aspects of the study seriously.  Anthony's contribution to scholarly discussion of Jesus as "Son of David" is just as pioneering as his memory research, even if the latter gets all the attention and pitchforks.


  1. Happily surprised to wake up to this! Thank you Chris.


  2. In related news, I'm now working on my entry for "Son of David" in the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Theology.