Does Matthew Teach a “Divine Christology”? (Gupta)

LuzWe are still working our way through the Gospels in the NT Christology course that I am teaching this term. As I was researching for the lecture this week, especially on the question of the nature of Matthew’s Christology, I was struck by and impressed with this comment from Ulrich Luz:

Matthew advocates a Christology ‘from above’, but not in the sense later espoused by the Old Church. It is not his primary intent to define the figure of Jesus as one thing or another, for example, God. What he does say, however, is that in the story of the man Jesus, God acts. In other words, his Christoogy from above is conceived from a narrative standpoint. But it remains a Christology from above in the sense that the Christological tenets most essential to the Gospel of Matthew do not revert to biblical statements about some divine emissary, such as a prophet or the royal messiah, but to God himself. For Matthew, the story of Jesus has theological significance. For him, Jesus is the occurrence of God. (32, The Theology of the Gospel of Matthew).

I think this kind of nuanced statement captures the challenge of trying to answer questions about whether or not Matthew has a “divine” Christology. Because of the uniqueness of the person of Jesus in Matthew, and his mission, the answer to that question must be both “no” and “yes.” Or perhaps all you can say is that Jesus is “God with us.” And for Matthew, that is as all the ontological definition you need.