The essay is introduced by some words on the nature of the Aramaic translations of Gen 14 used in the study (the Tgs. Onq., Pal. Tgs. as in Tgs. Neof. I, Frg. Tgs., Ps.-J.). Tg. Neof. identifies the Valley of Shaveh (Gen 14,17) as the Valley of the Gardens (pardesaya). The value of Tg. Neof.s evidence here is doubtful. Most Targums retain Melchizedek as a personal name (not so Tg. Ps.-J.). Salem of v. 18 is identified as Jerusalem. Melchizedek is identified as Shem, son of Noah, mainly because of the life-span assigned to Shem in Gen 11. The question of Melchizedeks priesthood in early rabbinic tradition and in the Targums (Tg. Gen 14; Tg Ps. 110) is considered, as is also the use of Jewish targumic-type tradition on Melchizedek in such early Fathers as Jerome, Ephrem, and Theodore of Mopsuestia.
The results of this specifically exegetical study on the Epistle to the Hebrews in the first place go against a tendency to interpret in an intellectualistic vein the passages dealing with human faith. For the Epistle, in fact, while faith does have a cognitive aspect, it is above all characterised by eschatological tension, and involves a participation, mediated by Christ, of the whole human person in divine life. In the second place, the study distances itself from prejudicial attempts at assimilating the filial relationship that exists between Jesus Christ and the Father to the mere faith that Christians have in God. On the basis of the Epistle’s repeated affirmation of the Son of God’s having, fulli sin, assumed fulli truly human nature, apart from sin, it is possible to undertake a comparative examination of the characteristics proper to these two relationships. The outcome is to bring out how the unique relationship of Jesus to the Father is marked by his reverence towards God, his obedience to God and his constancy in maintaining the relationship. However, these characteristics are also those of the faith of men, even though that faith remains founded solely on the fact of Christ himself being worthy of trust.
Melchizedek is mentioned in the Hebrew Old Testament only in Gen 14,18-20 and Psalm 110,4. The details about this (originally Canaanite) priest-king in these passages were further read and understood in the Hellenistic and Roman periods of Jewish, and later Christian, history. This is seen in the translation or interpretation of the passages in the Septuagint, the writings of Flavius Josephus, the Epistle to the Hebrews, and in the Peshitta, where a process of allegorization was at work.
This note deals with two topics reflected in the Qumranic text 11QMelchizedek (11Q13) which shed a certain light on two aspects of the messianic beliefs of the Qumran community: the widening in pre-Christian Judaism of the concept of the redeemer of the eschatological time to include a non-human agent of salvation who may be called "messiah", as in Christianity; and the indication of the "messianic" character of the expected eschatological Prophet, announced as a "messenger" by Isaiah and identified as "the anointed of the spirit" in 11QMelch.
In Hebrews’ portrayal of Jesus as a high priest, not according to the line of Aaron but of Melchisedek, there is no reinterpretation of traditional messianic categories. Rather, inasmuch as Hebrews has shown Jesus to be an exalted figure of sacral monarchy, it has depicted him as a truly messianic figure, in whose person the lines of both priesthood and monarchy converge. This is, in turn, entirely consistent with the emphases in Hebrews on Sonship and priesthood, since taken together these are the two major elements of the royal ideology out of which messianism grew. There should, therefore, be allowed more room in Hebrews for royal ideology than traditionally seems to have been the case.
The syntagma "Old Testament" (2 Cor 3,14), unlike the corresponding "New Testament" (Jer 31,31; CD 6,19; 8,21; 19,33-34; 20,12), is of exclusively Christian coinage. Regarding the modes of usage of the first by the second we have recorded: a) the quantitatively differing presence within the single NT books; b) the various forms of the text employed; and c) the diverse exegetical techniques used. Regarding the causes of such recourse to the OT, two motives can be distinguished. There is a cultural motive, due to the simple fact that Jesus and all the first Christians belong to the Jewish people. And there is a theological motive, due to the fact that the belief in Jesus as Messiah is rooted in a praeparatio evangelica. The chief source of the expectation of a Messiah lay precisely within the Scriptures of Israel. Thereupon the fundamental hermeneutic criterion has been (and is) the Christological faith.
Attempting a Christ-oriented reading of the Old Testament is a challenge which invites objections and obstacles. What is the degree of legitimacy or of necessity which the New Testament (the Gospels and Acts) provides for such a reading? We are concerned with those texts which set forth the principle itself rather than with individual citations; such a reading appears as inseparable from the foundations of the faith. Other texts are illuminating for us with regard to the way of carrying this out. This article presents the first lines of a response, by means of a hermeneutical conversion. It presupposes that one cannot distance oneself from the literal meaning and from its spiritual and theological content.