Deborah W. Rooke, «Jesus as Royal Priest: Reflections on the Interpretation of the Melchizedek Tradition in Heb 7», Vol. 81 (2000) 81-94
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.
find something similarly speculative in the presentation of Melchizedek in Hebrews. Indeed, it has been suggested by a number of scholars that there is a link between the presentation of Melchizedek in Heb 7 and his portrayal in the Qumran scroll 11QMelch, where he appears as an angelic being and an eschatological redeemer8. However, there is little evidence in Heb 7 for the influence of such ideas9, either as positive models for the portrayal of Melchizedek or as negative concepts against which the writer polemicizes10. Instead, rather than being based on contemporary eschatological or angelological speculation about Melchizedek, the interpretation of Melchizedek in Hebrews is rooted firmly in the picture of this mysterious figure as he appears in the Old Testament11. In his exegesis, the writer of Hebrews confines himself to Gen 14,18-20 and Ps 110,4, the only two OT references which mention Melchizedek, and bases his comments entirely upon what can legitimately be understood from them according to contemporary canons of exegesis12. It is this firm reliance on the OT tradition that gives the exegesis in Heb 7 its royal flavour, since according to the OT tradition, Melchizedek is not merely a priest but a king (Gen 14,18). The royal component of Melchizedeks identity is a factor which is often overlooked in the interpretation of Heb 7, but an examination of the way in which the writer takes up the OT tradition will demonstrate that the element of royalty is a highly significant aspect of what is often regarded as an overwhelmingly priestly christology.
1. Melchizedek in Gen 14,18-20 (Heb 7,1-3)
The first part of the OT Melchizedek tradition to be expounded in detail in Heb 7 is that which appears in Gen 14,18-20, where Melchizedek appears