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.
the New Testament with obvious messianic connotations21, Ps110,4 is not used in this way in any other NT document apart from Hebrews. This raises the question of whether the psalms messianic significance was thought to reside only in its first verse, which in the light of the proof-texting technique of exegesis already mentioned would certainly be a possibility. However, the writer makes Ps 110,4 the centrepiece of his argument about Jesuss priesthood (Heb 5,6, 10; 6,20; 7,15-17.20-21), and it is very difficult to conceive of him using a text which was not already acknowledged as messianic in order to put across his understanding of how the messianic hope as foreshadowed in Scripture had been fulfilled in Jesus. Indeed, some scholars have suggested that the high priestly christology of Hebrews was based on early Christianitys express veneration of Christ as high priest, a veneration to which Ps 110,4 may have been a contributory factor22. It therefore seems likely that Ps 110,4 as well as Ps 110,1 was regarded as messianic, at least in the circles from which Hebrews originated and to which it was addressed. Hence, inasmuch as the writer of Hebrews can be said to be using a messianic understanding of these verses he can be said to be using their royal character, since as already noted messianism was an outgrowth of royal ideology.
It is also undeniable that the writer of Hebrews uses the presentation of Melchizedek in Gen 14 to explicate the identity of Melchizedek in Ps 110, and that a significant element in the Gen 14 picture, as already noted, is that of Melchizedek as king of Salem, foreshadowing the messianic king of righteousness and peace. Hence, in the context of Heb 7, the use of Ps 110,4 becomes a continuation of the messianic note already struck by the use of Gen 14, inasmuch as the psalm, like Gen 14, involves Melchizedek who is a messianic prefiguration. Hence, although Melchizedek undoubtedly serves in Hebrews as a model for Jesuss priesthood, a fact made especially clear by the use of Ps 110,4, the very fact that it is Melchizedek who is used as a model indicates that what is being portrayed for Jesus is a royal priesthood23.
3. Melchizedek in Heb 7,1-3
An additional argument for the royal aspect of the priesthood at issue can be found in the very structure of the description of Melchizedek in Heb 7,1-3. In Greek, these three verses form a single sentence, which consists of the statement Ou|toj ga_r o( Melxise/dek ... me/nei i(ereu_j ei)j to_ dihneke/j, with a series of descriptive and relative clauses referring to Melchizedek inserted between the subject Melxise/dek and the verb me/nei, as follows:24