Bible Review 2:3, Fall 1986

The Old Testament Background of Jesus as Begotten of God

By H. Neil Richardson

In recent issues of Bible Review, two quite different articles have examined the infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke—the only two Gospels that include an account of Jesus’ infancy. The first article—by Kenneth R. R. Gros Louis—was a literary study in which the author examined the differing literary techniques used by these two Gospel accounts to highlight their differing viewpoints.a In the second article, John Dominic Crossan identified the dominant narrative strategy of the Gospel accounts, especially of Matthew; according to Crossan, the infancy narratives seek to draw a parallel between Moses as Israel’s liberator and Jesus.b

Neither article, however, explores the function of the main point of the story: Jesus was begotten of God. To say that Jesus was begotten of God is another way of saying that Jesus is the Messiah.

In the Old Testament, the messiah was to be begotten of God. That is why it was so important in the infancy narratives to affirm this about Jesus. To understand Jesus as begotten of God, we must first understand the nature of this concept in the Old Testament and its relationship to the concept of the messiah.

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