[K:NWTS 22/3 (Dec 2007) 55-58]

Book Review

Young S. Chae. Jesus as the Eschatological Davidic Shepherd: Studies in the Old Testament, Second Temple Judaism, and in the Gospel of Matthew. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2006. 417pp. Paper. ISBN: 3-16-148876-8. $108.

This is a specialized study which investigates the eschatological Davidic shepherd motif in its unfolding from the Old Testament through Second Temple Judaism to the New Testament. The version printed by Mohr Siebeck is an "unabridged" version of the author's Ph.D. dissertation at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, IL. This may explain why there are a number of typographical and printing errors in the text. This does explain the repetitive nature of some of the material—especially the otherwise useful summaries sprinkled along the way. The price will intimidate our readers, driving them to library copies, where available. But seeking and finding this book will be rewarding to those interested in the biblical-theological continuity of the (Davidic) shepherd of Israel motif.

Chae takes us on a tour of the shepherd-ruler imagery in the Ancient Near East (very brief survey, 19-25); in the major prophetic texts (Mic. 2-5; Ezk. 34-37; Zech. 9-15—32-94); in the literature of Second Temple Judaism (Apocrypha, Qumran, etc.—95-160); and the New Testament (especially the first gospel, 173-246). Since the motif is central to the portrait of David as shepherd-ruler of Israel (1 Sam. 16:11-13; 17:34-37; 2 Sam. 7:8), is recapitulated by the prophets (cf. Is. 40:10-11, Jer. 23:2-5, but especially Micah, Ezekiel and Zechariah) and is incarnated by the Lord Jesus Christ, it is one of many wonderful portraits of our Savior which arches like a canopy over the history of redemption. Chae provides a detailed exegesis of the motif in all three areas noted above. The reader will find jewels of insight in these pages as the Shepherd-Lord is revealed retrospectively and prospectively via the "shepherd of Israel".1 Divine grace in a new heart (Ezk. 36:26) embraces this Shepherd-King who is also Shepherd-Redeemer. There is much in the exposition of this imagery to warm the heart of the Christian believer. Each section of the book concludes with a summary which succinctly ties up the argument to that point.

In the section on the "Therapeutic Son of David" (279-323), the author connects the healing miracles of Jesus with the pastoral function of the prophetic eschatological Shepherd. Chae does this not only to lend support to his overall thesis, but to parry aberrant (Hellenistic theios aner ["divine man"] Christology), even bizarre (Jesus reprises the "Solomon-exorcist legend") Christologies of the gospels. In the process, he also makes some trenchantly critical remarks about E. P. Sanders and his `Protestantization' theory of Phariseeism in the era of Second Temple Judaism. "[I]n reality, Sanders's description of pre-70 Judaism better resembles our postmodern pluralistic culture which nourishes diversity and tolerance as its foundational virtues" (256). Here is a reminder that E. P. Sanders, J. D. G. Dunn, N. T. Wright and their disciples have simply succeeded in applying the postmodern worldview (or philosophy of life) to the New Testament Scriptures, so that Jesus and first century Judaism and the apostle Paul "turn out to be mirror images reflecting the spirit of the age in which [their] respective research [was] inspired and conducted." Surely those committed to the antithesis developed by Cornelius Van Til should be able to perceive this. In fact, that so many have been and continue to be snookered by the neo-Bultmanians (Dunn and Wright) is evidence not only of the waning of Van Til's influence in his students, but also of their base ignorance of the game that is being played by the `big boys' who control the discussion. Citing the recent research of Roland Deines (Jüdische Steingefäße und pharisäische Frömmigkeit [1993]; Die Pharisäer [1997]; "The Pharisees between `Judaisms and Common Judaism'," in Justification and Varigated Nomism [2001] 1:443-504), Chae concludes that Phariseeism was "normative" Judaism and "the most influential religious movement" in Palestinian Judaism from 150 B.C. to 70 A.D. (262). So much for Jewish "covenantal nomism"; the deconstructing of the sharp clash between Jesus, the disciples and Paul and contemporary (first century) Judaism (i.e., religion of grace versus religion of works-merit); and the New Perspective on Paul re-imaging the apostle as 20/21st century sociology of religion reconstructionist (i.e., the first Christian global village lobbyist).

One of the bonuses of this book is Chae's stimulating reflections on the literary structure of the Old and New Testament pericopes, including helpful (if not always persuasive) chiastic analyses. These outlines are sprinkled throughout the pages of the work.

The least satisfactory and persuasive aspect of his study is the attempt to view the Matthean Great Commission (28:16-20) as a concluding Davidic Shepherd motif (340-71). To do this, Chae must de-emphasize `Son of God' in Matthew's paradigm for `reign of God'. In fact, the Trinitarian nature of the conclusion of Matthew's gospel accentuates the Son of God Christology of the gospel as a whole (note especially Mt. 1:21—"Emmanuel"). Perhaps it would be more accurate (more Matthean!) to suggest that the reign of God (Shepherd motif) is brought into the fullness of the history of redemption by the Son of God (Trinitarian Christological motif). And all this is so because the eschatological Davidic Shepherd is at the same time God, the Son, incarnate.

This is a valuable and rewarding study for those working on the Shepherd motif in the Old and New Testament. Christ Jesus is richly displayed in Chae's careful exegesis of the great Shepherd of the sheep, as that poignant motif unfolds itself across the range of redemptive history.

—James T. Dennison, Jr.


1 Compare his comments on the virgin birth (186-187) with my "Born of the Virgin Mary," Kerux: The Journal of Northwest Theological Seminary 18/3 (December 2003): 16-25.