By illuminating the Scriptural context which shaped the interpretations of Psalm 22, surveying its ancient textual transmission and translation, examining how it was used in pre-Christian documents, and studying discussions of it in the writings of the early Church Fathers and in the rabbinic corpus, this study provides the necessary framework for answering the question, "How did the early Christians find Psalm 22 to be meaningful in understanding the crucifixion of Jesus?"
Hoffman provides new insights into the New Testament usage of particular details from Psalm 22 and also yields some cautions about how Psalm 22 is not to be interpreted or construed from a New Testament perspective. While providing a valuable survey of how Psalm 22 was found useful by early Christians, Hoffman suggests, however, that no unequivocal answer is possible for determining why Psalm 22 in particular became so crucial to them. It can be shown, however, that aspects of the psalm which connect it to traditions about a son of God, an heir of David, a servant (of the Lord), a prophet, or a righteous person provided the potential pathways for Psalm 22 to have become significant among early Christians. Psalm 22, therefore, was explored by early Christians in order to claim that this psalm—which rightly could be and was read as being a psalm about a Davidic heir and a son of God—was about the Son of God, the Davidic heir acknowledged to be the Messiah.
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