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The Final Judgement as Ritual Purgation of the Cosmos: The Influence of Scapegoat Traditions on Matt 25.31–46

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 March 2021

Hans M. Moscicke
Saint Louis University, 1 N Grand Blvd, Saint Louis, MO 63103 USA. Email:
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In this article, I argue that Leviticus 16 and early Jewish Day of Atonement traditions have influenced the imagery of the sheep and the goats in Matt 25.31–46. The ritual shading that this judgement scene acquires in light of its use of Yom Kippur imagery fits well into Matthew's overarching interest in moral purity. The drama of moral impurity in the Gospel of Matthew concludes with the Son of Man's eschatological purgation of iniquity from the cosmos in a manner reminiscent of the yearly expulsion of moral impurity from Israel's temple by means of the scapegoat ritual. Building on the insights of scholars who have attempted to demonstrate Matthew's knowledge of Son of Man traditions attested in the Parables of Enoch, this article also contends that Azazel traditions contained in that same Enochic booklet have influenced the portrayal of the goats’ banishment in Matt 25.41, a conclusion that becomes more probable in light of Matthew's unique application of the Asael tradition attested in 1 En. 10.4 at the end of his Parable of the Wedding Feast (Matt 22.13).

Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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1 Interpreters have variably understood πάντα τὰ ἔθνη to mean (1) all human beings, (2) only Christians, (3) all non-Christians or (4) all non-Jews. In his comprehensive history of interpretation, Sherman W. Gray concludes that, of those who discuss the meaning of the phrase, the majority of commentators in every historical era take a universalist interpretation, that is to say, option 1 (The Least of my Brothers, Matthew 25:31–46: A History of Interpretation (SBLDS 114; Atlanta: Scholars, 1989), 348; see also U. Luz, Matthew: A Commentary (trans. J E. Crouch; 3 vols.; Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001–7) iii.267–74; idem, ‘The Final Judgment (Matt 25:31–46): An Exercise in “History of Influence” Exegesis’, Treasures New and Old: Contributions to Matthean Studies (ed. D. R. Bauer and M. A. Powell; Atlanta: Scholars, 1996) 271–310). The second most common reading is option 2. The last two readings did not emerge until the modern era, and even then, they are minority interpretations (Gray, Least of my Brothers, 349). The standard universalist interpretation seems most likely, given that (a) πάντα τὰ ἔθνη elsewhere includes non-Christians (Matt 24.9, 14; 28.19), ruling out option 2, (b) ‘one expects here a solemn appeal to those within the church … [given that] the passage belongs to a long section which is full of paraenesis for believers [Matt 24:36–25:30]’ (W. D. Davies and D. C. Allison, The Gospel according to Matthew, ICC (3 vols.; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1988–97) iii.422), which makes option 3 unlikely, and (c) Jews are the object of (eschatological) judgement throughout the Gospel (Matt 3.7–10; 5.20; 12.34–7, 41–2; 21.41–5; 23.1–39), casting doubt on option 4. In further support of option 1, (d) the righteous and unrighteous are judged simultaneously in the redactional Parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Matt 13.31–43), (e) though ἔθνη (plural) usually refers to pagan gentiles in the First Gospel (Matt 4.15; 6.32; 10.5, 18; 12.18; 20.19, 25; 21), ἔθνη embraces Christians in Matt 12.21 and ἔθνος (singular) indicates Christians in Matt 21.43 and (f) πάντα τὰ ἔθνη seems to include Christians in Acts 15.17; Rom 15.11; 16.26; Rev 12.5. Space does not allow a more in-depth discussion on this topic.

2 The phrase ἑνὶ τούτων/τῶν ἀδελφῶν μου τῶν ἐλαχίστων (Matt 25.40, 45) has historically been understood as (1) people in general or (2) Christians only (or some subset thereof, such as Christian missionaries). According to Gray (Least of my Brothers, 349–50), the particularist reading (option 2), when compared to the universalist reading (option 1), occurs at a ratio of about two to one throughout the history of interpretation. However, the number of interpreters, ancient and modern, who are neutral with regard to ‘the least of these’, when compared to the particularist reading, occurs at a ratio of about three to two (ibid.). It is unclear whether such neutrality should be construed as affirming a universalist reading. From a literary perspective, a particularist reading of ‘the least of these’ (Matt 25.40, 45) seems most probable, since Matthew uses a similar phrase, εἷς/ἓν τῶν μικρῶν τούτων, in reference to Jesus’ disciples in Matt 10.42; 18.6, 10, 14 (see also Matt 11.11; cf. Mark 9.37–42) (G. Stanton, A Gospel for a New People: Studies in Matthew (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1992) 214–18). Matt 10.42 is a particularly striking parallel, since, (a) not only is ἕνα τῶν μικρῶν τούτων similar to εἷς τούτων τῶν ἐλαχίστων (Matt 25.45), but (b) there is also an act of mercy resulting in a reward, as in Matt 25.34–6, and (c) two verses earlier, in Matt 10.40, Jesus explicitly identifies himself with his disciples in a manner similar to Matt 25.40, 45 (cf. J. Lambrecht, Out of the Treasure: The Parables in the Gospel of Matthew (Louvain: Peeters, 1991) 278–9). Space does not allow for a more thorough analysis of this subject.

3 Weber, K., ‘The Image of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25:31–46’, CBQ 59 (1997) 657–78Google Scholar, at 670. See further below.

4 Scholars typically propose one of several possibilities with regard to the origin and tradition history of ‘Azazel’ (Lev 16.8, 10 and 26) in ancient Israel: (1) ‘Azazel’ was the name of a supernatural deity, (2) ‘Azazel’ was the name or description of the (type of) place where the scapegoat was sent, (3) ‘Azazel’ was an abstract noun indicating the sacerdotal function of the scapegoat, or (4) ‘Azazel’ denoted the act of sending away the scapegoat. For a recent summary of these viewpoints, see Pinker, A., ‘A Goat to Go to Azazel’, JHebS 7 (2007) 225Google Scholar, at 4–13; see also B. Janowski and G. Wilhelm, ‘Der Bock, der die Sünden hinausträgt’, Religionsgeschichtliche Beziehungen zwischen Kleinasien, Nordsyrien und dem Alten Testament (ed. B. Janowski et al.; OBO 129; Freiburg: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1993) 109–69, at 119–29, 134–58; Janowski, B., ‘Azazel’, Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (ed. van der Toorn, K., Becking, B. and van der Horst, P. W.; Leiden: Brill, 1999 2) 128–31Google Scholar, at 128–9. Most scholars affirm the supernatural identity of Azazel at some point in Israel's history. Jacob Milgrom, whom most scholars follow on this point, argues that Azazel was originally conceived as a wilderness deity but was later eviscerated of his supernatural identity in the Priestly redaction of the Pentateuch (Leviticus: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (3 vols.; AB; New York: Doubleday, 1991–2001) i.1021). David P. Wright agrees with Milgrom, adding that in Leviticus 16 the scapegoat ‘does not appear to be a propitiary offering to Azazel, but only serves as a vehicle for transporting the sins’ (The Disposal of Impurity: Elimination Rites in the Bible and in Hittite and Mesopotamian Literature (SBLDS 101; Atlanta: Scholars, 1986) 21–5, 30). Janowski reverses the position of Milgrom and Wright, arguing that Azazel only came to possess a celestial identity in post-exilic Judaism (Janowski and G. Wilhelm, ‘Der Bock’, 130). Pinker proposes that Azazel was originally a name for the pre-Temple desert-dwelling God of Israel (i.e. YHWH), whose identity was transformed to a deity when the Temple was constructed (‘Goat to Go to Azazel’, 19–25).

5 The quest to determine precisely which elements of Matt 25.31–46 comprise tradition and which consist of redaction remains largely inconclusive. We certainty know that this episode occurs in no gospel besides Matthew. Beyond this, opinions widely diverge, some taking Matt 25.31–46 to be mostly traditional (e.g. R. Bultmann, The History of the Synoptic Tradition (trans. J. Marsh; New York: Harper & Row, 1963 [1921]) 123–4; J. Friedrich, Gott im Bruder? (CTM 7; Stuttgart: Calwer Verlag, 1977) 45–6) and others taking it to be primarily a Matthean creation (e.g. R. H. Gundry, Matthew: A Commentary on his Handbook for a Mixed Church under Persecution (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 19942) 511; Lambrecht, Out of the Treasure, 275). Indeed, the evangelist is most likely responsible for Matt 25.31–32a (Luz, Matthew, 265). His hand is evident in Matt 25.32b–46 as well, though to a lesser degree, as is evidenced by the presence of Matthean parallelisms (v. 34 // v. 41, vv. 35–6 // vv. 42–3, vv. 37–9 // vv. 44, 40 // v. 45) and vocabulary, such as τότε (vv. 31, 34, 37, 41, 44, 45), πατήρ μου (v. 34), δίκαιος (vv. 37, 46) and perhaps ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν (vv. 40, 45) (Lambrecht, Out of the Treasure, 268; Davies and Allison, Matthew, iii.418; Luz, Matthew, iii.265 n. 20; L. W. Walck, The Son of Man in the Parables of Enoch and in Matthew (London: T&T Clark, 2011) 198). Yet several Matthean hapax legomena – ἔριφος (v. 32), ἐρίφιον (v. 33), γυμνός (vv. 36, 38, 43, 44), ἐπισκέπτομαι (vv. 36, 43), καταράομαι (v. 41) and κόλασις (v. 46) – possibly betray the traditional material that the gospel writer has adapted. Scholars have proposed various editorial seams in an attempt to recover the original form of the tradition that Matthew has inherited: (a) the switch from ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου (v. 31) to ὁ βασιλεύς (v. 34), (b) the change from the neuter πάντα τὰ ἔθνη (v. 32) to the masculine αὐτούς (v. 32), (c) the transition from shepherd/animals (vv. 32–3) to king/people (vv. 34–45) and (d) the shift from nations (v. 32) to individuals (vv. 34–45). However, none of these proposals has proved satisfactory (Lambrecht, Out of the Treasure, 274; Luz, Matthew, iii.265; Walck, Son of Man, 195–7). It therefore seems prudent to affirm what Ulrich Luz deems the majority position regarding the Matt 25.31–46 complex, namely, ‘that the evangelist took it over from his special material tradition and reworked it with varying degrees of intensity’ (Matthew, iii.264). However, given the unique position of these verses within Matthew's discourse structure, John Nolland's conclusion may be more likely: ‘Probably the level of Matthean intervention here is unusually high since Matthew uses this final piece to provide a climax for and to draw together not just the Eschatological Discourse but the whole set of five linked discourses’ (The Gospel of Matthew: A Commentary on the Greek Text (NIGTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005) 1023).

6 Walck, Son of Man, 194–225. Similarly, see Tödt, H. E., The Son of Man in the Synoptic Tradition (trans. Barton, D. M. (London: SCM, 1965)Google Scholar; Theisohn, J., Der auserwählte Richter (SUNT 12; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1975) 149201Google Scholar. Against Matthew's dependence on the Parables, see P. M. Casey, Son of Man: The Interpretation and Influence of Daniel 7 (London: SPCK, 1979); D. R. A. Hare, The Son of Man Tradition (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991); idem, The Solution to the ‘Son of Man’ Problem (London: T&T Clark International, 2007) 91–111. On the dating of the Parables of Enoch, see R. H. Charles, The Book of Enoch or I Enoch (Oxford: Clarendon, 1912) liv–lv; J. C. Hindley, ‘Towards a Date for the Similitudes of Enoch’, NTS 14 (1968) 551–65; Milik, J. T., The Books of Enoch: Aramaic Fragments of Qumrân Cave 4 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1976) 89107Google Scholar; J. C. Greenfield and M. E. Stone, ‘The Enochic Pentateuch and the Date of the Similitudes’, HTR 70 (1977) 51–65; M. A. Knibb, ‘The Date of the Parables of Enoch: A Critical Review’, NTS 25 (1978–9) 344–59; C. L. Mearns, ‘Dating the Similitudes of Enoch’, NTS 25 (1978–9) 360–9; J. J. Collins, The Apocalyptic Imagination (New York: Crossroad, 19982 [1984]) 177–8; the articles by D. W. Suter, M. E. Stone, J. H. Charlesworth, D. D. Hannah, L. Arcari, H. Eshel and D. C. Olson in G. Boccaccini, ed., Enoch and the Messiah Son of Man (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007) 415–98; Walck, Son of Man, 15–23. Paolo Sacchi, by way of summarising the results of the Third Enochic Seminar in 2005, states: ‘[W]e may observe those scholars who have directly addressed the problem of dating the Parables all agree on a date around the time of Herod … given the impressive amount of evidence gathered in support of a pre-Christian origin of the document. The burden of proof has now shifted to those who disagree with the Herodian date. It is now their responsibility to provide evidence that would reopen the discussion’ (‘The 2005 Camaldoli Seminar on the Parables of Enoch’, Enoch and the Messiah Son of Man, 499–512, at 510–11). James H. Charlesworth remarks that ‘dating the Parables of Enoch to the time of Herod the Great and the Herodians has become conclusive’, noting that ‘this conclusion was shared by almost every leading specialist on 1En or Second Temple Judaism’ in the present colloquium, except for Michael A. Knibb (‘The Date and Provenience of the Parables of Enoch’, Parables of Enoch: A Paradigm Shift (ed. J. H. Charlesworth and D. L. Bock (London: Bloomsbury, 2013) 37–57, at 56 with n. 47).

7 L. W. Walck, ‘The Son of Man in the Parables of Enoch and the Gospels’, Enoch and the Messiah Son of Man, 299–337, at 330. According to Adela Yarbro Collins, ‘Walck rightly concludes that most of the Son of Man sayings in the Gospels are not dependent on the Parables. He has made a good case, however, for the conclusion that there is a relationship of literary dependence between the Matthean redactions of certain Son of Man sayings from the Synoptic sayings source (Q) and the Parables. It is more likely that the author of Matthew is dependent on the Parables than vice versa. The link between the epithet “Son of Man” and the precise phrase “the throne of his glory” in Matt 19:28 and 25:31 probably derives from 1 En. 62.5, 69.27, and/or 69.29’ (‘The Secret Son of Man in the Parables of Enoch and the Gospel of Mark: A Response to Leslie Walck’, Enoch and the Messiah Son of Man, 338–51, at 339). In fact, Walck seems to equivocate on the question of literary dependence with regard to the First Gospel. While he writes that ‘literary dependence may not be claimed’ (Walck, Son of Man, 249), he then remarks, ‘Because so many features Matthew has incorporated do not appear in other contemporary literature, it is likely that he knew and used Par. En. in particular, along with his other sources for the story of Jesus’ (loc. cit., 250).

8 D. R. Catchpole, ‘The Poor on Earth and the Son of Man in Heaven: A Re-Appraisal of Matthew 25:31–46’, BJRL 61 (1979) 378–83, at 380–1.

9 Walck, Son of Man, 216–19; idem, ‘Son of Man’, 329–30.

10 Walck, ‘Son of Man’, 330.

11 Walck, Son of Man, 219.

12 G. W. E. Nickelsburg and J. C. VanderKam, eds., 1 Enoch: The Hermeneia Translation (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2012) 68.

13 Nickelsburg and VanderKam, 1 Enoch, 69 (emphasis added).

14 Walck, Son of Man, 219.

15 Walck, Son of Man, 219.

16 R. Rubinkiewicz, Die Eschatologie von Henoch 9–11 und das Neue Testament (trans. H. Ulrich; ÖBS 6; Klosterneuburg: Österreichisches Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1984) 98–100; D. C. Sim, ‘Matthew 22.13a and 1 Enoch 10.4a: A Case of Literary Dependence?’, JSNT 47 (1992) 3–19, at 6–13; Davies and Allison, Matthew, iii.206; G. W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 1–36; 81–108 (Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001) 84; C. S. Hamilton, The Death of Jesus in Matthew: Innocent Blood (SNTSMS 167; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017) 171–2.

17 Nickelsburg and VanderKam, 1 Enoch, 28. Thus reads Codex Panopolitanus. Syncellus reads slightly differently. See M. Black and A.-M. Denis, eds., Apocalypsis Henochi Graece (FPQSG; Leiden: Brill, 1970) 24–5.

18 While the influence of the Yom Kippur ritual on 1 Enoch 10 is debated, there is wide scholarly support for this position (for a bibliography, see A. A. Orlov, Divine Scapegoats: Demonic Mimesis in Early Jewish Mysticism (Albany, NY: SUNY, 2015) 202 n. 87). Daniel Stökl Ben Ezra provides a compelling argument for the influence of scapegoat traditions on 1 Enoch 10, concluding that the ‘elements of Yom Kippur are so numerous and central in this chapter that the Yom Kippur background could be recognized even without exact identity of the names [Asael and Azazel]’ (‘Yom Kippur in the Apocalyptic Imaginaire and the Roots of Jesus’ High Priesthood’, Transformations of the Inner Self in Ancient Religions (ed. J. Assmann and G. Stroumsa; Leiden: Brill, 1999) 349–66, 353). For the influence of the Day of Atonement on 4Q180 1 7–10 and 4Q203 7 i, 5–7, see D. Stökl Ben Ezra, The Impact of Yom Kippur on Early Christianity: The Day of Atonement from Second Temple Judaism to the Fifth Century (WUNT i/163; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003) 87; A. A. Orlov, The Atoning Dyad: The Two Goats of Yom Kippur in the Apocalypse of Abraham (Studia Judaeoslavica; Leiden: Brill, 2016) 87–8. On the Yom Kippur typology in the Apocalypse of Abraham, see Rubinkiewicz, Die Eschatologie von Henoch 9–11, 101; L. Grabbe, ‘The Scapegoat Tradition: A Study in Early Jewish Interpretation’, JSJ 18 (1987) 152–67, at 156–8; Orlov, Divine Scapegoats; idem, Atoning Dyad, 81–160.

19 On the garment imagery, see J. P. Meier, Matthew (NTM 3; Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier, 1981) 248; Rubinkiewicz, Die Eschatologie von Hen 9–11, 109.

20 Davies and Allison suspect that Matt 22.11–14 is a free Matthean composition (Matthew, iii.194).

21 Rubinkiewicz, Die Eschatologie von Hen 9–11, 97–113.

22 The term ἔριφος (Matt 25.32b; ἐρίφιον in 25:33) means ‘kid’ (LSJ s.v.) and not ‘he-goat’ (K. Wengst, ‘Wie aus Böcken Ziegen wurden (Mt 25, 32–33)’, EvT 54 (1994) 491–501, at 497–8; cf. BDAG, 392). Ἔριφος is used twenty-six times in the LXX, usually translating the Hebrew גדי (‘kid’) and almost always referring to a kid of a ‘goat’ (שעיר ,עז): Gen 27.9, 16; 37.31; 38.17, 20, 23; Exod 12.5; Lev 1.10; Judg 6.19; 13.15, 19; 15.1; 1 Sam 16.20; 2 Chr 35.7, 8; Jer 51.40 (in reference to עתוד); Ezek 43.22, 25; 45.23. Gen 27.9 is a pertinent example: ‘And go to the flock (πρόβατα) and take for me thence two young goats (ἐρίφους; MT: שני גדיי עזים).’ Here the term ἔριφοι is used with no modifiers (such as αἰγῶν) but clearly refers to goat-kids, and the ἔριφοι are taken directly from Isaac's πρόβατα. The word ἔριφος is used with reference to a different animal species only once in the LXX (Amos 6.4, which translates כר, ‘lamb’). Ἔριφος occurs without reference to an animal species only in Judg 14.6; Song 1.8; Isa 11.6. Luz notes, ‘For ἔριφοι (young sheep) there is not a single source [in the LXX]; however, the frequent appearance together of ἄρνες and ἔριφοι in the Bible and in Greek probably shows that the latter could not be lambs. Thus ὁ/ἡ ἔριφος also means not “young animal”, as Wengst (‘Böcken’, 498) surmises, but “young goat”’ (Matthew, iii.277). Given the LXX's usage, ‘young goat’ is the best rendering of ἔριφος in Matt 25.32–3.

23 Weber, ‘Image of the Sheep and the Goats’, 657–78. Weber carefully considers evidence from four distinct cultural milieus. In her examination of modern twentieth-century Greece, she indicates that goats have a very negative connotation among the Greek Sarakatsan transhumant pastoralists, but beyond this social group, attitudes towards goats in the modern Mediterranean basin vary widely (op. cit., 662–4). In the ancient Greco-Roman world, while sheep were generally deemed more valuable than goats, and while goats often symbolised sexual promiscuity, one ‘would still be surprised at the contrast of sheep with goats in Matt 25:31–46, because nothing in the Greco-Roman symbolic repertoire makes goats the plausible target of the extreme animus exhibited by the divine judge’ (op. cit., 665–67; quotation at 667). In terms of twentieth-century Palestine, Weber finds no negative valuation of goats, noting that their rambunctious personality and lesser value than sheep provide no grounds for such vitriol against them (op. cit., 667–9). With regard to first-century Jewish Syria and Palestine, Weber observes that (a) many animals, but never goats, are contrasted with sheep or symbolise evil (Jer 2.24; Hos 8.9; Sir 26.25; 1 En. 83–90), (b) the Hebrew Bible consistently portrays goats in a positive light (Gen 15.9; 32.14–15; Num 7.12–88; Deut 32.14; Judg 13.15; 15.1; 1 Sam 25.2; Isa 11.6; Song 4.1; 5.1; 6.5) and (c) Ezek 34.17 probably bears little relationship to Matt 25.32–3 (op. cit., 669–73).

24 Weber, ‘Image of the Sheep and the Goats’, 673. She adds a notable caveat: ‘Certainly, the audience of Matthew's own time could point to certain blemishes on the reputation of goats as animals, less valuable and more demanding than others, and possibly (if Hellenistic attitudes had their influence) as animals closely associated with sexual excess, but not with negative qualities extreme enough to merit this expulsion’ (ibid.).

25 Weber, ‘Image of the Sheep and the Goats’, 670. On the positive portrayal of goats in the Old Testament, see the note above.

26 Josephus, Ant. 3.240–1 (Thackeray).

27 Jub. 34.12, 18 (VanderKam, Jubilees, 228–9) (emphasis added). While in this typology, the slaughtered kid most obviously corresponds to the immolated goat, whose blood is manipulated by the priests (Lev 16.15–19), Daniel Stökl Ben Ezra observes a parallel to the scapegoat as well, as the garment dipped in the kid's blood is sent to Jacob, as the scapegoat is sent to Azazel (Lev 16.21–2) (Impact of Yom Kippur, 96). More importantly, since in Second Temple tradition the two goats of Yom Kippur were required to be similar in appearance (m. Yoma 6.1; Barn. 7.6, 10; Justin, Dial. 40.4–5; Tertullian, Marc. 3.7.7; Adv. Jud. 14.9–10), it is implied that the scapegoat was also a young goat, even if the kid in Jubilees only corresponds to the immolated goat.

28 Weber, ‘Image of the Sheep and the Goats’, 658–9, 673–5.

29 J. Jeremias, The Parables of Jesus (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1972) 206; Gundry, Matthew, 512; D. Senior, Matthew (ANTC; Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1998) 281; Davies and Allison, Matthew, iii.423; C. S. Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999) 603; Weber, ‘Image of the Sheep and the Goats’, 670. Weber observes that, in ancient and modern times, a cultural boundary lies between Greece and Syria, wherein ‘[w]est of this line, sheep and goats are kept in separate herds … East of this line, sheep and goats are kept in mixed herds’ (‘Image of the Sheep and the Goats’, 673).

30 Wengst, ‘Böcken’. Gustaf Dalmn's infamous statement, based on contemporary, not ancient, Palestinian customs, is as follows: ‘Die Schafe wollen frische Luft haben, die Ziegen sollten wärmer stehen, weil Kälte ihnen schadet. Nach dem Sprichwort gilt von ihnen’ (Arbeit und Sitte in Palästina, vol. iv (Hildesheim: Olms, 1964 [1939] 276).

31 One theory is that ἔριφοι means ‘bucks’, which are separated from the females, so that the latter may be milked (Lambrecht, Out of the Treasure, 261). But Luz notes that ἔριφος rarely means ‘buck’, despite BAGD's incorrect gloss (Matthew, iii.276–7). Nolland adds that ‘LXX usage offers no encouragement … to this alternative’ (Matthew, 1025). Following Wengst (‘Böcken’, 499–500), Luz proposes that the young goats are separated to be slaughtered, since ‘[i]n almost all texts where ἔριφοι appear, they are slaughtered, eaten, or sacrificed.’ (Matthew, iii.277). Yet this suggestion faces three difficulties. First, Luz overstates his case, as ἔριφοι are not slaughtered nor sacrificed in Gen 38.17, 20, 23; Judg 15.1; 1 Sam 16.20; Isa 11.6; Song 1.8; 1 Esd 1.7; Sir 47.3. Second, in many instances where ἔριφοι are slaughtered, they are done so in sacrifice to God (e.g. Lev 1.10; Judg 13.19; Ezek 43.22, 25; 45.23), which carries a positive, not negative, connotation. Third, as Nolland notes, Luz's proposal ‘would be more attractive if the text had “the kids” being separated from “the flock” and not the reverse, and if the diminutive form ἐρίφιον had been used in Mt. 25:32 and not only later’ (Matthew, 1026).

32 Luz, Matthew, iii.276.

33 I say ‘at least in part’, because the phrase ὥσπερ ὁ ποιμὴν ἀφορίζει τὰ πρόβατα ἀπὸ τῶν ἐρίφων (Matt 25.32) suggests that the evangelist is assuming the plausibility of such an agricultural custom. Admittedly, this phrase makes the interpretation set forth in this article more difficult to accept. Yet it is not an insurmountable challenge. Matthew possibly retains this agricultural verisimilitude because it derives from his special source, or perhaps his community was already familiar with the image of a shepherd separating sheep from goats by means of an earlier Christian tradition. This plausible scenario would explain why Matthew preserves this image and yet blends it with imagery from the Yom Kippur ritual.

34 Stökl Ben Ezra, Impact of Yom Kippur, 98. There may be a hint in 4Q418 81 4–5 that such ‘lot’ imagery bore a direct relationship to the Yom Kippur ritual: ‘he has placed you as a holy of holies [over all] the earth, and among all the [g]o[ds] he has cast your lot (הפיל גורלכה)’ (F. García Martínez and E. J. C. Tigchelaar, eds., The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition, 2 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 1997–8) ii.871–72).

35 Philo, Her. 179. See also Philo, Leg. 2.52; Post. 70.

36 Although the figure ‘Azazel’ in the Apocalypse of Abraham is a celestial entity and not a goat per se, this figure is depicted as a scapegoat in terms of form and function. See the section in Orlov (Atoning Dyad, 81–129) entitled ‘Azazel as an Eschatological Scapegoat in the Apocalypse of Abraham’.

37 Apoc. Ab. 13.7 (A. Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha: Toward the Original of the Apocalypse of Abraham (Leiden: Brill, 2005) 18). See also Apoc. Ab. 10.15; 14.6; 20.5 (this verse may be a Bogomil interpolation). Orlov notes that ‘it is certainly significant that the Slavonic term for “lot” (часть) found in the Apocalypse of Abraham appears to be connected to the Hebrew גורל, a notion prominent in many of the cultic descriptions found in biblical and rabbinic accounts, as well as in the eschatological developments attested by the Qumran materials’ (Atoning Dyad, 92–3).

38 Orlov, Atoning Dyad, 91.

39 Origen, Hom. Lev. 9.3.2; 9.4.2; 9.5.2.

40 M. Yoma 4.1.

41 B. Yoma 39a–b.

42 Tg. Ps.-J. Lev 16.18–19, 21.

43 Apoc. Ab. 22.4–5; 27.1–2; 29.11. See Orlov, Divine Scapegoats, 103–26; idem, Atoning Dyad, 133–5.

44 One might reasonably object that, if a Yom Kippur typology underlies the imagery of the two opposing lots in Matt 25.32–3, then the righteous lot ought also to be a lot of (righteous) goats to match the two goats of the Day of Atonement ritual. However, the evangelist may have been stubbornly attracted to the image of sheep, since ‘sheep’ (πρόβατα) is a common metaphor for God's people (e.g. Jer 23.1–2; 27.6, 17 LXX; Ezek 34 LXX; Zech 11 LXX; Matt 9.36; 10.6; 15.24; 18.12; 26.31; John 10). Moreover, he may have reckoned the characteristics of sheep and goats ‘close enough’ to apply Yom Kippur imagery to both. As Nolland remarks, ‘The dominant impression created by a survey of OT uses of “sheep” and “goat” is the degree to which they are interchangeable … However important the difference between them might have been for certain purposes … the animals are first and foremost thought of together. In their normal dirty state, it might even have been considered wise to leave it to the skilled shepherd to distinguish with confidence the sheep from the goats’ (Matthew, 1026).

45 Weber, ‘Image of the Sheep and Goats’, 673.

46 Wright, Disposal of Impurity, 29–30.

47 Philo, Spec. 1.888 (Colson).

48 Philo, Her. 179 (Colson and Whitaker).

49 Josephus, Ant. 3.241 (Thackeray).

50 1 En. 10.4–5 (Nickelsburg and VanderKam, 1 Enoch, 28).

51 Apoc. Ab. 14.5–6 (Kulik, Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 21).

52 Philo, Spec. 1.888 (Colson).

53 Barn. 7.9 (Ehrman); see also Tertullian, Marc. 3.7.7.

54 Tertuallian, Marc. 3.7 (E. Evans, Tertullian: Adversus Marcionem: Books 1–3 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1972) 191).

55 M. Yoma 6.4 (H. Danby, The Mishnah: Translated from the Hebrew with Introduction and Brief Explanatory Notes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1933) 169).

56 Apoc. Ab. 13.7 (Kulik, Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 20).

57 It is not clear whose sins are ‘written upon Asael’ in 1 En. 10.8: the sins of Asael himself, the Watchers, the Giants, humanity or some combination of the above? There is a similar ambiguity in 4Q180 1 7–9 and 4Q203 7 i, 5–7.

58 D. Stökl Ben Ezra, ‘The Biblical Yom Kippur: The Jewish Fast of the Day of Atonement and the Church Fathers’, SP 34 (2002) 493–502, at 494.

59 Barn. 7.9 (Ehrman). See also Philo, Her. 179; Origen, Hom. Lev. 9.4.2; 9.5.2.

60 Orlov, Atoning Dyad, 55.

61 Orlov, Atoning Dyad, 128–57.

62 One weakness of this reading is that the early church fathers do not appear to have commonly linked Matt 25.31–46 and Leviticus 16. The earliest Christian witness to connect these two passages of which I am aware is Cyril of Alexandria in Letter 41.8: ‘Accordingly, the goat, or the he-goat, or the kid was the sacrifice for sin according to the decision of the law, for the divinely inspired Scripture in very many places compares the just to sheep and the lover of iniquity to a goat … For this reason, also, our Lord Jesus Christ says, “But when the Son of Man will sit on the throne of his glory; and he will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left”’ (J. I. McEnerney, St. Cyril of Alexandria: Letters 1–50 (FC 76; Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1987) 173).

63 Grabbe, ‘The Scapegoat Tradition’, 166.

64 A. Runesson, ‘Purity, Holiness, and the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew's Narrative World’, Purity and Holiness in Judaism and Christianity: Essays in Memory of Susan Haber (ed. C. Ehrlich, A. Runesson and E. Schuller; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013) 144–80, at 157.

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