The more we know and understand the historical, cultural and linguistic background of the Bible, the more we are able to discern elements in the biblical text that heretofore have gone unnoticed. These can be elements that can greatly increase our understanding of the biblical text, reinforce our traditional conceptions, or at times radically transform our understanding by revealing totally unexpected information that affects how the texts would have been originally understood.
In his book, Jesus, Rabbi and Lord: A Lifetime’s Search for the Meaning of Jesus’ Words, Robert L. Lindsey, of beloved memory, explains how Peter’s confession in Matthew 16:13-20 is more than a simple confession that Jesus is the Messiah, and definitely not the first time that Peter or the other disciples realized that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah. Lindsey’s discovery demonstrates that by putting the text back into Hebrew and understanding the cultural usage of the language, an element of the story is revealed that has been overlooked by some scholars.
Contrary to the view of many scholars that Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah and that his disciples only added this notion at a later time, Lindsey’s discoveries demonstrate that subtle Hebraic elements in the text reveal that Jesus did in fact claim to be the long-awaited Messiah. However, these elements also imply that Jesus was to be much more than the expected Messiah. Traditional Jewish views of the Messiah did not promote the view that the Messiah would in some sense be divine or God incarnate. As Lindsey points out, in this gospel passage the revelation is not of messiahship but divine messiahship.