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Interpreting the Gospels: MATTHEW RLST 210/Div/Rel 3152 Sept 4, 2011.

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Presentation on theme: "Interpreting the Gospels: MATTHEW RLST 210/Div/Rel 3152 Sept 4, 2011."— Presentation transcript:

1 Interpreting the Gospels: MATTHEW RLST 210/Div/Rel 3152 Sept 4, 2011

2 Today  3:10-4:00 Methods for Reading Matthew: Textual Choices  4:00-4:50 Discussion Groups: Matthew 1- 4. Contextual & Theological Choices Group 1 Leader KRYSTA WOLFE Scribe: Michael Greer Group 2 Leader SAM MALLICK Scribe: John Wheeler Group 3 Leader MONICA WEBER Scribe: Eric Burton Krieger  4:50-5:30 Scribe reports on Theological Choices: Jesus-Messiah, Son of God, Emmanuel & kingdom/empire & salvation:

3 Any interpretation of a Scriptural Text involves:  Choosing to focus on one aspect of the text as most significant = textual choice  In terms of the reader’s religious views and religious experience: theological choice = focus on a specific theological view of key concepts = Using a certain View of the Role of Scripture (see Form)  In terms of the reader’s concerns in a specific life context: contextual choice The needs, problems in the reader’s context that are a primary concern for the reader/believer Emphasized in group discussion.

4 ROUNDTABLE Part C  Comparing the Themes emphasized in other interpretations with those emphasized by our own interpretation of a text:  a) Elucidation of their hermeneutical frames:  How do your commentator (Garland’s, Carter’s, or Patte’s), your leaderf, and yourself view/understand the key THEME(S) under discussion (christology, kingdom and salvation) in Matthew 1-4?  How do their views of this(ese) theme(s) DIFFER from yours?  How does each make sense of this text in terms of this(ese) theme(s)?

5 ROUNDTABLE Part C  Comparing the Textual Evidence emphasized in other interpretations with those emphasized by our own interpretation of a text:  b) Elucidation of their analytical frames:  Which DIFFERENT parts of Matthew 1-4 were most significant for your leader’s interpretation, your scholar’s (Garland’s, Carter’s, or Patte’s) interpretation of the theme and teaching, and your own interpretation, as each dealt with your chosen theme?  What is the specific DISTINCTIVE (textual, historical, literary, sociological, etc.) evidence upon which your leader, Garland, Carter, or Patte, and you grounded your different interpretations?

6 ROUNDTABLE Part C  Comparing the Contextual problems emphasized in other interpretations with those emphasized by our own interpretation of a text:  c) Elucidation of the contextual frames: What are the DIFFERENT root-problems presupposed or stated in your leader’s interpretation, your commentary (Garland’s, Carter’s, or Patte’s), and your interpretation? One can recognize if the envisioned teaching address problems of KNOWLEDGE, WILL, ABILITY, IDEOLOGY, FAITH-VISION.  Can you envision the kind of concrete contextual problems in each case (even though scholars usually do not specify them)?

7 Matthew, a Complex Text: 1 E LAINE M. W AINWRIGHT, CDC  Matthew, a carefully crafted story of Jesus, moves skillfully between narrative and discourse (see markers: 7:28 “Now when Jesus had finished saying these things”; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1).  It depicts Jesus as a preacher, teacher, and healer (4:23; 9:35) in the context of 1 st -c. Palestinian Judaism.  Matthew 4:23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.

8 Matthew, a Complex Text: 2 E LAINE M. W AINWRIGHT, CDC  Generally, scholars locate the origins of the Gospel in the last decades of the 1 st c., in Syria, most likely Antioch, a cosmopolitan city of the Roman Empire with a long-standing Jewish enclave.  Within such a Jewish context, the Matthean community struggles with its parent body concerning issues of authority and authoritative interpretation of their sacred traditions (5:21–48; 16:13–20; 18:18–20).  Others from a variety of ethnic origins (“Gentiles”) challenge the boundaries of the Matthean community and some of the Gospel’s stories reflect a rethinking of the way Gentiles might be included (2:1–11; 8:5–13; 15:21–28).

9 Matthew, a Complex Text: 3 E LAINE M. W AINWRIGHT, CDC  The program that shapes this story of Jesus is found in 4:17: the basileia, Kingdom or empire of the heavens is near at hand. 4:17 "Repent, for the kingdom/empire/kin-dom of heaven has come near."  A group of disciples (men and women; 4:18–22; 8:14– 15; 9:9) experience this basileia through Jesus’ preaching (5–7; 10; 13:1–52; 18; 21:23–25:46) and healing (8–9; 12:9–14; 15:21–28; 17:14–23; 20:29– 34; 21:14).  They, in turn, are commissioned to go and tell people that Jesus has been raised (28:7), to reconcile failed disciples (28:10), and to teach and make disciples (28:19–20).

10 Matthew, a Complex Text: 4 E LAINE M. W AINWRIGHT, CDC  Theological Theme: Jesus is characterized in continuity with Israel’s traditions  He is named the one born of God or Son of God (2:15; 3:17; 4:3, 6; 14:33; 16:16; 26:63; 27:40, 43, 54). He fulfills what the prophets have said  He gives a new law from the mountaintop as Moses did (5–7),  he heals as Elijah and Elisha did (8–9).

11 Matthew, a Complex Text: 5 E LAINE M. W AINWRIGHT, CDC  Theological Theme: He is also a sign of divine discontinuity. He is in the line of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba (1:3, 5, 6) and is child of an endangered woman (1:16, 18–25). His deeds of prophetic healing draw forth the title “Sophia” (Wisdom), justified by her deeds (11:19), He learns to extend his understanding of the basileia vision of God from a Canaanite woman (15:21–28).  Tensions within created tensions without:  used, e.g, as a foundation for the structure of the (supersessionist) Roman Catholic Church (16:13–20) and as an anti-Jewish weapon (27:25).  Tensions in the text concerning authority, membership, women’s leadership, etc. continue to engage women in their practices and theologies.

12 A Complex Text = Many Choices as We Read  Discovering that we make Hermeneutic or Theological choices (Discussion & last part of our session): today regarding the understanding of “Jesus-Messiah,” “Son of God” “Kingdom” Salvation  Discovering that we make Textual choices Anderson and Moore, Mark and Method, pp. 1-21, 23-49. David Garland, Literary and Theological Commentary Warren Carter, Sociopolitical and Religious Reading Daniel Patte, A Commentary on Matthew’s Faith

13 Choices: But NOT Everything Goes in a Responsible Reading !!!  The one aspect of the text I choose as most significant (= textual choice) must be shown to be in the text: must be LEGITIMATE (grounded in the text)  The theological view of key concepts I choose to emphasize (because of my religious perspective = theological choice) must be shown to be PLAUSIBLE (make sense) and related to the text  The contextual teaching I find in the text for a specific situation must be shown to be VALID (have value) (beneficial, not hurtful) and related to the text

14 What is Matthew? How related to other Gospels?  Four Gospels in NT (many others outside)  Four DIFFERENT views of Jesus and his ministry… and not ONE  Irenaeus … underscores the theological differences  As we read Matthew, WE WILL PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO READ MATTHEW (and not read into it the other Gospels)

15 What is Matthew? How related to other Gospels?  John is very different… most independent  But Matthew, Mark, and Luke are SYNOPTICS = you can see them together, because so similar.  As discussed by Powell, two possibilities: Matthew was first (Papias, Bishop of Hieropolis; ca 110-125), written in Hebrew (or Aramaic); Mark an abbreviation… still held by some scholars

16 What is Matthew? How related to other Gospels?  Two source hypothesis is viewed as more plausible by most scholars  Mark Q Source  Special Matthew Traditions Special Luke Traditions  MATTHEWLUKE

17 Textual Choice: GENRE. How do you read a Report on the White House by?

18 Textual Choice: What is the GENRE of this TV Report? Of Matthew?  Three main possibilities: you necessarily chose one!  (but not it does not matter, because Matthew is unique!). Each is a Legitimate = Justifiable choice  1) Matthew is a “BIOGRAPHY” of Jesus  Like the “bios” (“lives”) of great persons in the Hellenistic World. Garland pp. 5-6  2) Matthew is a “STORY” – a popular narrative (Garland, Patte, Carter)  3) Matthew is a RELIGIOUS TEXT: a “myth”; a “ritual text”; an “apocalyptic sacred history”(Patte)  4) Matthew is a “COUNTER-NARRATIVE” (Carter)  Most everyone agrees that these four possibilities are PLAUSIBLE… but always one is PRIMARY for a given reader.

19 Textual Choice: Matthew as a “Biography”:  A Plausible choice but also a Legitimate one!  PLAUSIBILITY: Expectation: Reading Matthew we will learn something about Jesus’ life -bios Matthews tells readers who Jesus is. Important for WHOM? (What Contextual reason?) For Believers who need to know more about Jesus Important For WHAT Theological reason? For the Proclamation of the Jesus event and who Jesus is (e.g. the crucified Jesus as the basis of Christian faith)  LEGITIMACY: This Gospel is about Jesus Christ/Messiah, Son of David, Son of Abraham, Emmanuel, Son of God (Mat 1- 4) (we will discuss this)

20 Textual Choice: Matthew as a “Biography”  A legitimate textual choice  That also makes theological sense (is “plausible”)  Discipleship refers to people who believe “in the right way” that Jesus is Christ, Son of God = special relationship to God The problem is that people have inappropriate knowledge or understanding of who Jesus is.  Kingdom of God? As the space and the people upon whom God’s reign. Both present and future. The manifestation of God’s kingdom (in Jesus’ ministry) demands a response.  Son of God and Kingdom of God both refers to the Sovereignty of God (as Father, so patriarchal; as Lord, so kyriarchal)

21 Textual Choice: Matthew as “Story”  A legitimate textual choice  Oral story (or aural). Like popular literature  Expectation: the hearers will enter the story, participate in the story: Where am I in this story? Who should I identify with? How does this story becomes my story?  Jesus as Emmanuel - new born - and “with us until the end of the age” (28:20) – as the Lord with all authority and power in heaven and on earth (28:18)  Also, story of “disciples” from their call ch. 4 to their being sent in Mission ch. 28… ;;

22 Textual Choice: Matthew as “Counternarrative”  Carter (page xvii): “ Matthew’s gospel is a counternarrative. It is a work of resistance written from and for a minority community of disciples commited to Jesus, the agent of God’s saving presence and empire. The gospel shapes their identity and lifestyle as an alternative community. It strengthens this community to resist the dominant Roman imperial and synagogal control. It anticipates Jesus’ return when Jesus will complete God’s salvific purposes establishing God’s reign or empire over all, including Rome.” ;;

23 Textual Choice: Matthew as a Religious Text:  Legitimacy: Matthew is a Religious Text!!!  A “myth”; a “ritual text”; an “apocalyptic sacred history”: Matthew is a “Myth”?  Not in the popular use of myth as something that is false. This usage arose ca. 1830 from rationalist labeling the religious stories and beliefs of other cultures as being incorrect = false (non-scientific) explanation of the world and human experience  Academic View: a myth conveys a fundamental truth Jonathan Z. Smith, ed, HarperCollins Dictionary of Religion 1995 pp. 749-751

24 Textual Choice: Matthew as a “Religious Text”: “Myth” in an Academic View. 1  a myth is a story of supernatural events or heroism that is believed to be true by a culture that perceives religious or spiritual significance in the story (answering the question: WHY?). And NOT a false attempt to explain the WHAT? Or HOW? of the world and human existence  1) Functionalist View of Myth: The myth meets psychological and sociological needs of people; establishes the nomos, ideological perception of the world -- usually included in the role of “story” (above)  2) Symbolic View of Myth: that which establishes the vision of the world, the system of convictions, a view of life that include the sacred, the holy, the presence of God. Which addresses the question WHY? Jonathan Z. Smith, ed, HarperCollins Dictionary of Religion 1995 pp. 749-751

25 Textual Choice: Matthew as a “Religious Text”: “Myth” in an Academic View. 2  A Religious text is, by definition, associated with a ritual that establishes the believers’ symbolic world  Faith= participating in this view of the world.  Legitimacy: Historically, it is highly probable that Matthew was used in churches in various settings.

26 Textual Choice: Matthew as a “Religious Text”: “Myth” in an Academic View. 3  Matthew = Apocalyptic Religious Text: Apocalyptic Sacred history when all of life become a grand liturgy (God’s presence in it)  Matthew = A liturgical book which allows one to recognize the presence of God in daily life  See book of Revelation 21: the vision of the New Jerusalem… where there is no Temple because God is found everywhere in life  It is Legitimate for Blount to read Matthew in terms of a slave myth: High John de Conquer

27 Textual Choice: Matthew as a “Religious Text” as “Myth” 4  Matthew as myth is to be read with other myths/religious texts as “intertexts” =biblical texts (Hebrew Bible—e.g. Exodus 23:20 and Isaiah 40:3 in 1:2-3; Jewish traditions; Hellenistic traditions) Comparing; Contrasting, sharpening other As Fulfilling  Read in terms of religious texts of our culture or time: Brian Blount: a slave myth: High John de Conquer. Result: Seeing all kinds of aspects of the text of Matthew… as a liberation text; about the Kingdom as border crossing


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