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Matthew – a revisionary gospel: first lecture "When therefore a teacher of the law has become a learner in the kingdom of Heaven, he is like a householder.

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Presentation on theme: "Matthew – a revisionary gospel: first lecture "When therefore a teacher of the law has become a learner in the kingdom of Heaven, he is like a householder."— Presentation transcript:

1 Matthew – a revisionary gospel: first lecture "When therefore a teacher of the law has become a learner in the kingdom of Heaven, he is like a householder who can produce from his store both the new and the old.“ Matthew 13:

2 Matthew and Mark Was Matthew dissatisfied with Mark? He swallows up Mark almost whole – much more faithful in assimilating Mark than Luke is. And he includes a lot of material not in Mark (Q, infancy narrative, other narrative pericopes, parables, teachings, prophecies – see hand- out). But also some ideological differences. Different portrayal of disciples. Different sense of “intertexuality” in relation to the Hebrew Scriptures. And a different attitude toward his readers. Significant disagreement with Mark at certain points.

3 “Matthew” -- authorship Again Papias (c. 140 A.D.): "Matthew compiled sayings in the Aramaic language [literally "in the Hebrew dialect"] and everyone translated them as best they could." But not a very good description of this gospel – “ta logia”? Not written in Aramaic, but Greek from the start. May have been associated with the name because it’s substituted for the figure called “Levi” in other gospels (9:9). But the gospel no where gives this name for authorship. So again, a mystery – and an anonymous gospel.

4 The author’s self-characterization? "When therefore a teacher of the law has become a learner in the kingdom of Heaven, he is like a householder who can produce from his store both the new and the old.“ Matthew 13: The writer brings forth the old, which is his knowledge of the Hebrew scriptures. And puts it into the service of the new, Jesus’ teachings and the “kingdom of heaven” (not “of God.”) A rabbi teaching the fulfillment of law, not its overturning (significant difference from Paul).

5 When and where? Dated in the early to middle 80s C.E., about 10 or 15 years after Mark. A more “developed” sense of Christian community in Matthew. It required access to a considerable library of the Hebrew scriptures, probably in a city. Texts: Mark, Q, Septuagint translation of H.S., other written material for parables, infancy narrative, etc. Written for a community of Greek-speaking Jewish Christians. But Gentiles as well. Very likely Antioch, earliest church outside Palestine, where Acts says Jesus people were first called “Christians.”

6 Differences from Mark Matthew's is the only one of the gospels to mention the Church. Which seems why it was given pride of place in 4 th century CE when the canon was formed. Matthew’s version of "Peter's confession," ch. 16: Amplified from Mark. Similarly in “Transfiguration,” 17: 1-8; subtly softens picture of disciples. Jesus comes and touches them, reassuring them. Wherever in Mark the disciples are unaware and blind to the meaning of Jesus, in Matthew they understand.

7 Difference from Mark 2 “Intertextual” relationship to Hebrew Scriptures. Matthew quotes the Hebrew Bible at least 60 times in an explicit way. A dozen or so of those times he introduces the quotation with "This was done in order to fulfill the words of Scripture.“ Uses Hebrew Scriptures in an essentialist, ahistorical way, which is way it was read at time. A lawyer making his case.

8 Matthew’s beginning A genealogy! Why? Like one of those priestly genealogies from Pentateuch (or Torah)? Links Jesus directly with David. David = 14 in numerical equivalent of the letters in Hebrew. 14 generations from Abraham to David. 14 from David to Babylonian captivity. 14 from Babylonian captivity to Jesus. “David, David, David!” Descending to Joseph, Jesus’ legal father. Joseph wasn’t mentioned in Mark, though Mary was. Davidic significance of birth in Bethlehem: 2: 5-6.

9 Matthew’s infancy narrative Entirely different from Luke’s. They share only four things: Names of parents; Virgin birth (but described differently); Birth in Bethlehem (but explained differently). Nazareth and Galilee (but explained differently in each.) All other details completely different. In both Bethlehem has symbolic rather than literal significance. Mark and Paul say nothing of a miraculous conception for Jesus. Modern scholarship sees infancy stories as essentially mythic or legendary accounts.

10 Character of Matthew’s infancy narrative Darker than Luke’s? Joseph’s desire to dismiss Mary. Story of Herod and magi, slaughter of children. Passages of Hebrew Scriptures seem to motivate and structure the account: Hosea, Jeremiah. Matthew’s story neither historical nor fictional, rather symbolic and theological. The point being what the symbolic means, not what literally occurred.

11 Matthew and the Law “Do not suppose that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets...” 5:17. “... until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass away until all is accomplished.” And “whoever breaks one of the least commandments and teaches others to do so...” Will be called least in the kingdom. Which must mean Paul! And everywhere Matthew ties his gospel to passages of Hebrew Scriptures. “Golden rule” at 7: 12: “This is the law and the prophets.” Which was also the teaching of Rabbi Hillel, one of the two leading Pharisaic teachers contemporary with Jesus: "do not unto another what you would abhor to have done to yourself.“ See also J’s commission to disciples at 10: 5-6.

12 Jesus and Pharisees in Matthew While being the most “Jewish” of the gospels, M. is also the most anti-Pharisaic. John attacks Pharisees and Saducees right at beginning: 3: Various other attacks on “hypocrites” in ch. 6. And implied in ch. 10: Chapter 23 the harshest attack in the NT on the Pharisees. In fact the historical Jesus probably agreed with much of the Pharisaic program. Agreed with them, against the Saducees, about the “resurrection of the dead” and judgment after death. Why the hostility in Matthew? The historical circumstances after 85 CE.


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