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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 who can produce from his store both the new and the old.“ Matthew 13: 51-52.
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.
“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.
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: 51-52. • 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).
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.”
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 4th century CE when the canon was formed. • Matthew’s version of "Peter's confession," ch. 16: 13-20. • 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: 7-10. • Various other attacks on “hypocrites” in ch. 6. • And implied in ch. 10: 17-23. • 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.