Criticism of Matthew
- Matthew: Storyteller, Interpreter, Evangelist
- The Origins of the Gospel According to St. Matthew: Textual and Source Study
Matthew: Storyteller, Interpreter, Evangelist
Warren Carter, Hendrickson Publishers, 2004
For ten years, the well-received first edition of this introduction offered readers a way to look at scriptural texts that combines historical, narrative, and contemporary interests. Carter explores Matthew by approaching it from the perspective of the “authorial audience”–by identifying with and reading along with the audience imagined by the author. Now an updated second edition is available as part of a series focusing on each of the gospel writers as storyteller, interpreter, and evangelist.
This edition preserves the essential identity of the original material, while adding new insights from Carter’s more recent readings of Matthew’s gospel in relation to the Roman Imperial world.
Four of the seventeen chapters have been significantly revised, and most have had minor changes. There are also new endnotes directing readers to Carter’s more recent published work on Matthew. Scholars and pastors will use the full bibliography and appendix on redaction and narrative approaches, while lay readers will appreciate the clear and straightforward text.
Amazon Link: https://amzn.to/3NAGTKa
The first major extant writing to refer unambiguously to the gospel “according to Matthew” is by Irenaeus bishop of Lyons late in the second century. Irenaeus provides the first evidence that this gospel was known as Matthew’s gospel, some one hundred years after the gospel’s likely time of writing (see further below). He seems to know the contents of the gospel well, explicitly attributing citations to it and alluding to other passages in it. However, the lateness of Irenaeus’s evidence for the link between Matthew’s name and the gospel raises questions about his claim that Matthew, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, wrote it. Irenaeus’s purposes for making claims about the gospel’s origin also raise questions. The references appear in his work Against Heresies, written around 180– 190, a time of much controversy and diversity of thinking. Irenaeus was defending and strengthening the “mainstream” church against those whose thinking and lifestyles he considered to be outside its limits. (Carter, Warren. Matthew (p. 26). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
Clearly, Papias is not much help. As I have suggested above, it is unlikely that Papias considered the apostle Matthew the author of Matthew’s gospel. Nevertheless, early writers such as Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius, and Augustine, seem to think that Papias’s view was that Matthew the apostle did write the First Gospel. The external evidence does not provide clear clues about the author of the Gospel of Matthew. Claims that a disciple of Jesus named Matthew wrote this gospel are undermined by the relatively late date of the evidence, its context of polemic against other groups, and its ambiguous content. Scholars turn to the gospel itself for clues about its author. (Carter, Warren. Matthew (p. 29). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
A reading of the Gospel of Matthew reveals that at least one opinion held by ancient writers is mistaken. This is their claim that Matthew’s gospel was written in Hebrew. The gospel, as we have noted, is written in Greek, not Hebrew, and does not show signs of being a translation. The claim that it was written in Hebrew was probably driven by a larger theological agenda rather than based on historical information. It conveniently served to underline the antiquity of this gospel and link it to the apostles. Perhaps, since ancient writers were wrong about this point, they were also wrong in other respects (Carter, Warren. Matthew (p. 29). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
In the parable of the king’s wedding feast (Matt 22:1-14), verse 7 records the king’s violent response to those who refuse his invitation. He sends troops to destroy them and burn their city. This verse interrupts the sequence of verses 6 and 8. It records a response that exceeds what the situation requires and is missing in Luke’s version of the parable (Luke 14:15-24). Scholars have suggested that the author has added it to the parable to provide a theological interpretation of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. If this is accurate,[ 49] it would indicate that the gospel was written some time after 70 C.E. (Carter, Warren. Matthew (pp. 34-35). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
Matthew’s use of Mark has several consequences for the question of authorship and for understanding the role of the authorial audience. First it reinforces a post-70 date for the Gospel of Matthew. In turn, if the gospel was written in the 80s or 90s, some sixty years have passed since the time of Jesus. This time gap makes authorship by one of Jesus’ disciples most unlikely. Further, it would be improbable (though not impossible) for an eyewitness and disciple of Jesus to rely so heavily on another gospel as a source for his own account. These factors make it most unlikely that the apostle Matthew was the author of the gospel. Therefore the authorial audience is not reading an eyewitness account. (Carter, Warren. Matthew (p. 35). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
I have discussed the claim that Matthew, the disciple of Jesus, was the gospel’s author. I have concluded that this claim is not convincing because it lacks both external and internal evidence. I suggest that the gospel was probably written by an unidentifiable, educated, Jewish Christian living in Syria, possibly in the city of Antioch, sometime in the 80s in the first-century C.E. I suggest that the name “Matthew” was later attached to the gospel because it denotes a respected and authoritative figure who may have been associated with the gospel’s traditions or a community addressed by the gospel. (Carter, Warren. Matthew (p. 37). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition._
The author of Matthew’s gospel introduced diverse material and rearranged Mark’s narrative. The process of assembling pericopes or individual and somewhat self-contained units into a new, larger unit shapes and interprets the material, thereby impacting the audience’s comprehension. Decisions to include or omit material, to locate it at a particular point in the gospel, to juxtapose it with what precedes and follows, to use particular words and style, to add to or abbreviate a section or pericope, all influence the audience’s understanding. This process of composition or redaction (as it is commonly called) provides the gospel writers with the means to express their own theological agendas and to address the situations of their audiences. (Carter, Warren. Matthew (p. 44). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
Redaction critics assume that gospel writers make consistent changes to express their own theological convictions and to shape the audience’s understanding, identity, and lifestyle. Matthew emerges as a theologian in his own right, one who understands and presents the story of Jesus to express theological insights that differ from those of Mark and Luke..
Redaction critics contend that differences between gospels reflect not only the distinctive theological understandings of each gospel writer but also the different circumstances in the communities for whom the gospels were written. So gospel writers shaped their material to influence the lifestyle and address the needs and circumstances of their own community of faith. Examination of the author’s changes to the gospel material gives redaction critics a sense of the target community’s situation. This helps in understanding what is required of the audience. The gospel’s content and characters (for example, the disciples) reveal the social and religious situation of the writer’s community. (Carter, Warren. Matthew (pp. 44-45). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
A gospel writer as pastoral theologian differs significantly from a gospel writer as eyewitness recorder. The former has a key role in shaping the contents of the text. So Matthew was not an eyewitness apostle, but a pastoral theologian seeking to build up his community in its particular circumstances, probably late in first-century Antioch. Like any pastor, he presented stories about Jesus to meet the needs of his community. He thus strengthened their identity as disciples of Jesus and shaped their way of life. His gospel appears not primarily as a historical account of the life of Jesus but as a proclamation of the significance of Jesus for a particular community of believers. (Carter, Warren. Matthew (p. 45). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
Some of the earliest redaction work originates from Günther Bornkamm in a 1948 essay on Matt 8:23–27 titled “The Stilling of the Storm in Matthew.” Bornkamm’s work with this pericope offers an example of how the author presents material to shape the audience’s understanding and lifestyle… Mark presents a miracle story emphasizing Jesus’ power over nature. Matthew makes changes to “give it a new meaning” as a story about “the danger and glory” of discipleship in “the little ship of the church.” Matthew does not merely pass on the tradition but interprets it, directing the audience’s insight. (Carter, Warren. Matthew (p. 45). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
Much form and redaction work insists that the gospels were, because of their theological content and pastoral orientation, a unique genre in the ancient world. But other scholars have argued that their content, form of writing, and function as accounts about Jesus resemble an ancient biography (a bios). (Carter, Warren. Matthew (p. 49). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
It is no longer possible to see the gospel’s genre as an eyewitness account of the life of Jesus. Rather, Matthew is an ancient biography or story, which functions as a vehicle for proclamation about Jesus. Though it contains historically accurate material, this gospel proclaims the significance of Jesus for the purpose of shaping the identity and lifestyle of a particular community of faith… An unknown pastoral theologian shaped these traditions about Jesus to address the particular circumstances of his community or communities of faith, existing perhaps in the Syrian city of Antioch in the eighth decade of the first-century. (Carter, Warren. Matthew (p. 51). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
Matthew and Mark
Matthew includes all but approximately 55 verses of Mark’s 661 verses. He uses about 8,555 of Mark’s 11,078 words… Matthew transmits, reinterprets, and reformulates Mark in five ways: (1) omitting, (2) adding and expanding, (3) reordering, (4) abbreviating, and (5) improving style. (Carter, Warren. Matthew (pp. 53-54). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
- Omissions of References to Jesus’ Emotions and Limitations The Jesus of the Gospel of Mark experiences human emotions, weakness, and limitations in knowledge and actions. Matthew, however, removes many references to Jesus’ emotions, particularly “unfavorable” indications of Jesus’ impatience or frustration. (Mark 3:5 vs Matt 12:12, Mark 8:12 vs Matt 12:39 and Matt 16:2).
- Matthew generally omits references to Jesus’ inability to do something or to circumstances that seem to limit him. (Mark 6:4 vs Matt 13:58, Mark 6:48 vs Matt 14:25, Mark 8:23-25 vs omitted in Matt)
- Mark’s Jesus displays ignorance by asking questions to elicit knowledge. Matthew omits these questions. He presents Jesus as already possessing knowledge or being sufficiently in control to have no need to know.(Mark 5:30, Mark 8:12, Mark 9:16)
- Matthew’s changes to Mark’s material recast the audience’s knowledge. Matthew’s more exalted presentation of Jesus guides the audience to greater reverence for and trust in Jesus. It decreases his human qualities and emphasizes those which show his control of circumstances.)
- A further set of omissions reformulates the audience’s knowledge of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Matthew recasts the presentation of the disciples found in Mark. Mark’s disciples are frequently uncomprehending, self-seeking, and faithless. Matthew’s disciples, while not ideal figures, more often model the faithful, understanding, and obedient discipleship required of his audience. (Mark 4:13, Mark 9:6, Mark 10:35-37)
- (Carter, Warren. Matthew (p. 55- 57). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition)
Adding and Expanding Material
Matthew includes five major sections of Jesus’ teaching (chs. 5– 7, 10, 13, 18, 23– 25). Several of these sections expand on Mark’s material (compare Matt 13 with Mark 4; Matt 23– 25 with Mark 13) while the others add to Mark’s narrative (Matt 5-7; 10; 18). This supplies the audience with important teaching about discipleship, the church, and the coming judgment (eschatology). In chapter 18, for instance, the first nine verses follow Mark 9: 33– 50, although with abbreviation (compare Matt 18: 6-9 with Mark 9:42-50), omission (Mark 9:38–40), and relocation (Mark 9:41 with Matt 10:42). At verse 10, however, Matthew departs from Mark to provide further instruction about relationships among disciples. The next twenty-five verses have no parallel in Mark. He picks up Mark 10 again in chapter 19. (Carter, Warren. Matthew (p. 58). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5– 7) has no Markan parallel in form or content. Matthew creates this section by interrupting and reformulating Mark’s narrative at 1: 21: “.
. . and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught” (lit.).
Matthew changes the synagogue location to a mountain and replaces the synagogue audience with the newly-called disciples (Matt 5:1-2). Many have explained the change to a mountain as an explicit echo of Moses’ receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. The new setting enables the audience to understand Jesus as an authoritative figure who in the tradition of Moses reveals God’s will. After adding three chapters of teaching not found in Mark, Matthew picks up Mark 1:22 in Matt 7:28–29 to describe the response to Jesus’ teaching:
“The crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.” (RSV)
Matthew cites this verse word for word, except for two additions: (1) he adds “the crowds” to clarify Mark’s unspecified “they,” and (2) at the beginning of the verse he adds a clause, “When Jesus had finished these sayings” (Matt 7:28). He uses this same clause to close each of Jesus’ five major teaching blocks (see Matt 11:1; Matt 13:53; Matt 19:1; Matt 26:1). The last use, Matt 26:1, repeats the first use in Matt 7:28 word for word, except for the addition of the adjective “all” (“ when Jesus had finished all these sayings” [lit.]). For the audience, the repeated clause and added adjective connect the five teaching sections together and establish the close of Jesus’ teaching ministry before the passion. (Carter, Warren. Matthew (pp. 58-59). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
Matthew strengthens instruction for the audience about discipleship with the added and expanded teaching discourses. He also makes numerous other smaller additions through adding key words like “little faith,” “hypocrite,” and “lawlessness.” These additions contribute to the presentation of the identity and expected lifestyle of disciples and indicate Matthew’s particular interest in ethical and faith-full behavior. (Carter, Warren. Matthew (p. 61). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
One scholar has identified ninety-five words and phrases that are characteristic of Matthew (Davies and Allison (Matthew, 1.75– 76) list the ninety-five words from Hawkins, Horae Synopticae, 4– 8). Other scholars add over a hundred more to the list. (Davies and Allison (Matthew, 1.77– 79) add 143 words. For similar lists, see Luz, Matthew 1– 7, 52– 73; Gundry, Matthew, 1–5, 641– 49.) Not all of these terms are added to Mark’s material; some derive from Matthew’s other sources. But the number of such terms indicates Matthew’s extensive efforts to affirm and reconfigure the audience’s understanding. Davies and Allison note that Matthew’s characteristic language is evidence of the importance of christology, eschatology, ethics, ecclesiology, and the role of the Hebrew Bible in this gospel. (Carter, Warren. Matthew (p. 61). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
Matthew reorganizes the order of scenes in Mark’s narrative. This reordering is particularly pronounced in Matt 3:1-13: 58 (Mark 1– 6). (Carter, Warren. Matthew (p. 61). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
To begin chapters 8– 9, Matthew rearranges Mark’s order in Mark 1:23-5 to give prominence to the story of the leper’s healing as the opening story in Matt 8:1-4 (Mark 1:40-45). To achieve this, he omits Mark 1:23-28 and Mark 1:35-39, placing Mark 1:40-45 ahead of the healing stories in Mark 1:29-31 and 32-34. The redaction critic D. J. Harrington sees several reasons for setting the story of the healing of the leper first. Jesus commands the healed leper to show himself to the priest (Matt 8:4) in accord with Leviticus 14. This command demonstrates Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (5:17-48) that he came to fulfill, not abolish, the law and the prophets. So his followers must do the same. Carter, Warren. Matthew (pp. 62-63). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Matt 8 and 9 do not collect miracle stories for the sake of displays of power. Rather, they express christological and ecclesiological (discipleship) concerns, reflecting the insights of the evangelist and his understanding of the needs and circumstances of his community. One important issue is the community’s relationship to Jewish traditions and heritage (Matt 8:4; Matt 9:13, Matt 9:14-17). The stories emphasize for the audience that this tradition continues, but as defined by Jesus. (Carter, Warren. Matthew (p. 64). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
Social and religious character of the audience
Matthew also presents Jesus as the one who brings the definitive interpretation of God’s will. In a section unique to Matthew (5:21-48), Jesus quotes Jewish traditions six times in order to present their definitive interpretation. The interpretations support the claim made in 5: 17 that Jesus has come not “to abolish the law and the prophets . . . but to fulfill [them].” Jesus interprets the scriptural traditions (found in the Septuagint) to indicate their “true” meaning (Matt 9:13; Matt 11:10; Matt 12:1-8; Matt 12: 9-14; Matt 13:14-17; Matt 15:1-20; Matt 19:3-12; Matt 22:34-40; Matt 22:41-46). The words of Moses, David, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, properly understood in the light of Jesus’ interpretation, are presented as endorsements of his divine authority. (Carter, Warren. Matthew (p. 80). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
Using redaction criticism to examine Matthew’s use of his sources, we have identified some likely aspects of the situation of Matthew’s community in later first-century Antioch: (1) it is a minority community in a large and diverse city within the Roman Empire; (2) a recent and bitter dispute with a synagogue has resulted in Matthew’s community’s separating from the synagogue; (3) in this situation of transition, the gospel seeks to secure the community’s identity and lifestyle with words of legitimation, explanation, and direction; and (4) the community has a marginal existence. Its ambivalent attitude toward society and the Roman imperial order involves being set apart (because of its commitment to Jesus) but being a participant in its daily life with a command to carry out missionary activity that enacts God’s transforming reign. It is an alternative, inclusive community reconciling its own divisions and repairing the damage and divisions of its society. The authorial audience is assumed to be familiar with these social and religious experiences as it reads or hears Matthew’s gospel. (Carter, Warren. Matthew (pp. 91-92). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
The Gospel of Matthew
Donald Senior, Nashville : Abingdon Press: 1997
Amazon Book Link: https://amzn.to/3KRbYYF
In this volume, Donald Senior provides an up-to-date introduction to the Gospel of Matthew. The seven chapters of Part One focus on modern biblical scholarship and the interpretation of Matthew, discussing the sources and structure of the Gospel, its use of the Old Testament, its understanding of Jewish Law, its setting as a part of the mission of Christianity to the Gentiles, its Christology, its understanding of the nature of discipleship, and the community from which the Gospel originated. The six chapters of Part Two provide a structured guide to reading and interpreting Matthew’s Gospel.
Rev. Donald Senior, C.P., is President Emeritus and Chancellor of Catholic Theological Union in Chicago (CTU), where he is also a member of the faculty as Professor of New Testament. Born in Philadelphia, he is a member of the Passionist Congregation and was ordained a priest in 1967. He received his doctorate in New Testament studies from the University of Louvain in Belgium in 1972, with advanced studies at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati and Harvard University.
The Sources of Matthew’s Gospel, pgs. 22-23
Argument for Marcan priority
1. A strong argument for Mark’s priority is the difficulty of explaining why Mark would have omitted so much of the material found in Matthew and Luke if, in fact, Mark used them as a source. In Matthew this includes such key gospel material as the infancy narratives, the Sermon on the Mount – including the Lord’s Prayer—much of the mission discourse (chap. 10) may of the parables including the ones on forgiveness in chapter 18, Jesus’ critique of the religious leaders in chapter 23, much of Jesus’ teaching about the end time in chapters 24 to 25, and all of the resurrection appearances found in chapter 28…
2. Another type of argument for Marcan priority is based on content. In a number of instances, Matthew’s gospel seems to enhance the Greek style of Mark. Although it is conceivable, on the supposition that Mark used Matthew, that Mark was an inferior writer of Greek and simply took Matthew’s superior style down a peg. it is more convincing to suggest that Matthew improved upon Mark’s Greek.
The same holds true for a number of places where Matthew would appear to upgrade Mark’s content or to eliminate passages in Mark that were enigmatic or possibly offensive. Matthew, for example, omits Mark 3:21 where Jesus’ family believes him to be “beside himself’ or out of his mind. Mark’s report that Jesus healed “many” (Mark 1:32-34; 3:10) becomes healed “all” in Matthew’s version (Matt 8:16; 12:15) These examples can be multiplied many times over.
The Question of Sources and the Character of Matthew’s Gospel
We know, too, that Matthew was not merely a copyist, blending traditional sources into a new mix. He also reworked these sources, giving them the stamp of his own literary style and theological perspective. At the same time, he added material to his narrative not found in either Mark or Q. This special Matthean material is sometimes referred to as “M.” Some of this is extensive, such as the stories that make up the infancy narrative (Matt 1-2) or the stories surrounding the resurrection of Jesus (Matt 27:62-66; 28:9-10, 16-20). Other additions are more brief such as the chain of events that explodes at the moment of Jesus’s death (Matt 27:51-53) or the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matt 18:21-35). Some of this material may be traceable to oral traditions handed on in Matthew’s community which the evangelist put into written form and incorporated in his gospel.
Structure of Matthew, pgs. 25-27
The five great discourses of Jesus are a unique feature of Matthew’s gospel. Many commentators on Matthew’s gospel have found in these discourses the key to Matthew’s literary design. One of the most influential proponents of this approach was the American scholar Benjamin Bacon, who wrote in the early part of this [20th] century. He noted the presence in Matthew of a transition statement that occurs five times in the gospel (Matt 7:28; Matt 11:1; Matt 13:53; Matt 19:1; Matt 26:1), each making the end of a main discourse and the beginning of a narrative section. Bacon surmised that these formulae were the results of Matthew’s own editorial work and that the five great “books” of narrative and discourse they set off were evidence that the evangelist had patterned his gospel after the fie great books of the Pentateuch. This Pentateuchal structure signaled Matthew’s ultimate purpose: Jesus was the “new Moses” replacing the authority of the old Law and offering the new law or Torah to the church.
Commentators such as Peter F. Ellis and H. B. Green took this tendency of the evangelist [grouping in clusters] a step further by proposing that the entire literary design of Matthew’s gospel is chiastic in structure (Peter F. Ellis, Matthew: His Mind and His Message, Collegeville Minn. Liturgical Press, 1974). Chiasm is a pattern used in ancient Greek literature in which a text is ordered around a center, with other segments radiating from the center and standing in balance with one another. Put in letter form, this would be: a b c b’ a’. With c as the center of the literary piece, the other segments (a and a’, b and b’] would be in evident thematic parallel with one another. The basic purpose of a chiastic arrangement was to facilitate memorization of material.
Ellis detected the ‘center’ of Matthew’s gospel in the parable discourse of chapter 13, where fresh form conflict with his opponents, Jesus begins to instruct his disciples about eh mystery of the Kingdom. From this centerpiece the other segments of the narrative are suspended and stand in relationship with one another. In the case of the main discourses, for example, the Sermon on the Mount finds its parallel in the judgement discourses of chapters 23-25, and the mission discourse is paralleled by the instructions on life within the community in chapter 18… The overall pattern would be as follows:
- a, Narrative: Chapters 1-4
- b, Sermon: Chapters 5-7
- c, Narrative: Chapters 8-9
- d, Sermon: Chapter 10
- e, Narrative: Chapters 11-12
- f, Sermon: Chapter 13 [center]
- e’, Narrative: Chapters 14-17
- d’, Sermon: Chapter 18
- c’, Narrative: Chapters 19-22
- b’, Sermon: Chapters 23-25
- a’, Narrative: Chapters 26-28
H. B. Green, on the other hand, locates the center of Matthew’s chiastic pattern in chapter 11. This chapter, Green contends, with its reference to John the Baptist, its summary of the miracles of Jesus, and Jesus’ own profound words about his role as Son of God, contains the whole gospel in miniature. From this center, all the other segments of the gospel can be placed in parallel:
- a, Infancy Narrative: Chapters 1-2
- b, Manifestation of Christ to Israel: Chapters 3-4
- c, Teaching of the Sermon: Chapters 5-7
- d, Miracles performed: Chapters 8-9
- e, Rejection of Proclamation: Chapter 10
- f, Jesus attested as Son of God: Chapter 11 [center]
- e’, Rejection of Proclamation: Chapters 12-13
- d’, Miracles rejected: Chapters 14-18
- c’, Rejection of the Sermon: Chapters 19-23
- b’, Manifestation at the end time: Chapters 24-25
- a’, Passion Narrative: Chapters 26-28
Matthew’s use of the Old Testament, pgs. 33-34
One does not have to read very far into Matthew’s Gospel to become aware of his frequent and explicit appeal to the Old Testament as he narrates the story of Jesus. Five times in the first two chapters, Matthew explicitly quotes the Old Testament, in four of these instances using a “fulfillment formula” to introduce the text. Thus, the miraculous conception of Jesus fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 (Matt 1:23); the flight into Egypt fulfills the promise of God in Hosea 11:1 (Matt 2:15); the identity of Bethlehem as the place where the messiah is to be born is confirmed by citing Micah 5:1 (Matt 2:6); the massacre of the infants in Bethlehem is the fulfillment of a lamentation found in Jeremiah 31:15 (Matt 2:18); and in Matthew 2:23 the evangelist cites the fulfillment of the words of the prophets in connection with the displacement of the holy family to Nazareth, although it is uncertain exactly which Old Testament passage he had in mind.
Matthew will place other “fulfillment” quotations at the moment of Jesus’ entry into Galilee (Matt 4:15-16), to interpret his healings (Matt 8:17) and his compassionate and reconciling spirit (Matt 12:18-21), his teaching in parables (Matt 13:35), his entry into Jerusalem (Matt 21:5), his deliverance to the passion (Matt 26:56), and to explain the horror of Judas’ betrayal and death (Matt 27:9-10).
These explicit fulfillment texts hardly exhaust Matthew’s use of the Old Testament. There is an abundance of other biblical quotations and allusions in Matthew, some of them very explicit, others detectable barely beneath the surface. Some of this material Matthew absorbs from Mark and Q; in other cases, he enriches the text with new layers of biblical reference. In addition to such references to specific Old Testament passages or events, Matthew also uses typology, whereby characters within the gospel are clothed in the mantel of significant Old Testament figures. The opening scenes of the gospel are filled with scarcely veiled comparisons to Old Testament figures. The threats to Jesus by a king parsons to Old Testament figures. The threats to Jesus by a king and his court in the infancy narrative, recalling Pharaoh’s threats against the first liberator of Israel, and the majestic portrayal of Jesus as a lawgiver on a mountaintop at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:1-2) are an indication that Matthew portrays Jesus as a New Moses. The Joseph who protects Jesus and Mary, taking them into Egypt as a place of refuge can hardly escape comparison to the Joseph of the Exodus accounts. Conversely, the barbaric genocide of Herod wins him the mantle of Pharaoh.
Matthew’s Understanding of the Jewish Law
Interpreters have had difficulty trying to blend into a unified and coherent perspective these various statements on the law in Matthew. On the one hand, the emphatic teaching about the enduring validity of the law in 5:17-19, even down to “one letter” or “stroke” (5:18), suggests that Matthew’s Jewish Christian community retained its adherence to the Jewish law. This is reinforced by a number of subtle changes introduced by Matthew into his Marcan source. The references to Hosea 6:6 in the conflict stories of Matthew 9:9-13 and 12:1-8 appear to bolster Jesus’ interpretation of the law by an appeal to this prophetic text. (Senior, Donald. The Gospel of Matthew (Interpreting Biblical Texts) (p. 40). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.)
In the conflict over washing of hands, when Jesus declares it is not what goes into a person that defiles, Mark adds a comment “thus he declared all foods clean” (Mark 7:19); Matthew’s version of that same incident eliminates this blanket declaration (cf. Matt 15:17)! In his parallel to Mark’s apocalyptic discourse where Jesus tells his disciples to pray that the end may not come “in winter” (Mark 13:18), Matthew poignantly adds “or on a sabbath” (Matt 24:20). Even in a passage where Matthew’s Jesus excoriates the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy, he still respects their teaching authority and advises the crowds and his disciples to “do whatever they teach you and follow it” (23:3). And in several passages unique to Matthew, Jesus warns his disciples about those who are “lawless” (from the Greek word anomia; see 7:23; 13:41; 24:12). (Senior, Donald. The Gospel of Matthew (Interpreting Biblical Texts) (p. 40). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.)
The setting of Matthew’s Community and Its Jewish Character, pgs. 72-78
This gospel strikes the reader as thoroughly Jewish in character. Its extensive use of the Old Testament by explicit citation, subtle allusion, and elaborate typology in order to connect Jesus to the history of Israel and to portray him as the embodiment of Jewish hopes, its stress on Jesus as one who comes not to destroy but to fulfill the Jewish law, its respect for Jesus’ historic mission to the Jews, and its conviction that Jesus is the longed for Messiah of Israel would seem to establish Matthew’s Jewish credentials.
Yet, the gospel also contains plenty of material that seems to be “anti-Jewish.” Matthew is unrelenting in his criticism of the Jewish leaders, including the “scribes and the Pharisees” as well as the priests and leaders in Jerusalem. They begin to oppose Jesus from the very beginning when news of Jesus’ birth “frightens” Herod and “all Jerusalem,” including the “chief priests and scribes,” who know the place of Messiah’s birth but, unlike the Magi, do not offer him homage (Matt 2:1-6). And particularly from chapter 12 forward, Jesus and the leaders are presented in sharp opposition.
Although Matthew does not ordinarily speak of the “Jews” in a generic sense (in contrast to John’s gospel, for example) and cites specific leadership groups as opposed to Jesus, the general populace does not emerge unscathed from this gospel. The “crowds” seem to be a generally neutral group through most of the gospel story, but ultimately, swayed by the leaders, they demand Jesus’ crucifixion and seem to accept responsibility for his death (Matt 27:24-25). Matthew refers to “their synagogues,” seeming to imply a rift between the followers of Jesus and the rest of the Jewish community (see Matt 4:23; Matt 9:35; Matt 10:17; Matt 12:9; Matt 13:54). In the important parable of the vineyard, the landowner punishes the murderous tenants by having “the kingdom of God… taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom’ (Matt 21:43), a text unique to Matthew that appears to strip from Israel its special status as the people of God. The Great Commission at the end of the gospel, sending the disciples to “all nations,” seems to confirm that historic change (Matt 28:16-20). The gospel anticipates that the mission would be opposed by the Jewish leaders – Matthew’s Jesus warns the disciples “they will and you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues” (Matt 10:17) and they might even have to face death just as the prophets did in the past (Matt 23:29-36)
Locating Matthew and His Church in Place and Time, pgs. 79-83
One has to rely on external evidence for explicit assignment of the gospel to the apostle Matthew. The gospel was consistently attributed to Matthew in the early patristic period. The earliest reference is that of Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis, and important Roman city in west central Asia Minor. Papias’ comments about the origins of the four gospels are preserved in a quotation by Eusebius (AD 260-340), who himself was Bishop of Caesarea Maritima. Although there is uncertainty about the precise dating for Papias, he probably lived in the earliest part of the second century AD.
The so-called testimony of Papias raises as many questions as it answers. A rough literal translation of Papias’ comment is as follows: “Now Matthew therefore arranged the sayings according to the Hebrew dialect, and each one interpreted it as he was able.” The Greek text is difficult to translate accurately. At first glance, Papias seems to be saying that Matthew wrote the gospel in “the Hebrew dialect,” which might mean an original Hebrew or Aramaic version. The problem is that most modern scholarship agrees that the canonical gospel of Matthew does not appear to be a translation from Hebrew or Aramaic but was composed in Greek. And, as we have noted, it seems that Matthew used a great deal of the gospel of Mark in composing his gospel. This has led many scholars to doubt the accuracy of Papias’ information (Eusebius himself complains that Papias was not very intelligent!)
When and Where
The Fulfillment of the Law
The Fulfillment of the Law (Matt 5:17-48). Coming as the first segment of Jesus’ inaugural discourse and touching on an issue of capital importance to Matthew and his community, this section is a fundamental expression of the gospel’s theology. A series of keynote sayings (Matt 5:17-20) are followed by six antitheses (Matt 5:21-48) comparing the teaching of Jesus with the demands of the law and other interpretations of it. The saying of Jesus in Matt 5:17, a text unique to Matthew (although with echoes in Luke 16:16-17), is programmatic for this gospel: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” This accords with Matthew’s conviction, already illustrated in the opening scenes of the gospel and explicitly confirmed in his fulfillment quotations, that Jesus is the full flowering of Israel’s hopes forged in its history and expressed in its Scriptures. Jesus’ teaching does not run counter to the law but fulfills its very intent and purpose. This perspective runs throughout the sermon and into the gospel as a whole. The sayings about the enduring validity of the law and the exhortation to attend to even its “least commandment” (Matt 5:18-19), as well as the demand for “greater righteousness” on the part of Jesus’ disciples (Matt 5:20), flow from the conviction that the teaching of Jesus represents the full revelation of what God intended through the law and that the advent of God’s reign is now urgently present.
Senior, Donald. The Gospel of Matthew (Interpreting Biblical Texts) (pp. 104-105). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.
The Sermon on the Mount, An Exegetical Commentary
Georg Strecker, Nashville : Abingdon Press 1988
Archive Book Link: https://archive.org/details/sermononmountexe0000stre/mode/2up
This important volume is based on George Strecker’s assertion that “no proper exegesis of the Sermon on the Mount can ignore the results of more than two hundred years of historical-critical research into the New Testament.” One of these results is the determination that the Sermon on the Mount in the First Gospel is not a speech made by Jesus, but the literary work of the Evangelist. Utilizing the finest contemporary scholarship, Strecker demonstrates how the words spoken by Jesus became written and were interpreted by the Evangelist Mathew decades later.
George Strecker (born 1929) was for many years a Professor of the New Testament in the Theological faculty at the University of Göttingen, Germany. His principal works include “History of New Testament Literature,” “Theology of the New Testament,” and commentaries on the Johannine Letters and the Sermon on the Mount. He was a member of the Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hannover, and member of the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Society.
No proper exegesis of the Sermon on the Mount can ignore the results of more than two hundred years of historical-critical research into the New Testament. One of these results is the determination that the Sermon on the Mount in the First Gospel is not a speech made by Jesus but the literary work of the Evangelist Matthew, for between the historical Jesus and the composition of the New Testament Gospels there is a broad domain of oral and written tradition within the early Christian communities. (p. 11)
The basic content of Matthew 5-7 can be traced back to the Q source, as a comparison with the Lukan parallel, the Sermon on the Plain of Luke 6:20-49, will demonstrate. Not only the framework (setting and epilogue) and the basic elements of the composition, but also above all the essential units of tradition in the Sermon on the Mount (the beatitudes, the commandments to love one’s enemy, the Golden Rule, the closing parables, and more) are passed on by Matthew and Luke. If we compare the outlines of the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain, the far-reaching correspondences will become clear. (p.11-12)
It can be shown that the layers of tradition are manifold, that many of the developmental tendencies that characterize Matthew’s Gospel belong to a pre-Matthean tradition, and that the way “back to Jesus” cannot be traveled without taking into account the various layers of tradition that are united in one text. (p. 13)
Sermon the Mount
According to Matthew’s understanding, the beatitudes are ethical demands. And one cannot escape this conclusion by saying that it is not to be interpreted without the person who is speaking here; for the Matthean Jesus is not understood in the Pauline sense as the one who vicariously fulfills God’s righteousness for humankind or who out of grace reveals the righteousness of faith… The Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount does not distinguish in the Pauline sense between gift and duty, between indicative and imperative. He does not teach an opposition of law and gospel and does not know justification sola gratia, but rather obligates his followers to the demand that is unconditional because it is eschatologically motivated. (p 33)
At the conclusion and climax of the opening of the Sermon on the Mount, verses 17-20 (Matt 5:17-20) show especially strong evidence of redactional intrusion. Both verse 17 and verse 20 were composed by Matthew, as can be argued on linguistic grounds, but one must also deal with the Matthean influence in verses 18-19. (p. 53)
The Matthean Jesus stands in a basically positive relationship to the Torah; he affirms the Old Testament law and “fulfills” it in his exemplary appearance. In this passage [Matt 5:17-20], nevertheless, the very fulfillment is not primarily related to Jesus’ action, but to his teaching… His proclamation means that he, as God’s ambassador, “brings to full measure”—that is, confirms in their real meaning—the law and the prophets. (p. 54)
Matthew does not think that Jesus and his followers cling slavishly to the wording of the Old Testament law. By virtue of his authority as the Son of God, Jesus stands, not under, but over the Torah. At this point, the interpretation of the Evangelist is different from that of the Jewish-Christian community, out of which this saying probably came, for it hung on every detail of the Old Testament Jewish Torah in order to preserve the connection with the synagogue through faithfulness to the Old Testament law. Such a pre-Matthean Jewish-Christian position stood implicitly, and in part explicitly, in contrast to the preaching of Paul and also of the Gentile-Christian church, in which Jesus Christ was proclaimed as not only the fulfillment but also the end of the law of Moses. (p. 56)
Through probability judgments… the oldest material in the Sermon on the Mount can be shown to be a component of the proclamation of the historical Jesus… This historical core is… not as encompassing as presupposed in conservative-fundamentalist interpretation. Included above all are the three oldest beatitudes, a series of three antitheses, the Lord’s Prayer, and other verbal material that in the course of tradition history has experienced manifold changes before the redactor Matthew put it into its final form. (p. 174)
For understanding the theological accomplishment of the unknown author, who was schooled in the Jewish Christian scribal tradition, the Sermon on the Mount is significant. In this first of a total of five composed speeches in his work, he interprets Jesus’ proclamation for a community that knows the disappointment of the hope of imminent expectation… By accommodating itself to the apocalyptic and wisdom-like teaching of Jesus, the community acknowledges that teaching as the binding claim of its Lord. It understands the Sermon on the Mount as the binding law of the Lord who is coming and has already come. (p. 179)
Matthew and his community make no distinction between indicative and imperative, such as we find in the theology of the Apostle Paul; also the differentiation between law and gospel, as it corresponds to the Reformation confessions, is unknown to them. More important, rather, is the fact that the Preacher on the mount, with all of his own radicalism, demands concrete ethical behavior. (p. 179)
Only three beatitudes, three of the antitheses, and the Lord’s prayer (and assorted other bits and pieces) can be traced back to the Historical Jesus. The Sermon on the Mount, in the First Gospel is not a speech made by Jesus, but the literary work of the Evangelist who wrote Matthew. Matthew ethicizes and historizes the traditional material in light of a new situation. Regarding the emphasis of the Law of Matt 5:17-20 in the Sermon on the Mount, these verses are Matthean compositions. There are numerous inconsistencies between the Matthean Jesus and the Historical Jesus (Georg Strecker, The Sermon on the Mount. An Exegetical Commentary, T. & T. Clark (1988))
The Origins of the Gospel According to St. Matthew: Textual and Source Study
G.D. Kilpatrick, Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, 2007 (Originally published 1946 Oxford)
George Dunbar Kilpatrick (1910 –1989) was an Anglican priest and theologian. He was Dean Ireland’s Professor of the Exegesis of Holy Scripture at the University of Oxford from 1949 to 1977. He studied at University College, London and Oriel College, Oxford. He became head of the Department of Theology and Reader in Christian Theology at University College Nottingham in 1946. He was Grinfield Lecturer on the Septuagint at the University of Oxford from 1945 to 1949, and obtained his DDiv degree in 1948. He was appointed Dean Ireland’s Professor of the Exegesis of Holy Scripture in 1949, a position that carried with it a Fellowship at The Queen’s College, Oxford. He held the professorship and fellowship until 1977. He was appointed a Fellow of University College, London in 1967.
George Dunbar Kilpatrick was one of that last great generation of classicist-theologians born between the final years of the nineteenth century and the outbreak of the First World War. He has been described as “one of the outstanding textual critics of the twentieth century” (Birdsall, J. Neville (1992). “Book review of The Principles and Practice of New Testament Textual Criticism. Collected Essays by G. D. Kilpatrick (edited by J. K. Elliott)“. The Classical Review. New Series. Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Classical Association. 42 (2): 435–436._
Archive Book Link: https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.99535/page/n3/mode/2up
Amazon Link: https://amzn.to/3pxllmu
(c) Passion and Resurrection stories: 26:52-54, Matt 26:3-10, Matt 27:19, Matt 27:24, Matt 27:51-53, Matt 27:62-66, Matt 28:2-4, Matt 28:9-20
(d) Miscellaneous narrative: Matt 3:14, Matt 4:23, Matt 9:35, Matt 15:22-24, Matt 27:6, Matt 21:10, Matt 21:14-16
The Liturgical Background
The evidence also shows that the Church, just as much as the Hellenistic synagogue, practiced a considerable liberty in deciding what was was to be read, and much that was later rejected from the Canon of Scripture was read without any qualms at an earlier date. Indeed, an apostolic name was not regarded as necessary to commend a book to the ears of the faithful, and the epistles of Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp, as well as the Shepherd of Hermas, were accepted, through their true authors was known. On the other hand, 2 Peter, Barnabas, the Gospel and Apocalypse of Peter show by their ascriptions that the value of an apostolic name was realized. (p. 65)
The use in the liturgy as the most universal, as it reached both the members of the Church and interested pagans. In contrast to this, the other activities in which the gospel material found a use were limited and departmental. This is clearly true of the employment of the Gospel in missionary work, in the instruction of the interested and the catechumens, in its controversial activities, and in its task of building up a corporate rule and law. Further, in the liturgical use of Scripture, these other aspects of the Church’s use of the material were focused. The combination of reading and sermon permitted a missionary turn to be given to the practice, or an instructional or a controversial or a legislative. It is for reasons of this kind that we may feel justified in ascribing the greatest importance to the liturgical practice of the Church in the early history of the gospel material. (p.67)
It was natural that, in a revised gospel book produced for the worship of the Church, the needs and convenience of liturgical practice should be consulted. This was necessary since Mark, for example, for all its excellences, is not an ideal book for liturgical use. As a revised gospel book it would also show the influence of some twenty years’ exposition of its sources. In particular the use of quotations, the grouping of material, and rephrasing would be consequent upon this activity. Some of the changes are only in matters of detail, but the results as a whole are considerable. (p. 70)
Other consequences of this thesis that Matthew is a revised gospel book will come to light as the thesis itself is tested by the evidence. The important thing, once the thesis has been advanced, is to discover how far it provides a satisfactory explanation of features which cannot be explained by source criticism or by a reference to editorial activity, and how far other features come to light which accord with our liturgical hypothesis. (p. 71)
The Liturgical Character of The Gospel
The Gospel and Judaism
Our chief source of information about Judaism in the Talmud and related literature. This literature is the product, over some five hundred years, of Rabbinical Judaism… Matthew owes its Jewish appearance to the fact that of all the New Testament writings, it is most akin to the Talmud. But this very similarity is proof of a later date. Mark, in comparison, belongs to an earlier error, when Judaism was more varied and developed Rabbinism was unknown. These conclusions introduce us to the problem of the Jewish character of the church for which Matthew was composed. As we have to picture this church in the last quarter of the first century, we have a certain advantage over those who deal with Judaism and Christianity before the fall of Jerusalem. (p. 103)
One conclusion already reached is important, namely that our community was Greek-speaking. One ground for this was found in the regular and exact use of the Septuagint. Another is that the written sources of the Gospel, which, we suggest, had themselves been used liturgically in the community, were in Greek. (p. 103)
The conclusion that the Semitic background of Matthew is probably Hebrew rather than Aramaic is important. If it had been Aramaic, this would have implied that the church was in a region where Greek and Aramaic overlapped, a view contrary to our inference that it was Greek-speaking, and not bilingual, or else would disagree with the considerable trances of the liturgical use of Mark and Q. (p. 105)
We must recall the linguistic and cultural conditions of our period. It is natural to make a division in the Judaism of this time, one side being Greek in speech and Alexandrine in culture, the other Aramaic in speech and Rabbinic in culture. Philo would be typical of the one and the Talmud of the other. In Matthew, however, we have a document whose language is Greek but whose thought is of the same kind as that Talmud of the other. A comparison with the Gospel according to St. John is of interest. In John the language indeed is Greek but the Aramaic ways of expression so often shine through that it has been argued more than once that the Gospel is a translation from the Aramaic. On the other hand, more attempts to illustrate its thought have turned for their material to Philo and the Hermetica, if not to Gnostic sources.
In the preceding paragraph, it has been assumed that Matthew is closely connected with the Rabbinic Judaism of the end of the first century. This assumption requires to be supported. If we compare Matthew and Mark we find a difference which may be stated thus: Mark reflects Jewish Palestine before the Ware of A.D. 66-70., while Matthew is more akin to the Rabbinism which worked out its program at Jamnia and subsequently became dominant in Judaism. In Mark, Jesus is in contact with the Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, and most of all, with the common people. In Matthew, the Herods and the Herodians almost at all, and the same is true of the Sadducees of history. The Pharisees and the controversies with them, on the contrary, come into the forefront, and beside them even the common people take second place. (p.106)
Agreeable with this, but of peculiar relevance to a Jewish community, is the contrast between Jesus and the Law. Bacon has convincingly developed the view that the Gospel is the new Law and that the fivefold division of chapters 3-25 is a deliberate imitation of the Pentateuch. The mountain of the Sermon on the Mount is meant to recall Sinai, and Jesus is himself a greater lawgiver than Moses. Hence, Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and revises both it and the oral tradition. The central position that Judaism gave to the Law, the Gospel gives to Jesus. So, Matt 11:28-30, Matt 18:20, which in Judaism would be said of the Law, in Matthew refer to Christ. (Bacon, Studies in Matthew, (p. 108)
Since, between A.D. 70 and 135, Christianity rapidly developed from a Jewish sect into a religion independent of and often hostile to Judaism, we may put most of the Church’s debt to Judaism before A.D. 100. Further, in communities such as the church of our Gospel, which were strongly Jewish in character and yet early opposed to Rabbinic Judaism, this debt would be very great and would occur at the earliest period. On these grounds, we may suppose that the ethics and institutions of this church would be thoroughly Jewish, but that its Judaism was subordinate to its Christology. (p.108)
The Pharisees were the one important Jewish sect contemporary with Matthew. It may be stated at once that their relations with Christianity had changed since Mark. In Mark, the differences with Christianity had changed since Mark. In Mark, the differences between Jesus and the Pharisees lie in certain controversial issues, just as they did between the various schools of thought within Pharisaism itself. In Matthew the animus is directed more and more against the Pharisees themselves in distinction from the controversial issues. (p.121)
The influence of Judism on Christianity after A.D. 132-5 all but ceased, so that the transitional period for Christianity, from a Jewish sect to a religion with a life and structure of its own, bust be A.D. 70-130. The importance of our Gospel for this process lies in the fact that it came into being in an essentially Jewish Christian community, where the building up of a church life in independence of contemporary Judaism was in progress. It is significant that the attitude to Judaism displayed by Matthew enabled this community to take over so much from the Synagogue. As has been already suggested, it seem that this was due not to any rejection of Judaism in itself, but to its subordination to the central doctrine of Christ. Judaism as a whole utterly rejected this subordination, so the breach was inevitable and complete. (p. 122-123)
The community of the Gospel
Matthew was written in a well-to-do city church. It had its officers and liturgy. Discipline had to meet moral laxness, false doctrine, Messianic pretensions, and persecution. Various pieces of evidence suggest that the church of Matthew is to be found in Syria, probably in Phoenicia, at the end of the first century… In our account of the Matthean church, we must first look at its composition. We have already seen that its members were Greek speaking Jews in contact with Rabbinical culture but in the strongest opposition to Rabbinical Judaism. To these facts may now be added. (p. 124)
In our Gospel [Matthew] there is no sign that the Epistles were known. It is hard to believe that the evangelist would have written Matt 28 in its present form, had he known 1 Cor. 15. Yet, from our list of users of the Epistles, it is clear that we have the earliest and widest evidence of the use of 1 Corinthians. The attitude to the Law is different. It seems as though sometimes for St. Paul the Law and Christ are mutually exclusive. In our Gospel Christ is the complement of the old Law and the giver of the new. The evangelist’s doctrine of the Law is as different from that of some of the Pauline pronouncements as is from Pharisaism. Both are exclusive, the one of the Law and the other of Christ, while in our Gospel adjustment and not exclusion is the method followed. It may be for this reason that the controversy over the Law is not so extreme in Matthew as it is in Mark… [In Matthew] the emphasis is on the human aspect and the human activities rather than, as in St. Paul, on what God does. The Pauline doctrine of grace is absent, nor does the word for grace occur. The idea of incorporation into the Church as the body of Christ is not mentioned… The Gospel shows no sign of any use of the Pauline Epistles, even where we might expect it, and its ideas are quite different from those of the Apostle. This leads us to infer that the evangelist and the church for which he wrote were as yet unaffected by Paulinism and unacquainted with the Pauline Epistles. Such a state of affairs is extremely hard to imagine in a city church of importance outside Palestine after A.D. 100 and not easy after A.D. 90. (p.129-130)
In trying to find the place of origin of the Gospel, we have to relate our inquiry to the ignorance of St. Paul’s teaching and writings that we have discovered in it. This is because, if we were to imagine that the Gospel was written at Antioch, we should expect Pauline influence much earlier there than in some of the less important Christian churches. This is supported by the fact that Ignatius is already acquainted with some of the Epistles by A.D. 115. Earlier, St. Paul himself had had a very close connection with Antioch, and since this connection was still remembered when the Acts were written, it is very unlikely that Antioch would be late in coming to use the Epistles. It was an important church, in frequent contact with the other chief centers of Christianity at this period, and we should not expect it to be behindhand in acquaintance with the use of the writings of the Apostle. This fact, taken with the absence of any Pauline contacts in the Gospel, appears to make it necessary either to put the date of the gospel early, not later than A.D. 90 for example or else to keep a later date for the Gospel and to look for some other place than Antioch, where Pauline influence would be later in coming into effect. (p. 130-131)
The evangelist’s contribution to Matthew is hard to disentangle, as his outlook is very like that of the community for which he wrote. Himself a Christian scribe, and he is responsible for the structure of his book, he was the first to put peculiar narratives into writing, and he fitted the Gospel for liturgical use. Matthew was probably an official undertaking, deliberately pseudonymous from the beginning. (p. 135)
Among the element which most surely derives from the writer is not a little of the detail and the main plan (structure) of the book (Matthew). It is in the main plan that a comparison with Mark is most instructive. In Mark 1:1-15 there is a sequence of events and from Mark 11 onward an order, either already present or coming into being, which may run back into Mark 10. But between these two points, we are confronted with the amorphous tradition of the Galilean ministry… We may indeed detect small groups in the material, but any attempt to find an order or systematic arrangement of the whole comes to grief. When we turn to Matthew, we find a quite different state of affairs. In Matthew 3-25, corresponding to Mark 1-13, lies the core of the Matthean arrangement of material. Matt. 1-2 26-28 serve as a kind of prologue and epilogue to the central part of the book whose grouping deserves examination. In it there are five sections, each divide as follows:
(a) Chapters 3-4, Narrative.
(b) Chapters 5-7, Sermon on the Mount.
(a) Chapters 8-9, Narrative.
(b) Chapters 10-11:1, Discourse on Apostleship.
(a) Chapters 11-12, Reception of the Message.
(b) Chapter 13, Parables.
(a) chapter 13:53-17:21, Narrative and Teaching.
(b) Chapter 17:22-19:1, Discussion on Church Administration.
(a) Chapter 19:2-22, Narrative and Teaching.
(b) Chapter 23-25, Eschatological Discourse.
This division is clearly modeled on the book of the Law and implies a contrast between Jesus and the Law, which indicates both the Jewish background of the book and its Christological point of view. But this arrangement could only come from the author of the book, since it is not in the tradition, and circumstances and communities do not create books of themselves. We have seen that the gospel’s Christology and relation to Judaism are representative of the church for which it was written. From this date, we can argue for an identity of outlook between the evangelist and his community on the two most important features of the book. (p.135-136)
The evangelist was a scribe, occupying an official position in the church of which he was so sympathetic a member. He was thoroughly acquainted with its traditions and outlook and possessed gifts of style and composition which, while they were unobtrusive, produced the liturgical Gospel of all time. (p. 139)
Studies in Matthew
Bacon, Benjamin Wisner, New York : H. Holt, 1930
Benjamin Wisner Bacon (1860 – 1932) was an American theologian. He was born in Litchfield, Connecticut and graduated from Yale College in 1881 and Yale Divinity School in 1884. After serving in pastorates at Old Lyme, Connecticut (1884–1889), and at Oswego, New York (1889–1896), he was made an instructor in New Testament Greek at Yale Divinity School and became in 1897 professor of New Testament criticism and exegesis. The degrees D.D., Litt.D., and LL.D. were conferred upon him.
Archive Book Link: https://archive.org/details/MN41459ucmf_0
The second prepossession which the present writer would do his part to dispel is more recent. It is an illusion of scholars which stands in the way of effective research for the most authentic record of the teaching of Jesus. We may call it the fallacy of the “Matthean Logia. “ It had its origin less than a century ago in the theory of Schleiermacher which applied to Q the statement of Papias in which he referred to our own first canonical Gospel as a compilation of the precepts of Jesus, to the exposition of which his own work (c. 140) was dedicated. The Gospel, then as now, was in Greek and of course bore, as now, the title “According to Matthew.” Papias met the objection that the Apostle’s language was “Hebrew” (that is, Aramaic) by affirming that the Gospel had originally been written in “Hebrew” but had been translated by some unknown Greek Christian. For, as he added, the custom had formerly been to give renderings of the precepts (not the Gospel) as they had been orally transmitted in the language of Jesus. All scholars now admit the impossibility of Papias’ having reference to, or direct knowledge of, any other Matthew than our own. (xii)
A more practicable course is suggested by the structure of Mt itself, a course which limits attention for the present to this Gospel only. A half-century ago it was recognized that its compiler has followed the plan of aggregating his teaching material from all sources into five great discourses corresponding to the oration codes of the Pentateuch, each introduced, like the Mosaic codes, by a narrative section, each closing with a transition formula as the reader passes from discourse to narrative. To these five bodies of discourse Sir John Hawkins would apply the Hebrew term pereq, meaning “chapter” or “section.” The lay reader will find it easier to think of them as “Sermons” in view of the first of the series, a discourse on the Righteousness of Sons, to which custom has applied the title “Sermon on the Mount.” Prefixed to the first narrative section, we find two loosely connected chapters relating the birth and infancy of Jesus from sources else-where unknown. This section, Mt 1-2, may most conveniently be designated the Preamble. Correspondingly after the last of the five discourses the transition formula leads over to three chapters (26-28) of closing narrative relating the passion and resurrection. This envoi we may call the Epilogue.(xiv-xv)
To show the real structure of the work it will be divided into seven parts:
Preamble (chh. 1-2);
Book I, subdivided into a Narrative A, introducing a Discourse B (chh. 3-4 and 5-7) ;
Book II, similarly subdivided (A, chh. 8-9, B, ch. 10);
Book III (A, chh. 11-12, B, ch. 13) ;
Book IV (A, chh. 14-17, B, ch. 18) ;
Book V (A, chh. 19-22, B, chh. 23-25);
Epilogue (chh. 26-28).
With this subdivision, designed to reflect the evangelist’s structural plan, it will be convenient to employ a method of study which lays principal stress upon “introduction” as the most fruitful of modern lines of approach but allows some room for others as well. The line of exegesis will be represented by a new translation supplemented by marginal symbols and by spacing to differentiate sources from redaction. “Biblical” theology will be represented by discussions of the teaching of Jesus on the five themes presented by the evangelist in his agglutinated discourses. (xvii)
“The scholar must indeed either renounce entirely the right to judge of ancient writings by their form and content, or else admit that Mt is not a translation from any other language, but originally composed in Greek.” (p. 9)
“In the earlier time, shortly after Josephus composed his Jewish War in Aramaic for the benefit of his fellow countrymen in Adiabene, Parthia, and Arabia, if Christianity had already made its way from Antioch eastward among the Greekspeaking Jewish synagogues, these doubtless followed the Jewish practice of oral “targuming” from such Greek gospels as reached them. “ (p. 17)
“The birthplace of Mt was undoubtedly in Syria, in some locality where Jewish traditions and even some remote influence from the Hebrew Old Testament still lingered. But, as McNeile correctly infers from the late and apocryphal character of N, these circles, though “Hebraic to the core,” were “not in close touch with Jerusalem” but “outside the range of the control which apostles or other eyewitnesses would have exercised.” (p. 20)
“Naturally among these Christians “of mixed speech” the practice of oral ” targuming ” would prevail until written Aramaic gospels based on the Greek came into circulation, to be replaced in turn by the Syriac.” (p. 21)
An Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament
James Moffatt, Edinburgh, Clark, 1911
James Moffatt, (1870-1944), Scottish biblical scholar and translator who single-handedly produced one of the best-known modern translations of the Bible.
Educated at Glasgow Academy and Glasgow University, Moffatt was ordained in the Church of Scotland in 1896 and immediately began a career of pastoral service that was to last 16 years, during which time he produced his first scholarly writings. His Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament, a comprehensive survey of contemporary biblical scholarship, appeared in 1911, while he was pastor of a church at Broughton Ferry, Scot. The next year he joined the faculty at the University of Oxford and in 1913 published his translation of the New Testament. From 1915 to 1927 he was professor of church history at the University of Glasgow, publishing his Old Testament in 1924, and in 1927 he took a similar position at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Although his own chief interest was in church history, he is better known for his New Testament criticism; he edited a series of commentaries on the New Testament, published 1928–49. After his formal retirement in 1938, he continued teaching and served as a consultant to a radio serial dramatization of the Bible.
His New Translation of the New Testament was first published in 1913. His New Translation of the Old Testament, in two volumes, was first published in 1924. The Complete Moffatt Bible in one volume was first published in 1926. It was completely revised and reset in 1935. A Shorter Version of the Moffatt Translation of the Bible was first published in 1941.
The Moffatt New Testament Commentary, based on his translation, has 17 volumes. The first volume was published in 1928, and the final volume in 1949. The concordance of the complete Bible was first published in 1949. Moffatt later served as executive secretary of the committee of translators for the Revised Standard Version.
Plan and Outline
The book is compiled from at least two sources, and their different nuances are more than once unmistakable, but these discrepancies and variations do not blur the final impression made by the writer’s clear-cut purpose (cp. Renan, v. pp. 209 f.). He wishes to show that, in spite of the contemporary rupture between Judaism and Christianity, there has been a divine continuity realized in the origin and issues of faith in Jesus as the Christ. (a) Thou shalt call his name, Jesus: for he shall save his People from their sins. ‘That People is no longer Israel (cp. Matt 21:43), but a wider community. (b) A greater than the temple is here, one who is also (c) the promulgator of a new Law which transcends the old (cp. Matt 5:17, Matt 28:20). The three sacred possessions of Judaism have thus passed into higher uses, as a result of the life of Jesus the Christian messiah. (p. 244)
Matthew’s treatment of Mark
A comparison of Mk. and Mt. thus proves that the latter is upon the whole secondary and that he had no independent chronological tradition or information to guide him in placing either sayings or incidents. His choice and disposition of materials become less and less reliable, from a historical standpoint, when he leaves the Marcan record; the Palestinian anecdotes… rarely rise above the level of edifying stories to that of historicity. Matthews’s corrections of Mark are not those of an eye-witness, or of one who had access to special, first-hand sources of information. Their origin is almost entirely topical. (p 247-248)
The writer’s engrossing interest in the sayings of Jesus leads him not only to break up the Marcan narrative with masses of logia, arranged in systematic blocks but to abbreviate Mark’s introductory matter. (p. 248)
The later and more ecclesiastical standpoint of Matthew comes out definitely in his recasting of the Marcan traditions relating to the disciples and Jesus. The former play a more important role than in Mark.; thus the saying about the spiritual family of Jesus is confined to them (Matt 12:49) instead of being addressed generally to the bystanders (Mark 3:34). Matthew minimizes the faults of the disciples (Matt 13:16-18 with Mark 4:13, cp. Matt 13:51, Matt 14:33 with Mark 6:52; Matt 6:9-12 with Mark 8:17-22 ; cp. the significant omission of Mark 9:6 Mark 9:10 Mark 9:32, the smoothing down of Mark 9:33 in Matt 18:1, the change of Mk 10:32 in Matt 20:17 etc.), and endeavors to eliminate or to soften any trait derogatory to the credit of the twelve. A similar reverence for the character of Jesus appears in his omission of words or passages like Mark 1:43, Mark 3:5, Mark 3:21 (charge of madness) Matt 10:14 and Matt 11:3, and in changes like those of Matt 19:16 (Mark 10:17) and Matt 26:59 (cp. Mk 14:58); the miraculous power of Jesus is heightened (contrast Matt 8:16 with Mark 1:32-33, Matt 17:17-18 with Mark 9:20-26 etc.), and the author shrinks as far as possible from allowing demons to recognize him as the messiah; the prophetic power of Jesus is also expanded and made more definite (cp. Matt 7:15, Matt 12:45, Matt 21:43, Matt 24:10, Matt 26:2 etc.). (p. 248-249)
The composite nature of Matthew may be explained not only by the hypothesis of the use of earlier sources, but also by the theory that the canonical text represents later glosses, interpolations, and expansions. (p 249)
While the epilogue (Matt 28:16-20) naturally does not give the ipsissima uerba of Christ, it is an organic part of the gospel, which rounds off the narrative ; there is nothing in its phraseology which is inconsistent with the catholic consciousness of the early church during the last quarter of the first century. The only point of dubiety lies in Matt 28:19, The theory that the textus receptus of this verse arose between A.D. 130 and 140 in the African old Latin texts, owing to baptismal and liturgical considerations, and that the original text was the shorter Eusebian form (πορευθέντες μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου), was proposed by F. C. Conybeare (ZNW, 1901, 275-280; Hf. i. 102-108) and has been accepted by Usener (Rhein. Museum, 1902, 39 f.), Kirsopp Lake: Influence of Text. Criticism on NT Exegesis (1904), pp. 7 f., Wellhausen, Allen, and Montefiore, amongst others. (p.253)
Didaché 7, shows that the trinitarian formula was possible by the first quarter of the second century, but this does not prove that it was derived from Mt 28:19, The question has an obvious bearing not only on the date, but on the ethos of Matthew’s gospel. On the whole, the probabilities seem to converge on the likelihood that the Trinitarian form was introduced by the author of the gospel himself, as a liturgical expansion of the primitive formula of baptism into the name of Jesus (cp. J. R. Wilkinson, HJ. i. 571-575; Stanton, GHD. i. 355 f.).
The Gospel of Matthew
Theodore H. Robinson, Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1927
Archive Book Link: https://archive.org/details/gospelofmatthew00robi/page/n3/mode/2up
There are two principles likely to be observed in the application of prophecy by Matthew : (a) every prediction recognized as messianic must find a corresponding event in the life of Jesus, (b) every event recorded of Jesus must have been foretold in the Old Testament, preferably in one or other of the Prophets. The gospel according to Matthew is not unique in this respect, for the others also recognize the correspondence between the expected Messiah of the Old Testament and the actual Jesus, but nowhere else is the principle carried to such lengths as here. There are even passages where we suspect that the text of his source has been deliberately modified by the evangelist in order to fit more closely the ipsissima verba of the relevant prophecy. It is also possible that his choice of material was affected by the same consideration. Probably he could not include all that to which he had access, even by abbreviating narratives, and he preferred to select events for which there was a prophecy ready to his hand… there can hardly be any doubt as to the position of this evangelist. He loses no opportunity of imparting an apocalyptic flavor to the sayings of Jesus ; the phrase, for instance, ‘There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth ‘ is repeatedly introduced where comparison with other documents shews that it was not original, and, again, the choice of passages included is clearly influenced by the writer’s special interests. (page xi-xii)
In addition to this looser matter, in which Q (so understood) is included, it seems clear that this evangelist drew largely on a collection of Old Testament passages which were selected as being useful for apologetic purposes when arguing with Jews. Allusion has already been made to a statement attributed to Papias by Eusebius. This runs : ‘ Matthew, then, compiled the oracles (” logia “) in the Hebrew tongue. And each interpreted them as he was able ‘ (ap. Eusebius, Hist. Eccles., ill. 39)… We are left, then, with the most natural suggestion, namely, that ‘logia ‘ means the Old Testament. The work ascribed by Papias to Matthew will not have been a transcript of the whole Old Testament; that goes without saying. But it may well have been a collection of oracles ‘ dealing with the Messiah, such as might be used by the Christian to prove to the Jew that Jesus was the Christ. We know that such collections were current in the third century, and that they passed in the western church under the name of ‘ Testimonies,’ but in the Jewish church the need for them would be immediate and urgent. The best explanation of Papias’s language seems to be that Matthew prepared such a collection of ‘ Testimonies,’ using the Hebrew text, and let each person translate for himself as he had need. (page xvi-xv)
Whilst there is, of course, a great deal of Aramaic underlying our gospel, especially in the speeches and conversations, it is perfectly clear — if only from the use made of Mark — that it is not a translation from a complete Semitic original. It must have reached its present form in the Greek language. (xv)
A study of the Old Testament quotations in the gospel throws light on this remark of Papias. There are over twenty citations in those portions of Matthew which are derived from Mark, and with one possible exception (Matthew 26:31) all seem to follow the text of the LXX. An interesting case is Matthew 13:14, 15, where Mark has a loose reference, while Matthew has a complete quotation from the Greek text. Only two of these events recorded by Mark are mentioned by him as direct fulfilments of prophecy, Matthew 3:3 and Matthew 13:14, 15. Q contains barely half a dozen such quotations, and of these only those which occur in the Temptation narrative are taken from the LXX, the rest being somewhat loose references rather than direct quotations. (page xv-xvi)
Matthew inserts three quotations (all cited as fulfilled prophecy) in passages which he derives from Mark, and none of these is taken from the LXX. In Matt 8:17 and Matt 13:35 we have a completely independent rendering of the Hebrew text, and in Matt 11:5 we have a quotation which is near the LXX, but is still nearer the M.T. In passages ‘ peculiar ‘ to Matthew we have seven passages quoted as fulfilled prophecy, of which only one (Matt 1:23, emphasizing the word ‘ virgin ‘) is taken from the Greek text, and even here the wording is not identical. In the other six the quotation is either an independent translation from the M.T. or from some Hebrew text which differs from that which has become traditional. An interesting case is found in Matthew 27:9-10, which is cited as from Jeremiah, though the nearest parallel (there is no Old Testament passage with a close resemblance) is in Zechariah 11:12-13. We have thus all told a dozen passages quoted as being ‘ fulfilled ‘ in Jesus. Of these two are taken direct from Mark, and the LXX is closely followed, and in one other (possibly two others) we can observe the influence of the LXX. The rest have all been translated into Greek independently from a Hebrew text which may or may not be identical with the M.T. (page xvi)