Introduction to the New Testament

Introduction to the New Testament
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  • ISBN-13: 9780310519409
  • ISBN: 0310519403
  • Publisher: Zondervan


Carson, D. A., Moo, Douglas J., Morris, Leon


Chapter 2 Matthew Contents That Matthew was a skilled literary craftsman no one denies. Disagreements over the structure of this gospel arise because there are so many overlapping and competing structural pointers that it appears impossible to establish a consensus on their relative importance. If we consider the structure of the book as a whole, then, apart from several idiosyncratic proposals there are three dominant theories. 1. Some have detected a geographic framework that is related to Mark's gospel (see chap. 1 on the synoptic problem). Matthew 1:1-2:23 is the prologue, and it is tied to 3:1-4:11 (Jesus' preparation for ministry) to constitute an introduction parallel to Mark 1:1-13. Matthew 4:12-13:58 finds Jesus ministering in Galilee (cf. Mark 1:14-6:13). This ministry is extended to other locales in the North (Matt. 14:1-16:12; Mark 6:14-8:26), before Jesus begins to move toward Jerusalem (Matt. 16:13-20:34; Mark 8:27-10:52). The confrontation in Jerusalem (Matt. 21:1-25:46; Mark 11:1-13:37) issues in his passion and resurrection (Matt. 26:1-28:20; Mark 14:1-16:8). This sort of analysis rightly reflects the broad chronological development of Jesus' ministry and preserves some geographic distinctions. But it is based entirely on a selection of thematic considerations and does not reflect on the literary markers that Matthew has left us. Precisely because, with minor alterations, this sort of analysis could be applied to any of the Synoptic Gospels, it tells us very little of the purposes that are uniquely Matthew's. 2. Following suggestions made by Stonehouse, Lohmeyer, and Krentz, Kingsbury has argued for three large sections, tightly tied to Christological development. The first he titles "The Person of Jesus Messiah" (1:1-4:16); the second, "The Proclamation of Jesus Messiah" (4:17-16:20); and the third, "The Suffering, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Messiah" (16:21-28:20). Immediately after the two breaks come the decisive words a-po-to-te (apo tote, "from that time on"), signaling progress in the plot. The last two of the three sections each contains three summary passages (4:23-25; 9:35; 11:1; and 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19). Though this outline has gained adherents (e.g., Kümmel), it suffers from several weaknesses. It is not at all clear that a-po-to-te apo tote) is so redactionally important for Matthew that his entire structure turns on it: after all, Matthew uses it at 26:16 without any break in the flow of the narrative. One could argue that there are four passion summaries in the third section, not three (add 26:2). At both structural transitions, Matthew may have been more influenced by his following of Mark than by other considerations. In any case, the outline breaks up the important Peter passage in Matthew 16 in an unacceptable way. Even the Christological development is not as clear as Kingsbury alleges: the person of Jesus (section 1) is still a focal point in sections 2 and 3 (e.g., 16:13-16; 22:41-46); the proclamation of Jesus can scarcely be restricted to section 2, for two of the discourses (chaps. 18 and 24-25) and several important exchanges (chaps. 21-23) are reserved for the third section. 3. The most frequently proposed structures turn on the observation that Matthew presents five discourses, each of which begins in a specific context and ends with a formula found nowhere else (lit. "And it happened, when Jesus had finished saying these things, that ..." [Matt. 7:28-29; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1]. It becomes attractive to link narrative with discourse in five pairs. Bacon proposed just such a scheme, calling the five sections "books." Book 1 deals with discipleship (narrative, chaps. 3-4; discourse, chaps. 5-7); book 2 with apostleship (narrative, 8-9; discourse, 10); book 3 with the hiding of the revelation (narrative, 11-12; discourse, 13); book 4 with church administration (narrative, 14-17; discourse, 18); and book 5 with the judgment (narrative, 19Carson, D. A. is the author of 'Introduction to the New Testament' with ISBN 9780310519409 and ISBN 0310519403.

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