Interpreting the Gospel of Matthew
I walk into a housemate’s room.
me: Hey, i’ve got a short question on biblical interpretation for you…
housemate (still in bed): It’s 8.30 on a Saturday morning!
another housemate (walking in): Hey, can we talk about Galatians…
housemate (yet to get out of bed): ……….
So, in what seems a vast improvement from previous weeks, am actually attempting to get a talk done a few days before it is due to be given. However, the extra time has made me realise that far more is needed to sort out emerging (and quite basic) issues, amongst others:
- the famous 5 teaching sections of Matthew – determined by literary markers of “when Jesus had finished saying these things…” (or similar – see. Matthew 7.28, 11:1, 13:53, 19:1) – is this narrative -> teaching or teaching -> narrative? Or are the 5 sections not the right structural tool?
- Jesus fulfilling the Old Testament – continuous (Jesus has not come to abolish the Law) or discontinuous (new wineskin)? Or both?
- Sermon on the Mount – this is the standard and you can’t achieve it? Or this is the standard so (try to) live this way? Or both?
- how much do you import the use of a word in a Gospel into an individual passage? Eg. “heavy laden” and “burden” in Matthew 11:28 cf. the “heavy burdens” laid on the people by the Pharisees who sit on Moses’ seat (Matthew 23). David Jackman in his Teaching Matthew thinks the latter should inform the former, but i wonder if the immediate context of Matthew 11 suggests otherwise.
- Is Wisdom Christology valid in this Gospel? Or are the Mosaic allusions more commendable?
So much fail. Back to work…