The Gospel of Matthew: Background and Motifs

I. Time Period: sometime after 85-90

A. Church now an ongoing community; probably used at Antioch

1. Matthew is conveniently arranged for church use: corresponding texts in large blocks

2. Q material inserted in large blocks into the Markan framework

B. Test of discipleship is martyrdom, waiting for the end, and proselytism

1. Eliminates Mark's ambiguities

a. Infancy stories stress Jesus's superhuman qualities

b. Sinlessless reaffirmed in baptism story

c. Peter is praised, not castigated, for recognizing Jesus as Messiah

d. Jesus's body was not stolen

e. Resurrection appearances detailed

C. A Christian community of former Jews who think of themselves as the true Israel

1. Rules for behavior of church members

a. Divorce and remarriage laws

b. Excommunication

c. Teachers have the authority to admit and reject members ("bind and loose")

d. Peter is the truest representative of the new Christianity

e. Combat with other Jews

D. Omissions of Mark

1. Theory that only demons recognize Jesus

2. The charge of insanity

3. Jesus as "son of the carpenter"

4. "No one is good but God"

5. Defense of disciples

a. They, not the crowd, are Jesus's true family

b. They have correct perception

c. They are not as bewildered as in Mark

II. Guiding principle: Jesus as the Moses for the new age

A. Law eternally valid

B. Jesus is its final agent

1. Hebrew Bible points to him in every way

2. Constant appeal to scriptures

C. Ancestry traced back to Abraham (through Joseph, not Mary)

C. Moses allusions in the infancy narratives that are not in the other gospels

1. Guiding star at Jesus's birth

2. The escape into Egypt

3. Killing of the firstborn children

D. Jesus as the giver of a new Torah: the Sermon on the Mount (teaching sayings presented all in one place)

1. Preceded by Temptation in the desert: 40 days

2. Only Matthew has "I have not come to destroy the Law"

3. "You have heard it said . . . but I say" formula (Jesus reinterprets and intensifies the law)

4. Followed by correct prayer practices ( a concern of rabbinic Jews after destruction of the Temple)

E. Commission of the 12

1. Only sent to Israel

2. "Go nowhere among the gentiles."

F. Combat with other Christians