Matthew: Structure, Christology, Kingdom

Matthew: Structure, Christology, Kingdom

Matthew: Structure, Christology, Kingdom

Matthew: Structure, Christology, Kingdom

Excerpt

To be quite candid, I am gratified indeed to see this book made available again for use by colleagues and students. Within the context of my own research, it occupies an important place. With few exceptions, the positions I take here still constitute the cornerstone of my understanding of Matthew’s Gospel. Over the years, these positions have been adapted, refined, and elaborated, but scarcely abandoned. The subtitle of the book describes its contents: It deals with the structure of Matthew’s Gospel (chap. 1); with the identity and significance of Jesus (chaps. 2 and 3); and with the central theological concept of Matthew, his notion of the Kingdom of Heaven (chap. 4). Whereas the chapter on the Kingdom seems to have found widespread approval among scholars, the chapters on the structure and christology of the Gospel have stirred no little discussion.

Concerning the structure of Matthew’s Gospel, I speak of a topical outline in three parts (1:1—4:16; 4:17—16:20; 16:21—28:20), with the respective verses 1:1; 4:17; and 16:21 marking the beginning of each part. Attendant to this outline is a scheme of salvation-history in two epochs: “the time of Israel (OT)” and the time of Jesus (earthly—exalted).” As regards the outline, I do not pretend to be the first to argue that the three parts just cited are the main ones into which the Gospel falls. As far as I know, however, I am the first to use this threefold division so as to determine the nature and

1. Without attempting to be exhaustive, F. Neirynck (“APO TOTE ERXATO and the Structure of Matthew,” Ephemerides Theoiogicae Lovanienses 64 [1988]: 21) traces this way of dividing Matthew’s Gospel hack to the nineteenth-century scholar Theodor Keim (The History of Jesus of Nazara, trans. A. Ransom [2d ed., London: Williams and Norgate, 1876], 1: 71–72. esp. 71 n. 2). Keim’s book, first published in German in 1867, was translated into English as earlv as 1873.

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