Matthew's Trilogy of Parables: The Nation, the Nations, and the Reader in Matthew 21.28-22.14

Matthew's Trilogy of Parables: The Nation, the Nations, and the Reader in Matthew 21.28-22.14

Matthew's Trilogy of Parables: The Nation, the Nations, and the Reader in Matthew 21.28-22.14

Matthew's Trilogy of Parables: The Nation, the Nations, and the Reader in Matthew 21.28-22.14

Synopsis

Wesley Olmstead examines the parables of the Two Sons, the Tenants and the Wedding Feast against the backdrop of the wider Matthean narrative. He explores Matthew's characterization of the Jewish leaders, the people and the nations, and assesses the respective roles of Israel and the nations in the plot of Matthew's Gospel. Against the current of contemporary Matthean scholarship, Olmstead argues both that the judgement this trilogy announces falls upon Israel (and not only her leaders) and that these parables point to the future inclusion of the nations in the nation that God had promised to raise up from Abraham. Bringing both literary-critical and redaction-critical tools to bear on the texts at hand, Olmstead not only elucidates the intended meanings of this parabolic trilogy but also attempts to determine the responses they elicited from their first readers. Transcending Matthean scholarship, this book has implications for all Gospel studies.

Excerpt

The landscape of Gospels scholarship has shifted dramatically in the last three decades. Redaction criticism has yielded pride of place as the primary method in Gospels studies but there has been no single obvious successor. Instead, Gospels critics offer readings from a bewildering variety of interpretive stances and, increasingly, refer to the methodological pluralism that undergirds their work.

Nevertheless, narrative criticism, in its various forms, posed some of the earliest and most persistent challenges to a redaction-critical approach. the early exponents of a more ‘literary’ approach commonly set themselves over against more traditional historical critics, mourning the poverty of a redactional approach and proclaiming the end of an era. Similar sentiments – or at least interpretations that reflect these sentiments – continue to punctuate the discourse of Gospels scholarship.

But it has also become more common for scholars on both sides of the methodological divide to call for a more cooperative, interdisciplinary approach. To date, the most significant of these have tended to operate under the assumption that literary and historically oriented methods complement one another by casting light in rather different directions. Where narrative critics focus on the unity of the final text, redaction critics turn their attention to the evangelists’ reworking of their diverse sources that gave rise to the text in its ‘final’ form. Where narrative critics devote attention to the narrative world that emerges from the Gospel stories, redaction critics are concerned instead with the historical world of the evangelist out of which and for which he writes. Finally, where narrative critics embrace the reader and are especially sensitive to the affective impact of the Gospel texts, redaction criticism remains an author-oriented discipline whose concerns have typically been cognitive ones. in short, narrative critics and redaction critics proceed from different presuppositions, aim at different goals, and employ different reading strategies.

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