Matthew: Storyteller, Interpreter, Evangelist

By Menninger, Richard E. | Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, June 1999 | Go to article overview

Matthew: Storyteller, Interpreter, Evangelist


Menninger, Richard E., Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society


Matthew: Storyteller, Interpreter, Evangelist. By Warren Carter. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996, xii + 322 pp., $19.95 paper.

Anyone familiar with the gospel of Matthew and the secondary literature pertaining to it is always looking for new approaches as well as new books that serve as helpful introductions to this intriguing though sometimes paradoxical work. Carter's book falls under the second category and provides readers with an up-to-date examination of some of the issues surrounding the first gospel. His book is aimed at a wide audience. He writes for college and seminary students, ministers and the laity. The main methodological approach of Carter is audience-oriented criticism, by which he attempts to show how the authorial audience (the audience imaged by the author) impacted the writing of the first gospel. To a lesser extent he employs redaction criticism throughout the work. The book includes a bibliography, an appendix and indexes.

This work is divided into three parts. Part 1, mainly a redactional study, addresses the formal issues surrounding the gospel of Matthew. Carter conjectures that Matthew is an unidentifiable Jewish author who composed this gospel from Antioch of Syria in the 80s. The evangelist uses Mark, M and Q to write his work to a community that finds itself a disenfranchised minority attempting to find its identity in the world. Part 2, consisting of about 140 pages, is devoted to Carter's understanding of how Matthew's authorial audience shapes and in turn is informed by the text. Carter utilizes the conventions of reader-response criticism to describe the plot, setting and characters of Matthew's narrative. Carter proposes that Matthew's community (i.e. the authorial audience) orders the gospel's plot by identifying six narrative blocks (1:1-4:16, 4:17-11:1, 11:2-16:20, 16:21-20:34, 21:1-27:61 and 28:1-20) and proceeds to utilize this scheme in his investigation of the plot as well as important settings and characters. …

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