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Re: [ematthew] the mission to the gentiles

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  • L. J. Swain
    ... Includes both, yes. I m suggesting that the tension be read on multiple levels. In terms of Matthean structure, which chiastically moves us inward from a
    Message 1 of 21 , Oct 20, 2002
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      Steve Black wrote:
      >
      > As I said, I have [mostly] abandoned this theory because of other
      > Gentile references later in the gospel that would forces me to posit
      > too many interpolations in rather unplausible places. (Mt 21:43,
      > 24:14)
      >
      > Your approach. if I understand it correctly, falls within my
      > previously "enumerated" approaches...
      > 2. The tension can be dealt with by a "salvation history" approach.
      > and
      > 3. These two texts can be explained by a pre-textual history.

      Includes both, yes. I'm suggesting that the tension be read on multiple
      levels.
      In terms of Matthean structure, which chiastically moves us inward from
      a general perspective (within certain parameters) slowly into focus on
      Israel, Judea, Jerusalem, and then explodes outward at the last, and
      most important section....the final words of Jesus on earth, on a
      mountaintop, in Galilee, which "assumes" the going out of the apostles
      from the mountain into all nations.

      Narratively, the mission in chapter 10 is a response to Jesus'
      perception of a need WITHIN ISRAEL of "harvesting", and it is then and
      only then that the 12 are "summoned" and named (and the significance of
      12 should not be overlooked here), and sent out to proclaim the same
      message Jesus did (the kingdom of heaven is at hand) and to confirm the
      message with the same wonders that Jesus had to that point performed
      (except the power over the weather, which isn't specifically
      mentioned). It is interesting that one half of the references to the 12
      in the gospel are here in this passage. And in spite of Matthew's
      persistent reminders of prophecies regarding the Messiah's extending the
      "kingdom" to the Gentiles, Jesus himself has only so far been within
      Jewish territory. As you pointed out the Gentiles generally come to
      Jesus. Anyway, I'm getting far afield, I don't think we should read too
      much into the narrative of chapter 10 in terms of Matthew's overall
      scheme or understanding of the Gentiles: in chap 10 the 12 are
      commissioned to do what Jesus has so far done: proclaimed the message to
      Israel and confirmed it with signs.

      Theologically, I think Matthew's community is hammering out its own
      stance yet. And the solution they come to is the one Paul does (see
      below.). That is, the message of the kingdom is principally a Jewish
      message. The Gentiles will come to it by faith, hence the Isaiah
      passages that Jesus fulfills which rather than promise that the Gentiles
      will come to Israel, promise instead a going out of the message to
      include the Gentiles (he will give justice to the Gentiles, NOT the
      Gentiles will seek justice from him), the parable of the wedding feast
      in 21 (go out into the highways and byways....), sheeps and goats in 25,
      and finally at the end, make disciples of all nations.....(that is, of
      Jews and Gentiles). Rather than a "to the Jew first and then the Greek"
      Matthew seems to be saying "the Jews and the Gentiles through
      faith"(remember that in pivotal points of the gospel a Gentile's faith
      is upheld in the light of Israel's lack of faith, and also remember that
      the gospel begins with relating Jesus to two men who believed: David
      (and the promise of the universal kingdom) and Abraham (father of many
      nations).

      This still leaves something of tension, but not a large one. Last, the
      text is explained by a historical situation. I think that Matthew's
      community is Antioch. If Acts is in some way historical, we are told
      that the Antioch community was founded after the persecution following
      on Stephen's death, and that believers came there and preached to the
      Jews, but others came and preached to the Gentiles (Ac. 11:19). Thus,
      the picture presented to us of the 12 in Matt 10 suffering persecution
      etc is not so much the current situation of Matthew's community, but
      rather illustrates the historical situation from which the church in
      Antioch sprang....a "mission"(I use the word cautiously) to Israel
      alone, carried out by the 12, with resultant persecutions etc. that
      resulted in the founding of the community. I think this is probably
      where you and I differ most, for I think you would read these statements
      in chapter 10 as referring to the Matthean community's current
      condition.

      It is interesting to me as well that this "tension" in Matthew's gospel
      reflects the community's history in another way. It is the Antioch
      community after all that sent out Paul who eventually came to stress a
      mission to the Gentiles regardless of the original intent of the
      tradition behind Matt 28:18ff, and also claimed to have had Peter, who
      according to Acts was the first to preach to the Gentiles (Cornelius)
      and at the same time according to Paul kept his sphere of preaching to
      those of the circumcision. And here we can see both a tension in how
      the church is to accept the Gentiles, their relation to the Torah, and
      whether the Gentiles come to the church and express faith and so are
      accepted (as the Gentile characters in Matthew's narrative do) or
      whether they are to be sought out and made disciples (as the prophecies,
      the parables, and the "commission" indicate). We see these tensions in
      the gospel, but also in the history of the Antioch community.

      Finally, at long last, I will point out that one answer to the question
      of why there is a Jewish diaspora that if my memory serves (I'll have to
      go look this up again) correctly is 1st cent. BCE states that the Jews
      were scattered among the nations so that the nations be not left without
      the light. Clearly, Matt. 28:18f conveys this very same attitude: the
      Torah/Jesus message is a Jewish one, steeped in jewish tradition, rooted
      in the Jewish scriptures, and yet is not for the Jews alone, but is to
      be seen among the Gentiles as well.

      In my meandering way, I guess, I would say that Matthew does have a
      tension that ultimately he doesn't resolve so much as override.

      Larry Swain


      > It certainly makes sense - but it seems to me to require that Mt's
      > final redaction was very conservative. Not unlike the final redactor
      > of the Pentateuch who left blatant holes/bumps in the narrative in
      > order to preserve ancient traditions. I think Mt shows no hesitation
      > in changes his sources to suite his agenda. Why did he not alter
      > 10:5b-6 to suggest that this legislation was only temporary? (don't
      > go to the Gentiles "until/yet/now/etc") As the text stands now we
      > have to add this provision extra-textually to the story ourselves.
      >
      > --
      > Steve Black
      > Vancouver School of Theology
      > Vancouver, BC
      > ---
      >
      > Strangers stopping strangers just to shake their hand...
      >
      > -Robert Hunter From SCARLET BEGONIAS
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    • L. J. Swain
      ... To a degree, politics. X-Mozilla-Status: 0009 for Christian interpreters in the NT than there is in the OT , so a greater degree of precision is
      Message 2 of 21 , Oct 21, 2002
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        Steve Black wrote:
        >
        > >Robert Brenchley wrote...

        >
        > As an aside - why is it, do you think, that in NT studies the
        > presence of interpolations are only granted with extreme reluctance
        > whereas in OT studies the are commonly seen everywhere and at all
        > times?? Its not like we have enough textual witnesses to eliminate
        > the possibilities. Scribal activity is just as volatile. Just
        > wondering...


        To a degree, politics. X-Mozilla-Status: 0009 for Christian
        interpreters in the NT than there is in the "OT", so a greater degree of
        precision is necessary to prove something in the received text is an
        interpolation or not. Most Christians could jettison the Hebrew Bible
        and still maintain the tenets of their faith.

        Larry Swain
      • Steve Black
        Mt conflates the sent with the not sent in the missionary passage. The motif of family turning against family does not make much sense for itinerants who
        Message 3 of 21 , Oct 21, 2002
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          Mt conflates the sent with the not sent in the "missionary" passage.
          The motif of family turning against family does not make much sense
          for itinerants who presumably aren't at home and thus cannot really
          be betrayed by other family members. Thus it seems that the
          "missionary" passage isn't entirely a missionary passage at all.
          --
          Steve Black
          Vancouver School of Theology
          Vancouver, BC
          ---

          Strangers stopping strangers just to shake their hand...

          -Robert Hunter From SCARLET BEGONIAS
        • L. J. Swain
          ... Ernest, I will say that you give one plenty to think about in your posts. I have several issues here. a) what do you mean by a missionary text . If you
          Message 4 of 21 , Oct 21, 2002
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            "Munachi E. Ezeogu" wrote:
            >
            > Robert Brenchley wrote:
            >
            > If Gentiles are to have a status comparable to that of resident aliens in
            > the Torah - accepted but not invited, as it were - then that might explain
            > much of the text, but it still leaves 28:19 as a problem. It's tempting to
            > regard it as an interpolation, but there seems to be a good deal of Matthean
            > language there, and it seems like an easy way out.
            >
            > I respond:
            >
            > 1. It should not surprise anyone that Mt accords Gentiles the same status as in
            > the Torah. Mt is, after all, a very Jewish book and no other evangelist takes is
            > so close to the Torah as Mt is. This reading leaves 28:19 as a problematic text
            > only when one insists on reading 28:19 as a missionary text. But there are no
            > grounds for that. For one thing, there is no command to "go." Poreuthentes is a
            > participle and not an imperative. As a Hebraism, it could be explained as having
            > a pleonastic sense, simply serving to reinforce the main verb Matheteusate. For
            > more on this see Malina, Bruce "The Literary Structure and Form of Matt. XXVIII.
            > 16-20" New Testament Studies 17 (1970-71): 87-103.


            Ernest,
            I will say that you give one plenty to think about in your posts. I
            have several issues here.

            a) what do you mean by a "missionary text". If you mean that Matt. 28
            should not be read as a general summons on Christians to go and make
            converts to a new religion I would agree. If you however mean that Matt
            28 is not a missionary text in the sense that the "disciples" here are
            not being sent out, I would have to disagree.

            b) I would like to see a defence of your position here on
            "poreuthentes". Yes, it is a participle, but how is that participle
            used? Attendant circumstance in which it is best translated as a
            parallel to the main verb (the typical understanding). Circumstantial,
            explaining the the circumstances of the verb--such as temporal (as you
            go, while you go, etc)? I might accept this, but would like to see an
            argument for it. Supplementary, filling the action of the verb? I
            don't see how this makes sense in the context--Make disciples of all
            nations going, ....baptizing.....teaching. The "going" hardly fits this
            description, though certainly the baptizing and teaching do.

            c) How is "poreuthentes" a pleonasm--if it were "Calling, make
            disciples..." or "teaching, make disciples..."I could see it, but don't
            see how poreuthentes is pleonistic, and I would like you to explain this
            to me, I don't have Malina's article and it will take me a few days to
            find a library that does, get to it, and read it.


            > 2. As I said in my first response to Steve, every word and phrase in this verse
            > is a semantic and literary challenge. We usually assume that panta ta ethne "all
            > nations" is geographic. It doesn't have to be. There is a view, among others,
            > that "all nations" refers to Gentiles living within the Jewish milieu.

            What exactly does this mean? a) I would like to see a systematic study
            of Matthew's use of "ethne", Saldarini did in his _Matthews
            Christian-Jewish Community_, but I see nothing in there that would
            indicate that Mt. 28.19 is a special and unique use of "ethne" to mean
            "those nations liviing only within a "Jewish milieu"?
            b) What do you mean by a Jewish milieu? "Nations" living within Jewish
            hegemony? There wasn't any. Nations having Jewish communities within
            them? Hardly counts as a Jewish milieu then. Or do you mean specific
            "gentiles" who have become "god-fearers" are eligible to become
            Christians? I'm not sure "ethne" can bear that but would entertain an
            argument. c) what do you mean by "geographic" meaning or intent to
            ethne? I'm not sure territory is a necessary component to the notion of
            "ethne".

            > ways this view seems more appropriate for the Matthean context. Even though he
            > comes to the text with a decidedly missionary interest, James LaGrand [The
            > Earliest Christian Mission to 'All Nations' in the Light of Matthew's Gospel
            > (University of South Florida International Studies in Formative Christianity and
            > Judaism, 1995) 239] points out that the initial reference of "all the nations"
            > was probably to "kinsmen and resident aliens, with jews and foreigners who make
            > their home in Galilee of the Goyim."

            Then why not say so in the text? Where else in Jewish or Christian
            literature does PANTA TA EQNH refer to only those non-Jews living in a
            particular region? Doesn't this understanding exclude "Jews", and
            suggests that Matthew's view is Galilee and Galilee alone, nowhere else
            on the planet quite fits the description there. This assumes a great
            deal about Matthew's community, its relationship to other Christian
            communities, and its mileau that I would like to see spelled out
            better. I'll have to get LaGrand's book.

            In a monograph devoted to reconciling the
            > apparent contradiction between the mission discourse (Matt 10:5, 35) and the
            > Great Commission (Matt 28:19), T.W. Manson makes the illuminating observation
            > that "It was the incorporation of Gentiles into the Christian body, not the
            > inculcation of Christian ideas into Gentile minds, that was the living issue in
            > the middle of the first century." [T.W. Manson, Only to the House of Israel?
            > Facet Books Biblical Series (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1964), 5-6.] In other
            > words, the issue was how and to what extent Gentile proselytes within the
            > Matthean church are to be admitted to membership, not proactive mission to
            > persuade Gentiles to accept the Christian faith.


            Agreed, but this doesn't change the tension any. One says, Only
            Israel. The other says, All Nations. We can tone down the import of
            that tension by not reading the latter as "missionary" text (though one
            can not help but think of it in those terms since chap 10 is clearly a
            "missionary" text), but the it does not do away with the tension.


            My opinion builds on that
            > observation: the issue in the Great Commission pericope was the admission of
            > Gentiles into the ministerial circle of disciples and not to ordinary membership
            > which many of them had already attained by the 80s when Mt wrote.

            Ok, I would like to see an explication of this. But I do have
            questions: a) if Mt. 28:19ff relates to the making of leaders in the
            community and not to the rank and file, 1) how do interpret the
            participle "going"? 2) the mountain top experience? 3) how do you
            grammatically make sense of PANTA TA EQNH--it clearly isn't a genitive,
            so it can't be partitive or source. It says, "Disciplize all nations",
            not "make disciples FROM all nations" even if we restrict "ethnh" to
            Galilee. b) how do you picture the baptism? Were not all members of
            the community baptized? And if so, were those not in leadership only
            baptized into the F ather, not the Son or Spirit? Or some other
            formula? If on the other hand you take the baptism here as the same for
            all members of the community, how do you claim that "making
            disciples...baptizing them; is any different on a leadership level and
            indicates that this pertains only to leadership? c) similarly how do
            you take the "teaching them" to be different on this level....aren't all
            Christians, even the rank and file, to be taught all that Jesus
            instructed and observe it? Or do we have a division, and the gospel
            rather than written for the community, is really written only for the
            leadership since it contains all the things that Jesus instructed, to be
            observed by the leadership but not the rank and file?


            I look forward to you comments, Ernest. Thanks very m uch.

            Larry Swain
          • Munachi E. Ezeogu
            Steve Black Wrote: Mt conflates the sent with the not sent in the missionary passage. The motif of family turning against family does not make much sense for
            Message 5 of 21 , Oct 21, 2002
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              Steve Black Wrote:
              Mt conflates the sent with the not sent in the "missionary" passage.
              The motif of family turning against family does not make much sense
              for itinerants who presumably aren't at home and thus cannot really
              be betrayed by other family members. Thus it seems that the
              "missionary" passage isn't entirely a missionary passage at all.
              ~~~~~

              In addition, it is to be noted that whereas Mk (6:12) and Lk (9:6) indicate that
              the disciples actually "go" after receiveing the "missionary" instructions, Mt
              fails to indicate that the disciples actually "go" anywhere after the
              "missionary" instructions in chap 10. Is this perhaps a pointer to Mt's interest
              or lack thereof in outside mission?

              Ernest Munachi Ezeogu
              Toronto School of Theology
            • L. J. Swain
              ... Interesting observations, from both of you. I m not sure I would read too much into Matthew s silence. a) What do you, Ernest, mean by outside mission ?
              Message 6 of 21 , Oct 23, 2002
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                "Munachi E. Ezeogu" wrote:
                >
                > Steve Black Wrote:
                > Mt conflates the sent with the not sent in the "missionary" passage.
                > The motif of family turning against family does not make much sense
                > for itinerants who presumably aren't at home and thus cannot really
                > be betrayed by other family members. Thus it seems that the
                > "missionary" passage isn't entirely a missionary passage at all.
                > ~~~~~
                >
                > In addition, it is to be noted that whereas Mk (6:12) and Lk (9:6) indicate that
                > the disciples actually "go" after receiveing the "missionary" instructions, Mt
                > fails to indicate that the disciples actually "go" anywhere after the
                > "missionary" instructions in chap 10. Is this perhaps a pointer to Mt's interest
                > or lack thereof in outside mission?
                >
                > Ernest Munachi Ezeogu
                > Toronto School of Theology


                Interesting observations, from both of you. I'm not sure I would read
                too much into Matthew's silence.

                a) What do you, Ernest, mean by "outside mission"? If you mean a
                mission among the Gentiles, in Matthew 10 where you observe Matthew not
                mentioning the disciples'departure (or their return later), since this
                "mission" is aimed at Israel. b) since it is interested in Israel,
                would you say that Matthew's community is disinterested in "mission" or
                "making disciples" even within Israel? and if so c) how do we explain
                things like Matt 4 in which Jesus is proclaiming the kingdom to all and
                sundry, or the analogy at the end of chapter 9, and the explict
                statement that Jesus sent them out.

                This is one of those places I think we're invited by the author to
                assume that what he described in 10:5 (These 12 Jesus sent out after
                instructing them....) is what happened. In any case, the focus of the
                section is on Jesus and Jesus instruction, par for the course in
                Matthew, and not the disciples.

                Ernest, I'd still really like to see your ideas on Matt 28:19ff fleshed
                out, and we can do it either as an "article" in prep, or via email
                messages. But you have an intriguing idea.

                Larry Swain
              • Edgar M. Krentz
                ... Larry Swain I have followed this long string with interest. I venture an opinion here with some hesitancy, but, as ancient Euripides sometimes concluded a
                Message 7 of 21 , Oct 23, 2002
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                  >Interesting observations, from both of you. I'm not sure I would read
                  >too much into Matthew's silence.
                  >
                  >a) What do you, Ernest, mean by "outside mission"? If you mean a
                  >mission among the Gentiles, in Matthew 10 where you observe Matthew not
                  >mentioning the disciples'departure (or their return later), since this
                  >"mission" is aimed at Israel. b) since it is interested in Israel,
                  >would you say that Matthew's community is disinterested in "mission" or
                  >"making disciples" even within Israel? and if so c) how do we explain
                  >things like Matt 4 in which Jesus is proclaiming the kingdom to all and
                  >sundry, or the analogy at the end of chapter 9, and the explict
                  >statement that Jesus sent them out.
                  >
                  >This is one of those places I think we're invited by the author to
                  >assume that what he described in 10:5 (These 12 Jesus sent out after
                  >instructing them....) is what happened. In any case, the focus of the
                  >section is on Jesus and Jesus instruction, par for the course in
                  >Matthew, and not the disciples.
                  >
                  Larry Swain

                  I have followed this long string with interest. I venture an opinion
                  here with some hesitancy, but, as ancient Euripides sometimes
                  concluded a line in his tragedies, ALL' hOMOS.

                  I have noticed a tendency to concentrate on a very few Matthean
                  passages, without looking at the entire plan of the book. Chapters
                  11-12, which come after chapter 10, describe how many in Galilee
                  rejected Jesus' message. In chapter 12 comes that Isaiah citation
                  which end "and on his name Gentiles hope."

                  Jesus enters Jerusalem in Matthew 21. Matthew cites an OT passge at
                  that point, but omits from the LXX the words DIKAIOS KAI SOZON, "just
                  and bringing salvation." Jesus enters Jerusalem as its judge. He
                  curses the fig tree, an enacted parable of judgment in 21:18-22.

                  After the question on authority there follow three parables from
                  Jesus. The first is the parable of the two sons. Note its conclusion:
                  "John the Baptist came to you on the path of righteousness, and you
                  did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes believed
                  him. And when you saw that, you did not later repent and believe
                  him." Matt 21:28-32)

                  Then look at the next parable: it ends"On account of this I tell you
                  that the royal rule of God will be taken away from you and given to a
                  gentile nation that produces its fruits." (Matt 221:43)

                  I will omit discussing the significance of the notes in the passion narrative.

                  Written after the destruction of Jerusalem, Matthew's
                  Jewish-Christian church is beginning to doubt the correctness of its
                  belief in Jesus--after all, most Jews don't. And they are excluding
                  the Jewish Christians from Judaism. (Matt 5:10-12) Matthew is
                  concerned to show them that they have everything that proper Jews
                  have: Torah and prophets, correct actions, etc. And the gospel ends
                  by calling them to convert TA ETHNE, the [gentile] nations. That may
                  also include un-believing Jews!

                  Thus Matthew 10 and Matthew 18 belong to two quite different times in
                  salvation history. Matthew is neither inconsistent or
                  self-contradictory. Rather he is involved in strengthening a
                  community unsure of itself by giving it an identity in spite of the
                  general Jewish exclusion of it.

                  Peace,

                  Edgar Krentz
                  --
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                  Edgar Krentz
                  Professor Emeritus of New Testament
                  Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
                  1100 East 55th Street
                  Chicago, IL 60615
                  Telephone: (773) 256-0773 Home Tel: 773-947-8105
                  Office e-mail: ekrentz@... Home e-mail: ekrentz@...
                  GERASKO D' AEI POLLA DIDASKOMENOS.
                  "I grow older, learning many things all the time." [Solon of Athens]
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                • Munachi E. Ezeogu
                  Please, Larry and everybody, bear with me for the silence. Hopefully I will be able to answer the charges by the weekend. Time is in short supply. What else
                  Message 8 of 21 , Oct 24, 2002
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                    Please, Larry and everybody, bear with me for the silence. Hopefully I will be able to "answer the charges" by the weekend. Time is in short supply. What else can you expect from a Ph.D. student in the thesis writing stage? Thank you Steve for tabling this discussion.

                    Ernest Munachi Ezeogu (Ph.D. Cand)
                    Toronto School of Theology

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