Re: [ematthew] the mission to the gentiles
- Steve Black wrote:
>Includes both, yes. I'm suggesting that the tension be read on multiple
> 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,
> 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.
> 3. These two texts can be explained by a pre-textual history.
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
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
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.
> 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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- Steve Black wrote:
>To a degree, politics. X-Mozilla-Status: 0009 for Christian
> >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
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.
- 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
- "Munachi E. Ezeogu" wrote:
>Interesting observations, from both of you. I'm not sure I would read
> 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
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.
>Interesting observations, from both of you. I'm not sure I would readLarry Swain
>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.
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.
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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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- 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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