Matthaean Exegesis

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Matthew uses three key types of  markers to lay out the structure of the gospel.  They are:
1)    ἀπὸ τότε : 'From then on ...', 4.17; 16.21; 26.16 (these mark the onset of the three major sections - cf. 4.17 below)
2)    καταβαίνειν,: 'To descend': (this is used to mark the end of the first and third sections, and to 'cast the die', i.e. full commitment,  of the middle section - for full details see
Matthew & Wisdom, Power and Wellbeing)
3)    Heights: Three heights are given in the Temptation narrative (see 4.1-11 below); the completion of the overcoming of these three temptations is marked by a 'coming down' from a greater height at each stage: 

PROLOGUE: 1.1-4.16;  Jesus = The Son of God = Israel in its calling (Exod 4.22 f.)
        Prologue as 1.1-4.16: See
Gospel Prologues and Their Function, also Edgar Krentz, "The Extent of Matthew's Prologue", JBL 83 (1964), pp. 409-414, who reaches the same conclusion by another route.
1.1    Title & ground-plan: 'Book of the generations' (Βίβλος γενέσεως - Gen 5.1)
                Gen 5.1: Book of the generations of Adam
 
                Matt 1.1: Book of the generations of Jesus [i.e., God's true man],
  
                Christ [of justice, i.e. God-given power],
                        Son of David [ of mercy, i.e. God-given wisdom],
                        Son of Abraham [of faith, i.e. God-given well-being] (cf. Matt 23.23).
        Matt 1.1 appears to be careful re-write of Mark 1.1:

The Holy One Messiah of Israel For all men
Mark 1.1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus, Christ, God's Son
Matt 1.1 The book of the generations of Jesus, Christ, Son of David, Son of Abraham

   Matthew's 'Son of David' and 'Son of Abraham' are clearly OT-Jewish terns that can only be understood as such.  They link Jesus more explicitly and firmly to Covenant and Scriptures than the more ambiguous 'Anointed One (= 'Christ') and 'God's Son'.

1.2-17    Genealogy:     1) Jesus in Davidic line and line of Abraham;
                                        2) Line 'morally impure' to begin with (Tamar, 1.3; Rahab, 1.5; Ruth, 1.5; wife of Uriah, 1.6; cf. Mary, 1.16);
                                        3) 'The Christ' as apex of Israel's saving history (Abraham to David, 14 generations,  to Exile, 14 generations, to the present Christ, 14 generations);
                                        4) Note: 13th generation: 'Jesus, who was born of Mary' (aorist passive, 1.16b), 14th generation: 'who is being called Christ' (present indicative participle, 1.16c).

1.18-2.23    Infancy narratives based on Passover Haggadah and lections for Passover.  (See C. H. Cave, "St Matthew's Infancy Narrative", N.T.S. 9 [1962/3], pp. 382-390.)
1.18-25        Conception, birth and naming of Jesus
1.18b          'she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit' - i.e.,  from the word "go"' Jesus is God's action, not man's; cf. 1.20.
1.21            [to Joseph:] 'you are to name him Jesus' - i.e. Joseph is to acknowledge him as his son; cf. 1.25.
                    Jesus/Jeshua: Yahweh saves            
2.1-12        Visit of Magi: proleptic worship by Gentiles?
2.11            gold [for well-being of Abraham], frankincense [for wise Davidic king] and myrrh [for burial of the Christ].
2.13-18       Flight to Egypt  is based on Passover Haggadah's re-write [i.e., change of vowels] of Deut 26.5-9 ('A wandering Aramean was my father ...'] so that it reads 'A Syrian tried to kill our father ...', and then explains that Laban tried to kill all of us off in the loins of our father Jacob, so that he fled to Egypt for safety; 2.15 = Hos 11.1: 'Out of Egypt I called my Son', so that Jesus flees to Egypt and comes up out of Egypt as Jacob/Israel, the righteous remnant of one of Israel in its calling in the Covenant.
                I am inclined to speculate as follows:   I think it is possible that Matthew has supplied the name 'Joseph' for Jesus' father, picking up Joseph of the Genesis narratives as the wise one (Gen 41.39) whose bones are brought up out of Egypt (Gen 50.25; Exod 13.19; Josh 24.32).  [In rabbinic thought, “During the 40 years’ wandering in the wilderness, the coffin was carried next to the Ark of the Covenant because ‘This one [Joseph] fulfilled all that was written in the other.’ (Sot. 13 a-b; Tosef., Sot. 4:7; Mekh. 2, Proem., et al.)”, Moshe Altbauer, art. "Joseph", Encyclopaedia Judaica (Macmillan, New York/Jerusalem, 1971). Vol. 10. p. 422.] Jesus is presented in Joseph typology as the wise one at Transfiguration, so I suspect there is in Matthew's mind an element of Joseph coming up out of Egypt.  This wisdom motif may be part of why in Matthew Jesus is identified as the carpenter's [= τεκτον] son (Matt 13.55), i.e. son of Joseph the wise one (but I also suspect it may be a double entendre, with the real τεκτον being God). 

2.23        'he shall be called a Nazarene':  I suspect that this is a double pun, relating to נצר, 'root' (Isa 11.1: root of Jesse, i.e. Davidic reference), and נזר, relating to the Nazirites (Num 6.5) as consecrated and set apart under a vow, i.e., the obedient one.
4.1-11    Temptation narrative.  Note the three progressive heights:  v. 3: 'these stones' = ground level; v. 5: 'pinnacle of the temple; v. 8: 'very high mountain'.  (The total overcoming of these temptations regarding well-being, testing of will, and action [deed] involve at progressively greater heights: 5.1: 'mountain; 17.1: 'high mountain'; 28.2: 'heaven' - see
Matthew & Wisdom, Power and Wellbeing)  Note that the temptations correspond to Israel's testings in the wilderness.  Jesus' replies are all Torah passages (Deut 8.3; 6.16; 6.13), for in Jewish tradition Torah is the best defence against temptation.  Note also what  may be deemed to be the necessity of having a temptation narrative, for one was not reckoned to be wise until one had been tested.

4.17        ἀπὸ τότε : 'From then on ...', with  ἀπὸ τότε in 16.21 and  26.16 - signifies the beginning of each of the three major divisions of the Matthaean narrative (contra many exegetes, who ignore the third occurrence of ἀπὸ τότε, and see significance in only the longer phrase of the first two occurrences, namely, ἀπὸ τότε ἤρξατο ὁ Ἰησοῦς, and ignore the third).  But this is to ignore the fact that Matthew uses ἀπὸ τότε  only these three times despite his use of ἀπὸ 113 times and τότε 90 times, and in his re-write of Mark 14.11b he has added the ἀπὸ τότε.  The three sections concern Word (teaching), Will (determination to fulfil the word) and Deed (the passion-entombment-resurrection sequence); see Matthew & Wisdom, Power and Wellbeing.

5.1    Jesus went up into the mountain, and when he was seated (i.e., teaching position), his disciples  came to him.   Some exegetes (e.g., D. A. Hagner, 1993) view this in terms of Jesus as Moses.  They are wrong.  Jesus is in the position of Yahweh, giving Torah; the disciples are in Moses' position.  The lectionary setting for the Sermon is Pentecost.  For the data that shows that Matthew, in re-writing Mark, effectively downgrades Moses, see Matthew's Son of God as the Torah Incarnate.

5.1-8.1    Sermon on Mount = pattern for a God-dependent humanity in terms of Abraham (Well-being - faith) - David (Wisdom - mercy) - Christ (Power - Cross - justice) - see Chiastic Structuring in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5.3-7.11) & the Chiasm of Matt 5.1-7.29 against 22.15-24.3 as well as Matthew & Wisdom, Power and Wellbeing.

11.2-6: John's disciples come looking (v. 3); they are told to go and tell what they are hearing and seeing (v. 4); v. 5 then echoes Isa 28.18 f. (among other Isaiah passages) and v. 6 pronounces a blessing on those not scandalized by Jesus.  Isa 29.10-19 appears to parallel this (vv. 10-11: lack of sight and vision; vv. 14-16: on lack of discernment and understanding; vv. 18-19: 'In that day the deaf shall hear ..., the eyes of the blind shall see.  The poor among men shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.'  In the Midrashim (Yelamedenu and Genesis Rabbah) a Torah- Seder beginning at Gen 18.17 (a division that is not found in the later Masorah) has as its haphtarah the passage that begins with Isa 29.10 (Cave, LS&SG, section on Gen 18.16).  This use may be reflected here.

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