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This proposal introduces rationale, literature review, the statement of the problem, aim, purpose and task, research questions, methodology and scope and limitation with regard to this research.

1.1 Rationale

To understand the Gospel of Matthew in depth, one needs to understand his theological emphasis. Often, students read one of the similar passages of the gospel accounts and tend to ignore other passages by thinking that the meaning of the passage is the same in all three. Such handling of the passage leads them to misunderstand and misinterpret the passage. For example, the “cleansing of the leper” story occurs in each synoptic gospel, and while having a careful study on each gospel’s account, anyone will discover the similarities between these three gospels. However, there are plenty of differences. Matthew’s account (8:1) begins uniquely, and Matthew has used various unique words in his account. In the same way, Mark and Luke are totally unique in some of the words and phrases in their accounts.

Here, on these issues, it can be assured that each of the evangelists had their own intention behind the editorial changes and aim to project Jesus uniquely. For example, Matthew portrays Jesus as a new Moses who is even greater than him, and who accepts a leper regardless of the Jewish religious customs and laws. Thus, by having a redaction critical analysis of Matthew against Mark and Luke will give the unique presentation of Matthew the evangelist on Jesus.

According to redaction criticism, Matthew used Mark and did some intentional editorial fluctuations which are unique to Matthew. For instance, in the parallel account of “Jesus sending out the twelve,” the phrase “Don’t go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans” (Matt. 10:5-6) is missing in Mark, but this has been added to Matthew’s account. This is a Mattheanism.

In the same book at the end (Matt. 28:16-20) the author has artistically stated a detailed Great Commission, which is also called the culmination of Jesus’ ministry, where Jesus is commanding disciples to go to the nations (gentiles). This passage is omitted by the other evangelists.

Thus, seeing these things stimulates curiosity and lots of questions. What was Matthew really trying to tell his audience community by making deliberate editorial changes, and then limiting Jesus’ ministry in some point of time and then again extending it worldwide? This reminds one of the key themes of the gospel of Matthew, “particularism and universalism.” In this research, this theme will be studied and analyzed by using redaction criticism as a key tool in some selected passages, such as Matthew 8:1-4, 10:5-15, 15:21-28, 15:29-39, 17:1-8 and 28:16-20 which will finally help to understand Matthew’s theological motives and emphasis in his work and then eventually give some sort of solution.

1.2 Literature Review

It has been tension between particularism and universalism among Biblical scholars in the gospel of Matthew. Therefore, many of them have done studies on this most debatable topic in Matthew. Scholars stand on two poles arguing for particularism and universalism based on Matthew’s using of the unique words and terms and presentation.

Here is a short overview of various Matthean scholars and others, their serious studies on theme “particularism and universalism” in the gospel of Matthew and their arguments with the primary reason that Matthew interested to talk these things in the gospel. The scholars have been taxonomized based on their stand point.

1.2.1 Proponents of Particularism

Following are the scholars who argue for the particularism in the gospel of Matthew. Günther Bornkamm (1963)

Bornkamm proposed his view saying that the concept of “discipleship” in Matthew has been brought from Judaism. He argues that the concept of discipleship has no connection with Christianity but direct links to the school terminology which was evolved by the Rabbinate. Bornkaam explains one of the most important designations of the disciples in Matthew’s Gospel, the relationship of disciples to their teacher. The discipleship of Jesus does not mean that Jesus’ disciples have a free attachment to him as their teacher, but their discipleship is based on Jesus’ call to follow him.

He says that Jesus neither exercises his authority over his disciples. Bornkamm defines discipleship by saying that the position of a disciple is not a preliminary stage, with the intention that the disciple himself shall become a teacher (23:8ff.). He says rather it designates a lasting relationship to Jesus.[1]

Bornkamm brings out another unique statement in Matthew, “A disciple is not above his master” with the parallel statement: “and a servant is not above his lord,” and this is not a general truth but refers to Jesus as Lord and master. Bornkamm says that here Jesus ceases to be a teacher in the Jewish sense.[2]

Bornkamm says that Matthew brought the Messianic titles from the Jewish writings, and he points out the consistency and energy that Matthew has portrayed in order to prove all the Messianic titles of Jesus, his teaching, deeds and history. He says further that all these things apply to all the characterization of Jesus; he is the Son of David, the King of Israel, the fulfiller of the prophecies of the Immanuel, Bethlehem, Galilee, servant of God, the Son of God, the lowly king that has been promised in Zechariah 9, and the one who is prophesied in the Psalms of suffering, the son of David as he called himself Lord (Ps. 110:1) and eventually the Son of Man who is the judge of the world.[3]

Bornkamm says that Matthew heightens the triumphal entry since he alone quotes from the Old Testament (Zech. 9:9) which is also linked with Isaiah 62:11, and throughout projects Jesus as the “lowly king.” Similarly, Bornkamm argues that even though Jesus has performed lots of miracles Matthew views them as secondary to his teaching (4:23; 9:35 etc.) and moreover projects him as a second Moses and the new law-giver. The “mountain” of the Sermon on the Mount might be used as an analogy to Sinai, and the entire history and teachings of Jesus are presented in the gospel of Matthew with the purpose that the fulfilling of the law (5:17).[4] Robert H. Gundry (1970)

Gundry points out some of the Jewishness in the gospel of Matthew. He says that Matthew is the one who has addressed God as “Father in heaven” more times than the other synoptic gospels. There are fifteen times in Matthew but only once in Mark and not at all in Luke. He goes on adding that Matthew has a whole chapter of eschatology, the Olivet Discourse, but Mark and Luke do not have as Matthew has, and also Jewish people are very much interested in eschatology.[5]

Gundry says that the gospel of Matthew substitutes “heaven” “for the name of God” in the phrase “kingdom of heaven,” whereas other gospels use “kingdom of God.”  He says that Matthew has compared Jesus with Moses through some pericopes such as Jesus’ nativity and transfiguration (Exod. 2:15; 4:19, 20; 34:29; Deut. 18:15 with Matt. 2:13, 2:20, 2:21, 17:2, 5). In the Sermon on the Mount (which is absent in Luke’s gospel) Jesus sets his teachings alongside the Mosaic Law in a series of statements, “You have heard that it was said to the men of old (there follows a quotation from the Pentateuch) “… But I say to you….” (Matt. 5:21, 5:27, 5:31, 5:38, 5:43).[6]

Gundry says that there are more or less lengthy “sermons,” and each discourse ends up with the formula, “it came to pass that when Jesus had finished these sayings…”

He states the discourses and their themes as follows:

1. Matthew 5-7 – “the Sermon on the Mount,” The Meaning of True (Inward) Righteousness.[7]

2. Matthew 10 – “the discipleship discourse,” The Meaning of Witness for Christ (Persecution and Reward)

3. Matthew 13 – “the parable discourse,” The Meaning of the Kingdom.

4. Matthew 18 – “the community instruction,” The Meaning of Humility and Forgiveness.

5. Matthew 23-25 “the eschatological discourse,” The Denunciation of the Scribes and Pharisees (ch. 23) and the Olivet Discourse, often called “The Little Apocalypse” (chs. 24 & 25).[8]

Here, Gundry parallels these five discourses of the gospel of Matthew to the five Mosaic books or teachings, the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy which are together called “The Law of Moses”). He adds that the fivefold structure of these discourses suggests that Matthew was portraying Jesus as a new and greater Moses, just as Moses spoke his laws from the Mountain and here is someone who is even greater than Moses who gave his five discourses of Law from the mountain.[9] David Hill (1972)

Hill says that the most immediately striking characteristic of Matthew’s Gospel is its “Jewishness.” He argues that Matthew tries to highlight that all the prophecies have been fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus, which is the goal of the Old Testament revelation of God.[10]

He says that even though there are few “attacks on Jewish attitudes and practices (e.g. chapter 23), the validity of the Law is emphasized (5:18f.) and the instructions (if not the behavior) of the scribes and Pharisees are to be followed (23:2f.) and the commandments are to be kept (19:17f.): the disciples are expected to keep the Sabbath, to fast, and to bring their offerings in accordance with Jewish tradition (6:16ff.; 24:20; 5:23f.) and also are obliged to pay Temple tax (17:24ff.).”[11]

Similarly, Hill illustrates various Jewish usages, ordinances and expressions with explanations, for instance, “tradition of the elders” (15:2), “hand-washing scruples,” “phylacteries” (23:5), “whitewashed tombs” (23:27); raca (5:22) and korbanas (27:6). Hill points out the rabbinic formulation of a question in the gospel of Matthew: the question in Mark’s Gospel, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” (Mark 10:2) is given in Matthew as, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” (Matt. 19:3).[12]

Hill says that the Matthew’s Lord’s prayer is more analogous to Jewish liturgical form (in the address, the seven-fold petition, and in the use of the word “debts”). He says further that because of these reasons there are many scholars who argue that gospel of Matthew was written from a “Jewish Christian” standpoint, to make it acceptable to Jewish-Christian readers, and then to prove that Jesus is the Messiah of the Jews. He goes on saying that the writer of the book is regarded as being a Jewish Christian who also had rabbinic knowledge.[13] William Hendriksen (1974)

Hendriksen says that Matthew’s gospel is full of Jewishness, such as the idea of the divine teleology, which means the priority on prophecy and fulfillment is much stronger than in the other gospels. There is an emphasis on the concept of seven. In the very first chapter Matthew portrays Christ as the beginner of the seventh seven, the climax of the three fourteens. Matthew mentions a group of seven kingdom parables (ch. 13), and Jesus pronounces seven woes upon Pharisees and scribes (ch. 23).[14]

He says that all these strongly remind us of the divine ordinance of the seven-day week in the Old Testament (Gen. 2:2; Exod. 20:10; Deut. 5:14), the Sabbath of weeks (Pentecost, Lev. 23:15), the festival during “the seventh month (Lev. 23:24),” “the seventh year (Lev. 25:4),” and “the year of Jubilee” at the end of seven times seven years (Lev. 25:8). Other Old Testament sevens are found in Gen. 4:24; Exod. 25:37; Josh. 6:4, 6:6, 6:8, 6:13, 6:15; Job 1:2; Dan. 4:16, 4:23, 4:25, 9:25; Zech. 4:2.[15]

Thirdly, Hendriksen highlights the emphasis given on the law in Matthew’s gospel (5:17-48; cf. 7:12, 12:5, 23:23). He further notes the peculiarity that the title “king of the Jews,” referring to Jesus, can be found at the beginning of the gospel itself (2:2). Similarly, it is the only gospel that mentions Jerusalem “the holy city” (4:5, 27:53; cf. Rev. 21:2), and it is the only gospel in which the customs of the Jews do not need to be explained (15:2; contrast Mark 7:3,4) because the Jews knew their own customs. Finally, Hendriksen concludes saying that the Gospel of Matthew is stronger with its Jewish components than other gospels.[16] Leon Morris (1992)

According to Morris, the writer of the gospel according to Matthew is deeply concerned to depict Christianity as the true continuation of the Old Testament or Judaism. He says further that the writer seems to be very much acquainted with the Mishnah and Talmud, the Jewish writings. The author did not find it necessary to explain the Jewish customs, as we see in Matthew 15:1-9 and Mark 7:1-13. Matthew straightly begins his gospel with the genealogy with Abraham, the greater ancestor of the Jewish race (1:1-2).[17] Similarly, Morris argues for Matthew’s Jewish interest with the mention of important Jewish components such as the Sabbath (12:1-14) and the temple tax (17:24-27).[18]

Morris also gives a strong example for Jewishness based on Matthew’s emphasis on the fulfillment of prophecy, as Matthew has very often used the formula, “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet.” Matthew has applied this fulfillment formula to the whole of the first chapter: All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with the child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him ‘Immanuel’ which means, ‘God with us.’” The formula reoccurs throughout the gospel. This evidences that the writer has a special interest in the Old Testament passages which apply to Jesus.[19]

Morris says that here the matter is not the quantity of quotations that have been used but the way that they have been used in the book of Matthew. These all things evidence that Matthew has a Jewish background and that he is keenly interested in Jews.[20] Craig S. Keener (1997)

Keener says that the most important portrayal of Jesus in the book of Matthew is of Jesus as the true King of Israel (21:5-9, 27:29) rather than as a teacher or a prophet. He is the promised Messiah/Christ (16:16-20). Since Jesus is God’s appointed king, his teachings have authority. Similarly, he is the one promised by Israel’s prophets—a final king or dynasty, the one who is descended from David (Isa. 9:7; Jer. 23:5).[21]

Keener articulates that Jesus is the anointed one from God himself, just as the kings used to be anointed in Israel, and Jesus’ disciples claimed him to be Messiah.[22]

Similarly, Keener argues that on the basis of Jesus’ teachings, he is a prophet like Jeremiah (Matt. 16:14, 21:12, 23:29-32) and adds that he is a prophet-healer like Elijah and Elisha (as in the healings of Matt. 8-9).[23] Keener says that Matthew makes the point through the genealogy that Jesus is the focal point of history, and that all his ancestors, such as Judah, Ruth, David, Uzziah, Hezekiah and Josiah, depend on him for their meaning.[24]

He says further that just as the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 unite history between primary figures such as Adam, Noah and Abraham, in the same way Matthew’s genealogy unifies the periods of history of Israel and eventually pinpoints them to Jesus.[25]

Keener argues that Matthew intentionally made Mark’s Jesus “more Jewish.” Mark was preaching Jesus in a broader, that is Greco-Roman, audience whereas Matthew has deliberately re-Judaized Jesus for his Jewish audience.[26] Wayne S. Baxter (1999)

Baxter opines that there is plenty of Mosaic imagery in the Gospel of Matthew, and that the Mosaic imagery begins even from the birth narrative of Jesus: just as Pharaoh ordered the killing of all the male Hebrew children in Exodus, here Herod decreed the death of all the male children. He adds that when “an angel tells Joseph to take the child and his mother back to Israel” the significance is heightened because in Exodus 4:19 God tells Moses, “… for all those seeking his life are dead…” and here Matthew 2:20 “…for those who sought the child’s life are dead (ESV).”[27]

Baxter says that “as at the end of the opening narrative of Exodus, Matthew’s readers, at the end of the infancy narrative, are left anticipating a new exodus, i.e., they are left anticipating the rise of a new deliverer to lead Israel out of exile.” He goes on explaining that “the exile motif is prominent for Matthew.” He further states that the peculiarity in the genealogy of Jesus is that “the turning point is in the Babylonian exile (Matt. 1:11-12) which interrupts the Davidic dynasty.”[28]

Baxter parallels the Old Testament with Matthew, saying that “the tears shed at the Babylonian exile” parallel “the tears shed by the mothers of Bethlehem whose sons were slaughtered by Herod (2:17-18, cf. Jer. 31:15).”[29]

Similarly, God promised the ultimate deliverance which is called “a new covenant” that is “to deliver his people from their sin (1:21).” According to Baxter Matthew gives “a deep sense of hope” and anticipation “of a new exodus for Israel” through the heir of David’s throne that would be “led by a new deliverer,” the Messiah (cf. Matt. 1:21). He adds that Matthew creates a heightened expectation by introducing John the Baptist, “who came preaching repentance” “in those days” (3:1). He adds further that this phrase is closely attached to “eschatology in the prophets” and even Matthew writes that “the ministry of John the Baptist was prophesied by Isaiah (3:3).”[30] Raymond E. Brown (2000)

Brown discusses the opening Greek phrase of the Gospel of Matthew (1:1) Βίβλος γενέσεως “the book of generations” which is similar to the Old Testament, Genesis 5:1 seper toledot which means “the book of generations.” Genesis 5:1 is a record of the descendants of Adam whereas Matthew 1 is a list of Jesus’ ancestors. Brown further says that γενέσεως “origin” (Matt. 1:1) suggests the meaning “the story of the origin,” which cover the entire chapter 1 and continues on to the “conception and birth of Jesus Christ.” This is a unique opening of the book compared to the synoptic gospels, though there is a similar phrase in Mark, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Matthew’s beginning of the genealogy of Jesus is unlike that of Luke.[31] Brown concludes that Matthew might have used the title “The genealogy of Jesus” for his whole Gospel with the understanding that it echoes the Israelite history.[32]

Brown says that the emphasis in the title “Jesus Christ” “Son of David” and “Son of Abraham” (Matt. 1:1) shows that Jesus is the fulfillment of Jewish messianic hopes. He further says that in the first chapter of Matthew “the sonship of David” is the special theme being presented, and even the angel of the Lord addresses Joseph with the title “Son of David” (1:20). Joseph, a Davidic, received Jesus as his Son.[33]

1.2.2. Proponents of Universalism

Though there are many Matthean scholars who have examined the Jewishness of the gospel of Matthew, following scholars are, who argue for anti-Judaism in Matthew. Michael J. Cook (1985)

Cook says that Matthew’s attitude toward Jews is mostly one of denigration, even though Jesus gave a significant explanation of his new teaching pertaining his new law in the Sermon on the Mount, where he taught people to turn the other cheek, to love one’s enemies and to consider sinful even the mere sensation of anger. He adds that, in chapter 23, Matthew narrates Jesus condemning the hypocrisy of Jewish leaders, saying “Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs that look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of the bones of the dead and of everything unclean.” (23:27,NET).[34]

Cook writes that Matthew intensifies Mark’s material, such as in the episode on “paying tribute to Caesar,” in Mark Jesus sees that his Jewish questioners are hypocritical (12:15) whereas Matthew writes that Jesus perceives them as malicious (22:18). Thereby Matthew defines the Jewish leaders at least more sinister than Mark. Cook argues that when a lawyer asks Jesus about the greatest commandment, Matthew’s Jesus deliberately deletes the opening statement of the Shema (Matt. 22:34-38), the most important prayer for a Jew, “Hear, O Israel…” whereas Mark has mentioned it (Mark 12:28-29).[35]

Cook notes some of the unique accounts pertaining to anti-Jewishness: Matthew is the only one who has mentioned the Jews willingly accepting responsibility for Jesus’ blood and adding this burden of guilt on their children as well (Matt. 27:25). He further says that Matthew declares that the Jews bribed soldiers to lie about how Jesus’ tomb had become empty (Matt. 28:12ff.).[36]

Cook argues that Matthew has not failed to introduce one of the key parables, the Marriage Feast (22:1-14), and then goes on telling that Matthew took Mark’s “parable of the Wicked Tenants (Mark 12:1-12)” and beautifully projected it in an anti-Jewish direction. Jesus explicitly said, “Therefore, I tell you that the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.” (Matt. 21:43,NIV). Here, Matthew has gone beyond Mark’s own work (Matt. 21:33-46).[37]

Cook argues that even though, Jesus says, in the Sermon on the Mount “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”(Matt. 5:17ff., KJB) and seems to be in favor of Judaism, in the context, Matthew’s primary purpose can be found to demonstrate the inadequacy of Mosaic law in ranking the new law introduced by Jesus to supersede it.[38] R. T. France (1989)

France argues that the gospel of Matthew has been loaded with plenty of “anti-Jewishness.” For instance, the onslaught on the “scribes and Pharisees” in chapter 23 is pivotal more than the other synoptic gospels and pertaining to the forthcoming destruction of the Jerusalem temple.[39]

He adds that in fact it ought to be interpreted in terms of God’s rejection of his people (Israel) in order to replace them by another nation (Matt. 21:43). Therefore, it signifies the admission of Gentiles to the Christian community and this evidences that the author of the gospel may not have been a Jew, despite the substantial Jewish components in the gospel of Matthew, but was writing for Jews.[40]

France adds further that there are other arguments for a non-Jewish origin for Matthew, taking note of the apparent distance between the author and Jewish culture expressed in the phrases their synagogues (4:23, 9:35, 10:17, 12:9, 13:54, cf. 23:34 “your synagogues”) and “their scribes” (7:29).[41] He adds that even the beginning of the gospel of Matthew has clearly noted that the first worshippers of the new king of the Jews were not Jews but men from the East (gentiles) who had come to pay homage the new born king, just as the Queen of Sheba came to King Solomon bringing spices and very much gold (1 Kings 10:2, 10:10).[42]

France explains that even the infant Messiah immediately goes off to Egypt (gentile territory, 2:13-15) and right after his return the impact of his ministry is spread outside Jewish territory to Syria and the Decapolis (4:24-25). He says that even the chosen location of his ministry is deliberately dubbed “Galilee of the Gentiles” (4:15) and even though the Messiah has been introduced in Matthew 1:1-17 as the Messiah of Israel the significant four women included in vv. 3-6 were probably non-Jews, representing four nations and indicating that the Messiah belongs even to the nations around.[43]

France argues that right after the account of Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 5-7, the narrative resumes with two healing accounts where the universalistic mission is portrayed. In both accounts faith has been displayed but the centurion’s (gentile) faith has been praised.[44]

France notes the parables of chapters 21-22, where Jesus clearly speaks of replacement by “another nation” and later gives an invitation to a diverse crowd to the wedding feast (“both bad and good”). He adds that the blessings of Israel are not going to be for them alone, but the mission of the disciples which had been restricted to Israel (10:5-6, 10: 23) is soon to be “preached throughout the entire world, as a testimony to all nations” (24:14), and the gospel will be preached to the whole world (26:13); his followers are asked to go to the entire world and make disciples (28:18-19).[45] E. P. Sanders (1999)

Sanders argues that it is undeniable that Matthew is loaded with much anti-Jewishness or universalistic connotations such as Matthew 8:11f/Luke 13:28f, “many will come from east and west and the sons of the kingdom will be cast out.” He explains that here “people from the east and west” symbolize the non-Jews, and that the gentiles have been portrayed as the privileged ones to be with the Jewish patriarchs “Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.”[46]

Sanders secondly comments, from the key passage Matthew 10:18, that “in being punished the disciples will bear testimony before the Gentiles.” He says that here too gentiles have been valued by Jesus. Moreover, in Mark 13:10 and Matthew 24:14 Jesus commissions the disciples, saying that “the gospel must be preached to all the Gentiles,” and in Mark 14:9/Matthew 26:6-13 Jesus appreciates what the woman had done to him at Bethany and then says that her work will be told “wherever the gospel” will be “preached in the whole world.” Sanders says that all these passages imply the inclusion of the Gentiles and even a mission to them.[47]

Sanders says that Matthew 10:5, 10:23 seems not to allow time for a Gentile mission, and furthermore Jesus is reported to have said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Here Jesus seems to display a lack of interest in the gentiles, or else the time has not yet come for the gentiles. However, in passages such as Matthew 8:5-13, Jesus is seen as having a mission to Gentiles. The evangelists all favoured the Gentile mission.[48]

Sanders makes clear that all the synoptic references pertinent to the Gentiles and their inclusion only come from after the time that the Gentile mission was started and the connotation that can be found in Matthew 10:5f; 23, “the restriction of the mission of the disciples to Israel,” had come from a section of the Palestinian church who objected to the Gentile mission. He concludes that Matthew 10:5f. could show that there was a hardline group who deliberately opposed a Gentile mission whereas Jesus started a movement where gentiles too were part of it.[49] David L. Turner (2008)

Turner points out that Matthew’s inclusion of some women in the genealogy is a unique presentation because they “are seldom included in Jewish genealogies.” Moreover, it was “a patrilineal society,” but there are some exceptions; examples are Genesis 11:29, 22:20-24, 35:22-26; 1 Chronicles 2:18-21, 2:34, 2:46-49, 2:7:24.[50]

According to Turner, the women that Matthew has included in genealogy (Matt.1:1-17) are indeed “prototypical sinners,” whom Jesus came to save. Moreover, there are other gentiles too such as the magi, the Roman centurion and the Canaanite woman, these all people found the grace of God in their life. Secondly, these women were “guilty of scandalous sexual union,” for instance, Tamar and Rahab especially and as well as Bathsheba’s adultery with David (2 Sam. 11).[51]

Thirdly, these women were Gentiles, Tamar and Rahab were Canaanites, Ruth was a Moabite and then Bathsheba was obviously a Hittite since she was married to Uriah (a Hittite), therefore, the existence of these women in the genealogy symbolizes Matthew’s intent to express that the gospel is for all the nations.[52]

Matthew is highly interested to display God’s salvific plan for the entire world and in order to imply that grace in Jesus, travels “beyond Israel to Gentiles,” “beyond men to women,” “beyond the self-righteous to sinners.” Tuner concludes saying that Jesus Christ “is not bound by race, gender or scandal in order to save his people from their sins. Therefore, all these things evidence the “Matthew’s agenda for universal mission to all nations.”.[53]

1.2.3 Proponents for Particularism and Universalism

This category of scholars argues in favour of both particularism and universalism in the gospel of Matthew. Craig L. Blomberg (1992)

Blomberg comments that Matthew intentionally inserts Jesus’ sayings, such as in 10:5-6 and 15:24, about Jesus and his disciples heading toward “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” So, he is talking about the incomplete Jewish mission, that is, “particularism” (10:23). On the other hand, Matthew alone talks about the Gentile Magi, who came to do homage to the Jewish King (2:1-12), and about the concept of Israel being judged and replaced by a new “people” (21:43). Matthew presents the “great commission” in which Jesus sends his followers to make disciples from entire nations, that is, “universalism” (28:19).[54]

Blomberg interprets these two strands of thought; Jesus is interested in going first to the Jews and then also to the Gentiles. This demarcates that God’s chosen people first respond to the gospel and then his disciples must propagate the good news toward the ends of the earth.[55]

However, it happened that the Jewish people rejected the Messiah, resulting in judgment on Israel. Blomberg says that the first sign of hostility took place among the Pharisees (9:33-34). Even though large number of crowds were following Jesus, he knew that they failed to understand who he was (13:11-15).[56]

Blomberg states some other instances such as Jesus’ final interaction with the temple authorities (21:12-22:46) and similarly, Jesus’ last discourse (chs. 23-25) which pronounces God’s judgment on the nation Israel. But God did not reject Israel forever. Matthew 23:39 and 24:30 envision a day when Jewish people will once again return to Jesus as the Messiah who had been proclaimed in the Old Testament through the prophets.[57]

He concludes that Matthew is the highly Jewish among all the Gospels, but yet does not ignore the Gentile mission. Blomberg explains the best resolution of this apparent tension between Jewish particularism and multi-ethnic universalism where it appears that Jesus’ ministry was unfolding in two stages. He adds that before the cross and resurrection, God chose Jewish people to hear Christ’s message first, but they failed to honor the gospel; therefore, disciples were asked to go and proclaim the gospel to everyone after Jesus’ resurrection.[58] Donald A. Hagner (1993)

Donald A. Hagner highlights the harshness of Matthew’s polemic against the Jewish people. He mentions the Q passages of Matt. 3:7 and Luke 3:7, where those who were coming to John the Baptist (Matthew mentions the Pharisees and Sadducees) are addressed as “you brood of vipers.”[59]

Hagner comments that the harsh accounts in the gospel are passages unique to Matthew. He further illustrates another passage, Matthew 6:1-18, where Matthew is talking about the religious practices of Jews, and perhaps that could be the Pharisees, whom Jesus called “hypocrites.”[60]

Similarly, in Matthew 21:43, Jesus is talking about the chief priests and the Pharisees (21:45) “… that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you” (21:43,NIV) and they are designated “not worthy” in 22:8. Even in chapter 23, the Pharisees are repeatedly demarcated as hypocrites and given various names such as “children of hell” (v.15), “blind fools” (v.17), “blind guides” (v.24), and “snakes and brood of vipers” (v.33) and described as “full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (v.28).[61]

Hagner draws attention to Matthew’s statement regarding Jews who were responsible for the death of Jesus: “… His blood be on us and on our children” (27:25,ESV). This is the only statement that can be found in the gospel of Matthew where Matthew suggests that Jews were accountable for the death of Jesus. Hagner argues that it is unlike Old Testament prophets who criticized the Jews. He says further that none of the Jewish Christians of the New Testament expressed negative views toward Judaism. He adds that it was the first century context, and moreover it was a rhetorical way of speaking and the internal nature of the polemic.[62]

Hagner says that even in the same gospel there are many instances where the evangelist presents a positive view toward the Jewish people. Jesus the Jew who came to save his people (1:22), Jesus gives strict instructions to go only to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (15:24; cf. 10:5-6) and finally talking about the Pharisees who will welcome him (23:37-39).[63]

1.3 Statement of the Problem

A synoptic analysis of the parallel passages of Matthew, Mark, and Luke reveals that all three of them have similar wording and structure. Along with the similarities of various kinds, there are also significant differences that intrigue a student of the Gospels. For example, the “cleansing of the leper” happens in three different chronological orders—in Matthew right at the end of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 8:1-4), in Mark at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry (Mark 1:40-45), and in Luke immediately after the calling of the disciples (Luke 5:12-16). Similarly, Jesus forbade the disciples to enter gentile villages when he commissioned the disciples (Matthew 10:5-6) but later sent them to the nations (gentiles) (Matt. 28:19-20).

Thus, the primary aim of the research is to study the theme “particularism and universalism” in passages such as Matthew 8:1-4, 10:5-15, 15:21-28, 15:29-39, 17:1-8, and 28:16-20 by applying redaction criticism as an effective tool that will eventually help to understand the theology.

1.4 Aim, Purpose and Task

The primary aim of this research is to study the theme of particularism and universalism in selected passages of Matthew’s Gospel, i.e., 8:1-4, 10:5-15, 15:21-28, 15:29-39, 17:1-8, and 28:16-20, by applying a redaction exegesis. In doing so, the purpose is to know the theological objective of the redactor, in making alterations to the traditional material presented in Mark’s Gospel. After these studies, the main task of this research is to present relevant implications for the present missional and ecclesiological context of Nepal.

1.5 Research Questions

Some of the research questions that need to be answered through this redaction criticism would be:

1. What are Matthew’s intentional alterations or editorial changes to the traditional material, the gospel of Mark and even Q?

2. What is the theological motive of the redactor in projecting the theme of particularism and universalism in passages such as Matthew 8:1-4, 10:5-15, 15:21-28, 15:29-39, 17:1-8, and 28:16-20?

3. What are the key implications of Matthew’s theme of particularism and universalism, which are strongly applicable and relevant in today’s missional, ecclesiological and evangelical context of Nepal?

1.6 Methodology

This research will be employing redaction criticism as its tool to understand the particularism and universalism in the gospel of Matthew. It can be speculated that the evangelist has used the redaction as a strong tool in order to demonstrate particularism and universalism in the gospel of Matthew with a special purpose.

1.7 Scope and Limitations

This research is limited only to the redaction critical analysis of a few selected passages in the gospel of Matthew, namely, Matthew 8:1-4, 10:5-15, 15:21-28, 15:29-39, 17:1-8, and 28:16-20 on the theme “particularism and universalism.”


2.1 Introduction

This chapter attempts to study the methodology of redaction criticism that has been applied in this research. New Testament Redaktionsgeschichte will first be defined, and then a brief history of it will be given along with form criticism because of their interconnection with each other. Then, proponents of the redaction criticism and their profound contributions in New Testament studies will be identified. Finally, reasons will be given for applying this methodology as an effective tool for this research. This chapter will establish the appropriateness of the methodology for this research and will explore ways to use this methodology correctly, in order to access Matthew’s theology.

2.2 A Definition of New Testament Redaktionsgeschichte

The German term Redaktionsgeschichte has been translated to “redaction history/criticism.” It is basically a way of studying New Testament texts that focuses mainly on the peculiar theological emphases that each author is trying to bring out of the materials that they used, their primary purposes in writing their works, and the Sitz im Leben out of which they wrote.[64] Redaction criticism deals with the composition of new materials and then the arrangements of redacted or newly created material into new units and patterns. For this reason it can be equally called Kompositionsgeschichte, as Perrin says.[65]

There are “four schools of criticism” that had been discovered with the purpose to study the Gospels and other biblical narratives. And among them Redaction Criticism was the third of them and others were Form criticism, tradition criticism and literary criticism. The primary quest of the Form criticism was to “seek the original or authentic tradition behind the final form” of the gospel materials and presume “that the Evangelists were mere scissors-and-paste,” they just tried to thread “together the traditions.”.[66]

Tradition criticism came up with the goal to study the historical development of the traditions of the gospel that is from the early stage till the final form but the thing is it failed to notice “the contribution of the Evangelists.” Literary criticism primarily focused on the “final form of the text” but avoided “the historical dimension.” But Redaction criticism is unique.[67] Kelber quotes the definition of Norman Perrin: “Redaction criticism is concerned with studying the theological motivation of an author as this is revealed in the collection, arrangement, editing and modification of traditional material, and in the composition of new material or the creation of new forms within the traditions of early Christianity.”[68]

Redaction criticism provided a great advantage over form criticism; it views the evangelists not as mere collectors of the traditional materials and organizers of stories which had been preserved in various forms, but rather as theologians who worked to shape the material with a purpose to make their own points.[69]

2.3 A Brief History of New Testament Redaktionsgeschichte

The synoptic problem was very well known in the early church, as Stein says that Christian scholars have struggled with the issue of the similarity and diversity of the Gospels. He adds that scholars came with questions such as Why are they both alike and different? If we say they are alike, the reason is that they all deal with the life of Jesus. But why are they diverse? If it is said they are different it is because they have been written by four different authors. But again this raises a question: why three of them are so very much alike in certain instances. All these questions gave birth to much scholarly investigation.[70]

At the same time scholars began to explore diverse models of Jesus. For instance, Von Harnack constructed the classic liberal Jesus. Albert Schweitzer explained that the historical Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet.[71] Hermann Samuel Reimarus was a man of the Enlightenment and the first man who worked on the Gospel narratives. His works see Jesus as an unsuccessful political messianic pretender.[72] Carson says that in such sorts of environment form criticism broke out and began to flourish.[73] Stein states that the “quest for the historical Jesus” and the assessment of the historical value of the Ur-Euangelion[74] triggered the dawn of form criticism after World War I.[75]

2.3.1 Form Criticism

Form and redaction criticism are interconnected and regarded as the first and second stages of one common pursuit. However, their emphases are diverse from one another. Here, my reason for analyzing form criticism is simply as the preparation for redaction criticism and moreover, redaction criticism is the progeny of form criticism.[76]

The German word Formgeschichte was translated to “form history/criticism.” The main aim of this criticism was to discover the development of units of tradition during the oral period and ultimately to do historical value judgments on the gospel materials.[77]

Bock makes further clarification, saying that form criticism attempts to get the oral traditions that lie behind the written sources by studying the various individual forms of the Gospels, applying both descriptive and historical approaches. He adds that descriptively, it tends to sought out various form of the New Testament that were existing and then how those forms were immersed in “the history of the oral transmission of the church.”[78]

In New Testament studies when “source criticism”[79] had still captured the attention of many people, form criticism appeared and began to be fruitful when it was applied to New Testament texts, specially to the Gospels, by a trio of German scholars named Karl Ludwig Schmidt (1891-1956), Martin Dibelius (1883-1947), and Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976). Similarly, in the 1930s and 1940s in Great Britain, scholars Vincent Taylor and R. H. Lightfoot advocated many form-critical principles in their work.[80] Form criticism presupposed that stories pertaining to Jesus were circulated in individual oral units before they had been fixed in written form. These various forms had a certain kind of structure, for example, pronouncement stories of Jesus, or miracle stories, and each had a different structure.[81]

2.4 Reasons for the rise of Redaktionsgeschichte

Form criticism was developed with an aim, and its value has been recognized by many scholars, but after some time it failed to be fruitful because it was with some limitations.

Among those limitations, one was “a glaring oversight.” In deed Form criticism primarily dealt with the individual pericopes but it failed to recognize that “the gospels themselves are individual entities.”[82]

The scholarship decisively moved beyond form-critical evaluation because it was concerned mainly with the literary structure of the individual units which made up the gospels. Their task was just to engage with the classification and analysis of the units. Form criticism failed to figure out that gospel writers were more than just collectors of traditions, but authors who designed a work from start to finish with a certain purpose.[83] Form criticism was interested mainly in the sociological aspects (Sitz im Leben) of the gospel materials, and as a result the evangelists were neglected or ignored. They were not viewed as writers or editors, rather just as collectors, and were projected as “scissors-and-paste men” who just glued together various gospel traditions with an aim to produce “Jesus-material collections.”[84]

Form criticism failed to recognize the gospels as wholes and rather attended to the mass of disconnected units. This has been a serious fault of form criticism.[85]  Therefore, a creative force shifts from Jesus (the traditional view) and the early church (form criticism) to the author (redaction criticism). Redaction criticism mainly “focuses on the editorial” alterations of the traditions and the processes by which the authors combined the traditions into holistic works, so it is also called composition criticism.[86]

2.5 The Proponents of the Redaktionsgeschichte

Redaktionsgeschichte flowered exceedingly immediately after the second World War in Germany. Three scholars came forward with independent works denoting the beginning of redaction criticism and they were: Günther Bornkamm, Hans Conzelmann and Willi Marxsen, he was the one who named Redaktionsgeschichte to this discipline.[87]

2.5.1 Günther Bornkamm (1905-1990) and the Gospel of Matthew

Bornkamm was a student of Bultmann and one of the prominent figures of the Bultmannian school. He began his work by publishing a short article “Tradition and Interpretation in Matthew”in the journal of the theological school in Bethel in 1948. In this study, he basically investigates the pericope of the Stilling of the Storm in Matthew 8:23-27 by comparing it with its source, Mark 4:35-41, where he discovered that Matthew reinterprets the story as he receives it from Mark. Bornkamm also says that in the account of the triumphal entry (Matt. 21ff.), Matthew alone quotes Zech. 9:9 (linked with Isa. 62:11) and thus projects Jesus as the “lowly king.” He adds that as in Mark, the cry Hosanna also resounds in Matthew from the mouth of the multitude associating with Jesus (v.9), but he deliberately omits the second half of the cry, “Blessings on the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David! Praise God in highest heaven!” (Mark 11:10,NLT). So here, Bornkamm projects Matthew as a theologian and interpreter rather than just a mere collector.[88]

2.5.2 Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989) and the Gospel of Luke

The work of Conzelmann, “The Theology of St. Luke,”was first published in German in 1954. Luke has normally been viewed by scholars as the historian of early Christianity but with Conzelmann’s achievement the perspective is changed, and Luke the historian becomes a self-conscious theologian. Conzelmann mostly focused his theology upon the Heilsgeschichte (saving history) which Luke develops in three stages: stage one, the period of Israel to which John the Baptist belongs; stage two, the period of the ministry of Jesus which is “the center of time” and which comes to an end with the ascension; and stage three, the period of the church in the world.[89]

Conzelmann concludes saying that  the temptation story of Jesus (Matt. 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13) makes clear its place within the pattern of redemptive history: a period free from Satan is now beginning, an epoch of a special kind in the center of the whole course of redemptive history; what is now happening is not the last times but rather the interval between the period of the Law or of Israel, and the period of the Spirit or of the Church.[90]

2.5.3 Willi Marxsen (1919-1993) and the Gospel of Mark

Marxsen’s work “Mark the Evangelist”was first published in 1956. He begins his book discussing Redaktionsgeschichte and its relationship to form criticism. Marxsen has contrasted redaction criticism with form criticism at four points.[91] First, that form criticism sees the evangelists as collectors whereas redaction criticism sees them as authors. Secondly, form criticism mostly deals with breaking down the tradition into small units but redaction criticism is concerned with large units and the purpose of its formation into a large entity.[92] Thirdly, form criticism, by understanding the gospel writers as collectors, never could do justice to the whole work, so the new view sees the evangelist Mark as gathering together individual units and larger collections of tradition and forming out of them something wholly new called a “Gospel.” And in similar ways both Matthew and Luke inherited this form and made their own something unique.[93]

Fourthly, Marxsen discusses something unique in regard to three Sitze im Leben. Three separate Sitze im Leben must be distinguished in the investigation of the gospels: (1) Sitz im Leben of the life of Jesus (relationship of our gospels to the historical or earthly Jesus) (2) Sitz im Leben of the life and work of the early church (even form criticism attempted to determine the theology of the early church by the investigation of the units handed down by the tradition and up to this point Marxsen has said nothing new or unique) and (3) Sitz im Leben refers to the setting in the work and purpose of the evangelist. This approach attempts to discover the unique presentation of each evangelist and for this reason Marxsen calls it Redaktiongeschichte.[94]

Marxsen says that it is most probable that a Gospel genre developed in accordance with each community or period in which the evangelists lived. He adds that the words or concepts that each evangelist used at the beginning of their Gospel are striking. The Βίβλος in Matt. 1:1 and the διήγησις in Luke 1:1 correspond to the εὐαγγέλιον in Mark 1:1.[95]

2.6 The Method of Redaktionsgeschichte

Redaction critics presume in their investigation of the Synoptic Gospels that Matthew and Luke used Mark and Q sources in composing their gospels. The present investigation adopts this solution of the Synoptic Problem, assuming that Mark has been used by the other two evangelists Matthew (M) and Luke (L) and redacted in order to present their own emphasis in their books.[96] A comparison of the triple tradition in a synopsis, where we can observe the modifications, omissions and additions done by the evangelists Matthew and Luke of their Markan source, enables us to discover the theological interests and emphasis of Matthew and Luke.[97] Besides the triple tradition, we can also investigate the common and different materials of Matthew and Luke that are absent in Mark.[98]

2.7 The Practice of Redaktionsgeschichte

2.7.1 A Synopsis of the Synoptic Gospels:

One of the solid example of redaction criticism can be seen in the Matthean emphasis on the fulfilment of Scripture.

Matthew 8:16-17 Mark 1:32-34 Luke 4:40-41
16. That evening they brought to him many who were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick. 17. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” (ESV) 32. That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons.

33. And the whole city was gathered together at the door.

34. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. (ESV)

40. Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them.

41. And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ. (ESV)

Here, a comparison of these passages depicts that Matthew has inserted these fulfilment quotations into his Markan source (Mark) which displays the theological emphasis of Matthew. There are some other examples such as Matthew 1:22-23, 2:15, 17-18, 23, 4:14-16, and 27:9-10. These show that Matthew emphasizes how the Old Testament is fulfilled in the life of Jesus. Here, redaction criticism helps us to see the nature and emphasis of Matthew.[99]

2.8 The Reasons for Applying Redaction Critical Tools in this Research

Observing the parallel passages of the synoptic Gospels Matthew, Mark and Luke reveals the similarities and differences in terms of wordings and structure. The differences create more confusion than the similarities. For example, the “cleansing of the leper” happens in three different chronological orders in the three gospels: in Matthew at the end of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 8:1-4), in Mark at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry (Mark 1:40-45), and in Luke immediately after the calling of the disciples (Luke 5:12-16).

Similarly, Jesus forbade the disciples to enter the gentile villages when he sent commissioned the disciples (Matt. 10:1-6) whereas Jesus again commissioned them to go to the nations (gentiles) (Matt. 28:19-20). These accounts portray a kind of confusion even within the book of Matthew. As McKnight says, redaction criticism aims to determine what the redactor (editor) intentionally did to the tradition. It is concerned with the theological motivation for these alterations. Finally, it is concerned with identifying a theology of each evangelist.[100] Stein says that a synopsis of the triple traditions (Matthew, Luke and Mark) enables us to discover the theological emphasis of an evangelist.[101]

Therefore, for this research redaction criticism will be applied as a primary method in order to study the intention of the author (Matthew) for making some editorial changes. Secondly, redaction criticism will be utilized in the research to unveil the hidden theology of Matthew on the theme of particularism and universalism in passages such as Matthew 8:1-4, 10:5-15, 15:21-28, 15:29-39, 17:1-8, and 28:16-20.

2.9 Conclusion

This chapter primarily deals with the methodology of redaction criticism. First, it states a definition of Redaktiongeschichte and how it is different from other methods such as source and form criticism. Secondly, the paper mentions a detailed history of Redaktionsgeschichte and while explaining this it also deals with the context and time when these criticisms were evolved and the role and development of them as forerunners of redaction criticism. The failure of form criticism and the rise of Redaktionsgeschichte is surveyed, and then key proponents and their primary contribution to redaction criticism. Finally, the paper is about the method of redaction criticism and the motive to apply this method as an appropriate tool for this research.

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