Original Research - Special Collection: Boston Papers

Jesus the ‘teacher-saviour’ or ‘saviour-teacher’: Reading the Gospel of Matthew in Chinese contexts

John Y.H. Yieh
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 65, No 1 | a317 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v65i1.317 | © 2009 John Y.H. Yieh | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 July 2009 | Published: 11 November 2009

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John Y.H. Yieh, Virginia Theological Seminary, United States

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While every interpretation is culturally particular and context-specific, the critical assessment of the hermeneutical principles and social consequences of real examples from different cultures may facilitate fresh readings of the scripture with more creative imagination, theological integrity and ethical responsibility. This essay investigates three influential interpretations of Matthew’s Gospel by well-known Christian leaders in China: Hong Xiuquan, Wu Leichuan and Watchman Nee. Different theological orientations notwithstanding, they all highlight Jesus’ role as ‘saviour and teacher’ and favour the Sermon on the Mount. The strategies that they use to appropriate Matthew’s Gospel and to make Jesus relevant show what it takes to ensure a sound hermeneutical process. They also bring to the table of Matthean scholarship insight into the roles that Jesus plays in the Gospel narrative and in various socio-cultural settings. Finally, they provide interesting cases for a brief refl ection on cross-cultural readings and post-colonial criticism that have fascinated recent biblical scholars.


Gospel of Matthew; Christology; Chinese biblical hermeneutics; Taiping Kingdom; cross-cultural interpretation


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