Original Research - Special Collection: Boston Papers

‘They did to him whatever they pleased’: The exercise of political power within Matthew’s narrative

Dorothy J. Weaver
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 65, No 1 | a319 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v65i1.319 | © 2009 Dorothy J. Weaver | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 July 2009 | Published: 11 November 2009

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Dorothy J. Weaver, Eastern Mennonite Seminary, Harrsonburg, United States

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To read Matthew’s Gospel within the global context is to read this narrative vis-à-vis the urgent challenges facing the global community. One such challenge concerns the exercise of political power within the public arena. Throughout his narrative Matthew paints a vivid portrait of the political power brokers of Jesus’ world and the unsavoury methods that they use to achieve their goals. He also offers graphic depictions of political power as wielded by those in authority. This study examines Matthew’s narrative portrait of the first-century authorities, Roman and Jewish, who exercised power in Palestine and beyond. Part one depicts these authorities and their methods of exercising political power. Part two assesses the relative effectiveness of such uses of power in Matthew’s depiction. Part three points toward Matthew’s contrasting portrait of positive leadership patterns. Part four assesses Matthew’s narrative rhetoric as a tool for fruitful refl ection on the use of political power.


Gospel of Matthew; abuse of political power; subversion of justice; powers of command; political deception


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Crossref Citations

1. ‘What is that to us? See to it yourself’ (Mt 27:4): Making atonement and the Matthean portrait of the Jewish chief priests
Dorothy Jean Weaver
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies  vol: 70  issue: 1  year: 2014  
doi: 10.4102/hts.v70i1.2703