Original Research - Special Collection: Boston Papers

Healthy economics or cautionary tales? The narrative microeconomics of four Matthean healing stories

Laura Anderson
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 65, No 1 | a320 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v65i1.320 | © 2009 Laura Anderson | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 July 2009 | Published: 11 November 2009

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Laura Anderson, Graduate Theological Union, United States

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This article explores the four Matthean stories wherein an individual supplicant requests a healing on behalf of someone else: the centurion for his paralyzed servant, the ruler for his dead daughter, the Canaanite woman for her demon-possessed daughter, and the man for his epileptic son. The paper proposes a methodology of narrative microeconomic analysis. By applying the method to the stories, a pattern of three primary exchanges is observed: the locational, healing and conflict exchanges. By examining how the stories conform to and deviate from this pattern, a complex picture of the textual microeconomies emerges, one that contradicts the unitary macro-narrative of healing. The microeconomic analysis reveals Jesus to be a complex, ambivalent figure: He creates conflicts that hinder the healing process and invariably excludes someone or some group before completing any healing. The pedagogical, formational and theological implications of these omplexities are briefly considered in local and global contexts.


Gospel of Matthew; healing narratives; narrative microeconomic analysis; globalisation; supplication


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