Article Information

Andries G. van Aarde1 Yolanda Dreyer2

1Department of New Testament Studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa

2Department of Practical Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Correspondence to:
Andries van Aarde


Postal address:
University of Pretoria, Faculty of Theology, Lynnwood Road, Hatfield 0083, Pretoria, South Africa

Canaanite mother; Gospel of Matthew; hermeneutical arc; hermeneutics of suspicion; Mary; male disciples and women; mother of the sons of Zebedee; Paul Ricoeur

Received: 20 Nov. 2009
Accepted: 22 Mar. 2010
Published: 21 July 2010

How to cite this article:
Van Aarde, A.G. & Dreyer, Y., 2010, ‘Matthew studies today – a willingness to suspect and a willingness to listen’, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 66(1), Art. #820, 10 pages. DOI: 10.4102/hts.v66i1.820

This article was originally presented as a paper by the principle author, Andries G. van Aarde, at the Matthew Section of the Society of Biblical Literature Meeting, New Orleans, 24 November 2009. As co-author, Yolanda Dreyer contributes with regard to the gender perspective represented in this article.

Copyright Notice:
© 2010. The Authors. Licensee: OpenJournals Publishing. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License.

ISSN: 0259-9422 (print)
ISSN: 2072-8050 (online)

Matthew studies today – a willingness to suspect and a willingness to listen
In This Original Research...
Open Access
Paul Ricoeur and the second naiveté
Matthew’s intertexts4
Gender matters in Matthew
A Projection

The aim of the article is to describe the state of Matthean studies by means of Paul Ricoeur’s notion of the ‘hermeneutical arc’. The focus will be on the relationship of women in Matthew’s gospel to the male disciples. The article’s point of departure is that Matthean exegesis is at a crossroads. Pivotal to proceeding beyond the crossroads is the hermeneutical aspect of a willingness to suspect and a willingness to listen. Such a willingness includes suspicion with regard to outdated values explicitly advocated by the text and a genuine listening to unarticulated voices that remain hidden because of ideologies that render them inaudible. In the process of understanding, the focus should be on issues of morality rather than on the mere accumulation of knowledge. Seen from this perspective, the article provides a preview of facets in Matthean studies that could become prominent in future.

It may be that this situation, in its apparent distress, is instructive: it may be that extreme iconoclasm belongs to the restoration of meaning.

(Paul Ricoeur 1970a:27)


Behind within in front of

This year the renowned Bible Studies Colloquium in Leuven, Belgium had the state of present-day Matthean scholarship as its theme (cf. Colloquium Biblicum Lovaniense 2009). The focus of the colloquium was succinctly formulated as The Gospel of Matthew at the crossroads of early Christianity. Clearly, the intent was not crossroads in a historical and geographical sense alone, but also in the temporal terms of location where exegetes find themselves today. Pivotal to proceeding beyond the crossroads is the hermeneutical aspect of a willingness to suspect and a willingness to listen, which was mostly absent during the discussions.

These words, a willingness to suspect and a willingness to listen, are those of Paul Ricoeur, expressed in an essay entitled Freud and philosophy: An essay on interpretation. The phrase is embedded in a paragraph with a striking ending, namely [i]t may be that extreme iconoclasm belongs to the restoration of meaning.[1] Such willingness includes suspicion with regard to outdated values explicitly advocated by the text and a genuine listening to unarticulated voices that remain hidden because of ideologies that render them inaudible. This compact review aims to hear into speech some of the silent voices of the history of biblical exegesis.

The presupposition of such a hermeneutics of suspicion is the conviction that a text cannot be read at face value. Critical reading includes both intuitive insight and political or theological suspicion (Thiselton [2001] 2006:607). When reading critically, the hidden agendas of those who take part in the communicative events may be divulged. Hidden agendas are not always deliberately concealed or consciously present. Pealing through the layers of communication exposes the hidden meanings behind it (cf. Gadamer [1960] 1994:370).[2]

The idea of searching for meanings that are behind originated during the time of transition from rationalism to romanticism at the turn of the 18th19th century (see Thiselton 2006:607624). Since that time, different perspectives (Sehe-Punkte) of different people have been recognised. They are points of view found behind the text (those of the author and her or his sources), within the text (those of explicit or implied narrated characters) and in front of the text (those of interpreters from the past and present). According to such an approach, a text is not seen as an object to be simply correctly understood. Understanding begs respectful interaction with the text. In this regard, Johann Gottfried von Herder (17441803) and Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher (17681834) were the hermeneutists of the first importance (Forster 2008:n.p.; Schleiermacher [1974] 1977:112113). Thiselton (2006:608609) points out that Schleiermacher did define the role of New Testament Introduction as a necessary way of reaching behind the text to understand similarities, differences, genre, motivations and goals that the text presupposed. However, the understanding that results from reaching behind the text may transcend what the author had specifically intended and articulated.

Different to Schleiermachers hermeneutics (see Thiselton 1992:204236), formal structuralism defines a text as an entity in and of itself, which has to be understood as such. Information about the author and background could only contaminate the pure text and therefore also the hermeneutic enterprise (see Streidter 1989:50, 56). Thiselton (2006:609610) describes this movement which became known as the new criticism in the 1940s as follows: [t]he text was seen as an autonomous world of literary, poetic, linguistic, semantic, stylistic and semiotic forces. In this approach reaching behind the text was replaced with the focus on meaning within the text. According to Thiselton, some scholars even regarded it as a paradigm shift from history to literature.

However, the so-called scientific objectivity of an autonomous text was eventually recognised as an impossibility. It is not possible to divorce a text from its context of origin. Furthermore the perspective (Sehe-Punkt) of the readers cannot be ignored. Thiselton explains this development as follows: [h]ence linguistic and semiotic structuralism collapsed into post-structuralism and formalism collapsed, in effect, into reader-response theory. Wolfgang Iser (1978:ix) puts it as follows:

[t]he text represents a potential effect that is realized in the reading process. In the interaction between the reader and the text meaning is produced.

The result was that the completed process of understanding is not an identification of the interpreter with the writer, but merely the grasping and appropriation of the writers intentions. Nor is reproduction identical to production. For this reason, the interpreter can understand the thoughts of writers better than they themselves understood them. The interpretation can bring nuances and aspects to the fore which were only subconsciously present in the original production. Writers can therefore say more than they intended and readers can understand more that the writers intended.

This approach with its focus on the reader has been described as a concern with what is in front of the text. However, a reading perspective in front of the text does not exclude the meaning behind and within the text. With regard to this integrated approach (Tate 1991:xvi), the influence of Ricoeur (1984:ix) can be noted. Though this approach seems fairly comprehensive, according to Thiselton, it does not take into account the world beyond the text to which the text may point, or which the text may presuppose. Thiselton (2006:611612) points therefore to a fourth approach, namely the postmodern idea that texts are not representational at all and that a definite meaning cannot be captured.

Paul Ricoeur and the second naivet

The dilemma which the integrative approach creates is that it is not viable to try to be comprehensive in reviewing the history of the interpretation of even a single writing such as the Gospel of Matthew. An overview can at best be selective by focusing, for example, on a singular topic or a particular exegetical approach. The chord that keeps the diverse tones together in this paper is the notion of a hermeneutical circle. This concept derives from the Enlightenment, has developed throughout the modern era and has been adapted to fit postmodern literary theories today. The paper presents a hermeneutic map, the centre of which charts Ricoeurs contribution. Both the theories of interpretation leading up to Ricoeurs hermeneutics and those that have influenced its aftermath will be passed over, though exactly this history has produced the postmodern insight of hermeneutic critique against hermeneutics (see e.g. Klemm 1986:203208).

Not only did Ricoeurs notion of the hermeneutical arc offer a corrective to the unconvincing application of the concept of the hermeneutic circle, but it was also shown to be biased, especially through the critical theory of the so-called Frankfurt School. Critical theory was in fact meant as an alternative to the traditional hermeneutic approach. The consensus principle (merging of horizons) was not unquestioningly accepted without further ado. Such a critical hermeneutical approach proceeds from the assumption that a merging of the horizon occurs in the communicative interaction process between subject and object and that an exchange of roles occurs at the same time. Object is subject. An illustration of the problem is that, if the object has for example internalised pain, for instance on account of systemic oppression, an exchange of roles cannot of itself entail that the experience of pain is recognised and identified as a problem. On the contrary, precisely because the object which is the bearer of pain now gains the status of subject, the possibility of recognition becomes even further obscured.

Against this background, critical theory promotes and encourages the ideal of non-manipulation and exploitation (see e.g. Adams 2006:106123). Critical theory emphasises that what society regards as the ultimate good has not been or ever will be realised. Therefore, people in all societies are called upon to be constantly aware of the danger of manipulation and exploitation (see e.g. Wellmer 1976:231263).[3]

Mark Wallace ([1990] 1995) describes the notion of the hermeneutical circle as follows:

The hermeneutical circle, then, is a productive circle that consists of our first pregrasp of the texts subject matter (understanding) and our later critical construal of the texts constituent elements (explanation) which, in turn, sets up our pregrasp as a candidate for revision in order to enable a new understanding of the texts subject matter (appropriation).

(Wallace [1990] 1995:60)

The trialectics of understanding, explanation and appropriation correlates with Ricoeurs hermeneutical arc of pre-figuration, con-figuration en re-figuration.

Ricoeurs emphasis on narrativity in the hermeneutic process means that the involvement of readers/listeners in a story opens up the possibility of their being the agent (not victim) of their own lives, in symmetrical interaction with others (see e.g. Ricoeur 1970b:123141, 1976:4569, 1978:177202, 1979:141157; 1981; 1984; 1985). Reading is not simply about reading and listening. It is also about the readers/listeners ability to tell his or her own story. Thus the relationship between text and reader/listener brings the reader/listener to self-understanding and an interpretation of the self. Prefiguration is about reaching the meaning behind the text. Configuration is to comprehend the meaning within the text. The birth of ones own existential new story as a result of interaction with the text is refiguration, appropriation. The new story can only be born when unacceptable and irrelevant values in the text are identified and rendered obsolete. This is accomplished by a willingness to suspect and willingness to listen. This means that the text is also revived.

The aim of the article is to describe the state of Matthean studies by means of this hermeneutical arc. The focus will be on matters of gender, considering the relationship of women in Matthews gospel to the male disciples. The role of intertexts provides the material for the prefiguration (behind the text). Insights into the texture of Matthew provide the material for the configuration (within the text). Refiguration (in front of the text) will be demonstrated by means of examples of gender. By means of Matthean scholarship, the authors will explain the interconnection between gender, postcolonial and empire studies. This paper provides a preview of facets in Matthean studies that could become prominent in future.

Matthews intertexts[4]

Intertextuality is less a name for a works relation to particular prior texts than a designation of its participation in the discursive space of culture (Culler [1981] 2001:103). Every text reflects the social context from which it is communicated.[5] Ulrich Luz (2003) probably the most renowned Matthean scholar of our time asserted that, in his exegetical, historical and hermeneutical work, he is grundstzlich [fundamentally] interested in intertextuality as a source of a model in terms of which an authors ideology and technique what he calls Art und Weise [nature and manner] can be uncovered. However, the crux of the matter is the question about whether the identified intertext is really connected to the authors intention and whether the method used in identifying this intertext is properly applied. Luz comments:[6] Ultimately, intertextuality is nothing other than the textual form [textliche Gestalt] in which culture, history and society engrave themselves on texts (authors translation from the original German).[7] Textual form denotes texture, interwoven with culture, history and society. These three notions provide the conscious and subconscious echoes that reveal the world of either the author or the reader at a diachronic or synchronic level of interaction with the text.

Intertexts on the first level, that is, conscious echoes, include the sources of the text that disclose the memories of both the author and the intended readers embedded in these sources. They are memories that narrate either consciously or implicitly the life stories of figures from a sacred history who serve as models of identity and behaviour for the author and/or reader(s). Intertexts on the second level, that is, subconscious echoes, pertain to codes that aesthetic theorists have highlighted in reception theories.

With regard to the conscious echoes in the Gospel of Matthew, the memories embedded in the Gospel and those of its intended readers through those text-internal signs can be referred to as the texts encyclopaedia.[8] However, codes should be provided for reading Matthews gospel within its cultural context.

To recognise the echoes of the world in which meaning is attributed to a text, the author and first readers need to be de-contextualised. This is done by means of a reconstruction of the authorial intent by distinguishing between the voices of sources and an authors particular intent. These voices constitute the so-called encyclopaedia of the document, what Grard Genette (1982:716) calls secondary texts. He refers to them as the intertext, the paratext, the hypertext, the hypotext, the architext and the metatext. The concept intertext refers, thus, to the occurrence of another text in a specific text.[9]

To begin with the last category mentioned, namely metatext, the general scholarly assumption is that the Markan tradition served as the framework for Matthew, to which material from Q was added. This assumption raises the question whether the Gospel of Mark should be seen as Matthews hypotext (Grundtext) and whether Matthew should be read as a commentary on Mark or as a hypertext to it. If one deems the Gospel of Matthew a hypertext, then that would entail a lesser degree of independence from Mark an option which previous scholarship would not endorse. The first option is more easily defended: it implies that the Gospel of Matthew as a whole is a metatext, essentially distinguished from Mark as a hypotext and that Q is an intertext taken up in Matthew (and Luke) as its hypotext.

If one sees Matthew as a metatext (i.e. as a commentary on Mark) one can describe Matthews contents as comments in the format of an independent narrative. These comments are based on a diffrance between Matthew and Mark with regard to an evaluation of the disciples relationship to Jesus. This assessment results from the current authors understanding of the narrators viewpoint with regard to both Jesus and the disciples interaction with the crowds in Matthews plot as a story (cf. Van Aarde 2007:421422; Repschinski 2000:309).

Thus, seen from the perspective of Matthews use of Q, Matthew is simultaneously hypotext and metatext. As a different text which substitutes Mark, Matthew creates an analogy between Jesus commission and that of the disciples towards the crowds. Both commissions are distinctly different to those depicted in Mark. In this sense, Matthew serves as a specific kind of commentary (that is, a metatext) to Mark. The interaction between Jesus, the disciples and the crowds is of considerable significance to understanding Matthews gospel.

Central to Marks gospel is the death of Jesus on the cross. The current authors find the following depiction of Marks basic rhetoric well-formulated (personally holding on to the Markan priority with regard to the so-called synoptic problem, against the conviction of the authors of the quote):

Scholars reading Mark on the macro-level have long noted that essential to its structure is a basic tension among three groups who dominate the action in the narrative: Jesus, the disciples, and the religious and political authorities. The issue of faithfulness is central. Throughout Mark Jesus is faithful to his initial proclamation of the Gospel of God (Mk 1:14). The political authorities (both Jewish and Roman) stand at the other end of the spectrum in opposition to him. In the middle are the disciples. They teeter on the line between belief and unbelief. Much of the drama in Mark results from developing crises of the disciples ultimate allegiance. One way to perceive this is to look more closely at how Jesus and the disciples act vis--vis those in the wider sector who are openly hostile to them.

(Peabody, Cope & McNicol 2002:56)[10]

Seeing who from this wider sector is a prerequisite for understanding not only the drama unfolding in Marks gospel, but especially one of Marks metatexts, namely the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus comes into conflict not only with antagonists such as the Israelite and Roman elite, but also with the Israelite crowd (Mk 4:12), those who are supposed to be his friends, his family (Mk 3:2021, 3135) and fellow villagers (Mk 6:15). Alienation is reported throughout Mark and it leads to Jesus suffering and eventual death on the cross (Mk 15:2541). Mark shows that Peter (Mk 8:2930), the Twelve (Mk 9:33) and the sons of Zebedee (James and John) (Mk 10:3545) do not understand what God intended.

It is at this point that the narrative perspective in Matthews gospel, as a commentary on Mark in a metatextual sense of the word, becomes remarkable. The Gospel of Matthew is about understanding and doing Gods will. Commenting on Mark, Matthew changes the roles of both the disciples and the crowd.[11] In Matthew, the disciples fare better than in Mark. They do know who Jesus is, but they have difficulty doing Gods will as Jesus does. The crowds role in the story is to demonstrate the message of Jesus, which is Gods love for all people (Van Aarde 2007:428430).[12] The disciples are supposed to emulate Jesus, but they display an inability to do so. Although Matthew warns against the teachings of the Pharisees (Mt 16:5), he does not advocate a total break with Second Temple customs[13] (Mt 17:2427). Had he taken Mark over as it stands (see for instance Mk 7:1423; 10:112) that is, using Mark as intertext and not as hypotext; he would have defended a break with Israelite culture as codified in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 and 24:1, 3.

Matthews texture represents the genre (architext) of a discursive-biographical gospel type and, as a result, the narrative and argumentative structure of this gospel is important. The Gospel of Mark as Matthews hypotext represents the so-called biographical gospel type.[14] An understanding of this architext has important heuristic consequences for the unravelling of the communication strategies in Matthew that are concealed within its texture, consisting of discourse alternating with biographical material. The five speeches should therefore be seen in relation to the narrative discourses which appear alongside and between them.[15] This combination creates the analogy between Jesus commission and that of the disciples. Each narrative discourse links up with the speech that follows it in an associative manner, which continues the spiral to the next narrative discourse and results in the integration of Jesus commission with that of the disciples. Both the disciples and the Israelite crowd are present at the beginning of each speech by Jesus.[16] These five speeches are directed at the disciples and have particular relevance to the relationship between the disciples and the Jewish crowd.

Although the Israelite crowd (hoi ochloi/ho ochlos) and the Gentiles (ta ethne-) do not fulfil the same character roles in Matthews gospel, both groups function together as the object of the mission of Jesus and that of the disciples in the post-paschal period (see Van Aarde 1994a:8087). Both Judeans and Galileans during the Second Temple period referred to themselves as the people of God or the house of Israel (e.g. Mt 10:6). With regard to the followers of Jesus, Matthew does not depict them as Christians but as people (anthro-poi, e.g. in Mt 4:19; or ethnos, e.g. in Mt 21:43) who constitute an ekkle-sia (in contrast to a sunago-ge-).[17] These people are seen as part of the house of Israel which, for Matthew, also includes the sheep without a shepherd[18] (Mt 10:36). The latter expression refers to both Israelite outcasts and non-Israelites[19] (the one sheep among the ninety-nine others [Mt 18:1214]).[20]

Matthews representation of the Joshua motif is transformed into a story about a choice of leadership. This choice is concretised in either the peoples acknowledgement of Iesous (Joshua) as the Davidic Messiah who was commissioned by God to save all of Israel from its sins, or in their killing him and letting their descendants share the responsibility for his blood (Mt 27:25). Those who remain faithful to the law of the messiah, which is the Gospel of the Kingdom, will live in the presence of the God-with-us (Mt 28:1620). In other words, the Joshua-Moses story functions as a hypertext.[21] We have seen that the concept hypertext refers to the type of text that was produced by relying on a base text. In Matthews case, the base text was the Gospel of Mark. However, as has been noted already, Matthew developed as an independent narrative with an autonomous point of view.

At the turn of the Common Era, against the background of the Pax Romana, the grand narrative in Israels history was the expectation of an apocalyptic saviour who would liberate Gods people. First-century Pharisaic formative rabbinate forms the social-cultural context of Matthews gospel, localised in the setting of various village synagogues. Matthew refers to his community as an ecclesia built upon a rock established by Jesus Father who is in heaven and not by flesh and blood (Mt 16:17). Gods people are safeguarded in this community, though they are like lost sheep without a shepherd, bearing in mind how their own leaders collaborated with powerful individuals whose power was enforced by Rome.

The voices of the marginalised and their stories would have become unheard if it were not for people such as the author of Matthews gospel who, in his own words in Matthew 13:52, became like a scribe trained for Gods kingdom and who told his little story in the light of Israels history. His story about a new-born Joshua deconstructs the coalition between first-century Roman imperialism and Pharisaism as the metanarrative/grand narrative of that time. Dorothy Jean Weaver put it as follows: [a]ccordingly, while the emperor himself is not an onstage actor within Matthews narrative, it is evident that his impact on the lives of the occupied populace extends both to the most mundane aspects of daily life and to the most terrifying of human catastrophes (Weaver 2005:114). However, it is at this point that a willingness to suspect and a willingness to listen becomes a hermeneutical necessity.

According to Warren Carter (2001:178), Matthews gospel paradoxically criticises imperialism on the one hand, but foresees Gods coming triumph in the language of his own imperialist hopes and this means that Gods coming triumph concerns the violent means by which Gods empire is imposed. Carter here refers to the eschatological dimensions in Matthews language. Such a violent imposition is at odds with the way in which the Gospel conceives the empire to be at work in the present in communities of service, inclusion, healing, relieving need, mercy. Carter (2001:178) does not want violence to be the final word in imposing Gods empire, because [t]hat would make God nothing other than a copy of any emperor. His solution is to eliminate this type of language: Without an imperial mindset there can be reconciliation and transformation (Carter 2001:179). Carters identification of a dichotomy between the present peaceable presence and the violent future imposition in Matthews thinking (Carter 2003:467487) represents a praiseworthy hermeneutics of suspicion. It tries to neutralise violence by means of nonimperial terms such as reconciliation and transformation in the establishment of Gods just world because these terms are more consistent with the Gospels vision of Gods work in the present (Carter 2001:178).

Yet, the critical question is whether the author of Matthews gospel is consistent also with regard to his own prejudices, or whether it could be that his own male-dominated patriarchal domestication constituted a similar obstacle that he as author, for example, confronted Peter with words that were put in the mouth of Jesus: [g]et behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men (Mt 16:23). The obstacle is that even the author could not escape his own metanarrative of male-dominated patriarchal domestication. Therefore, also with regard to Matthews gospel, the truism is that gender matters if the exegete is willing to suspect and to listen.

Gender matters in Matthew

In the first-century Mediterranean world, hierarchical patriarchy was part and parcel of imperial politics. Current empire studies go hand-in-hand with postcolonial hermeneutics (see Sugirtharajah 2004:2238). The latter, in turn, has been induced by feminist theories (see eds. Ashcroft, Griffiths & Tiffin [1995] 2009:233259; Kwok 2005). Exegesis of Matthews gospel from a feminist hermeneutical perspective has produced important insights.[22] Positioned in front of Matthews text and viewing the text from a gender-sensitive perspective knowing that outdated patriarchal values could be harmful to women and others one cannot but see how women and womens roles were usurped by male control and the androcentric self-interest of the authors and interpreters of the texts behind and within Matthews gospel.

Recent mainstream Jesus studies have shown that women were welcomed in an egalitarian way and made an important contribution to the earliest Christian faith community.[23] This stands in stark contrast to the silencing and invisibility of women in the patriarchal world of the Middle East. Probably the only overtly misogynist passage in Matthew is the parable of the wise and foolish women. Marie-Eloise Rosenblatt ([1993] 2001:171195) acknowledges the misogynist implications of the parable, but points out that Matthew does portray the women in this passage in a positive light. However, this insight does not mean that Matthews story is not told from a dominating, androcentric narrators point of view. Carolyn Osiek, confronting Jerome Neyreys (1998:6566) discussion of domestic gendered space in Matthews gospel, emphasises that in Matthew gender differentiation is more subtle. To the current authors, what Osiek indicates with regard to Matthews evasion of any diminution of honor for males and the evangelists dodging of feminisation in Matthews Sermon on the Mount are demonstrable in other sections in Matthews gospel as well. It is not only the entire Sermon on the Mount [that] is intended for a male audience,[24] but the entire writing.[25]

In the Matthean community, women were not seen as equal participants. Shin (2007) puts it as follows:

Male followers are called to be disciples; female followers are called to serve. It is very possible that women were not allowed into public places in ancient times. The Gospel of Matthews narrative world is an embodied androcentrism situation.

(Shin 2007:407)

The Gospel of Matthew does include women and other formerly excluded people in the faith community. They even become equal recipients of the love of God. According to the Matthean narrators point of view, women fulfilled a supportive rather than initiating role (Mt 12; 9:1826; 15:2128); double standards were applied to male and female sexuality and womens sexuality was regarded with prejudice (Mt 5:2932; 19:212); women were given the opportunity to live authentically, but only if this authenticity was sanctioned by men (Mt 20:2023; 27:38; 27:56).

The Gospel of Matthew is about how to understand and do the will of God. According to Knowles (2008:123), it is as if Matthew makes the voice of God in Scripture his own. Knowles (2008:131) continues: [j]ust as Jesus has been God with us from infancy (1.23, cf. 18.20), so he speaks throughout with the voice of God, not only echoing and appropriating Gods words from of old but definitely interpreting and even overriding that ancient voice with words of his own.

Inferred from the narrators point of view, there is reason to be concerned that Jesus followers will adopt the Pharisees idea of Gods will. In the context of the revitalisation of villages after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, Matthews community struggled to come to terms with the loss of Jerusalem and the temple. They had to define Gods presence in the environment of village communities, while they experienced conflict with synagogical authorities who resisted their acknowledgement of Jesus as the messianic second Moses and the one who challenged the traditional Mosaic view that the temple cult regulated the Torah (Van Aarde 2005:732).

In such a world of scribes and sages a bias against women occurred frequently (for example Avot 2:7: [m]ore flesh, more worms; more wealth, more contention; more maidservants, more lewdness; more slaves, more theft; more women, more witchcraft; more Torah, more life (Stemberger 2008:303). According to Richard Horsley (2007), referring to Ben Siras teaching about women, the

husband-father has a special concern about being completely in control and the strict obedience of wives . This need for security and control in the marriage and home is very likely related to scribes lack of control in their relations with their superiors who exercised control over them.

(Horsley 2007:68)

And with regard to Matthews narrative point of view, Celia Deutsch (2001) bitterly remarks:

[I]n the closing words of the Gospel, the risen Jesus bids his disciples to make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you (28.20), presumably referring to the teaching contained in the gospel and continued by the scribes of Matthews community. These scribes, as far as I can tell, are male. Nowhere does the evangelist offer female teachers as models of learned leadership.

(Deutsch 2001:105)

Again, Matthews specific perspective, objective and message can be detected when he changes his Markan source. Mark is explicit about the male followers of Jesus having failed to understand their calling as disciples (Malbon 1983:33). Mark uses women characters to fill the gap (Kinukawa 2001:189).[26] They are the followers who better understand what Jesus message is all about and nearly succeed in fulfilling his ideal. In Matthew, the male followers do understand (Mt 13:51; over against Mk 4:13), but they struggle to get it right. They cannot fully adopt Jesus understanding of the Torah and end up being like the Pharisees who do not have insight into the righteousness that exceeds that of their scribes (Mt 5:20). By changing Mark, Matthew changes the roles of both the disciples and the women in order to be more acceptable in his Israelite-Palestinian context.

In Matthew, women are clearly distinguished from the twelve disciples/apostles. Along with all the other marginalised categories of people who did not have access to the temple, women are the receivers of Jesus love and therefore have free access to God. Although they receive that love they are not the agents who transmit that love to others. They do not take the initiative. The positive side of Matthews perspective on women is the message that Gods love is inclusive. The negative element is that agency is the exclusive prerogative of males.

Why does Matthew go this route? It seems that he does not expect his readers to break completely with their Israelite culture. This becomes clear from the way in which he utilises his Markan source. Were he to take Marks message over as is, it would have meant breaking with cultural conventions. In the Israelite world, it was unthinkable to place women in such a central position as Mark does. Matthews compromise is that he does include women in Gods love, but women remain subordinate to men. The role of the women characters in the story is that, through them, it is shown whether the males fulfil their calling or not. How Matthew relegates women to being supporting characters only can be seen in the way in which he reports on women such as Mary, the Canaanite mother and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

The value of women in society was that they should help build the nation (the children of Abraham). They were to bear sons. However, just bearing sons was not enough. Women also had to be acceptable and honourable. The sons of a dishonourable woman (such as a prostitute or an unmarried mother) did not count as children of Abraham. According to Matthew (Mt 3:9), God is able to raise up children for Abraham from stones. God does not need holy seed for that. This is illustrated in the life of the humble woman from Bethlehem, Mary. She is unmarried and pregnant, but Joseph is obedient to God and takes her into his home in spite of her dishonourable position. Matthew attempts to convince his readers that Mary is acceptable. He does this by including four unacceptable women in the genealogy. A marked difference between the gospels is that Joseph, the patriarch, plays the leading role in the Gospel of Matthew God speaks to him whereas Luke gives the leading role to Mary God speaks to her. In Matthew, Mary quickly recedes into the background. She does not sing the Magnificat (Lk 1:4655) and she is not part of the story of the 12-year-old whose wisdom supersedes that of the learned men in the temple (Lk 2:452). In the story of the flight to Egypt, which is told only in Matthew (2:1318), Mary is not mentioned, only Joseph (Mt 2:13). Mary is also not present among the women who witness Jesus death on the cross (Mt 27:5556).

In the same vein, Matthew changes Marks Syrophoenician woman (non-Israelite person from beyond the borders) to a Canaanite woman (non-Israelite, but from within the borders of Palestine). However, Mark and Matthew differ when it comes to foreigners. Matthew brings the foreigners in. Mark and Paul go out to meet them in their own world. In Matthew, Jesus focuses on the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Mt 10:6; 15:24). The kingdom where Jesus reigns as the Son of Man is open to all who come from the four corners of the earth (Mt 24:31). This kingdom takes the place of Israel and the Son of Man is the king (Mt 19:28). In this kingdom the roles are reversed: the first are last and the last are first (Mt 19:30; 20:16). According to Matthew, the disciples are the ones who are to bring all the nations (panta ta ethne) into the inclusive church: to baptise them, to make disciples of them and to teach them to do what Jesus had done (Mt 28:1620).

In Matthew, the first feeding of the multitude also takes place in Israelite territory (Mt 14:1321). Jesus and the disciples step into a boat but do not cross over to the foreigners. The boat returns to Israelite territory, where the second feeding of the multitude takes place (Mt 15:3239). All do indeed receive bread, the multitude, the foreign woman, but they receive it in Israelite territory. The foreigners are to be brought into the fold. In Mark, the disciples take the initiative to inform Jesus that the people are hungry (Mk 8:12). When Jesus asks them to distribute the bread they are not overly enthusiastic about the miracle, but do the job (Mk 6:30). On the other side, in foreign territory, they are not concerned about the hungry people; there, Jesus takes the initiative. When Jesus asks them to distribute the bread, they are unwilling (Mk 8:4). In Matthew, both take place in Israelite territory. He does not change Marks story about who notices that the people are hungry. He does change the reaction of the disciples. Matthews disciples simply do the job without complaining (see Van Aarde 1994a:180203).

After feeding the multitude, Jesus and his disciples again get into a boat. Jesus asks the disciples whether they have brought bread. They do not understand that he does not mean it literally, but is referring back to the wonder of the feeding of the multitude. Jesus warns them of the yeast of the Pharisees. Unclean yeast is a negative image. The Pharisees are also supposed to give bread, but they do it without love. They also only give to their own kind. Their bread does not nourish. It is not a wonderful gift of God. The disciples reaction is different in Matthew. In Mark, they do not understand what it is all about (Mk 8:21). According to Matthew, although they understand they do not fully grasp the implications.

Matthew tells the story of the Canaanite mother so that the disciples can realise that the bread is not only meant for Israel but for all marginalised people foreigners, women and children. Matthews readers were familiar with the rabbis exposition of the Hebrew Scriptures. The story of Ruth provided a model for how foreigners could become part of Gods people (see Moore 1998:203217). Like Ruth, a proselyte had to pass the test three times (see Jackson 2002:126140, 2003:779792). Twice the proselyte was refused. Should they insist a third time that they were really serious about becoming part of Israel, then they were welcomed into the Israelite community. Twice Naomi told Ruth to return to her own country and gods. Twice Jesus told the Canaanite woman that the bread was actually meant for the lost sheep of Israel (Mt 15:24). When she insisted a third time that she, as a dog (gentile), could surely get the crumbs from the table, she passed the test (Bamberger 1968:15). The difference between Marks and Matthews stories is that Mark allows the woman to speak for herself, whereas Matthew tells the story himself. Yet again Matthew renders the woman voiceless. Elaine Wainwright (2001:127), who gives the name which the Pseudo-Clementine Epistles gave to the Canaanite mother, namely Justa, back to her, says that a silent voice is further silenced.

Another case study is the nameless mother of the sons of Zebedee. In Mark (10:3540) the sons of Zebedee seek honourary positions for themselves at the right hand and left hand of Jesus. In Matthew, it is their mother who wants these positions for her sons. A womans status depended on having sons and on how well her sons did in life. When Matthew changes his Markan source to turn the woman into the one seeking the honour for her sons, he reveals his attitude towards women and their place in society. He portrays the woman and mother in a negative light. In the story, the mother is put in her place. She is an eyewitness (Mt 27:56) of Jesus crucifixion between two robbers who receive the honorary positions at his right hand and left hand (Mt 27:38). So she is chastised: in the kingdom of God it should not be about peoples honour. Matthews is the only gospel where the mother of the sons of Zebedee plays a role.

A projection

In his recently published commentary, John Nolland (2005) remarks:

Matthew seems to have understood himself to be creating a foundational text to which people would feel the need to return again and again. And that is what the church has done with his Gospel throughout its history.

(Nolland 2005:22)

It comes therefore as no surprise that voluminous commentaries on Matthews gospel are produced nowadays. Indeed, Matthew studies are at a crossroads. However, the question is: do we really experiencing a change of route, or does reality point to business as usual? It seems to the current authors that the latter could be the case, even when Matthean scholars take Frances words to heart: [t]o read Matthew in blissful ignorance of first-century sociopolitics is to miss his point (France 2007:7).

Fifteen years ago, in an appeal for engaged hermeneutics with regard to responsible morality in light of the postmodern shift of paradigm (Van Aarde 1994b:584585), the principal author cited Herbert Butterfields (1975:1) words that we need to [put] on a different kind of thinking cap. Based on two respective citations from Butterfields (1975) The origins of modern science: 13001800 and Kuhns ([1957] 1979) The Copernican revolution, Kopfensteiner (1992) puts it as follows:

A shift of paradigm will result in handling the same bundle of data as before, but placing them in a new system of relations with one another by giving them a different framework, all of which virtually means putting on a different kind of thinking cap. A scientific revolution has a dual nature; it is at once ancient and modern, conservative and radical. To some practitioners the new paradigm will be the point of departure for previously unanticipated scientific activity; to others, however, the new paradigm will seem curiously akin to its predecessors . Hence, each evolutionary niche of development understands the world differently, but never independently of its predecessors . The epistemological discussion within philosophy and history of science has shown that [t]he reciprocity of tradition and the emancipation accounts for moral progress. At each evolutionary niche, new possibilities of being-in-the-world are opened up to human freedom. This is the meaning of a shift of paradigm in a moral context, and its possibility rests on a historical [i.e. a social constructionist] rather than essentialistic understanding of the moral law.

(Kopfensteiner 1992:47, 57)

To the current authors, in our present-day global village, morality is a crucial matter which has to be deployed in the hermeneutical enterprise. Morality is a core element of the new framework in terms of which existing data from the huge amount of Matthew studies have been produced in the last four decades. Although ethics was not really a forgotten interpretative issue for Matthean scholars, morality, however, has not constituted the exegetical agenda.

There are exceptions to the rule, such as Lidija Novakovic (2009) and we are encouraged to join them:

In the world governed by military and political power and divided across ethnic and religious lines, Matthews Gospel offers a new vision of human relationships. On the one hand, it encourages the underprivileged to work for a change of conventional hierarchies that favour the privileged. It restores the lost dignity of the inferiors and calls them to engage in the creation of just relationships. It empowers the excluded by giving them hope that they can have equal share in the abundance of Gods grace. And it appeals to those in power to become attentive to the needs of the distressed and serve them as if they were serving Jesus himself. At the same time, Matthew issues a warning that those who manage to improve their conditions and find themselves in a position of power should not replicate unjust relationships.

(Novakovic 2009:579)

In the historical-critical paradigm, Matthean studies disclose an ellipse, a square circle that could break if the poles are stretched too far. With regard to the so-called transparency theory, the issue of social location meant that Jerusalem in Matthews story-world forms the one pole against Antioch in Matthews narrated-world. With regard to Matthews references to people, the disciples and the crowd in the story-world create the one pole and the first-century ecclesial community as the narrators implied audience the other pole.[27] Both social location and the characters in Matthews story constituted a theological issue in the interpretation of Matthews gospel, and that concerns the so-called particularismuniversalism debate, which creates a theologoumenon such as the question as to whether the Jesus followers were in Matthews eyes a third race (Graham Stanton) rather than being either Jewish-Christians or Christian-Jews (Anthony Saldarini/Andrew Overman). Part and parcel of this theological issue is the David SimRobert GundryDonald HagnerJoel Willitts debate with regard to either Matthews anti-Paulinism or Matthews gentile bias.

Today, when new buzz words are deployed in Matthew studies, such as intertexts, the central matter of morality needs to be made integral to our theoretical reflections. It includes also the focus on aspects such as the socio-historical context and the political contexts of the first and present readers. From recent

Matthew studies, one can observe how the political dimension is approached from the perspectives of gender, postcolonial and empire studies. We need to take into consideration the matter of morality as well, also when addressing exegetical and theological issues in Matthews gospel such as:

  • the understanding of the destruction of the Israelite temple-state
  • the probable social location and constitution of the Matthean community
  • apocalyptic-sectarian theories and marginalisation theories.

The current authors case study, namely Matthews male-dominated characterisation of women, is an example of how morality could play a role when we discuss the usual exegetical matters even if the hermeneutical enterprise consists of only recycling old insights and approaches disguised in the vocabulary of a new thesaurus.

At least, what might be appropriated in a sense of a second naivet is what Victoria Phillips (2001:234) refers to as a process of transforming consciousness. She points out that [i]ntegral to that transformation is consciousness-raising. A route to this process is the telling of stories. She quotes Harrison (1985):

Conscientization involves recognition that what we have experienced in isolation and silence, a private pain is in fact a public, structural dynamic. My life is now perceived in a new way in light of your stories. Together we slowly re-vision our reality so that what happened, originally, to be an individual or personalized problem or even a human failing, is exposed as a basic systemic pattern of injustice.

(Harrison 1985:243)

By amending Phillips (2001:234) reading of the end of Marks gospel, we would like to apply her open-ended remarks to Matthews entire narrative point of view and with such an in-/conclusion express our opinion about where the last play landed[28] with regard to current Matthew studies: [e]xploring the dynamics that silenced the women who followed Jesus is a way to contribute to such re-visioning.


Andreoli, D., 1998, Il vello squarciato nel Vangelo di Matteo [Fleece slashed in the Gospel of Matthew], Biblical Studies on the Web 1, 3540.

Adams, N., 2006, Habermas and theology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Alkier, S., 2005, From text to intertext: Intertextuality as a paradigm for reading Matthew, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 61(1&2), 118.

Anderson, J.C., [1983] 2001, Matthew: Gender and reading, in A.-J. Levine & M. Blickenstaff (eds.), A feminist companion to Matthew, pp. 2569, The Pilgrim Press, Cleveland.

Ashcroft, B., Griffiths, G. & Tiffin, H. (eds.), [1995] 2009, Feminism, in The post-colonial studies reader, 2nd edn., pp. 233259, Routledge, London.

Bamberger, B., 1968, Proselytism in the Talmudic period, Ktav, New York.

Barthes, R., 1985, Texte (thorie du) [Text (theory)] , in Encyclopaedia Universalis, vol. 17, pp. 9961000, Seuil, Paris.

Barr, D.L., 1976, The drama of Matthews gospel: A reconsideration of its structure and purpose, Theology Digest 24, 349359.

Brown, J.K., 2002, The disciples in narrative perspective: The portrayal and function of the Matthean disciples, Society of Biblical Literature, Academia Biblica 9, E.J. Brill, Leiden.

Butterfield, H., 1975, The origins of modern science: 13001800, Bell and Hyman, London.

Carter, W., 2001, Matthew and Empire: Initial explorations, Trinity Press International, Harrisburg.

Carter, W., 2003, Are there imperial texts in the class? Intertextual eagles and Matthean eschatology as lights out time for imperial Rome (Matthew 24:2731), Journal of Biblical Literature 122(3), 467487.

Colloquium Biblicum Lovaniense, July 2931, 2009, The Gospel of Matthew at the crossroads of early Christianity, viewed 03 November 2009, from

Combrink, H.J.B., 1983a, The macrostructure in the Gospel of Matthew, Neotestamentica 16, 120.

Combrink, H.J.B., 1983b, The structure of the Gospel of Matthew as narrative, Tyndale Bulletin 34, 6190.

Cousland, J.R.C., 2002, The crowds in the Gospel of Matthew, Supplements to Novum Testamentum, E.J. Brill, Leiden.

Crossan, J.D., 1998, The birth of Christianity: Discovering what happened in the years immediately after the execution of Jesus, Harper San Francisco, San Francisco.

Culler, J., [1981] 2001, Presupposition and intertextuality, in J. Culler (ed.), The pursuit of signs: Semiotics, literature, deconstruction, p. 103, Augmented edition with new preface, Cornell University Press, Ithaca.

Danow, D.K., 1987, Lotman and Uspensky: A perfusion of models, Semiotica 64, 343357.

Davies, W.D. & Allison, D.C., [1997] 2004, A critical and exegetical commentary on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, vol. III, A Continuum Imprint, T&T Clark, London.

De Vries, H., 2001, Derrida and ethics: Hospitable thought, in T. Cohen (ed.), Jacques Derrida and the humanities: A critical reader, pp. 172192, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Derrida, J., [1997] 1999, Adieu to Emmanuel Levinas, transl. P.A. Brault & M. Naas, Stanford University Press, Stanford.

Deutsch, C., 2001, Jesus as wisdom: A feminist reading of Matthews wisdom Christology, in A.-J. Levine & M. Blickenstaff (eds.), A feminist companion to Mark, Feminist Companion to the New Testament and Early Christian Writings 2, pp. 88113, Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield.

Dreyer, Y., 2009, The narrators androcentric point of view of women in Matthews gospel: A gender-critical exposure, paper presented at the Joint Conference of South African Societies, University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, 2226 June 2009.

Dube, M.W., 1996, Readings of Semoya: Batswana womens interpretations of Matt 15:2128, Semeia 73, 111130.

Dube, M.W., 1998, Go therefore and make disciples of all nations (Mt 28:19a): A postcolonial perspective on biblical criticism and pedagogy, in F. Segovia & M.A. Tolbert (eds.), Teaching the Bible: The discourses and politics of biblical pedagogy, n.p., Orbis Books, Maryknoll.

Dube, M.W., 2000, Postcolonial feminist interpretation of the Bible, Chalice Press, St. Louis.

Dube, M.W., 2001, Fifty years of bleeding: A storytelling feminist reading of Mark 5:2443, in M.W. Dube (ed.), Other ways of reading: African women and the Bible, pp. 5062, Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta.

Elliott, J.H., 2003, The Jesus movement was not egalitarian but family-oriented, Biblical Interpretation: A Journal of Contemporary Approaches 11(2), 173210.

Forster, M., 2008, Johann Gottfried von Herder, in E.N. Zalta (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008), viewed on 05 November 2009, from

France, R.T., 2007, The Gospel of Matthew, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids.

Gadamer, H.G., [1960] 1994, Truth and method, 2nd rev. edn., transl. & rev. J. Weinsheimer & D.G. Marshall, Continuum, New York.

Genette, G., 1982, Palimpsestes: La littrature au second degree [Palimpsest: Literature in the second degree], Seuil, Paris.

Gundry, R.H., 2005, Matthew: Jewish-Christian or Christian Jewish? At an intersection of sociology and theology in The old is better: New Testament essays in support of traditional interpretations (WUNT 178), pp. 111119, Mohr Siebeck, Tbingen.

Gurtner, D.M., 2008, Matthews theology of the Temple and the parting of the ways: Christian origins and the First Gospel, in D.M. Gurtner & J. Nolland (eds.), Built upon the rock: Studies in the Gospel of Matthew, pp. 128153, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids.

Harrison, B.W., 1985, Theological reflection in the struggle for liberation: A feminist perspective, in C.S. Robb (ed.), Making the connections: Essays in feminist social ethics, pp. 253263, Beacon Press, Boston.

Hertig, P., 1999, Matthews narrative use of Galilee in the multicultural and missiological journeys of Jesus, Mellen Biblical Press Series 46, Edwin Mellen, Lewiston.

Horsley, R.A., 2007, Scribes, visionaries and the politics of the Second Temple Judea, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville.

Iser, W., 1978, The act of reading: A theory of aesthetic response, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

Jackson, G.S., 2002, Have mercy on me: The story of the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:2128, Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series 228, Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield.

Jackson, G.S., 2003, Enemies of Israel: Ruth and the Canaanite woman, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 59(3), 779792.

Kwok, P., 2005, Postcolonial imagination and feminist theology, Westminster, Louisville.

Klemm, D.E. 1986, Introduction to Habermas: On systematically distorted communication and toward a theory of communicative competence, in D.E. Klemm (ed.), Hermeneutical inquiry: The interpretation of existence, vol. 2, pp. 203208, AAR Studies in Religion, Scholars Press, Atlanta.

Knowles, M.P., 2008, Plotting Jesus: Characterization, identity and the voice of God in Matthews gospel, in T.R. Hatina (ed.), Biblical interpretation in early Christian gospels: The Gospel of Matthew, vol. 2, pp. 119132, T&T Clark, New York.

Kinukawa, H., [1994] 2001, Women disciples of Jesus (15.4041; 15.47; 16.1), in A.-J. Levine & M. Blickenstaff (eds.), A feminist companion to Mark, Feminist Companion to the New Testament and Early Christian Writings 2, pp. 171190, Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield.

Kopfensteiner, T.R., 1992, Historical epistemology and moral progress, Heythrop Journal 33, 4560.

Kristeva, J., 1969, Smeiotik: Recherches pour une smanalyse [Smeiotik: Searches for a smanalyse], Seuil, Paris.

Kuhn, T.S., [1957] 1979, The Copernican revolution, Harvard University Press, Cambridge.

Levine, A.-J., 1988, The social and ethnic dimensions of Matthean salvation history, Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity 14, Edwin Mellen, Lewiston.

Lohmeyer, E., 1942, Kultus und Evangelium [Worship and Gospel], Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Gttingen.

Lohmeyer, E.,1967, Das Evangelium des Matthus [The Gospel of Matthew], hrsg. W. Schmauch, 4. Auflage, Kritisch-exegetischer Kommentar ber das Neue Testament, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Gttingen.

Lohr, C.A., 1961, Oral techniques in the Gospel of Matthew, Catholic Biblical Quarterly 23, 403435.

Luomanen, P., 1998, Entering the kingdom of heaven: A study on the structure of Matthews view of salvation (WUNT II/101), Mohr Siebeck, Tbingen.

Luz, U., 2003, Intertextualitt im Matthusevangelium [Intertextuality in the Gospel of Matthew], Harvard Theological Review 97(2), 119137.

Malbon, E.S., 1983, Fallible followers: Women in the Gospel of Mark, Semeia 28, 2948.

McConell, R.A., 1964, Law and prophesy in Matthews gospel, PhD thesis, University of Basel.

McNicol, A.J., Dungan, D.L. & Peabody, D.B. (eds.), 1996, Beyond the Q impasse Lukes use of Matthew: A demonstration by the research team of the International Institute for Gospel Studies, Trinity Press International, Valley Forge.

Moore, M.S., 1998, Ruth the Moabite and the blessing of foreigners, Catholic Biblical Quarterly 60, 203217.

Neyrey, J.H., 1998, Honor and shame in the Gospel of Matthew, Westminster John Knox, Louisville.

Neyrey, J.H., 2004, Render to God: New Testament understandings of the Divine, Fortress, Minneapolis.

Nolland, J., 2005, The Gospel of Matthew: A commentary on the Greek text, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI.

Novakovic, L., 2009, Yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters table: Matthews gospel and economic globalization, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 65(1), Art. #321, 7 pages, DOI:10.4102/hts.v65i1.321

Osiek, C., 2009, When you pray, go into your tameion (Matthew 6:6): But why?, Catholic Biblical Quarterly 71(4), 723740.

Patte, D., 2006, Reading Matthew 28:1620 with Others: How it deconstructs our Western concept of mission, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 62(2), 521557.

Patte, D., Stubbs, M.A., Ukpong, J. & Velunta, R., 2003, The Gospel of Matthew: A contextual introduction for group study, Abingdon, Nashville.

Peabody, D.B., Cope, L. & McNicol, A.J. (eds.), 2002, One Gospel from two: Marks use of Matthew and Luke. A demonstration by the research team of the International Institute for renewal of Gospel studies, Trinity Press International, Harrisburg.

Phillips, V., 2001, The failure of the women who followed Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, in A.-J. Levine & M. Blickenstaff (eds.), A feminist companion to Mark, Feminist Companion to the New Testament and Early Christian Writings 2, pp. 222234, Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield.

Repschinski, B., 2000, The controversy stories in the Gospel of Matthew: Their redaction, form and relevance for the relationship between the Matthean community and formative Judaism, Forschungen zur Religion und Literatur des Alten und Neuen Testaments, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Gttingen.

Ricoeur, P., 1970a, Freud and philosophy: An essay on interpretation, transl. D. Savage, Yale University Press, New Haven.

Ricoeur, P., 1970b, The function of fiction in shaping reality, Man and World 12, 123141.

Ricoeur, P., 1976, Metaphor and symbol, transl. D. Pellauer, in Interpretation theory: Discourse and the surplus of meaning, pp. 4569, Texas Christian University Press, Fort Worth.

Ricoeur, P., 1978, The narrative function, Semeia 13, 77202.

Ricoeur, P., 1979, The metaphorical process as cognition, imagination and feeling, in S. Sacks (ed.), On metaphor, pp. 141157, Chicago University Press, Chicago.

Ricoeur, P., 1981, Hermeneutics and the human sciences: Essays on language, action and interpretation, transl. & ed. J.B. Thompson, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Ricoeur, P., 1984, Time and narrative, vol. 1, Chicago University Press, Chicago.

Ricoeur P., 1985, Time and narrative, vol. 2, Chicago University Press, Chicago.

Rosenberg, H., 1959, The tradition of the new, Horizon Press, New York.

Rosenblatt, M.-E., [1993] 2001, Got into the party after all: Womens issues and the five foolish virgins, in A.-J. Levine & M. Blickenstaff (eds.), A feminist companion to Mark, Feminist Companion to the New Testament and Early Christian Writing, pp. 171195, The Pilgrim Press, Cleveland.

Saldarini, A.J., 1994, Matthews Christian-Jewish community, Chicago Studies in the History of Judaism, Chicago University Press, Chicago.

Shin, I., 2007, Matthews designation of the role of women as indirectly adherent disciples, Neotestamentica 41(2), 399415.

Shin, I. & Van Aarde, A.G., 2005, Matthews and Pauls inclusive tendencies: A comparison, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 61(4), 13531372.

Schleiermacher, F.D.E., [18051833] [1974] 1977, Hermeneutics: The handwritten manuscripts, 2nd edn., transl. J. Duke & J. Forstman, ed. H. Kimmerle, pp. 112113, AAR Text and Translation, Scholars Press, Missoula.

Stemberger, G., 2008, Sages, scribes, and seers in Rabbinic Judaism, in L.G. Perdue (ed.), Scribes, sages, and seers: The sage in the eastern Mediterranean world, Forschungen zur Religion und Literartur des Alten und neuen Testaments 219, pp. 295319, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Gttingen.

Streidter, J., 1989, Literary structure, evolution, and value: Russian Formalism and Czech Structuralism reconsidered, Harvard Studies in Comparative Literature, Harvard University Press, Cambridge.

Sugirtharajah, R.S., 2004, Complacencies and cul-de-sacs: Christian theologies and Colonialism, in C. Keller, M. Nausner & M. Riviera (eds.), Postcolonial theologies: Divinity and empire, pp. 2238, Chalice Press, St. Louis.

Tate, W.R., 1991, Biblical interpretation: An integrated approach. Hendrickson, Peabody.

Telford, W.R., 1980, The barren Temple and the withered tree: A redaction-critical analysis of the cursing of the fig tree periscope in Marks gospel and its relation to the cleansing of the Temple tradition, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Supplement Series 1, JSNT Press, Sheffield.

Thiselton, A.C., 1992, Schleiermachers hermeneutics of understanding, in New horizons in hermeneutics, n.p, Zondervan, Grand Rapids.

Thiselton, A.C., [2001] 2006, Postmodern challenges to hermeneutics: Behind and in front of the text Language, reference and indeterminacy, in Thiselton on hermeneutics: Collected works with new essays, n.p., Eerdmans, Grand Rapids.

Turner, D.L., 2008, Matthew, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids.

Van Aarde, A.G., 1994a, God-with-us: The dominant perspective in Matthews story, and other essays, HTS Theological Studies, suppl. ser. 5, GutenbergPublishers, Pretoia.

Van Aarde, A.G., 1994b, The epistemic status of the New Testament and the emancipatory living of the historical Jesus in engaged hermeneutics, Neotestamentica 28(2), 575596.

Van Aarde, A.G., 2005, IHSOUS, the Davidic messiah, as political saviour in Matthews history, in J.G. van der Watt (ed.), Salvation in the New Testament: Perspectives on soteriology, pp. 732, Supplements to Novum Testamentum 121, E.J. Brill, Leiden.

Van Aarde, A.G., 2007, Jesus mission to all of Israel emplotted in Matthews story, Neotestamentica 43(2), 416436.

Van Aarde, A.G., 2008, Matthews intertexts and the presentation of Jesus as healer-messiah, in T.R. Hatina (ed.), Biblical interpretation in early Christian gospels: The Gospel of Matthew, vol. 2, pp. 163182, T&T Clark, New York.

Wainwright, E., 2001, Not without my daughter: gender and demon possession in Matthew 15:2128, in A.-J. Levine & M. Blickenstaff (eds.), A feminist companion to Matthew, pp. 126137, The Pilgrim Press, Cleveland.

Wallace, M.I., [1990] 1995, The second naivet: Barth, Ricoeur, and the New Yale theology, Studies in American Biblical Hermeneutics 6, Mercer University Press, Macon.

Weaver D.J., 2005, Thus you will know them by their fruits: The Roman characters of the Gospel of Matthew, in J. Riches & D.C. Sim (eds.), The Gospel of Matthew in its Roman imperial context, pp. 107127, Early Christianity in Context, JSNT Supplement Series 276, T&T Clark, London.

Wellmer, A., 1976, Communication and emancipation: Reflections on the linguistic turn of critical theory, in J. ONeill (ed.), On critical theory, pp. 231263, Seabury Press, New York.

Wilkins, M.J., 1998, The concept of disciple in Matthews gospel, NovT Sup 59, E.J. Brill, Leiden.

Willitts, J., 2007a, Matthews messianic shepherd-king: In search of the lost sheep of the house of Israel (BNZW 147), De Gruyter, Berlin.

Willitts, J., 2007b, Matthews messianic shepherd-king: In search of the lost sheep of the house of Israel, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 63(1), 365382.


[1].Hermeneutics seems to me to be animated by this double motivation: willingness to suspect, willingness to listen; vow of rigor, vow of obedience. In our time we have not finished doing away with idols and we have barely begun to listen to symbols. It may be that this situation, in its apparent distress, is instructive: it may be that extreme iconoclasm belongs to the restoration of meaning (Ricoeur 1970a:27).

[2].Cf. Gadamer ([1960] 1994:370): [t]hus a person who wants to understand must question what lies behind what is said. He must understand it as an answer to a question. If we go back behind what is said, then we inevitably ask questions beyond what is said. We understand the sense of the text only by acquiring the horizon of the question a horizon that, as such, necessarily includes other possible answers. Thus a meaning of a sentence is relative to the question to which it is a reply, but that implies that its meaning necessarily exceeds what is said in it. As these considerations show, then, the logic of the human sciences is a logic of the question.

[3].Wellmer, in the words of Jacques Derrida ([1997] 1999:20210), concurring with both Immanuel Kants idea of the categorical imperative and Emmanuel Levinas idea of the infinite responsibility, puts it as follows: [h]ow, then, are we to interpret this impossibility ? Does this impossibility signal a failing? Perhaps we should say the contrary. Perhaps we would, in truth, be put to another kind of test by the apparent negativity of this lacuna, this hiatus between ethics , on the one hand, and, on the other, law or politics . Would it not in fact open like a hiatus both the mouth and the possibility of another speech, of a decision and a responsibility where decisions must be made and responsibility, as we say, taken without the assurance of an ontological foundation? (Derridas emphasis) (cf. De Vries 2001:172192).

[4].Cf. Van Aarde 2008:163182.

[5].Cf. Danow (1987:352), who quotes a remark from the work of Boris Uspensky and Yuri Lotman with important intertextual implications: [a] text can only be understood if it is compared extensively with the culture, or more precisely with the behavior of the people contemporary with it; and their behavior can likewise only be made sense of if it is juxtaposed with a large number of texts.

[6].Reflecting on the works of Kristeva (1969) and Barthes (1985:9961000).

[7].Luz (2003:n.p.): Intertextualitt ist also letztlich nicht anders als die textliche Gestalt, in der sich Kultur, Geschichte und Gesellschaft in Texte eingravieren.

[8].Alkier (2005:4) describes the concept encyclopaedia as follows: [f]irst one has to choose an encyclopaedia that is relevant to the aim of the interpretation. Should one be interested only in the intentio operis pertaining to the time and culture of the production of the text, the encyclopaedia that is applicable at the production level of the text, will be used. As a consequence, only the relations to other texts guaranteed by the signs of the text will be investigated. I refer to this way of reading as production-oriented intertextuality. Should one want to investigate the history of reception, only the intertextual relations given in the texts of concrete readers are analysed. In this case the encyclopaedias of those concrete readings one wishes to investigate are to be used. This way of reading can be termed as reception-oriented intertextuality. Should one be interested in useful or interesting readings for today, the text can be creatively related to any other text in the expectation that this intertextual relation may generate interesting and rewarding effects of meaning. This being the case, the encyclopaedic knowledge of ones own society must be applied. This way of reading is called experimental intertextuality.

[9].E.g. quotations, copying as plagiarism, and allusions. In addition to intertext, there is also what is referred to as paratext, that is the occurrence of texts within another text, such as forewords, footnotes, marginal notes and even the title. Then, thirdly, there is the hypertext, which refers to the type of text that was produced after a base text, the so-called hypotext, but which is neither taken up into the hypotext as the

first text (like an intertext) nor functions as a commentary on the first text (like a metatext). (Virgils Aeneid, for example, is a hypertext to the Odyssey as hypotext.) An architext refers to a general text type which serves as a model for other texts, that is a Gattung [genre]. Finally, there is the so-called metatext, which is a text such as a commentary which should be distinguished from the Grundtext (hypotext).

[10].However, Peabody et al. do not convince the current authors with their arguments against the Markan priority theory, or for that matter their endeavour to argue against the existence of the Q hypothesis (see McNicol, Dungan & Peabody 1996).

[11].Cf. Michael J. Wilkins (1998:166) and see the discussion by Jeannine K. Brown (2002:912). In addition to among others the principal authors own view on Matthews portrayal of the disciples, Brown (2002:145) presents a subtle, yet agreeable perspective on the role of the disciples in Matthews story: [i]n Matthews concrete world, the disciples are not to be identified as transparent for the Matthean community, in spite of the long-standing (redaction-critical) tendency to do so. Rather, the disciples characterization functions as part of the way Matthew communicates the complex of values he wants to instill in his reader. These (or at least some of these) values may indeed address the issues facing Matthews audience, but caution needs to be exercised before assuming a one-to-one correspondence between any one such value or theme and Matthews concrete world.

[12].A similar view is found in Cousland (2002:285). Cousland formulates Matthews ambivalence towards the crowds as follows: In other words, Matthew has not written the crowds out of the prospect of salvation. Their present lack of understanding is something that can be amended in the future.

[13].According to Gurtner (2008:153), Matthews Temple is surely an intra muros issue. Gurtner (2008:152) formulates Matthews ambivalence towards the Temple as follows: [t]he assertions by Lohmeyer [1942:109110, 1967:184] that Matthew is anti-Temple fail to distinguish between the Temple and the leaders responsible for it. Andreolis [1998:3540] argument that Matthew is against the Temple because it represents the old order fails to account for Matthean redaction of Markan texts or for positive statements about the Temples cult. Instead, Matthew is an author emphasizing the sovereignty of Jesus over the Temple rather than one reflecting an antagonism, towards it [McConell 1964; Telford 1980:8384]. Matthews references to its destruction are made only following a lament over the unwillingness of its leaders to repent.

[14].The Gospel of Thomas and Q are sayings gospels and the Protevangelium of James is a discursive gospel. Like Matthew, the Epistula Apostolorum and the Acts of John are examples of a discursive-biographical gospel type (see Crossan 1998:3140).

[15].Cf. Combrink 1983a:120, 1983b:6190. Although there are different possibilities for structuring Matthews gospel (see e.g. Davies & Allison [1997] 2004:5872; Luomanen 1998), the structure of Lohr (1961:403435) is, according to the current authors, the most convincing. Lohr uses the five speeches in Matthew as points of departure and uncovers a concentric chiastic structure in light of the formula in Mt 7:2829; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1: And when Jesus finished these sayings . These five speeches do not represent breaks in the composition but should be seen in relation to the narrative discourses that follow and intersperse (see, among others, Barr 1976:349359; Turner 2008:810).

[16].The disciples: Mt 5:1; 9:37; 10:1; 13:10; 18:1; 23:1; the Israelite crowd: Mt 4:2351b; 9:35ff; 13:2f; 18:2; 23:1.

[17].In my opinion, Matthew originated not in Antioch, but somewhere in northern Galilee and southern Syria after 70 ce (Galilaia to-n ethno-n Mt 4:15). In this region, there was conflict between the grammateus Matthew and village scribes who were in the process of establishing the first phase of a Pharisaic rabbinate. The Gospel of Matthew could therefore be seen as a product of scribal activity within the context of the revitalization of villages after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. These communities struggled to come to grips with the loss of Jerusalem and the temple (Van Aarde 2008:178).

[18].Both Anthony Saldarini (1994:33) and Joel Willitts (2007a, 2007b:365382) argue, in the current authors opinion correctly, that the expression the lost sheep of the house of Israel is a social and political description of Israel. They, however, differ in the sense that Saldarini (1994:33) refers to the main body of Israel and Willitts (2007b:379) to the oppressed and marginalized remnant of the former Northern Kingdom of Israel. According to Van Aarde, all of Israel is intended. Matthew probably had in mind the leaders of Israel (as shepherds) [who] are depicted with regard to outcasts (as sheep), namely that of loveless disregard, [and] the disciples are called upon to continue Jesus God-with-us mission (Van Aarde 2007:422).

[19].Cf. Lidjia Novakovic (2009:3): [t]here is no doubt about who the children and who the dogs are in this saying. The statement about Jesus exclusive mission to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, which Matthew inserts before the saying about the childrens bread and the dogs, makes it perfectly clear that the dogs are those who do not belong to the house of Israel, meaning Gentiles.

[20].See Van Aarde (2007:420422) and cf. Levine (1988:5556). Van Aardes position is quite different to that of Robert H. Gundry (2005:115116). Gundry denies an intramural debate with post-70 Judaism and argues that the use of the term Jews in Matthew stresses a qualitative difference. According to Gundry (2005:119), the little ones in Matthew appear not to be marginal Christians, sinning Christians , but Christians suffering the results of persecution and liable to be caused to sin, i.e., to apostatize under persecution, if their fellow professing Christians do not help them as some (goats) are failing to do though others (the sheep) are helping.

21].However, this does not mean that the book of Joshua as a specific text among the Hebrew Scriptures, or any other text in which the Joshua figure from the Hebrew Scriptures functions as the protagonist, was used as an explicit intertext for the author who produced Matthews gospel.

[22].Some facets of this section of the article is based on Dreyer (2009), The narrators androcentric point of view of women in Matthews gospel: A gender-critical exposure, paper presented at the Joint Conference of South African Societies, University of Stellenbosch, 2009. See also Dube (1996:111130). However, cf. Wainwright (2001:127). Cf. Dube (1998, 2000:127195, 2001:5062); Patte, Stubbs, Ukpong, & Velunta (2003); Patte (2006:521557).

[23].Terms such as egalitarity and equity are modern-day concepts (see Elliott 2003:173210). To avoid etnocentrism or anachronism one should rather refer to Matthews tendency of inclusivity (see e.g. Shin & Van Aarde 2005:13531372).

[24].The entire Sermon on the Mount is intended for a male audience. The potential murderer is angry with a brother (5:2122); the potential adulterer looks at a woman with lust (5:28); the potential divorc divorces his wife (95:3132); the potential retaliator should give not only cloak but tunic, unthinkable for a woman (95:40); and so on. The verses on prayer are no exception. Thus, the exhortations about secrecy of almsgiving, prayer, and fasting are quite countercultural. The male listener, lover of public recognition of his worth, is expected to forego that reward (Osiek 2009:737). Osiek (2009:737) continues: [s]o Neyrey is correct in assuming that these verses are part of the radical rewriting of honor that Christian preaching entailed. The honorable place to pray is the house, not the synagogue or public square. Jesus seeming preference for the house over public space is mirrored in the preferences given here (cf. Neyrey 1998:218220, 2004:6566).

[25].There is no doubt that the author of the Gospel of Matthew wrote an andocentric perspective. Whether the author was male or female, the story world embodies patriarchal assumptions. There are many examples which illustrate the pervasive androcentrism (Anderson 2001:29).

[26].Service to everybody is inclusive and life-giving, while rule by power is exclusive and not of any life-giving value in itself. In Mark, serving is applied only to women, from the beginning of the story (1.31) to its end (15.41). So returning to 15.40, we can only conclude that the women depicted by Mark are the true disciples of Jesus in the sense that they are ready for devoting themselves to life-giving suffering. Thus, the women disciples keep challenging those who avoid joining the struggles of the oppressed. The women disciples continue to disturb churches that seek patriarchal honor and hierarchical authority. So it should be implied that the discipleship of following and serving has the power to regenerate a true community of faith (Kinukawa 2001:190).

[27].According to Paul Hertig (1999), the first horizon and second horizon respectively.

[28].The attempt to define is like a game in which you cannot possibly reach the goal from the starting point but can only close in on it by picking up each time from where the last play landed (Rosenberg 1959:23).

Crossref Citations

No related citations found.