Among the books of the New Testament are four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. All the four gospels tell the story of the very birth and foundation of Christianity. The gospel of Matthew stands the first among the Gospels by reason of its length, the prominence of its use in the liturgy and preaching of the church. The gospels also give an account of Jesus’ life, his birth, death and resurrection. The Gospel of Matthew is also called a teaching gospel because of the teachings and sayings of Jesus it contains. Matthew also contains the greatest number of links with Judaism and the Old Testament. In this exegetical Paper of Matthew 15:1 – 11, I will bring out the following: (a).
The socio - historical background of the gospel of Matthew. (b)
Literary context of the Passage.
Detailed analysis of the Passage.
The Socio-Historical background of the gospel of Matthew The gospel of Mathew was written at a time Palestine was under the rule of Rome. Though under Roman rule, socially and culturally the whole Palestine was Greek. It was during this time that the Jews looked forward to the militant messiah who would liberate them from Rome. They were anxiously waiting for the Messiah to liberate them from the Roman Rule. Theissen (2003, p. 121) points out that Matthew proclaims the world rule of a Jewish King and in so doing transforms hopes of world ruler whose coming will replace the rule of Rome. Matthew is portraying Jesus as the promised messiah whose coming heralds the arrival of the Kingdom of God. He also demonstrates that Jesus and his Church were the fulfillment of all God's promise to Israel. According to France (1985, p. 27), the gospel of Matthew was written in Greek, in and for a Church which was composed of coverts from Judaism. Blomberg (1992, p. 43) highlights that ,”canonically Matthew is written in relatively good Greek, better than Mark, but not as polished as that of the native Greek writer, Luke”. The early Church affirms that Matthew wrote it among the Hebrews. This gospel was written in an area where Judaism and early Christianity still overlapped and were in close contact. Buttrick (1962, p. 312) says that the area which best suits these requirements is probably Northern Palestine or Syria, perhaps Antioch. Fleming (2005, p.388) says that there is no record of the name of the author or the purpose for which he wrote the book. The early church believe that the apostle Matthew wrote it.
Marshall (1992, p. 527) highlights that Matthew, a Jew, was an apostle and to this, he says that tradition stems from the testimony of Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia. Papias record about Matthew was written down by Eusebius and it reads, “Matthew collected the oracles in Hebrew language and each interpreted them as best he could.” This assertion was repeated by a great number of Church fathers such as Ireneus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullium, Origen, Ephrem and Jerome. Papias first associated Matthew with the tax collector. According to the African Bible ( p. 1632), the name Matthew, in Hebrew, means ‘God’s gift’. The Greek term ‘Theodore’ has the same meaning. The synoptic use the term Matthew and include him among the list of the apostles. Matthew 10:3 associates the title ‘tax collector’ with Matthew, this same term is applied to Levi by Mark and Luke. The early church also identifies Levi with Matthew and considered him as writer of the first gospel.
France (1985, p. 28) highlights that the gospel of Matthew was written within the last twenty years of the first century. France further brings out the reasons why this gospel was not written earlier than that. In his argument, he says that the book of Mark was written in about A.D 65 and that Matthew used Mark. This means that Matthew must be dated significantly after A.D 65. The other reason is that the tone suits the period A.D 85, when the Christians were excluded from the Synagogue worship by the...
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