The Identity of “Matthew”

In a previous post I dealt very briefly with the question of whether the author of the Gospel of Matthew was Jewish. I want to say a few more things about the issue, although I’m not planning on providing anything like an exhaustive treatment. It’s a complicated issue. At the end of the day, my view is that we simply don’t know.

In this post I want to say something about what we know about the identity of ...

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The Women in Matthew’s Genealogy

Another bit drawn mainly from my undergraduate textbook, but of relevance to my current thread on the birth narratives of Jesus.

There is one other interesting and frequently-noted feature of Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus (actually, not of Jesus, but of Joseph). That is the fact that it makes explicit reference to women among Jesus’ ancestors. That is highly unusual. Women scarcely ever appear in most ancient Israelite and Jewish genealogies;, which invariably trace a person’s lineage from father to son ...

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Matthew’s Genealogy: The Number “Fourteen”

Like my previous post, this one takes material over from my textbook, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings.

I pointed out in the previous post that Matthew presents a numerically significant genealogy of Jesus in order to show that something of major significance happen every fourteen generations:  from Abraham, the father of the Jews, to David, the greatest king of the Jews: fourteen generations; from King David to the Babylonian Captivity, the greatest ...

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Matthew’s Genealogy

As I have pointed out, the reader who first comes to the New Testament, and so begins at the beginning, with Matthew chapter 1, first finds him/herself confronted with a genealogy. This may not seem like an auspicious beginning, but the genealogy is highly significant for understanding Matthew’s Gospel, since this genealogy is mean to emphasize Jesus’ “credentials” precisely as the messiah. And so v. 1 indicates that Jesus he was “the son of David, the son of Abraham.” (“son ...

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Genealogies of Matthew and Luke

One of the differences between the stories of Matthew and Luke in their infancy narratives is in their genealogies of Jesus (which for Luke, oddly enough, does not actually occur in his infancy narrative!). I know that genealogies are among the least favorite reading for many students of the Bible, and one may be a bit dismayed in starting to read the New Testament, with the very opening of the very first book, Matthew, to find a genealogy!

But I ...

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The Infancy Narratives Compared

In two previous posts I’ve detailed what happens in Luke’s version of Jesus’ birth and then in Matthew’s.  I will assume those two previous posts in the comments that I want to make in this one.  The problem people have with reading these two accounts, usually, is the problem they have reading the Gospels (and the Bible as a whole) generally.  Or at least this has been my experience.  It’s the problem of assuming that one account is basically saying ...

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Matthew’s Fulfillment Citations

One of the most distinctive aspects of Matthew’s infancy narrative is his insistence that everything that happened was a “fulfillment” of Scripture.

  • Why was Jesus’ mother a virgin? To fulfill what the prophet said (he quotes Isaiah 7:14: “A virgin shall conceive and bear a son”)
  • Why was he born in Bethlehem? To fulfill what the prophet said (he quotes Micah 5:2: “And you, Bethlehem…from you shall come a ruler”
  • Why did Joseph and the family escape to Egypt? To fulfill what the ...
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Matthew’s Version of the Birth of Jesus

Yesterday’s blog was about the account of Jesus’ birth in Luke; today I talk about Matthew. Even a casual reading shows that these are two very different accounts. Matthew has nothing about the birth of John the Baptist, the Annunciation, the census, the trip to Bethlehem, the shepherds, the presentation in the Temple. Matthew’s version, as a result, is much shorter. Most of his stories are found only in his account. And some of the differences from Luke appear to ...

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