A Reading of Matthew

The Gospel of Matthew can be read as the Evangelist’s effort make a fractious community cohere. Among other rifts he faces is one between apocalyptic and eschatological thinkers. (This would be hard to explain, because, partly because Matthew was successful, we think of the two things as one.) Between the lines, we can also read the concerns of more factions: the narrative of John the Baptist is tied in respectfully; another of Peter, another of James, another of the women; perhaps another of ethnic Canaanite Christians who had never been Jews.

As he goes, Matthew modulates his tone carefully. Near the beginning we have the Jesus who pronounces the beatitudes. Beyond that, Jesus is sweet-tempered, and every needy person he meets adores him. Is there any whiney, manipulative suppliant with a sense of entitlement to healing?. How about the man at the pool who complains that everybody else gets to the water before he does? Jesus heals him; then, seeing him later, warns him to make the prescribed thank offering lest something worse happen to him. The fellow had proved to be a flake when it came to basic observances.

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