Studies in Early Christianity
Kingdom of Heaven:
The Vision of Matthew
E Bruce Brooks
Matthew lies further along the various Gospel Trajectories than Mark, and is clearly in part a revision of Mark. The goundplan of Matthew, the chief feature of which is an organization centered on five discourses of Jesus, each with its characteristic ending formula, has been clear since the work of Bacon, and the characteristics of Matthean style have also been scrutinized by several scholars. It is well understood that the chief concern of Matthew is with questions of authority, both on earth and in Heaven. How do these things fit together?
Frank Beare remarks that Matthew is a "grim" Gospel, and notes that its Jesus is the "Pancrator," the World Ruler, often seen in Byzantine art (one example of which, a mosaic from Hagia Sophia, appears on the cover of the present book). A New Jerusalem gives attention to these and other enhancements, not only of the Markan narrative but of the Markan conception of Jesus and his followers, who by Matthew's time apparently constitute an organization that it is not anachronistic to call a "church." On the formal side, the question of doublets is given special attention.
The older criticism assumed that everything not in Matthew's Markan source must come from some other previous writing, whether one that he alone possessed ("M") or one that Luke also used ("Q"). These abbreviations now carry with them that theory of the text, which the present work wishes to hold in abeyance for a fresh look at the artistry and assumptions of Matthew. The two are essentially distinguished by whether or not Luke also included them, and we should remember that on the best inference from the Trajectory arguments, Luke did not yet exist when Matthew first wrote. They are here called the Matthean Unique Tradition (U) and the Matthew/Luke Double Tradition (D) material. One purpose of the investigation recorded in this book is to see whether, and to what extent, S and D distinguish themselves on criteria other than Lukan usage or nonusage.
It has not been noticed, in the traditional literature on Matthew, that this and the other Second Tier Gospel, that of Luke, detectably draw on material which is also known in China, at the other end of the trade routes that passed through early Christian territory: Edessa, Antioch, Damascus. This material is virtually absent from Mark, but it is unmistakably present in Matthew. This book is the first to take account of this aspect of Matthew, and to put into larger perspective the Q speculation, which is based on a narrower and more insular view of Matthew's possible sources, and thus of the strategies of incorporation available to their writers. Matthew and after him Luke are notably more cosmopolitan than the more limited Mark; it was part of their appeal to the wider world which they sought to address, it was part of their reason for feeling that the time had come to update and replace Mark. It was part of Christianity's coming of age.
The result is not a commentary on the lines of the text, but rather a study of its authorial procedures, with incidental analysis of some especially important passages.
Extracts from A New Jerusalem:
Chapter 1: Birth and Infancy
Chapter 2: First Group
Chapter 3: Second Group
Chapter 4: Third Group
Chapter 5: Fourth Group
Chapter 6: Fifth Group
Chapter 7: Crucifixion and Resurrection
Chapter 8: Sources and Implications
For Matthew's Markan prototype, see The Gospels of Mark.
E BRUCE BROOKS is Research Professor of Chinese at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
A New Jerusalem: Matthew's Transformation of Jesus
Approximately 352 pages.
Tentative $50.95 cloth. ISBN 978-936166-53-4
Tentative $27.95 paper. ISBN 978-036166-93-0
Release Date: To Be Announced
When announced, this book may be ordered from the University of Massachusetts Press
14 August 2010 / Contact The Project / Exit to Publications Page