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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Gospel According to Matthew, first words


Matthew, first words
Mathew is quite a bit different from the Gospel of Mark. Where Mark is a concise version, a bare-bones outline of the life of Jesus, Matthew is much more detailed. This Gospel spends much more time with the teachings of Jesus. If Matthew was written later, possibly that first generation of believers was beginning to pass on and the first hand accounts of Jesus teachings was being lost. The community would desire a written account to preserve the life and teachings of Jesus for future generations. Certainly large parts of Mark were used as a guideline in the general structure but much new material is provided.

It is possible to see how the community of Christians had developed in their thoughts and faith by looking at the material in Matthew as compared to Mark. In Matthew we have more about the teachings of Jesus, with the Sermon on the Mount being a large part of that. In Mark we have statements such as “And Jesus taught them in the hill country...” which leaves us wondering, what did Jesus teach them? And now we can look to Matthew for those answers.

Another question is raised. As the first generation passed and those eyewitness accounts were lost, other generations naturally would ask, “why should we believe the teachings of Jesus? Who is Jesus?” Without being able to experience the miracles of Jesus or hear him speak first hand it is natural to ask those questions. Matthew begins to answer those questions as well. Jesus identity and heritage is addressed in real terms. This Gospel is a fuller story explaining more about Jesus. Matthew says here is Jesus; this is what he taught and why you should believe him. The need to preserve the credentials of Jesus as Christ became just as important as the need to preserve the teachings of Jesus. The written testimony comes to replace the spoken testimony of the first generation eyewitnesses to Christ.

The organizational structure of Matthew has some interesting points. One should perhaps not read too much into it, but it is thought provoking. If one does a comparison of the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, and first seven chapters of Matthew certain points become clear.

 


Torah

  1. Genesis
  2. Chosen family (Abraham)
  3. Joseph to Egypt (dreams)
  4. Death of all 1st born
  5. Parting the Red Sea & Jordan River
  6. Forty Years in the wilderness
  7. Receiving the Law

Matthew

  1. Genealogy
  2. Magi to the Holy Family
  3. Joseph to Egypt (dreams)
  4. Herod kills all children
  5. Jesus through the water (baptism)
  6. Forty Days in the wilderness
  7. Sermon on the Mount


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