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‘Journeying with Matthew – Paula Gooder et al

October 25, 2016

jwmaAt last, a book to put in the hands of laypeople who want to prepare for the upcoming Sunday’s readings, if not every week then at the start of each season of the Church’s year.

Each chapter has four parts: a section ‘exploring the text’, which gives some information on Luke’s narrative and connects it with the season; ‘imagining the text’ which is a poem or piece of imaginative writing from the perspective of a character in the gospel, or a modern-day re-working of the story


Matthew is a good Gospel for Advent. It contrasts strongly with Mark, which is profoundly unhelpful in Advent. Barely has Mark’s Gospel begun before John the Baptist and Jesus burst onto the scene and begin the story in earnest. Matthew’s Gospel is very different and builds up the picture much more slowly and patiently, reminding its readers not only of the importance of waiting but of how long God’s people had waited for this moment.


It contains more Hebraisms (i.e. stylistic quirks that someone who spoke Hebrew or Aramaic may have introduced into the Greek text) than the other Gospels, but not so many as to suggest that it was first written in Hebrew or Aramaic and then translated. The Hebraisms include turns of phrase like saying that the Magi `rejoiced with great joy, which has been smoothed out in the NRSV to ‘they were overwhelmed with joy’ (Matthew 2.10). Such turns of phrase are characteristically Semitic and suggest the author might have been thinking in Hebrew or Aramaic, even if not writing in it.

The devil offered Jesus possession of ‘all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. Whereas we, the readers, know that the representatives of some of those kingdoms have just come to worship Jesus of their own volition, bearing some of their splendour with them. Likewise, at the end of his ministry, Jesus, now in receipt of all authority in heaven and on earth, sends his disciples not to grasp hold of the kingdoms of the world but to offer them a gift, the gift of the good news of Jesus Christ. The third temptation suggests to Jesus another path of being `Son of God, one which involves taking rather than giving, superficial deeds of power rather than hard-won, sacrificial self-offering. In the third temptation, the devil offers Jesus a short-cut to success which will avoid the pain and cost of being the Son of God on earth, but which also involves grasping what is not his, rather than receiving it freely.

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From → Biblical

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