Treasures new and old: A redaction -critical and socio -historical reading of Matt 13:1–52

Anthony O Ewherido, Fordham University


Although Matthew's discourse on parables is popular and has been used in exhortation and catechesis for centuries, its socio-historical relevance for the Matthean community is seldom explored. Existing studies on the social context of Matthew's Gospel focus on the relationship between Matthew's community and Judaism and reconstruct that relationship by determining whether Matthew's community existed within Judaism or outside it. Matthew's central discourse has been employed only selectively in this endeavor (Matt 13: 24–30; 36–43; 51–52). A closer observation of Matthew 13 and its literary context, however, reveals Matthew's reflection of the relationship of his community to its parent Judaism in the discourse, not only in the same way as other texts in Matthew's Gospel do, but even more significantly so. Therefore, the discourse belongs in the main stream of the on-going discussion on the social context of Matthew's Gospel. This dissertation tests the thesis that Matthew's redaction of his sources and his provision of the special literary context for the discourse reveal the struggles of the Matthean community with the Jewish synagogue across the street and the consequent estrangement of both institutions. Matthew's sharpening of the dualistic terminologies he adopted from his sources (13:10–17) and his arrangement of the discourse, his use of sectarian terminologies, his definition of the identity of the disciples (13:11–12, 16–17, 51–52), his portrait of the opposition against Jesus and his disciples, his dramatization of the estrangement of the Jewish leaders and the crowd from Jesus and his disciples (13:24–30, 36–43, 10–17; 34–35), and his definition of the two institutions on the basis of the human response to Jesus' proclamation of the kingdom (13:1–23) explicate the social location of his community in relation to its parent Judaism. Having studied these and other features in the discourse in the light of the surrounding material and the entire Gospel attentively, we believe that the discourse portrays the separation that had already taken place between the Matthean community and its parent Judaism at the time the Gospel was written. That predominantly Jewish-Christian community stands extra muros, in relation to Judaism, but continues to lay claim to its Jewish heritage.

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Recommended Citation

Ewherido, Anthony O, "Treasures new and old: A redaction -critical and socio -historical reading of Matt 13:1–52" (2004). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3125009.