The Church has always venerated the
Scriptures as she venerates the Lord’s Body.
Shenever ceases to present to the faithful
the bread of life,
taken from the one table of God’s Word and
Christ’s Body. (Dei Verbum 21 in the CCC 103)
In order to discover the sacred authors’
intention, the reader must take into account
the conditions of their time and culture,
the literary genres in use at that time,
and the modes of feeling, speaking and
narrating then current.
“For the fact is that truth is differently
presented and expressed in the various types
of historical writing, in prophetical and
poetical texts, and in other forms of literary
expression” (DV12 #12 in CCC 110).
The First Century in thirds
Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus 0-33 AD
Destruction of Mark 70 Matthew/ John 100
Jerusalam 66-70 Luke 80-90
The Gospels as Developing Tradition
Matthew and Luke developed Mark
The also used and adapted Q (Quelle)
They each supplemented what they had received from
tradition of Mark with tradition of their own.
Seeing the Gospels as a developing tradition creates three
pillars of understanding the Gospels:
Gospels are memory and testimony including:
Memory and Witness
Memory and Proclamation
Memory and Conviction
Authors are EVANGELISTS – proclaimed the “news”
about Jesus in and for their time and place.
“News” means updating, tells us what Jesus then means
There is a pre-Easter and post-Easter Jesus
Jesus’ followers knew him in a different way after his
death from before his death
The pre-Easter Jesus is a flesh and blood human being
The disciples knew the post-Easter Jesus in a different
Paul knew him as a brilliant light and a voice
Historical-metaphorical way of reading the Gospels.
Combine memory and metaphor.
Jesus remembered and Jesus as metaphor
Metaphors and metaphorical narratives can be truthful,
truth-filled, independently of their literal factuality. My
love is a red, red rose.
More than literal, more than factual, a surplus of meaning.
Metaphorical Language in Gospels
Jesus is the Light of the World.
Jesus is the Bread of Life.
Jesus is the Gate and the Way.
“You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.”
“Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye but
do not notice the log in your own.”
The truth of the parables of Jesus do not depend on them
being factually true.
In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus’ journey from Galilee to Jerusalem
is at the centre of his Gospel.
This journey connects the public activity in Galilee and
the final week in Jerusalem.
Mark gives journey a more-than-literal meaning.
In Mark, it is a story of what it means to follow Jesus,
closely linked to Mark’s themes of “the way” and
TO BE A DISCIPLE MEANS TO FOLLOW JESUS ON
THE WAY THAT LEADS TO JERUSALEM.
Purely Metaphorical Narratives
The Wedding at Cana – Jesus changES over a hundred
gallons of water into fine wine.
It is the inaugural story of Jesus’ ministry in John’s Gospel.
On the third day...
Wedding is a rich religious metaphor in Judaism and early
The story of Jesus is about a wedding. A wedding at
which the wine never runs out.
SUMMARY PICTURE OF GOSPELS
CALL OF MATTEHW
Setting for Matthew’s Gospel
70 Destruction of
Jews of Jamnia Jews who followed Jesus
Divided salvation history into three periods:
All the Prophets and the Law up to the Baptist
Public Ministry of Jesus
Mission to all Nations
GOSPEL OF MATTHEW
The Gospel of Matthew was necessitated by a severe
crisis in the author’s church.
Stringently Jewish in origins, it had experienced the
trauma of separation from the synagogue and a great
influx of Gentiles into its ranks.
This shift in its Christian existence demanded a new
interpretation of old traditions, a new way of looking at
Christ and his church
The Old Testament
What did this accomplish?
Narrow exclusivist Jewish-Christian statements could be
retained by being referred to the unique period of Jesus’
Matthew viewed his own time as under the final, universal
mandate (Mt 28:16-20).
The church, not Judaism is the true people of God
because it is the people formed by God’s Son, Jesus
Christ who fulfilled of the Law and the prophets.
HOW CAN WE DESCRIBE MATTHEW?
Luke is a verbal portrait-painter
Matthew is a verbal architect.
Central Theme of Matthew
Pattern of .
Within a large framework of
Public Ministry is
Welded into Five
1 2 3 4 5 Books
Each book has a narrative
followed by a discourse.
Five Great Discourses:
1. Sermon on the Mount
2. Missionary Discourse
Prologue (1-2) Death and
5. Discourse on the end
Outline of Matthew’s Gospel
The “who” and “where” of Jesus (1:1-2:23)
N The beginning of Jesus activity (3:1-4:25)
D The Sermon on the Mount (5:1-7:29)
N Jesus’ powerful deeds (8:1-9:38)
D Missionary discourse (10:1-42)
N The rejection of Jesus (11:1-12:50)
D Parables of the Kingdom (13:1-53)
N Miracles, controversies, and the Cross (13:54-17:27)
D Advice to a divided community (18:1-35)
N Opposition to Jesus (19:1-23:39)
D The coming of the kingdom (24:1-25:46)
Jesus’ death and resurrection (26:1-28:20)
Jesus is a Teacher in Matthew
The five pillars of Matthew’s Gospel are a new Pentateuch
The divisions of each pillar are marked by a repetition of
“When Jesus had finished these sayings” (7:28, 11:1,
13:53, 19:1, 26:1).
Torah is more accurately translated as teaching rather
Jesus begins his teaching, like Moses on Mount Sinai, with
a Sermon on the Mount (5:1). Jesus is a new Moses.
One third of Matthew’s Gospel consists of the teaching of
True and False Jews
Who were the legitimate successors of Israel’s history?
Which were the true Jews, and which the false ones?
The language in Matthew seems quite harsh about the
Think of it less as anti-Semitism and more like a family
Matthew is certain that the Judaism of the rabbis had
taken a wrong turn by turning in on itself, instead of
opening to the Roman world.
Matthew presents Jesus as the fulfilment of the Hebrew
Matthew uses fulfilment 14 times, Luke 4 times, Mark 1
Jesus is the true successor of Moses, the only
“He taught with authority, unlike the Scribes and
The Church Gospel
The rival group at Jamnia set up guidelines, rules and
regulations which became Judaism as we know it today.
They call themselves the Synagogue.
Matthew offered guidelines, rules and regulations for the
followers of the Way. Matthew calls his group “The
The Good Shepherd in Luke goes in search of those
whom society has marginalised (Luke 15:4-70).
The Good Shepherd in Mt is concerned for Church
members who stray from the fold (18:12-18).
Five Great Discourses
The qualification for membership of the Kingdom
(the Sermon on the Mount, chs. 5-7).
A list of instructions for missionaries (ch. 11).
A series of explanations of the mystery of the Kingdom
(the Parables, ch. 13).
A handbook of Christian conduct, including rules for
settling Church disputes (ch. 18).
A description of God’s final vindication of the teaching of
Jesus (chs 24-25).
The repetitious and meditative approach is typical of
easterners who loved to say the same thing over and
over again, each time getting nearer to the mystery lying
at its heart.
Repetition is the style of nature – day and night, new
moon and full moon, the seasons.
The Fathers warmed to Matthew’s majesty and slow
dignity. They wrote more commentaries on it than any
other Gospel. Justin Martyr quotes it 170 times, and John
Chrysostom bases 90 sermons on it.
The Gospel of Matthew reminds us how deeply rooted
we are in Judaism.
We cannot forget that we are followers of Jesus the Jew,
who never abdicated his Judaism.
In 13:52, Matthew refers to the teacher, well-instructed
about the Kingdom of God, who brings out of his
storeroom new treasures as well as old.
It could be a description of himself.