Re-reading the Gospel of Matthew: Scripture in the Hands of the King's Scribe

  • Kyung Baek

Student thesis: Phd


Matthew's use of the Old Testament had been primarily read from the perspective of explicit fulfilment quotations with an attempt to discover the text-type of Matthew's "Old Testament." In this dissertation, I have attempted to broaden this view by demonstrating that Matthew understood himself to be a scribe in the service of Jesus the Royal Messiah, which put at his disposal the scribal skills and practices necessary to handle and use the Jewish scriptures in multiple ways for composing the Gospel. Therefore, by examining Matthew's narrative structure, Jesus' five discourses, and Matthew's fulfilment quotations, I have tried to determine Matthew's scribal practices, as well as his purposes, for using the Jewish scriptures.First, in examining the whole Gospel, Matthew seems to use the Jewish scriptures to rewrite Mark in a Torah pattern. In doing this, he blends together Jewish and Christian scriptures to contextualize and authorize Mark and itself as scripture; thereby, producing an authoritative work for the Jewish-Christian community. Second, Matthew rewrites the Torah with wisdom and eschatological traditions to produce Jesus' Torah Discourse (5-7) and Jesus' Prophetic-Eschatological Discourse (23-25). Matthew, as Jesus' scribe, rewrites the Mosaic Torah, providing legislation for the kingdom of heaven, which will then be used as a standard for Jesus to judge all the nations in the Last Days. Third, Matthew applies Jesus' Torah Discourse into rules for the covenant community to practice and perform as it spreads the message of the kingdom of heaven and exists together as the covenant community. Matthew 10, Jesus' Mission Discourse, functions as Jesus' rule of war to proclaim, teach and expand the peace of the kingdom of heaven in non-violent resistance. Matthew 18, Jesus' Covenant Community Discourse, sets forth rules for the covenant community by establishing a hierarchal organization, disciplinary practices, and obligations for being a part of the ἐkappakappaGammaηsigmaίalpha. Fourth, Matt 13, Jesus' Parable Discourse, uses parables like riddles to reveal and to hide. By utilizing wisdom traditions and associating Jesus with Solomon, Matthew reveals the mystery of the kingdom of heaven to his disciples, who are "scribes trained for the kingdom of heaven," and hides it from the crowds, who do not "hear" and "understand." Fifth, Matthew uses explicit fulfilment quotations as prophetic fulfilment concerning Jesus' identity, message and work as foretold in the Jewish scriptures. By setting the fulfilment quotations as narrative comments and selecting them all from the Hebrew prophets, these quotations can be seen within the trajectory of prophetic and divinatory practices of late Second Temple scribal culture to discern the divine will by "reading" the prophets as one would read the stars (astrology) or an animal's liver (hepatoscopy).
Date of Award31 Dec 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorGeorge Brooke (Supervisor) & Todd Klutz (Supervisor)


  • Matthew, Gospels, Jewish Interpretation, Use of the Old Testament

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