Friday, September 24, 2004

How Jewish is the Gospel of Matthew?

How Jewish is the Gospel of Matthew?

Hare, Douglas R A
Bell & Howell Information and Learning: Foreign text omitted.

IN THIS ARTICLE I oppose what some have claimed is "the growing consensus" concerning Matthew's social setting, namely, that his gospel was written for a Law-observant Jewish sect that admitted Gentiles to full participation only after they had converted to Judaism. My primary dialogue partners are Anthony Saldarini, Andrew Overman, and Amy-Jill Levine.1

It is generally agreed that the conceptual world of Matthew is primarily Jewish, and that his gospel's intense hostility toward "the scribes and Pharisees" implies a relationship of some kind with formative Judaism. The issue is whether the author and the Christians for whom he writes identify more closely with the synagogue community or with mixed churches of the Diaspora such as the Church of Antioch prior to the arrival of "some from James" (Gal 2:11-14). Or, to put the question in slightly different terms, does Matthew's community expect Gentile converts to become Jewish proselytes?2

I will consider briefly four matters relevant to the debate: (I) the use of arguments based on what is not written in the gospel (the argument from silence, (2) the self-identification of Matthew's community, (3) Matthew's perspective on observance of Torah, and (4) the significance of practices in worship. The theological significance of the debate will then be addressed.

1. The Argument from Silence

Matthean students dispute whether circumcision was required of Gentiles who wished to be full participants in Matthew's churches. One side insists that the evangelist's failure to mention the need for circumcision is insignificant; we can infer from Matt 5:17-20 that Gentiles were required to keep the whole Law, including the requirement of circumcision.3 Others counter that silence on this issue must be taken seriously, in view of the fact that the Great Commission of 28:18-20, which authorizes the mission to the Gentiles, does not specifically require observance of the Mosaic Law, requiring rather "whatever I commanded you" and calling for baptism instead of circumcision.4 On this and many other related matters, however, Jacob Neusner's valuable aphorism must rule our discussion: "What we cannot show we do not know."5 Any inference we draw regarding circumcision remains uncertain. The gospel's silence must be respected.

The same must be said concerning all estimates of the number of Gentiles in the churches for which Matthew writes. Some scholars propose that the Great Commission represents a new departure.b Where is the evidence for this hypothesis? Andrew Overman infers that there are few Gentiles in Matthew's groups, because Gentiles do not play a major role in the gospel.7 This argument is faulty on at least two counts: (1) Gentiles are more prominent in Matthew's gospel than in Mark's, which is usually assigned to the Pauline wing of the church; (2) the First Evangelist, like the Second, is writing a gospel, not a history of the early church. From Luke, who alone is careful to report the circumcision of Jesus, we would not know that in the Acts of the Apostles he would defend the right of Gentiles to admission without circumcision. Matthew's conclusion encourages us to believe that churches of Matthew's persuasion engaged in a mission to Gentiles; he is silent about when this began, how successful it was, and what was expected of Gentile converts.

Scholars on both sides agree that the intense invective of Matthew 23 suggests that the author and presumably some of his readers have had extended and negative contact with Pharisaic Judaism. Because this is not a church history, however, we cannot safely conclude that this hostile contact is continuing into the period in which Matthew is completing his gospel. Persecution by the scribes may belong to a past chapter in Matthew's life, or it may not. Nothing in the text permits certainty on this issue. According to the current scholarly consensus, the evangelist was a Jew and many, if not most, of his intended readers were Jews.8 Even when we assume the correctness of this view, no safe inferences may be drawn concerning the relationship between these Christian Jews and the synagogue community. The social control exercised by Pharisaic scribes in certain synagogues in which missionaries were flogged would not prevail everywhere. Paul was able to persist in his controversial ministry for many years without being flogged regularly by local Jewish leaders. We must assume that it was possible for Matthew and his Jewish readers to distance themselves from unfriendly Jews, just as the Jews in Paul's churches did. Whether the persecution alluded to in 10:17-23, 23:34 was continuing or not, we simply do not know.9

James, the brother of Jesus, the great hero of Jewish Christianity, receives scant attention in the First Gospel (13:55).10 Is this significant? Here, perhaps, the argument from silence has more force, since Matthew, in 16:17-19, makes such a point of elevating Peter, the patron saint of the Roman church, to a position far above that which he has in the Gospel of Mark, the gospel traditionally associated with Rome and Peter, while at the same time Matthew abstains from anti-Paulinism.11 Like every argument from silence, however, this one must remain inconclusive.

11. Self-identification

Donald Hagner proposes that although members of Matthew's community "saw their Christianity as the true fulfillment of Judaism, they were also very conscious that they had broken with their unbelieving brethren," and that "they were struggling to define and defend a Jewish-Christianity to the Jews on the one hand and to realize their identity with gentile Christians on the other."12 Similarly, John Meier suggests that Matthew's church was facing an identity crisis because of internal tension between conservative Jewish members and Gentile members; Matthew's intention was to fashion an "inclusive synthesis."13 I find both these proposals attractive, but how can they be supported from the text, apart from inconclusive arguments from silence?

Other scholars maintain that Matthew's community defined itself primarily by its opposition to formative Judaism. Saldarini argues that it was because Matthean Christians had been expelled from the synagogues that they formed their own assembly.14 As far as I know, there is no evidence for such an expulsion.15 Martyn has argued that the three passages in the Fourth Gospel on the danger of becoming aposynagogos (literally, "desynagogued'* (John 9:22; 12:42; 16:2) reflect the use of the Birkat hamminim as a means of detecting and expelling Christians.16 Greater caution is required, however. First, there is no certainty concerning the time when the Twelfth Benediction was added to the Semoneh `esreh, nor do we know when it was adopted in the diverse synagogues of Palestine and the Diaspora, none of which were under any obligation to conform with liturgical modifications originating in Yavneh.17 Second, it is now generally agreed that minim was a term broad enough to include Sadducees and others who disagreed with the positions taken in rabbinic Judaism. For this reason, as Reuven Kimelman and Steven Katz have argued, it would have been possible for Jewish Christians to lead the congregation in the benediction with a clear conscience, regarding others, not themselves, as truly minim.18

It is unlikely, however, that the passages on becoming aposynagogos have anything to do with the Birkat hamminim.19 They clearly anticipate involuntary expulsion from the synagogue, but we are left in uncertainty on several issues. First, can we be sure that they refer to an expulsion that has already taken place rather than one that is merely feared?20 John 16:2 seems to anticipate numerous deaths; our other historical sources do not support the view that this was a prophecy ex eventu.21 It is possible that these texts anticipate a general expulsion that did not in fact take place. Second, it is possible that expulsions had already occurred, but that they affected only outspoken missionaries like Paul, not ordinary Christians.22

In any event, it is not proper to conclude on the basis of these three verses that it became a general policy in all synagogues of Palestine and the Diaspora to excommunicate any and all Christians who continued to worship with their non-Christian families and neighbors. There is no other evidence of such a policy in the New Testament, other early Christian literature, or Tannaitic sources. The most that can legitimately be inferred from the three passages on being aposynagogos is that perhaps some Johannine Christians were excluded, either by formal or informal means, from worshiping in one or more synagogues. Since the verses in question are polemical, it ought not to be assumed without other evidence that a formal act of excommunication is being referred to. Informal shunning, recommended in t. ,Hul. 2.20-21, may have been interpreted by the Fourth Evangelist polemically as expulsion. It seems probable that what the crypto-Christians of John 12:42-43 fear most is not so much exclusion from synagogue worship as socioeconomic shunning.23

Whatever the background and intention of the passages on becoming aposynagogos may be, we ought not to infer from them that the Christians for whom John wrote made the local synagogue the locus of their worship. The implicit ecclesiology of John IS points to the church as the primary gathering of Johannine Christians. This must have been true from the beginning, for Christians everywhere. Exclusion from synagogue worship was probably superfluous in most cases; it is unlikely that Christian Jews continued to participate regularly in synagogue services. The local synagogue was not their spiritual home.24

Critical to the self-identification of Matthew's groups is their use of the term ekklesia ("church," Matt 16:18; 18:17). Saldarini attempts to minimize the significance of the evidence by postulating that Matthew chooses this common Greek word for "assembly" merely to distinguish Christian meetings from those of their Pharisaic opponents.25 In Matt 16:18, however, great emphasis is placed on the fact that the Messiah promised to build a new entity, his assembly (ekklesia) on the rock of Peter. Clearly, Matthew understands ekklesia in this instance as a word referring not simply to the local Christian assembly but to the whole movement. Since Matthew undoubtedly knew that the term had become the standard way of referring to congregations in the Pauline wing of the church, his use of it suggests that the Matthean groups did not rigorously disassociate themselves from Gentile Christianity Saldarini concedes that Matthew's group was part of a network that included Pauline churches.26

Saldarini's use of the sociological concept "master status" is helpful. He writes that "the members of Matthew's group find their core identity and their `master status' in being believers-in-Jesus. All other aspects of their Jewish life and worldview are filtered through this central commitment.."27 He properly insists that this did not extinguish their sense of being Jewish. But could not the same be said of Priscilla, Aquila, and many other Jews in the Pauline churches? They remained Jewish and presumably observed various ritual precepts of the Torah, but their "master status" was Christian.

III. Matthew's Perspective on Observance of Torah

Those who claim that the First Gospel was written for a Jewish sect argue on the basis of a few verses that Matthew expected strict observance of the Torah on the part of Gentile as well as Jewish members.

The primary text is Matt 5:19, "Whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven." This verse is one of a complex of four sayings which together constitute the programmatic introduction to the Sermon on the Mount. The preceding verse, which proclaims the continuing validity of every letter of the Torah, must not be interpreted as one requiring the literal observance of every precept of the Law. Such affirmations of the sanctity of Scripture were accompanied by many departures in practice in all forms of first-century Judaism known to us. Jesus himself is represented a few verses later (5:31-32) "loosing" the provisions for divorce in Deut 24:1. Like modern fundamentalists, ancient Jews and Christians could conscientiously affirm the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture while at the same time supporting significant departures from its literal requirements by means of interpretation.

What, then, is intended by Matt 5:19? It too must be taken as a general statement, not as a requirement of literal observance of all precepts, many of which had long since become dead letters or had been drastically reinterpreted. When we consider the gospel as a whole, it appears unlikely that Matthew expected his readers to be more conservative in interpretation and more rigorous in observance of the ritual requirements of the Torah than even the Pharisees and the people of Qumran. Moreover, it seems probable that Matthew represents Jesus as a person disregarding certain requirements of purity by touching a leper (8:3) and dining with people suspected of uncleanness ("tax collectors and sinners," 9:10).28 Even if Matthew regarded Jesus fully observant of the laws of purity, however, 5:19 does not exclude from the kingdom of heaven those who are not fully observant; such persons will be included even though they are described as "least." This verse, in effect, has a force similar to that of Did. 6:3, "Concerning food, bear what you can."29 Matt 5:19 is best understood as encouraging Torah observance without making full conformity (as Matthew understood it) a sine qua non of membership in the church.

A second passage of importance to the argument that Matthew's intended readers are Torah-observant Jews is 23:2-3, "The scribes and Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; therefore, do whatever they say to you and observe it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they say." Whatever the origin of this saying may be, Matthew's context makes it very clear that it does not refer to Pharisaic halakah. The immediately following verses emphasize that "the scribes and Pharisees" are not to be honored as teachers (23:4, 8); Christians are not to obey their teachings (23:16-20).' Mark Powell has recently proposed that w. 2-3 refer not to the teaching authority of the religious leaders but to the public reading or recitation of Torah.31 If Powell's intriguing suggestion is accepted, these verses simply reaffirm what is said in 5:17-48: Matthean Christians are to obey "the whole Law" as it is interpreted by Jesus. In view of the latitude permitted by 5:19 (see above), the exhortation of 23:2-3 cannot be used as evidence of the orthopraxy of Matthew's community.

Similarly, 23:23 must not be taken as proof that Matthew and his readers rigorously tithed their garden herbs and expected Gentile converts to do the same. Rather than demanding such observance, the saying radically diminishes the importance of such scrupulous tithing by hyperbolically subordinating it to ethical concerns in the attached saying, "You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!" (23:24).

Finally, 24:20, "Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath," does not constitute evidence that Matthean Christians were more severe sabbatarians than the Pharisees.32 The saying by no means forbids travel in winter or on a Sabbath; it suggests merely that it would be preferable if the flight could occur in more favorable circumstances. Although Matthew encourages Sabbath observance, it must not be forgotten that he elevates Jesus as "lord of the Sabbath" (12:8) and strongly rebukes those whom he considers guilty of extreme sabbatarianism by appealing in 12:7 to Hos 6:6. An evangelist who countenances hauling a sheep out of a pit in violation of the Sabbath (Matt 12:11; not in Mark!) and who reports that Jesus said, "So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath" ( 12:12) is unlikely to have taken 24:20 as a prohibition of flight on the Sabbath.33

The pericope concerning the temple tax (17:24-27, found only in Matthew) has sometimes been taken as evidence of the Jewishness of the Matthean congregations.34 According to the current scholarly consensus, Matthew's gospel is from the time after n.n. 70 when the tax was paid not to the temple but to the imperial treasury (Josephus B.J. 7.6.6 sec218). Why does Matthew include the pericope? Certainly not as an encouragement to rigorous observance of Torah. The annual half-shekel tax was not clearly prescribed by the Torah (neither Exod 30:11-16 nor Exod 38:25-26, often appealed to, requires an annual tax). The stern rigorists of Qumran understood the Law to require a contribution only once in a lifetime.35 The force of the pericope is that Jesus and his followers do not regard the tax as one binding upon them, but they will pay it "so that we do not give offense to them" (Matt 17:27), with the same verb skandalizo used in 15:12, where Jesus is not at all reluctant about scandalizing the Pharisees. We ought to assume, therefore, that the persons who are not to be scandalized in 17:27 are not the leaders of the synagogue in Matthew's day but ordinary Jews who might perceive failure to pay the fiscus iudaicus as a sign that Christian Jews were renouncing their Jewishness and becoming fully assimilated. This does not constitute an argument in favor of the view that the Gospel of Matthew was addressed to congregations that were almost exclusively Jewish; it constitutes the very reverse. No one would have thought of suggesting that the people of Qumran were assimilating because they refused to pay the temple tax annually. Only if Christian Jews in the Matthean churches were welcoming Gentiles would the charge of assimilation be credible. Whether Matthew expected Gentile members of the Christian community to pay the Jewish tax cannot be determined from this pericope.

It should be clear that the key to the self-identification of Matthew's intended audience was not adherence to the ritual requirements of the Torah. There is no basis in the relevant texts for the assumption that Matthean Christians were more assiduous or less assiduous in matters of purity, tithing, and Sabbath observance than other non-Pharisaic Jews. Despite the few passages that appear to support rigorous observance of such precepts (5:19; 23:23), there is overwhelming evidence in Matthew's gospel that the ritual requirements have been firmly subordinated to the moral law (as was undoubtedly true of many non-Christian Jews as well). This is especially clear in 15:1-20. Scholars tend to exaggerate the significance of Matthew's omission of Mark 7:19b ("cleansing all foods"). Even without this comment, the impact of the verse is the same: Jesus is represented in Matt 15:11 as a person declaring that food does not defile. It is Matthew, not Mark, who draws attention to the astounding implications of Jesus' statement by having the disciples report that the Pharisees were scandalized by the saying ( 15:12).37

Amy-Jill Levine is confident that Matthew's church was predominantly Jewish, yet she concedes that its members would think of themselves as neither "Jew" nor "Gentile," for in the "new era of the ekklesia" those terms were "no longer operative"; she concludes that "the church is neither the new Israel nor the true Israel" and that "the new era belongs not to Israel at all, but to the ekklesia. "38

IV The Significance of Practices in Worship

It is erroneous to describe Matthew's church as a Jewish sect that differs from other Jewish groups only by proclaiming that Jesus was the Messiah. Although Matthew's christology lacks the sophisticated incarnationism of the Fourth Gospel, it far outstrips other forms of Jewish messianism. The Matthean Jesus, who claims a future place at God's right hand (26:64; cf. 22:44), declares that all authority in heaven as well as on earth has been conferred on him (28:18). In 11:27 Jesus announces that no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son reveals him. Matt 24:31 promises that at the parousia Jesus will send out his angels (cf. 16:27). Matthew presents Jesus as a person replacing the temple as the place where sin is removed (1:21; 9:6; 12:6; 20:28; 26:28).39

It has been proposed that such outlandish ideas may well have been perceived by other Jews as simply crazy, not as evidence of apostasy. What other scholars and I have ignored, however, is that these outlandish ideas probably arose in connection with the early Christian worship of Jesus. Credit must be given particularly to Bauckham, France, and Hurtado for drawing attention to this neglected factor.' Hurtado argues convincingly that this strange challenge to traditional Jewish monotheism arose not in Gentile Christianity but in the Aramaic-speaking Palestinian church prior to Paul's conversion.

Matthew, whose gospel is the most Jewish gospel, makes no attempt to oppose this practice. Indeed, there is more support for worship of Jesus here than in Mark or Luke. Although the verb proskyneo can mean simply "pay homage to" and is so used in several Matthean passages (e.g., 8:2), there are three instances in which it seems to have the meaning "worship," with Jesus as object (14:33; 28:9, 17). Luke uses the verb only once with reference to worship of Jesus (24:52),4 and Mark not at all. It is striking that both Matthew (in 4:10) and Luke (in 4:8) make the tension with traditional Jewish monotheism explicit by citing Deut 6:13, "You shall worship (proskyneseis) the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve."

It is only Matthew who reports the command of the risen Christ that new followers be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Whatever the force of the phrase "in the name of" may be, it is significant that Jesus is placed between the Father and the Holy Spirit. Gundry observes that such a high christology "is almost bound to have fixed a great gulf between Matthew's community and Judaism."42

Further evidence that Jesus was the object of worship in the Matthean churches can be seen in the two passages in which his continuing presence is promised (18:20, "Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them," and 28:20, "I am with you always, to the end of the age"). Echoes can be heard here not only of passages in the Hebrew Scriptures in which God promises to be with Israel or one of its representatives (e.g., Isa 41:10; 43:5) but also of the passage on Emmanuel (cited in Matt 1:23). In these passages Jesus is represented not merely as a human Messiah who now waits in heaven until he returns to reign but rather as a suprahuman being who shares with God the capability of being omnipresent. Exegesis of 18:20 disposed Gunther Bornkamm, who earlier described Matthew's conflict with the synagogue as a conflict intra muros, to publish a different opinion in 1970: "The church, although still very small, knows itself to be cut off from the Jewish community; gathered no longer around the Torah, but in the name of Jesus, in faith in him and in confession of him, and as such to be assured of his presence."43

Hurtado is fully justified in suggesting that early Christian worship of Jesus constituted a significant "mutation" in the monotheistic tradition of Judaism.' In our efforts to evaluate the Jewishness of the First Gospel, this factor must not be ignored or underrated.

V The Theological Significance of the Jewishness of Matthew

Underlying the passionate debate regarding the Jewishness of Matthew is the issue of anti-Semitism. Saldarini observes that Matthew has become "an embarrassment for Christians well disposed toward Judaism because of the way his polemics against his contemporaries have been used against the Jews" and expresses the hope that his book will relieve this embarrassment by demonstrating that Matthew's polemic is not anti-Jewish but anti-Pharisaic; the reflection of a conflict within Israel!5 Similarly, Harrington warns that "without attention to its historical setting Matthew becomes a dangerous text, capable of giving encouragement to anti-Semites."46 Like Saldarini, Harrington believes that the First Gospel is best protected from such horrible misuse by treating Matthew's church as a group within Judaism."

I heartily agree with Saldarini, Harrington, and others about the need to defuse the anti-Semitic threat presented by Matthew's rhetoric. Like them, I regard the author of the gospel as a Jew who vehemently opposed other Jews, especially those sympathetic to the Pharisaic movement, because they rejected the message about Jesus. I part company with Saldarini, Harrington, and others by seeing in this gospel evidence that for Matthew and his intended audience the parting of the ways had already taken place. One who holds this position by no means assumes that there were no further contacts between Matthean Jews and non-Christian Jews, or that conversions of individual Jews were no longer sought. It is a matter of emphasis. Because of the failure of Matthew's Christian Jews to win many Jewish converts (the unifying theme of the missionary chapter, Matthew 10, is pessimism concerning the mission to the lost sheep of the house of Israel), Matthew believes that the church's future is intimately bound up with the mission to the Gentiles. By dissociating himself from unbelieving Jews (28:15) and associating himself with believing Gentiles (24:14; 28:19), Matthew stakes out a middle ground between Jews and pagans (21:43).

In the continuing battle against anti-Semitism it may or may not be helpful to remind modern readers that Matthew's anti-Judaism is of Jewish, not Gentile, origin. I am not convinced, however, that the case is strengthened by insisting, as Saldarini does, that Matthew's group is simply a deviant sect within Judaism. In any event, regardless of Matthew's social setting, modern anti-Semitism must be countered with stronger ammunition. The most effective deterrent to Christian anti-Semitism remains sound teaching about the faithfulness of God revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures and in Romans 9-11.'a

VI. Conclusions

In this article I have attempted to demonstrate that the hypothesis that Matthew was written for a Law-observant Jewish sect whose members expected interested Gentiles to become Jewish proselytes is not securely founded. The argument from silence is ineffectual. Those few verses that seem to require strict conformity with the ritual requirements of the Torah can be understood in a very different way; they do not validate the hypothesis.

On the other hand, I cannot claim that I have proved the correctness of the opposing hypothesis, namely, that the First Gospel was addressed to mixed churches in which observant Jews accepted Gentile believers as brothers and sisters in Christ without requiring them to observe the ritual requirements of the Torah. (I assume that some Gentiles adopted various Jewish practices, such as Sabbath observance, without feeling bound to full compliance.) While I am still disposed to use this as my working hypothesis, I must acknowledge that it is not as clearly validated by the text as I once thought.

In any event, those on both sides of this debate can agree that for Matthean Christians Jesus has replaced Torah as the key to a right relationship with the God of Israel.

1 A. J. Saldarini, Matthew's Christian-Jewish Community (CSHJ; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994); J. A. Overman, Matthew's Gospel and Formative Judaism: The Social World of the Matthean Community (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990); A.-J. Levine, The Social and Ethnic Dimensions of Matthean Salvation History (Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity 14; Lewiston/Queenstown/Lampeter: Mellen, 1988).

2 Proposed by Saldarini (Matthew's Christian-Jewish Community, 199). Levine (Social and Ethnic Dimensions, 78) suggests that "Matthew likely expected gentile members of the new community to conform to Jewish halakhah."

3 Saldarini, Matthew's Christian-Jewish Community, 157; Levine, Social and Ethnic Dimensions, 178-85; L. M. White, "Crisis Management and Boundary Maintenance: The Social Location of the Matthean Community, in Social History of the Matthean Community: Crossdisciplinary Approaches (ed. D. L. Balch; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991) 242 n. 100; R. Mohrlang, Matthew and PauL A Comparison of Ethical Perspectives (SNTSMS 48; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984) 44-45; D. S. Sim, "The Gospel of Matthew and the Gentiles," JSNT 57 (1995) 45.

4 John P Meier, The Vision of Matthew: Christ, Church, and Morality in the First Gospel (New York: Paulist Press, 1979) 13, 213; W D. Davies and D. C. Allison, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to St. Matthew (3 vols.; ICC; Edinburgh: T & T. Clark, 1988-97) 1. 493; R. H. Gundry, A Responsive Evaluation of the Social History of the Matthean Community in Roman Syria," in Social History (ed. Belch) 66 n. 21.

5 J. Neusner, "Preface," in Judaisms and Their Messiahs at the TI

6 For example, U. Luz, Matthew I-7 (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1989) 84; D. J. Harrington, The Gospel of Matthew (SacPag 1; Collegeville: Liturgical Press/ Michael Glazier, 1991 ) 416. In D. R. A. Hare, The Theme of Jewish Persecution of Christians in the Gospel according to St. Matthew (SNTSMS 6; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967) I was inclined to this view; see especially pp. 127-28.

7 Overman, Matthew's Gospel and Formative Judaism, 157.

8 G. N. Stanton ("The Origin and Purpose of Matthew's Gospel: Matthean Scholarship from 1945 to 1980," ANRW 2: Principal, 25/ 3. 1916-21) reviews the arguments for and against the hypothesis that the final redactor of the First Gospel was a Gentile and concludes that the evidence suggests that the author was a Jew. In Hare, Theme of Jewish Persecution, 165 I have argued for Jewish authorship on the basis of the intensity of Matthew's anti-Pharisaism.

9 In Hare, Theme of Jewish Persecution, 127 I argued that Matthew looks back on the persecution from a vantage point outside the synagogue community. I have not changed my opinion, but I recognize that the evidence is not as clear as I thought.

10 For James's role, see H. J. Schoeps, Jewish Christianity: Factional Disputes in the Early Church (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1969) 38-46.

11 G. Luedemann, Opposition to Paul in Jewish Christianity (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1989) does not include the Gospel of Matthew among Jewish-Christian texts opposed to Paul.

12 D. A. Hagner, "The Sitz im Leben of the Gospel of Matthew," SBLSP 1985, 257.

13 In R. E. Brown and J. P Meier, Antioch and Rome: New Testament Cradles of Catholic Christianity (New York: Paulist Press, 1983) 51.

14 Saldarini, Matthew's Christian-Jewish Community, 121; cf. 112.

15 I examined the available evidence in Hare, Theme of Jewish Persecution, 48-56, 125. See also G. Forkman, The Limits of the Religious Community: Expulsion from the Religious Community within the Qumran Sect, within Rabbinic Judaism, and within Primitive Christianity (ConBNT 5; Lund: Gleerup, 1972) 87-105.

16 J. Louis Martyn, History and Theology in the Fourth Gospel (2d ed.; Nashville: Abingdon, 1979) 37-62. Forkman (Limits of the Religious Community, 105) also argues that these three passages point to the Birkat hamminim.

17 For a helpful review of the evidence and the scholarly discussion of it, see S. T. Katz, "Issues in the Separation of Judaism and Christianity after 70 c.e.: A Reconsideration," JBL 103 (1984) 63-76; also J. T. Sanders, Schismatics, Sectarians, Dissidents, Deviants: The First One Hundred Years of Jewish-Christian Relations (Valley Forge, PA: Trinity 1993) 58-61. Sanders suggests that had the Twelfth Benediction been in use in Luke's day, he would surely have mentioned it in Acts.

18 R. Kimelman, "Birkat Ha-Minim and the Lack of Evidence for an Anti-Christian Jewish Prayer in Late Antiquity," in Jewish and Christian Self Definition 2: Aspects of Judaism in the Greco-Roman Period (ed. E. P Sanders, A. I. Baumgarten, and A. Mendelson; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981) 227; Katz, "Issues," 74. I concur with G. Stanton, A Gospel for a New People: Studies in Matthew (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1993) 142, that the Birkat hamminim has been a red herring in both Matthean and Johannine scholarship.

19 Cf. K, Wengst, Bedrdtngte Gemeinde and verherrlichter Christus: Ein Versuch fiber das Johannesevangelium (3d ed.; Munich: Kaiser, 1990) 89-104, esp. 100.

20 Kimelman ("Birkat Ha-Minim and the Lack of Evidence," 234-35) suggests that the passages on becoming aposynagogos were created in order to persuade Christians to stay away from the synagogue.

21 See Hare, Theme of Jewish Persecution, 20-43. Wengst (Bedriingte Gemeinde, 85) opposes the position I took; on p. 88 he concludes that the reference in John 16:2 is probably to incidents of lynching.

22 p. F Segal ("Matthew's Jewish Voice," in Social History [ed. Balch] 34) suggests that the verses on being aposynagogos refer not to any rabbinic program but to "popular expressions of dislike" used by people who found a "way of dealing with a bunch of disruptive Christians wishing to missionize Jews when they were praying in synagogue."

23 Cf. Wengst, Bedriingte Gemeinde, 101, 104.

24 Cf. Hagner, "The Sitz im Leben," 265: Jewish Christians had to some degree broken with the synagogue as soon as they came into existence." Scholars who assume that Matthean Jews persisted in synagogue worship appear to ignore the fact that members of another Jewish sect, that of Qumran, had their own assemblies and regarded other Jews as apostate.

25 Saldarini, Matthew's Christian-Jewish Community, 116-23.

26 Ibid., 87, 123, 202.

27 Ibid., 112-13. In n. 116 he defines the concept "master status": it "denotes a primary trait of a person to which all others are subordinate."

28 The Torah's regulations concerning leprosy (Leviticus 13-14) do not explicitly prohibit such contact, but the requirement that the leper warn others with the cry "unclean, unclean" (Lev 13:45) surely implies that contact is to be avoided; cf. Luke 17:12. Jesus' lack of concern about personal purity must have offended the Pharisees and others who were striving to win greater compliance with the code of purity.

29 In this connection it should be remembered that the Didache, which seems to echo Matthew at a number of points, is addressed not to Jews but "to the Gentiles."

30 Overman, Matthew's Gospel and Formative Judaism, 145, concedes that the literary context shows that w. 2-3 do not constitute an endorsement of the scribes and Pharisees, yet he maintains that Matthew is telling his readers to do whatever the scribes and Pharisees tell them to do.

31 M. A. Powell, "Do and Keep What Moses Says (Matthew 23:2-7)," JBL 114 (1995) 419-35, esp. 431.

32 An excellent survey of scholarly views of this verse is provided by Stanton, Gospel for a New People, 192-206. He sides with those who propose that flight on the Sabbath would provoke persecution.

33 C. E. Carlston, "The Things That Defile (Mark vii. 14) and the Law in Matthew and Mark," NTS 15 (1968-69) 87, notes that Matthew's omission of Mark 2:27, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath," cannot be construed as evidence of rigorous sabbatarianism, since the same verse is omitted by Luke. He argues that by including "So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath" Matthew demonstrates that he stands in a relationship to Sabbath observance very different from that of the rabbis.

34 E.g., by Saldarini, Matthew's Christian-Jewish Community, 145.

35 Ibid., 143 with n. 90, for the evidence from Qumran.

36 Cf. Carlton, "Things That Defile," 88; T L. Donaldson, "The Law That Hangs (Matthew 22:40): Rabbinic Formulation and Matthean Social World, CBQ 57 (1995) 693.

37 Carlston ("Things That Defile," 95) correctly observes that in view of early Christian disputes over the laws of purity it is improbable that Jesus expressed himself on the issue so unambiguously. This makes it all the more significant that Matthew not only retains Mark's statement that food does not defile but underlines its importance by adding v. 12.

38 Levine, Social and Ethnic Dimensions, 10-11. I drew the same conclusion in Hare, Theme of Jewish Persecution, 157.

39 See W R. Stegner, "Breaking Away: The Conflict with Formative Judaism," BR 40 (1955) 24-27.

40 R. Bauckham, -The Worship of Jesus in Apocalyptic Christianity " NTS 27 (1981) 322-41; R. T France, "The Worship of Jesus: A Neglected Factor in Christological Debate?" in Christ the Lord: Studies in Christology Presented to Donald Guthrie (ed. H. H. Rowdon; Leicester/ Downer's Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1982) 17-36; L. W Hurtado, One God, One Lord: Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Jewish Monotheism (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1988). See also M. A. Powell, "A Typology of Worship in the Gospel of Matthew," JSNT 57 ( 1995) 3-17, esp. 14.

41 The reading is textually dubious, however, and is given only a D rating in the UBSGNT; Codex Bezae, various Mss of the Itala, the Sinaitic Syriac, and Augustine omit the verb.

42 Gundry, "Responsive Evaluation," 64.

43 G. Bornkamm, "The Authority to `Bind' and `Loose' in the Church in Matthew's Gospel: The Problem of Sources in Matthew's Gospel," in Jesus and Man's Hope (2 vols.; Pittsburgh Festival on the Gospels, 1970; Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, 1970-71) 1. 41. For his earlier position, see G. Bornkamm, "End-Expectation and Church in Matthew," in G. Bornkamm, G. Barth, and H.-J. Held, Tradition and Interpretation in Matthew (NTL; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1963') 22, 39. I owe these references to Stanton, "Origins and Purpose," 1912, i914.

44 Hurtado, One God, One Lord, 99. Here, I do not address Matthew's narrative of the Last Supper, since it does not clearly present evidence of the worship of Jesus. Nonetheless, it must surely be regarded as a radical "mutation of an important Jewish practice, the Passover seder.

45 Saldarini, Matthew's Christian-Jewish Community, 203.

46 Harrington, Gospel of Matthew, 22.

47 Ibid., 21.

48 R.K. Soulen (The God of Isreal and Christian Theology [Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996]0 challenges the spersessionism that has vitiated the Christian perception of God's relationship to Isreal.


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