Svartvik, Jesper. "Chapter Two: Matthew and Mark." in Sim, David C., and Repschinski, Boris (editors). Matthew and His Christian Contemporaries. London: T&T Clark, 2008, 27-49.
Svartvik understands Matthew to have redacted, or possibly to have made a "re-creation" of Mark (Svartvik 2008, 27). While he takes a view of Markan priority, he sees Matthew as indispensable. He intends, in this study, to "show to what extent Matthew has been read eclectically" (Svartvik 2008, 28). Considering Matthew as its own work, with its own message, he hopes to understand why Matthew was more influential in the development of Christian theology than Mark, then to identify important elements of Matthew's redactional strategy.
Papias asserted that Mark was drawn from the teachings of Peter. However, scholars comparing the apparent thought world of Peter and of Mark question that relationship (Svartvik 2008, 30). They have more of a tendency to associate Mark with Pauline thought. This leads Svartvik to consider the possibility that there is more distance between the thought world of Matthew and Mark than we might assume if Mark were primarily influenced by Peer (Svartvik 2008, 31). As Paul often refers to the actions of Jesus, but not Jesus' teachings, Mark provides actual teaching of Jesus in an extended way only in chapters 4 and 13. Both Paul and Mark tend to speak critically of the twelve disciples (Svartvik 2008, 32). Mark and Paul also tend to draw positive emphasis toward ministry to the Gentiles. This seems not to be the emphasis in Peter, who would be considered the apostle to the Jews (Svartvik 2008, 33).
Svartvik goes on with his comparison of Gospel and Epistle to consider whether James might be a better match for Matthew, as Paul seems a good match for Mark (Svartvik 2008, 34). The thoughts expressed in James are closely related to those in Matthew, as are allusions James makes.
An important element in understanding Matthew is the emphasis on Jesus and his specific teachings. Svartvik takes Matthew 28:20, where Jesus tells his disciples to teach all he has commanded, as of prime importance (Svartvik 2008, 37). It is significant that Matthew focuses on the words of Jesus much more than Mark does. Svartvik concludes "that Matthew not only regarded Mark as insufficient and inadequate, but also as inaccurate" (Svartvik 2008, 37, emphasis his). Mark did not match up with Matthew's priorities. Svartvik considers Mark to have presented an insufficiently Jewish Jesus. Matthew wanted to correct the impression.
In Svartvik's opinion, Matthew's emphasis on halakhic principles is a call to a greater understanding of the continuity of Christianity with the Old Testament, counter to what he sees in Mark and Paul (Svartvik 2008, 38). Matthew expresses a higher opinion of circumcision and the importance of the Sabbath than does Paul or Mark. Svartvik specifically compares Mark 13:18 and Matthew 24:20 in regard to the Sabbath (Svartvik 2008, 39). Matthew 15 refines a view of dietary laws and the importance of speech. Jesus does not declare all foods clean, but emphasizes the importance of words as compared to foods (Svartvik 2008, 40).
Matthew does not reject Old Testament dietary laws, but the Pharisaic interpretations of them. Svartvik finds the rebuke of the Pharisees as a third important distinctive of Matthew. Matthew has Jesus referring to the Pharisees repeatedly as "hypocrites" (Svartvik 2008, 41). While Matthew ties Jesus directly to the Old Testament, he carefully ties the Pharisees to layers of practice which contradict the Old Testament (Svartvik 2008, 42).
Svartvick observes that an important way Matthew differs from Mark is in his treatment of Peter, along with the other disciples. While in Mark, Peter's failings are front and center, Matthew points him up "as the foremost disciple of Jesus" (Svartvik 2008, 44). As a group, the disciples in Matthew are considered willing to follow Jesus' teaching, even if they are not always able and frequently don't understand. It is possible that Matthew's favorable portrayal was related to a desire to show Christian teachers in a better light than the Pharisees, who were rising to greater prominence at the time Matthew was writing (Svartvik 2008, 45).
Svartvik concludes that there is little, if any, reason to assume Matthew was making concessions to a Judaizing movement (Svartvik 2008, 46). Matthew presents Jesus as a Jew who observes the Torah. This is perfectly clear. However, the vocal rejection of the Pharisees is evidence that Matthew is speaking against the rise of the rabbinic culture, not favoring it (Svartvik 2008, 47). This is one of the important distinctives of Matthew over against Mark. The problem in observing it is due to conflation of the two gospels. Each author presents Jesus from a different perspective so as to speak in a particular situation (Svartvik 2008, 48).