Mitch, Curtis & Edward Sri. The Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010. Kindle Electronic Edition.
“Introduction’ Loc. 260-551.
Mitch claims Matthew as the most widely used Gospel in the early Church, finding its way into letters, catechesis, and homiletics a great deal (Mitch 2010, Loc. 260). He considers it first to be published, very well ordered for memorization, balanced in viewing Jesus and reporting his teaching, faithful in tying Old and New Covenants together, and encouraging the spread of the Gospel to all nations (Mitch 2010, Loc. 263-272).
All early testimony identifies Matthew the apostle as the author (Mitch 2010, Loc. 275). Until the 19th century this was the consensus, but then the hypothesis of Mark coming before Matthew arose (Mitch 2010, Loc. 288). This theory raises the difficulty of Matthew, an eyewitness, depending on Mark, a non-witness. The author was clearly a Hebrew Christian, which is consistent with Matthew’s identity. “Matthew is as suitable as any potential candidate for the authorship of the Gospel” (Mitch 2010, Loc. 307).
The audience of Matthew has traditionally been seen as a Palestinian one. Recent scholarship suggests a wider region, but still the eastern Mediterranean (Mitch 2010, Loc. 313), possibly around Syrian Antioch. Many of the earliest quotations from Matthew are in documents from Antioch. Matthew also takes a strong interest in Peter, who ministered in Antioch (Mitch 2010, Loc. 322).
The date of Matthew is placed generally either in the 50s or 60s, or by others in the 80s or 90s (Mitch 2010, Loc. 333). If Matthew is dependent on Mark, which can be dated about 70, it is somewhat later. If mark was earlier, about 50, or if Matthew is not dependent on Mark, the date may well be earlier (Mitch 2010, Loc. 339). Jesus’ statements about the fall of Jerusalem do not seem to have been altered to fit circumstances more specifically (Mitch 2010, Loc. 343). The tension between Jesus and the authorities may suggest the hostility of the end of the century (Mitch 2010, Loc. 353), though there was also early persecution. the commentary will view Matthew as coming from the middle of the first century (Mitch 2010, Loc. 367).
Both sources and structure raise compositional questions (Mitch 2010, Loc. 372). Those modern scholars who consider Matthew dependent upon Mark also often identify two other sources, a “Q” document, which may have contained sayings of Jesus, and an “M” document or tradition, which would contain material used only by Matthew (Mitch 2010, Loc. 378). Because of difficulties with the sources, this commentary concentrates “on the final form of the text as it has come down to us” (Mitch 2010, Loc. 388). The structure of Matthew is centered around repeated formulas. Some find divisions at 4:17 and 16:21 (Mitch 2010, Loc. 393). More identify a five part structure, with divisions at 7:28, 11:1, 13:53, 19:1, and 26:1 (Mitch 2010, Loc. 398). Regardless, internal organization is quite cohesive.
“The Gospel of Matthew is preeminently the Gospel of the kingdom. The first indication of this is statistical: the word ‘kingdom’ appears over fifty times in the Gospel, with its keynote expression, ‘the kingdom of heaven’ accounting for more than thirty occurrences’” (Mitch 2010, Loc. 412). Mitch sees this as the fulfillment of the Davidic kingdom (Mitch 2010, Loc. 413). Jesus is identified as a king, the Messiah (Mitch 2010, Loc. 425). Jesus is also identified as the Son of God, the one who by birth is the king of all (Mitch 2010, Loc. 435). The Church, a term used in no other Gospel account, is tied to the kingdom of heaven (Mitch 2010, Loc. 440). The life of the Christian in the kingdom is a life of repentance, putting God first in all things (Mitch 2010, Loc. 456). Matthew speaks forcefully of the demanding nature of the Christian life.
Matthew’s Gospel remains powerful. “Despite the centuries that have passed, its power to change lives and to bring men and women into a living relationship with Jesus has not lessened in the least” (Mitch 2010, Loc. 467). It remains fruitful for both proclamation and instruction (Mitch 2010, Loc. 471).
Mitch closes the introduction with an outline, reproduced in brief below.
- Prologue 1:1-2:23
- Preparation for Ministry in Galilee 3:1-4:25
- The Sermon on the Mount 5:1-7:29
- Nine Miracle Stories 8:1-10:4
- The Missionary Sermon 10:5-42
- Diverse Responses to Jesus 11:1-12:50
- The Parables of the Kingdom 13:1-53
- More Diverse Responses to Jesus 13:54-17:27
- The Ecclesial Sermon on Life in the Community 18:1-35
- Journey to Jerusalem and the Controversy in the Temple 19:1-23:39
- The Eschatological Sermon 24:1-25:46
- The Passion and Resurrection of the Messiah 26:1-28:20