Our Thursday posts focus on material from the New Testament. As part of our fourfold priority of history, integrity, truth, and Scripture we consider it important to read and review significant scholarly work with both the Old and New Testaments. Dr. David Scaer wrote a very intriguing book based on an overall narrative analysis of Matthew’s Gospel. We’ll be seeing how he classifies the different discourses in the work. This week, Matthew 23-25, dealing with the end of the world.
Scaer, David P. Discourses in Matthew: Jesus Teaches the Church. St. Louis: Concordia, 2004. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Chapter 12, “The Fifth Discourse: Death, Resurrection, and World Judgment (23:1-26:1)” Loc. 7016-8117.
At the end of catechesis the learners study the significance of Jesus’ death. Scaer points to the importance of the words of the Eucharist, where the death of Christ for the believer is made clear (Scaer 2004, Loc. 7016). Scaer considers some of the challenges of this portion of Matthew (Scaer 2004, Loc. 7024). It is used by some to establish a date of composition, topredict Israel’s political life, or the signs of the end of the world. Scaer considers it most likely as a straightforward narrative of Jesus’ predictions of his death (Scaer 2004, Loc. 7030). Scaer continues by discussing these ideas in turn with more detail.
Scaer particularly discusses the historical-critical difficulty of dating Matthew and dtermining his possible dependence on other documents (Scaer 2004, Loc. 7048). Scaer’s conclusion is that Matthew, at least, likely predates most of Paul’s writings and that the Gospels were used for basic instruction and the Epistles for more advanced and abstract training (Scaer 2004, Loc. 7084).
The overall content of Matthew also points toward the death of Christ. Scaer considers that all the parables and other teachings finally point to Jesus as the one who needed to give his life to rescue his followers (Scaer 2004, Loc. 7117). Scaer gives numerous examples of ideas from the early portions of the Gospel which make sense especially as we reach the end. He also shows how this discourse serves as a summary and interpretation of doctrines introduced earlier (Scaer 2004, Loc. 7206).
Scaer next discusses the theme of death and resurrection, which show judgment (Scaer 2004, Loc. 7248). Again, in this discourse the themes take on their final significance. This dicussion also points up Jesus as the true prophet and teacher, making predictions which are fulfilled in the more immediate and more distant future (Scaer 2004, Loc. 7283).
Scaer questions the absence of an ascension narrative in Matthew (Scaer 2004, Loc. 7358). “One explanation, and perhaps the best one, is that Matthew considered the crucifixion to be the moment of judgment that his catechumens would face as they received the Eucharist” (Scaer 2004, Loc. 7367). The ascension is implied in various passages, yet Matthew leaves us looking to future judgment but realizing the finality of the cross (Scaer 2004, Loc. 7375).
Scaer next details the various pericopes of the discourse, many of which are parables (Scaer 2004, Loc. 7392). The commentary is fairly specific and worth consulting in a study of the text. Overall, he shows the trend toward a climax with the death of Christ.
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