Friday, May 15, 2009

Overview of Matthew: Addendum

I wanted to make a brief addition to the introduction discussion on Matthew. Specifically, I mentioned in the previous post that I identified eight sections through the book. I would like to make a few comments on this. First, these eight sections are probably more like seven. As I will show in the upcoming posts, the last section I identified is probably more like the tail end of the seventh section. So it may be more accurate if I said I see seven sections throughout the book. Nevertheless, I am going to post eight.

Also, I have read more than one commentary which identifies only five sections. They make a good argument for these five section. For example, Mounce (NIBC) says about the structure of Matthew,

The clue lies in the formula "when Jesus had finished saying these things," which is repeated with only minor variations at the close of each section (Matt 7:28, 11:1, 13:53, 19:1, 26:1). This fivefold structure is common in ancient Jewish literature (cf. the five books of Moses, the five divisions of the Psalms, the five Megilloth, etc.). Barker, Lane, and Michaels point out that Matthew's five "books" deal with the ethics of the Kingdom (5:1-7:27), mission (10:1-42), redemptive history (13:1-52), church discipline (18:1-35), and eschatology (23:1-25:46). These would be major concerns of an early church desirous of instructing new converts. pg. 3

This is interesting and somewhat convincing. But I wonder about chapters left in the gaps of these five sections. For example, I see chapters 8 and 9 integral to understanding chapter 10. And this all flows from the end of chapter 7, which I see as the previous section. Allow me to explain.

The section section of Matthew (roughly chapters 5-7) ends with the people amazed at Jesus' authority in his teaching. Then chapters 8 and 9 tell story after story of Jesus' authority over sickness, the spiritual world, the natural world, and even death. Then the beginning of chapter 10 begins with Jesus transferring that authority to the twelve disciples and sending them out into the world.

To me, it looks like Mounce has chapter 10 as the second section but does not show how the surrounding chapters related to that section. Therefore, I am sticking with my seven/eight sections and working from that point of view.


Mark said...

I agree that chapters 7-9 (end of Sermon on the Mount through end of ch. 9) flow directly into chapter 10. There is no coincidence that chapter 10 is the outcome of Christ's compassion for the people at the end of chapter 9. The commissioning of the 12 is directly related to His compassion.