Posted December 1, 2005
Book: Studies in Matthew
Author: Ulrich Luz
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Cambridge, U.K., 2005, pp. 285
An Excerpt from the Jacket:
The work of one of the world’s foremost New Testament scholars, Ulrich Luz,
this book gathers eighteen penetrating studies of Matthew’s Gospel,
available here in English for the first time.
Luz’s groundbreaking work ranges widely over the critical issues of Matthean
studies, including the narrative structure and sources of the Gospel and its
presentation of such themes as christology, discipleship, miracles, and
Israel. Several chapters also outline and demonstrate the hermeneutical
methods underlying Luz’s acclaimed commentary on Matthew, for which this
book can serve as a companion. Luz is particularly conscious of the Gospel’
s reception history, a history of interpretation connecting us with the past
that determines so many of our questions, categories, and values. Studies in
Matthew thus constitutes a noteworthy contribution to biblical hermeneutics
as well as to exegesis.
An Excerpt from the Book:
The Gospel of Matthew is a book intended to be read as a whole and not in
parts or pericopes. It is intended to be read not just once but several
Matthew’s Gospel is not a lectionary or a collection of material for
instruction. It is written to be read aloud. It makes considerable demands
on its readers. My premise is that the evangelist expresses himself in a
manner that is intelligible to his imagined readership.
My argument is based on a large number of formal and compositional elements
observable in the Gospel. For example, Matthew makes use of keywords. In
the Sermon on the Mount he repeats the word righteousness five times and the
word father fifteen times. Taken together, these two keywords express the
theology of the Sermon on the Mount. In Matt 8-9 the keyword [to follow]
occurs nine times, and in chapters 11-12 there are eleven instances of the
keywords [judgement]. In each case the keywords are central to the them of
the passage. Only a reader following the text in full could recognize this.
The same is true of repetitions. Matthew has not only adopted doublets from
his sources, such as the two feedings of the crowds or the two demands for
signs. He himself has created repetitions, such as the passage on the tree
and its fruit (7:15-20; 12:33-35), the healing of two blind people, or the
summary of Jesus’ healing and preaching activity among the people of Israel.
Since he creates such doublets through his own redaction, we are ill advised
to reproach Matthew with clumsiness when he adopts doublets from his
sources. He repeats what is important to him, and once again this can be
recognized only by reading the whole text continuously.
. . . then there are signals in Matthew’s Gospel, distinctive features in the
narrative which point beyond their immediate context and whose meaning is
not really apparent to readers. The prologue is full of such signals, “son
of Abraham” “Galilee of the Gentiles”, the mountain on which Jesus refuses
the devil’s offer of the kingdoms of the world, or the bizarre episode of
2:3-4 in which all Jerusalem, all the chief priests and scribes of the
people, and the hated half-Jewish Herod are united in fright when three
Gentiles ask where the Messiah has been born: all these are “signals”
pointing to what Matthew will later narrate concerning Jesus’ rejection by
all Jerusalem and the coming mission to the Gentiles. Only readers familiar
with the whole Gospel will recognize the signals.
Table of Contents:
Matthew and his tradition
Matthew and Israel
Hermeneutics with Matthew in mind