It is commonplace in New Testament studies to point out that ancient writings need to be understood within their contemporary context if a historical reading is what we aim for. Most often, however, the framework within which to understand a text’s thought patterns is sought in the world of ideas that can be found in other literary texts roughly contemporaneous with the text under investigation. It is far less common for scholars to provide a detailed analysis of the institutions of ancient societies in which the transmission of oral traditions and the production of texts were embedded, and allow this socio-institutional setting to interpret the thought patterns of a text. In this study, key ritual-theological themes in Matthew’s narrative world are linked to, and understood from within, first-century synagogue institutions. As a result, Matthew’s theology of purity, forgiveness, and atonement emerge as thoroughly intertwined with a first-century Jewish worldview rather foreign to later forms of mainstream Christianity.
“Saving the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel: Purity, Forgiveness, and Synagogues in the Gospel of Matthew” by Anders Runesson – Read full article here.
Dr. Anders Runesson is an Associate Professor at McMaster University in Canada. Please visit his website www.andersrunesson.com
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please send me this teaching.
This helps me to understand my “second” revelation (heavenly messengers). I struggle to express that I still acknowledge public assemblies/authority (government, work, etc), but that the ekklēsia I wanted to rule over me was the Ten Commandments (Romans 8)
This makes me wonder if Romans 7 & 8 also symbolizes Jesus’ blood covenant (Romans 7 – atonement and Romans 8- “drinking it new in the Father’s Kingdom (Matthew 26:26-29)?
I think that one of the most valuable aspects of this scholarly article is the ‘sitz im leben’ that it provides – and this is something I believe is extremely important. The context within which each book of the Bible was written, in both Old and New Testaments, plays a vital role in our accurate understanding and full appreciation of the text. Sadly it is the habit of many Christsians today to pick a verse here, a line there, as the whim takes them, or the need arises. And while this approach may provide spiritual sustenance it does not give an appreciation of Scripture as a whole.
I am glad you enjoyed the article. Dr. Runesson’s work is usually full of great insights and well researched.
I have just finished reading ‘Saving the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel: Purity, Forgiveness and Synagogues in the Gospel of Matthew”. Well argued, informative, and sheds much light on Matthew’s theology as well as providing much-needed background to the emergence of a Christian theology birthed in Judaism. Very impressive.
This, I found today, before it was posted on my email. I was glad to know that I had not missed something of value.
I have read it 2x’s, incl. footnotes today already, and have been enlightened in several ways: the community place, of the Synagogues in 1st c. Israel; the idea of God’s “leaving” the temple because of impure defilement, both in Ezekiel, and at the time of Jesus’s dejparting the temple to go to the Garden, and the tearing of the Temple curtain as again, God’s leaving the Temple. Yes, the ideas of purity & atonement are conveyed throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, just as the same ideas Jesus was teaching, hence as Dr. Runesson as stated, Matthew would fit historically into the Hebrew Bible period/thinking. However, it seems that Gospel’s point/purpose is to show Jesus as the Messiah, Divine, not just as similar ideas of forgiveness, purity, or Synagogue.
I am interested to read more of his writings, however, because I am interested to see certain interpretations, if any, of Matthew text.
Thank you, as always.