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The (Im)Polite Jesus

An Analysis of Jesus’ Verbal Rudeness in Matthew’s Gospel

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Carlos Olivares

This book is an informed, focused, deep, and creative analysis of the topic of (im)politeness applied to Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel, with in-depth conclusions and analysis about the Matthean Jesus’ (im)politeness. This study utilizes innovative methodological approaches regarding the analysis and interpretation of the subject in Matthew’s Gospel, finding similarities with the language and (im)polite engagements of other first-century Greco-Roman characters and the Matthean Jesus in similar contexts.

The (Im)Polite Jesus would make an excellent addition for studies on Matthew’s Gospel or courses focused on biblical studies, biblical literature, biblical hermeneutics, methodologies, and in discussions about exposing interpreters’ cultural biases when addressing the topic of (im)politeness.

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Chapter Three: You Hypocrites! Being (Im)Polite with Scribes and Pharisees

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← 42 | 43 →

CHAPTER THREE

You Hypocrites! Being (Im)Polite with Scribes and Pharisees

 

Matt 23 is fertile soil for (im)polite terms and expressions. Phrases such as brood of vipers (Matt 23:33) and whitewashed tombs (23:27) are just two examples of Jesus’ diatribes against the Scribes and Pharisees (23:13–36). In this chapter, I analyse Matt 23 in light of a challenge-riposte context,1 dividing it into two parts. In doing so, I seek to unlock the socio-rhetorical world encrypted in Matthew’s story. First, using a narrative approach, I engage with Jesus’ criticism of the Scribes and Pharisees, examining what is true honour in Jesus’ view. Then, in a pragmaphilogoical analysis of Jesus’ words, I consider how they operate in Matthew’s Gospel and other Hellenistic texts against these groups.

1.    Narrative Analysis: True and False Honour in Jesus’ View

Matt 23 can be divided into three narrative portions: (1) Matt 23:1–4; (2) Matt 23:5–12; (3) Matt 23:13–36. In each, Jesus speaks about the Scribes and Pharisees, intensifying his tone until it reaches a verbal and (im)polite climax. ← 43 | 44 →

1.1    Do Not Do What They Do

Jerusalem is the general spatial setting where Jesus’ speech against the Scribes and Pharisees occurs in Matt 23 (cf. 21:1, 10). However, he utters it somewhere in the temple (cf. 21:23; 24:1).2 The allusion...

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