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The Matthean Beatitudes in Their Jewish Origins

A Literary and Speech Act Analysis


Michelle Howell Hancock

The Matthean Beatitudes in Their Jewish Origins: A Literary and Speech Act Analysis examines how Matthew used Jewish concepts as paradigmatic utterances for the Matthean community. In fact, the Gospel of Matthew was the most Jewish of the Synoptic Gospels, and Matthew’s paradigm was the needed transition for understanding the role of the new community post-70 AD. The importance and role of Jewish concepts is evident in Matthew’s work. More specifically, the literary nature of the Beatitudes demonstrates a composition that evolved from oral origins. Speech act theory is utilized to point out the oral features of the text as well as to reveal what Jesus did in his sayings. Moreover, a speech act model is presented and applied to the Beatitudes’ pericope. Their significance lies in the authoritative utterances of Jesus. By employing speech act theory on the Beatitudes, the sayings of Jesus are investigated to illustrate the force of his eloquence on the Christian community.


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Table of Contents


Illustrations xi Acknowledgments xiii Chapter 1: Why Use Speech Act Theory on the Beatitudes? 1 Purpose and Rationale of Study 2 Background of Study 3 Contextual Issues 6 The Literary Nature of the Beatitudes 11 Speech Act Theory as an Exegetical Tool 14 Assumptions, Delimitations, Definitions 15 Chapter Overview 19 Chapter 2: Various Views of Jewish–Christian Identification and Its Implications for the Matthean Community 21 Rival Movement within Judaism 22 Rebellious Movement away from Judaism 26 Remnant Movement beside Judaism 30 Evaluation of Models and Implications 33 A Dynamic Model of the Matthean Community 40 Chapter 3: Major Issues Bearing upon a Contextual Analysis of the Beatitudes 45 The Jewish Metanarrative Used by Matthew 46 Influences of a Religious and Socio–Historical Milieu 61 The Matthean Beatitudes in Their Jewish Origins viii The Beatitudes as a Window to the Community 84 Chapter 4: The Immediate Circumstances Surrounding the Beatitudes 87 Semantic Observations Directing the Beatitudes 88 Structural Indicators Framing the Beatitudes 101 Chapter 5: Exegetical Analysis of the Beatitudes: Its Contextual Meaning and Verbal Threads 117 The Meaning of makariori in the Beatitudes 119 The Rationale for Blessings: basileia tōn ouranōn 123 The Depiction of the Blessed 131 The Results of Being Blessed 148 The Core of the Blessings: dikaiosunē 156 The Inculcation of the Blessings: Matthew’s Case Study (5:11–12) 161 The Validation of Being Blessed: halas and phōs (5:13–16) 169 Translation of the Beatitudes in Life and the Text 179 Chapter...

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