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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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Acknowledgments xiii


Acknowledgments his book is the reworking of my PhD dissertation for the South African Theological Seminary. I could not have accomplished this study with- out the support and direction of Dan Lioy as my advisor. He provided me with invaluable guidance, both literarily and theologically. I want to thank Hemchand Gossai and Peter Lang Publishing for including my work in the Studies of Biblical Literature series. I have nothing but gratitude to Heidi Burns who serves as the USA Executive Editor with Peter Lang. From the start, she was an encouragement in the completion of this book. Words fail me in expressing gratitude to my parents, Thurman Francis and Louise Griffith Howell. Your love, guidance, and encouragement made our family a real “Beaver Cleaver” home. Thank you for giving me a love for learn- ing and a spiritual awakening to the Scriptures. Both of you have been demon- strations of divine blessing and gracious living. I have been blessed to have a wonderful brother and sister-in-law, Keith and Cindy Howell, as well as nephews, Jason and Joshua. Your home has been a wonderful place to visit and celebrate Christmas. I miss Beethoven! To my cherished love, Amber Dawn, I thank you for your patience as I la- bored on this venture. Thank you for listening to me talk incessantly over my research and sacrificing time we could have enjoyed together. I could never dream of life without my three children and their brother: Michelle Elizabeth and her husband Kenneth Hancock,...

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