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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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Chapter 3: Major Issues Bearing upon a Contextual Analysisof the Beatitudes 45


CHAPTER 3 Major Issues Bearing upon a Contextual Analysis of the Beatitudes he Gospel of Matthew was composed within the religious and political context after 70 AD (Stanton 1993:124; Hagner 1996:44–45). Relig- iously, it is the most Jewish of the Gospels (Davies and Allison 1988:80–85; Segal 1991:3–6; Stanton 1993:2–3; Hagner 1996:45; Horrell 2000:145; Wilson 2005:55; Luz 2007:45–46; France 2008:108; Turner 2008:3). Jefford contends that the Gospel of Matthew was the most widely respected in the early Church (2005:47). All early Christianity was Jewish Christianity (Wright 1992:453) and “at the time of its origins, all of what we now call Christianity was Jewish Christianity” (Horrell 2000:136). Yet, after 70 AD, relations between Jewish Christianity and Judaism became fragile and strained (Stanton 1993:124– 144; Bauckham 1993:139–148; Hagner 1996:47; Ascough 2001:107–109; Hor- rell 2002:326; Gurtner 2008:128–130). Christianity was not the only group struggling within a Jewish context. A comparison with the Qumran community has demonstrated that much of the material found in the Gospel of Matthew was in accordance with normal interactions of hostility between sects within the same parent group (Stanton 1993:98–102; Wilson 2005:55–56; Overman 2008:261–263). T The Matthean Beatitudes in Their Jewish Origins 46 Politically, the Matthean community was in a Hellenized culture ruled by the Roman Empire while facing the aftermath of Jerusalem’s destruction. Early Christianity...

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