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The Breaking of Bread and the Breaking of Boundaries

A Study of the Metaphor of Bread in the Gospel of Matthew


Minkyu Lee

This book investigates the Matthean use of bread and the breaking of bread in light of cognitive conceptual metaphor, which are not only intertwined within Matthew’s narrative plots but also function to represent Matthew’s communal identity and ideological vision. The metaphor of bread and its cognitive concept implicitly connect to Israel’s indigenous sense of identity and religious imagination, while integrating the socio-religious context and the identity of Matthean community through the metaphoric action: breaking of bread. While using this metaphor as a narrative strategy, Matthew not only keeps the Jewish indigenous socio-religious heritage but also breaks down multiple boundaries of religion, ethnicity, gender, class, and the false prejudice in order to establish an alternative identity and ideological vision. From this perspective, this book presents how the Matthean bread functions to reveal the identity of Matthew’s community in-between formative Judaism and the Roman Empire. In particular, the book investigates the metaphor of bread as a source of Matthew’s rhetorical claim that represents its ideological vision for an alternative community beyond the socio-religious boundaries. The book also reviews Matthean contexts by postcolonial theories – hybridity and third space – subverting and deconstructing the hegemony of the dominant groups of formative Judaism and the imperial ideology of Rome.
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2. Bread/Meals in Second Temple Judaism and Relevant Social Memories




Bread/Meals in Second Temple Judaism and Relevant Social Memories

As Lakoff and Johnson argue, the metaphor derives from a human cognitive concept formed by previous understanding and experience in our daily routine life,1 which can structure one’s understanding mechanism and hermeneutic lens. Therefore, the analysis of the Jewish background and socio-religious imagery of the bread/food and meal are significant in order to observe the cognitive conception of the bread and its relevant conceptual metaphoric structure. According to Israel’s historical experience, the bread/food, such as the unleavened bread and manna, had a significant function to form a common sense of identity and self-consciousness, which led the Jewish people into a common “religious imagination”2 and identity in the formation of Israelite society. Furthermore, the customs of meals and commensality signify a certain human behavior and ideological vision among social group in relation to one another and in relation to God. Israelites especially ritualized certain historical events with the bread/food in order to commemorate past events across the generations, so that they keep the social memories, and embody the past experience into their present life and communal identity. In second temple Judaism, some particular foods and the religious ritual customs of meals, such as pilgrimage festivals, were strictly observed as a means of maintaining a historical sense of identity, while functioning to bond people in solidarity in their sense of Jewishness. ← 19 | 20 →

The bread/food and ritual festive meals with the specific...

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