The Matthean Community in Early Christianity
Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter1.Introduction Once regarded merely as something to be mentioned in passing, or treated with a short discussion in the introduction of a commentary, for at least the last thirty-five years the Matthean Community has been a topic of investigation in its own right. This is to be welcomed, as the results of such investigation can throw important illumination not only on the how the Gospel might best be read, but also on an important and interesting moment in the development of early Christianity. Various methodologies have been applied to the process of discerning the community behind the Gospel of Matthew, and while general agreement has emerged on some points, there are enough important differences in the results of this research to warrant a new investigation, especially when consideration is given to the inadequacies in the methodology of some previous research. Indeed, this book has been written with the conviction that much previous work reconstructing the Matthean Community has been based on very insecure methodological foundations. It will be argued that little confidence can be placed on any conclusions arrived at after assumptions have been made as to: 1. where the Gospel was written; 2. the time of writing; and 3. the concept “Jewish Christianity.” It will also be argued that to use the two-source hypothesis as a solution to the Synoptic Problem only serves to alienate a large section of New Testament scholars. These four matters are dealt with in detail at various places in the book,1 and together...
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