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The Matthean Beatitudes in Their Jewish Origins

A Literary and Speech Act Analysis

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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.

«Dr. Tim Howell’s treatise undertakes a comprehensive examination of the Jewish origins employed in the Matthean Beatitudes. He does so through the use of literary analysis and speech act theory. While he acknowledges and interacts with the research of others, he advances the discussion in new and innovative directions. The result is a monograph that adds to and expands upon what others have discussed and concluded. For this reason, I highly commend this work as being appropriate for personal study and suitable as a college and seminary text.» (Dan Lioy, PhD, Senior Academic, Postgraduate School, South African Theological Seminary.)