Matthew 12-15 – some highlights

Sorry for this truncated (not to mention, late) post. I’ve been out of town for a conference in Houston most of the week. Here are a few highlights from chapters 12-15:

1. 12:15-21 draws on the prophet Isaiah, one of Matthew’s favorite sources for interpreting the life of Jesus, to explain why Jesus did not attract more followers.

2. 12:46-50 returns to the by-now-familiar theme of “family values.” Think about how counter-cultural early Christianity must have been.

3. Chapter 13 provides us with the third sermon in Jesus’ new Torah. It consists of a series of parables likening the Kingdom of Heaven to earthly things. When you put these together, what is the image of the Kingdom Jesus offers? Notice, by the way, that Matthew — as a pious Jew who refrains from naming God — prefers the term “Kingdom of Heaven” to “Kingdom of God.”

4. Chapter 14 recounts the death of John the Baptist. How is it like and unlike the death of Jesus? Notice that John’s disciples come to claim his body. That took courage. Compare the response of Jesus’ own disciples to his death.

5. In class I will tell you a fascinating and absolutely weird story about how 15:1-20 got interpreted during the medieval period. Verses 21-28 contain one of my favorite stories in the Gospels: a woman — a Gentile woman! — bests Jesus in an argument!

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