Monday, August 10, 2009

Matthew and Torah

Have you ever read an essay that has just been utterly helpful, and organised your chaotic thoughts into a coherent understanding? This has been my experience today reading Roland Deines “Not the Law but the Messiah: Law and Righteousness in the Gospel of Matthew – An Ongoing Debate” in Built Upon the Rock: Studies in the Gospel of Matthew eds. D. M. Gurtner and J. Nolland (Eerdmans, 2008) pg. 53-84. His discussion proceeds like this:
1.1 Is there a New Consensus?
2.1 Texts in Favour of a Law-Abiding Christian-Jewish Community
2.2 Texts Supporting a New Understanding of Torah in the Kingdom of God
3. The Basic Concepts in the First Gospel as a Framework in which the Law is to be Understood.
4. Matt. 5:17-20 as a Crucial Text for Understanding Matthew's Concept of Torah and Righteousness
4.1 Why Does Jesus Have to Defend Himself Already at the Beginning of His Career? (5:17) 4.2 Matt 5:17: Fulfillment of the Whole Will of God as Jesus' Primary Goal
4.3 Matt 5:18: Iota and Jots/Strokes: A Clue to Legal Details or a Confession-Like Formula for the Ongoing Relevance of the Whole Will of God (Abbreviated in the Term nomos)?
4.4 Matt 5:19: From Christological Fulfillment to Disciples' Obligation
4.5 Matt 5:20: The Implementation of the Eschatological and Exclusive Jesus-Righteousness as the Condition for Entering the Kingdom of God.
5. Conclusion
Deines ruthlessly unpacks the problems, pointing us to more detailed discussions, while helpfully explaining the decisive issues along the way. This is arguably the best essay I've read on this topic thus far. If this topic interests you, as it should, go read and learn! I won't spoil it and give you his conclusions - where would the fun in that be?

Ok, I'll give you a couple of clues:
matt 17:24-27; 11:11-15 and most importantly 5:3-10!


Jason said...


Great thinking out loud over the last few post on Matt and a sort of conclusion or denoument here. I like what you said about eschatological righteousness, New Exodus leading to New Law so to speak. Keep it up, bro!

I'm teaching through Matt and enjoying it thoroughly; just turned in my dissertation on the same (under Mike Bird and Howard Marshall).

Sean said...

Hey Jason, thanks for the post! Sounds exciting (working with the Bird and Marshall). What was your dissertation topic? Am very keen to read more about the topic of a "new Exodus, new Torah because Messiah is here!" So if you can point me in the right direction, that would be great!

Anders said...

You write: “4. Matt. 5:17-20 as a Crucial Text for Understanding Matthew's Concept of Torah and Righteousness”

If you want to follow the first century Ribi Yehoshua (the Messiah) from Nazareth: A logical analysis of the historical documents, including the earliest MSS, and archaeology shows what he taught and how to follow him.
Learn more here:

Anders Branderud