December 14, 2022

Matthew's poor attitude toward non-Jews


Matthew's poor attitude toward non-Jews 

Matthew's editorial behavior in light of Mark and Primitive Luke gives us an indication of the authors' attitude toward non-Jews.
Scholars have been puzzled by Matthew's omission of the pericope of the Strange Exorcist of Luke 9:49-50 and Mark 9:38-41. This omission provides an important clue of Matthew's preference to exclude passages in which lawless persons, or persons without status under the Law, become good examples. As Matthew clearly is a Judaizing document and the author held strict ideas of Law.
Matthew omits the saying common to Mark and Luke 'he that is not against us is for us' of Luke 9:50 and Mark 9:40, but he includes a related saying in Luke' he who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters' of Luke 9:23 and Matt 12:30. It is also evident that Matthew has inverted the saying of Mark 9:41, 'whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ' to read in Matt 10:42, 'whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple. 
These examples of the editorial character of Matthew represent strict legal formal demands.  This perspective attitude can likely account for the addition of Matt 22:11-14 of the parable of the Wedding Garment to the parable of the Great Banquet exhibited in Luke 14:16-24 and Matt 22:1-10. The wedding garment of Matthew symbolizes righteousness, and it presents that as the criteria for entering the kingdom. Matthew puts the highest embodiment of the Law over all other factors, including the interpolation of Matt 5:19 that those who would relax the least of these commandments would be least in the Kingdom.
Thus, Matthew adds various anti-charismatic verses, including Matt 7:13-23.  Matthew's anti-charismatic tendencies are exhibited further in Matt 6:7-8 and elsewhere in chapter 6 where the author portrays Jesus as prescribing that prayer, fasting, and giving should be done in secret. 
In using those outside the Law as negative examples, the author of Matthew typically demonstrates his rejection of them. According to Matthew, believers are not to be like Gentiles (Matt 6:7-8) and those who are to be regarded no better than tax collectors (Matt 5:46-47)
Despite Mark making no reference to Samaritans and Gentiles, Matthew's comments establish a clear anti-gentile pattern. Matt 15:24, 'I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel' is an obvious insertion into a pericope taken from Mark. This attitude is even more explicit in the saying of Matt 10:5-6, 'Do not take the gentile road, and do not enter a Samaritan city, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'
It is unlikely the case that both anti-Samaritan and pro-Samaritan pericopes in the Gospels are both authentic. Jesus either refused to deal with Samaritans and commanded his disciples to do the same (as the Later tradition of Matthew attests) or Jesus dealt with them and allowed his disciples to do so (according to the more primitive traditions of Luke and Mark). Only Matthew explicitly opposes a mission to outsiders or makes implicit references of an anti-Samaritan or anti-Gentile nature. Although antagonism between Jews and Samaritans is seen in Luke, it features accounts of Jesus deliberately establishing contact with them. Luke has a narrative recalling various meetings as well as an in which the ancient feud is a central part of the context. Few scholars doubt the authenticity of the parable of the Good Samaritan of Luke 10:29-37, the very conception which arises from the fact that the Samaritans had no status under Jewish Law. Yet, this Samaritan had fulfilled the Law. In contrast, Matthew's opposition to the Samaritans is exhibited only in isolated sayings apart from narrative or parables. 
It is easy to see how Matthew's anti-Samartian and anti-Gentile sayings could have sprung up in opposition toward ministries incorporating Samaritan and Gentile missions. Matthew emerges from a Jewish sect, as is evident by the editorial omissions and modifications of any Samaritan or Gentile material.
Luke and Matthew provide contrasting views regarding justification for tax collectors. The parable of Luke 18:9-14 of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector doesn't fit with the Matthean notion of righteousness under the Law. The easy justification of the tax collector doesn't fit with Matthew's theological agenda. Accordingly, the implication that a humble request of the tax collector, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' would be sufficient for the tax collector to go home justified is counter to the Matthean notion of rigorousness. 
Similar elements are featured in the Zacchaeus story of Luke 19:1-10 in which he declares that he will pay back all his fraudulent gains fourfold. Jesus declared  to a long-time chief tax collector, 'Today salvation has come to this house since he also is a son of Abraham.' Jesus' declaration indicates that he is a son of Abraham by faith based on this bare declaration of penitence alone, although he has not actually done any righteous thing according to Matthean standards. Although Matthew allows for sins to be forgiven quickly, it maintains that salvation can only be found in the quest for righteousness under the Law. 
Matthew has not, however, eliminated all favorable references to Gentiles, tax collectors, and other immoral people. Whenever it praises them it is for their 'faith'. In various contexts, the Syrophoenician Woman or the Centurion may demonstrate a faith that puts the disciples to shame. Yet according to Matthew, these are outsiders who must gather the crumbs under the Jewish table. For Matthew, it is only Jewish Christians who have inherited the promise. The Gentiles remain outsiders and strangers to the Law, as do most women.
The following editorial actions are reflective of Matthew's attitude of an anti-Samaritan and anti-Gentile character. 
  • Matt 8:5-13 vs. Luke 7:1-10 and Luke 8:28-30
  • Matt 9:9-13 vs. Luke 5:27-32 and Mark 2:13-17
  • Matthew omits Luke 9:49-50 and Mark 9:38-41
  • Matthew omits Luke 9:51-56
  • Matthew omits Luke 10:29-37
  • Matthew omits Luke 11:5-8
  • Matthew omits Luke 16:1-9
  • Matthew omits Luke 17:11-19
  • Matthew omits Luke 18:1-8
  • Matthew omits Luke 18:9-14
  • Matthew omits Luke 19:1-10
  • Addition of Matt 18:17
  • Addition of Matt 21:28-32

Reference: H.P. West Jr., “A Primitive Version of Luke in the Composition of Matthew,” New Test. Stud. 14, p.83-85

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