Wim J.C. Weren, «The Macrostructure of Matthew’s Gospel: A New Proposal», Vol. 87 (2006) 171-200
The weakness of the proposals concerning the macrostructure of Matthew’s
Gospel made by Bacon and Kingsbury is that they depart from rigid caesuras,
whilst a typical characteristic of the composition of this Gospel is the relatively
smooth flow of the story. On the basis of the discovery that the various
topographical data are clustered together by means of three refrains we can
distinguish three patterns in the travels undertaken by Jesus. This rather coarse
structure is further refined with the use of Matera’s and Carter’s distinction
between kernels and satellites. Kernels are better labelled as “hinge texts”. The
following pericopes belong to this category: 4,12-17; 11,2-30; 16,13-28; 21,1-17;
26,1-16. Each of them marks a turning point in the plot and has a double function:
a hinge text is not only fleshed out in the subsequent pericopes but also refers to
the preceding block. It is especially these “hinge texts” that underline the
continuity of Matthew’s narrative and should prevent us from focussing too much
on alleged caesuras.
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The Macrostructure of Matthewâ€™s Gospel 175
Second Part 9,35â€“12,50: The Lost Sheep of the House of Israel
1. Introduction and Discourse (9,35â€“10,42)
2. Narrative section (11,1â€“12,50)
Third Part 13,1â€“17,27: I will build my Church
1. Discourse (13,1-58)
2. Narrative section (14,1â€“17,27)
Fourth Part 18,1â€“23,39: The True Israel
1. Discourse (18,1-35)
2. Narrative section (19,1â€“23,39)
Fifth Part 24,1â€“28,20: The Final Victory
1. Discourse (24,1â€“25,46)
2. Narrative section (26,1â€“28,20)
The division into five parts is retained, but the five sections are
different from Baconâ€™s. They do not consist of N + D, but of D + N.
The concluding chapters (26â€“28) are no longer in an isolated position.
Furthermore, it is remarkable that Rolland detaches Matt 23 from the
Eschatological Discourse, but his classifying this chapter as a narrative
section testifies to an urge for regularisation.
After this reversion of the ordering (D + N instead of N + D), a
compromise between the two views was bound to be emerge. This
compromise was suggested by D.L. Barr (10). He argues that the
discourses are not only connected to the narrative material that
precedes them, but also to the narrative material by which they are
followed (pattern: N â†’ D â†’ N). Schematically, his proposal is as
follows: Matt 1â€“4 (N) â†’ 5â€“7 (D) â†’ 8â€“9 (N) â†’ 10 (D) â†’ 11â€“12 (N)
â†’ 13,1-52 (D) â†’ 13,53â€“17,27 (N) â†’ 18 (D) â†’ 19â€“22 (N) â†’ 23â€“25
(D) â†’ 26â€“28 (N).
These examples will suffice to illustrate the discussion on the
structure of Matthew on the basis of the two phenomena signalled by
Bacon: the stereotypical formula and the alternation of N and D. I will
conclude this overview with a critical appraisal.
(1) The formula itself always concludes a discourse, but the
complete sentence of which it forms a part also links up with what
follows. It is not possible to gather from the formula where the
discourse begins, nor does it show where the narrative that follows the
discourse exactly ends. For the precise determination of these
boundaries, other criteria must be applied.
(2) The subdivisions mentioned are based on â€œune distinction
(10) D.L. BARR, â€œThe Drama of Matthewâ€™s Gospel: A Reconsideration of Its
Structure and Purposeâ€, Theology Digest 24 (1976) 352: â€œThe discourses are not
dividers, but connectors, linking two sections of narrative togetherâ€.