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.
See more by the same author
178 Wim J.C. Weren
Kingsbury further emphasises that there is only a slight caesura
between Matt 2 and Matt 3: the particle dev in 3,1 has a linking function,
and ejn tai'" hJmevrai" ejkeivnai" bridges a long period of time, also in
Exod 2,11 (LXX), while the story continues (14). There is not a deep
caesura between 4,11 and 4,12 either since the name Jesus, last
mentioned in 4,10, is not repeated in 4,12.
Matt 1,1 is interpreted as the caption covering the entire part I. To
support this opinion, Kingsbury â€” in imitation of Krentz â€” points to
Gen 2,4a and especially to Gen 5,1. In the Septuagint, bivblo" genevsew"
in Gen 5,1 introduces a textual unit (5,1â€“6,8), that consists of a
genealogy and a subsequent narrative section. In Matthew, we also
encounter a genealogy (1,1-17), followed by a long series of stories
(1,18â€“4,16; so not merely 1,18â€“2,23). Within the entire book, part I
has the function of a prologue; in preparation to the description of
Jesusâ€™ ministry (from 4,17 onwards), the reader is informed, in
1,1â€“4,16, on Jesusâ€™ identity.
Parts II and III are both coherent text units. The caption of part II
(4,17) is recapitulated in a number of summaries (4,23-25; 9,35;
11,1b) (15). Similarly, the caption of part III (16,21), the prediction of
Jesusâ€™ suffering, death, and resurrection, is repeated in 17,22-23 and
20,17-19. This latter aspect was somewhat refined by T.B. Slater, who
points out that 26,2 should also be included in the series mentioned by
It is astonishing that this division into three is still so popular(17),
for it is some time ago now that F. Neirynckâ€™s apposite criticism has
accurately revealed the weak link in the entire construction (18). He
(14) The time adjunct in Exod 2,11 in the LXX is not exactly the same as in
Matt 3,1. The LXX has ejn tai'" hJmevrai" tai'" pollai'" ejkeivnai".
(15) In order to express their function as foundation of the story, summaries
are labelled as â€˜Basisberichteâ€™ by K. BERGER, Formen und Gattungen im Neuen
Testament (UTB 2532; TÃ¼bingen â€“ Basel 2005) 388-391.
(16) T.B. SLATER, â€œNotes on Matthewâ€™s Structureâ€, JBL 99 (1980) 436: â€œAs a
mere corrective to Kingsbury, the three passion-predictions are 17:22-23, 20:17-
19, and 26:2, with 16:21 being more a redactional statement than a predictionâ€.
(17) See the divisions in: J. GNILKA, Das MatthÃ¤usevangelium (HTKNT, I/2;
Freiburg â€“ Basel â€“ Wien 1988) II, 524: Vorgeschichte: 1,1â€“4,16; 1. Hauptteil:
4,17â€“16,20; 2. Hauptteil: 16,21-25,46; Passion und Ostern: 26,1â€“28,20.
(18) F. NEIRYNCK, â€œLa rÃ©daction matthÃ©enne et la structure du premier
Ã©vangileâ€, ETL 43 (1967) 41-73; F. NEIRYNCK, â€œAPO TOTE HRXATO and the
Structure of Matthewâ€, ETL 64 (1988) 21-59.