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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190 Wim J.C. Weren
relationships; the Parable Discourse has a central position and explains
why the secrets of the kingdom are accessible to the disciples, whilst
they are a mystery to outsiders.
The corpus of the book is connected to the overture and the finale
by means of hinge texts (4,12-17 and 26,1-16). The first hinge text
bridges 1,1-4,11 and 4,18â€“25,46. This can be clarified as follows.
Jesusâ€™ move (4,12) is part of a continuous line that has begun in the
overture (2,12-13.14.22) and that is later continued (12,15;14,13;
15,21). The many places mentioned in 4,12-17 are a continuation of
the accumulating topographical information in Matt 2, whereby the
similarities between 4,12-16 and 2,22-23 draw particular attention.
Matt 4,12-17 is also connected to the preceding text by the mention, in
4,12, of John the Baptist, who had already been introduced in 3,1, and
by the parallels between Johnâ€™s and Jesusâ€™ message (3,2 = 4,17).
Finally, there are several connections between 4,12-17 and the corpus:
Capernaum, Jesusâ€™ new home town, functions as the starting point for
his wanderings through Galilee, and the kingdom of heaven remains
an important subject throughout of his entire ministry.
Matt 26,1-16 functions as a hinge between the heart of the book
and the finale. There is strong indication of this in the subordinate
clause in 26,1 that gives a review of Jesusâ€™ ministry and, in this
context, focuses on the five discourses (â€œall these wordsâ€). In 26,2,
Jesus repeats his earlier announcements of his death (16,21; 17,22-23;
20,18-19), but by adding that the events announced will occur within
two days, his statement at the same time functions as a heading to the
passion narrative. The passage that follows (26,3-16) also anticipates
the events to take place: together with Judas, the adversaries make
preparations for Jesusâ€™ arrest (26,3-5.14-16), whilst the tender gesture
by an anonymous woman is connected to his funeral (26,6-13).
e) Matt 16,13-28 as a hinge within 4,18â€“25,46
The next problem is the structure of the corpus (4,12â€“25,46).
According to Matera, 16,13-28 is a textual unit. I support his criticism
of the idea that this passage is split in two by ajpo; tovte on the grounds
of the following considerations. This passage has a unity of place (in
the district of Caesarea Philippi). Jesus is accompanied only by his
disciples here. The text consists mainly of direct speech and regularly
alternates between the parts where Jesus is talking to all the disciples
(16,13-15.20-21.24-28), and the parts in which he is in dialogue with
Peter (16,16-19.22-23), whereby we are struck by the contrast between