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
The Macrostructure of Matthewâ€™s Gospel 193
with the stereotype formula already applied in 7,28. A number of
elements from the narrative introduction to the Sermon on the Mount
recur in 9,36-37:
5,1 ijdw;n de; tou;" o[clou" 9,36 ijdw;n de; tou;" o[clou"
oiJ maqhtai; aujtou' [...] ejdivdasken 9,37 tovte levgei toi'" maqhtai'" aujtou'
Matt 10,1 takes up the summarizing sketch of Jesusâ€™ work in 4,23
and 9,35: the twelve disciples are given the power to cast out unclean
spirits and to cure every sickness and disease. Remarkably, they are
not yet assigned the task of teaching; this does not happen until 28,20
(didavskonte" aujtou;"), when they have heard everything Jesus has to
say to them. In 11,1b, the only thing we hear is that Jesus journeys
from one town to another in order to teach and proclaim his message.
In the above, 11,2-30 is labelled as a textual unit with a hinge
function. This standpoint deserves further explanation. First, I will
enter into the proposed demarcation: is 11,2-30 indeed a textual unit?
Matt 11,2-30 is almost entirely made up of direct speech that, with
the exception of 11,3 is spoken entirely by Jesus. His words are only
interrupted by short narrative sentences (11,7a.20.25a), that indicate to
whom the speaker is talking. The coherence within 11,2-30 is also
obvious from other phenomena. That 11,2-6 and 11,7-19 belong
together, is evident on the grounds of an inclusio (11,2: â€œthe deeds of
the Messiahâ€; 11,19: â€œthe deeds of wisdomâ€). The command given to
Johnâ€™s disciples (11,4: â€œGo ..â€.) is executed in 11,7 (â€œAs they went
away ..â€.). Following Johnâ€™s question about Jesus, Jesus himself
begins to speak about John. The narrative introduction in 11,7
resembles that of 11,20 (h[rxato, followed by an infinitive: levgein and
oneidizein, respectively). The time adjunct in 11,25 links not only 12,1
but also the section preceding 11,25.
And now the query as to the function of 11,2-30. In my opinion,
11,2-30 does not have the character of a new episode in the story that
is being related. Rather, the reader is given the impression that the
story is momentarily interrupted here for an interim balance. My
suggestion that this passage functions as a hinge is based on the
presence in the text of retrospective and anticipating elements. First, I
will mention a number of retrospective elements.
In 11,2-6, Johnâ€™s followers ask the question whether Jesus is
indeed the eschatological bringer of salvation (su; ei\ oJ ejrcovmeno"). The
term chosen reminds us of 3,11: oJ de; ojpivsw mou ejrcovmeno". John
allows the question to be asked as a result of news about ta; e[rga tou'