The Gospel according to Matthew
The gospel text below is from The Anchor Bible Matthew, intro, translation and notes by W.F. Albright and C. S. Mann.
21 : The Great Instruction:
The Law—Enemies (5:43-48)
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for those who misuse you. 45 In this way you will become sons of your heavenly Father, who causes the sun to rise upoin both good and evil, and sends rain to just and unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward have you? Do not the taxgatherers do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brethren, what extra are you doing? Do not the heathen do the same? 48 Be true, just as your heavenly Father is true.
43 – “You have heard that it was said,= as it was written; ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” A quotation from Leviticus 19:18, but the remainder of the verse is oral midrash inferred from the distinction drawn in the post-exilic period between dealing with Jews (neighbors) and those with Gentiles. But for the disciple all men are neighbors. (Cp. I Enoch – the righteous vs. the ungodly)
46 – taxgatherers – any class of men normally despised,
46 – true – A rabbinic commentary (TB Shabbath 133b), quoting a first-century CE authprity, parapgrases this as “Bew like him. As he is gracious and merciful, so be you gracious and merciful.”Gk telelos ~ true, sincere
22 : The Great Instruction:
6:1 “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in public to be a spectacle to men. If you do you have no reward for then you have no reward from your heavenly Father. 2 “When it comes to almsgiving, do not trumpet it abroad, as the overscrupulous do in the synagogues and in the market places, so that they may be praised by men. In solemn truth, I tell you they already have their reward. 3 But when giving alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your almsgiving is in secret. Your Father who sees in secret will reward you (openly.]
2 – overscrupulous – upokritai (the plural of hypokrites) : This does not mean “hypocrites” as it has been usually translated”: Albright has an 18-page Appendix to the Introduction (pp. CXV-CXXIII) explaining the origins of what upokrites came to mean in Matthew.
The verb krinesthai originally meant – in Homer – “to interpret (dreams) (Odyssey 19, 535, 555) and it is only in later times that it came to mean “playing an actor’s part.” (CXVI). Thus hypokrites came to mean one who declaimed or recited Greek poetry ot drama, especially Homer. (CXVII)
Hypokrites is frequently used is Matthew to mean very near the Greek of “those who demonstrate or interpret.” Here in 6:2, 5, 16 it was not that these people were consciously acting a part which did not correspond to their own inner convictions (as hypocrits would), but that they were parading their own scrupulousness in public. (CXXI).
3 – in secret Cf. “One who does alms in secret is greater than Moses our teacher.” (TB, Baba Bathra 9b).
4 – (openly). The contrast is required for the antithesis.
23 : The Great Instruction:
5 “When you pray, do not be like the overscrupulous, who love to stand in the synagogues and public places to pray, so that they may be in plain view of all. Truly I tell you, they already have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, shut the door and pray to your Father in secret. Your Father who sees in secret will reward you (openly). 7 “In praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they suppose that they will be heard because of their verbosity. 8 Do not be like them, your heavenly Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray like this:
‘Our Father in heaven,
may your name be held in honor.
10 Let your Kingdom come.
Let your will be done,
as in heaven, so also on earth.
11 Give us today the food we need.
12 And release us from our debts,
as we also release our debtors.
13 Do not bring us into the final test
but save us from the Evil One.[aw]
14 If you forgive men their offences, your Heavenly Father will forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your offenses.
5 – not a condemnation of praying in a synagogue or in public as such.
7 – verbosity Gr battalogia also ‘stammering’ constant repetition
9 – Pray like this, i.e. “in this way,” not “in these words. The constant repetition of the Lord’s prayer in public has steadily eroded the eschatological urgency of the words almost to the vanishing point.” The first three clauses – headlines — pray for the advent of the Kingdom so that God’s will will be performed.
– ‘Our Father in heaven, may your name be held in honor – the early Christians would have been prompted to recall God’s other titles (Lord, King, Husband, etc.) and the OT divine name knowing and saying the euphemism for which was part of fulfilling the divine covenant. In the synagogue God’s Name was honored in the prayer known as the Kaddish.
The Kaddish is in origin a closing doxology. The central theme of the Kaddish is the magnification and sanctification of God’s name. It ends with a plea for peace on earth as in heaven.
11 – Give us today the food we need. Gr “ration”?
12 – release us from our debts – Cp the LXX of Deut 15:2 for the new order:
13 – the final text – Gr peirasmos “the birth pangs of the Messiah” ~ distress and tribulation, sc. A sharp and bitter struggle between men [Albright] and the forces of evil.
14 – offenses – Gr lit. a false step
The duties of the obedient disciple are prayer, fasting and almsgiving, all being areas in which ostentation is a constant temptation.
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