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Christianity / Bible / New Testament / Gospels /
Gospel according to Matthew


Christian text, gospel included in the New Testament, arranged as the first book. It was earlier assumed that the Gospel according to Matthew was the oldest, hence its position. Modern theories, suggest it to be junior to Mark, but the evidence for this is only theoretical, based on elements in narrative style and the content of the gospels.
As with all of the other gospels, the authorship of Matthew is questioned, where the only real consensus is that it was not the apostle Matthew. The author is believed to be Jewish, due to style and elements of emphasis. Fx. there is a tendency to avoid mentioning the true names of the divine, as was commanded by Judaism, but not Christianity.
The original audience is believed to have been Jewish Christians, as the dealing with Judaism is not condemning, except for the case of the Pharisees. The gospel is assumed to have been written in Palestine or Syria, around year 80 CE.
The author of Matthew is believed to have used Mark and the theoretical source of Q as his sources when writing his compilation, while adding some new material as well. While the language of Matthew is more elegant and elaborate than what is found in Mark, the structure is not as plain. The Sermon of the Mount, one of the most famous passages in all of the gospels, is not believed to be the exact words of Jesus, but is a text authored by the writer of the gospel.
Central to the content of Matthew, is Jesus as the promised Messiah, as the descendant of King David. Emphasis on Peter is another element, along with underlining of the position of the disciples. Single elements of the gospel stand out as particularly important, the Beatitudes and the Lord's Prayer. Matthew has more importance than the other gospels with respect to its influence on development of the church and Christianity.
Matthew starts with the birth of Jesus, and some stories from his childhood. Matthew uses these stories to prove already from the start of the gospel that Jesus was the son of God, and he draws many lines back to prophecies in the Old Testament. This continues into the stories from Galilee, where this landscape is presented as the promised land.
One of the core elements of the gospel, are the 5 discourses of Jesus. These are positioned to middle of the gospel, following a narrative (chapters 1-2), and followed by the Passion and the resurrection of Jesus. The discourses, which are narrative in their shape, are all concluded by the sentence: "...when Jesus finished these sayings...". The first 4 take place in Galilee, the last in Jerusalem.

Structure
1st discourse (Chapters 3-7)
Baptism by John the Baptist, the temptation from Satan, sermon of the Mount. Jesus tells that he has come to fulfil the Law and the prophecies.

2nd discourse (Chapters 8-10)
Jesus heals the sick. Content of discipleship is defined.

3rd discourse (Chapters 11.13)
Opposition from the Pharisees to Jesus. The kingdom of heaven is described.

4th discourse (Chapters 13-18)
John the Baptist is executed, Jesus receives a stronger following. The administration of the Church is defined.

5th discourse (Chapters 19-25)
Jesus in Jerusalem, controversies between him and groups of power. Jesus tells about the meaning of his coming, and the coming end of the world.




By Tore Kjeilen