Understanding and stumbling : a study of the disciples' understanding of Jesus and his teaching in the Gospel of Matthew
The dissertation is a redaction-critical study of Matthew's portrayal of the disciples' understanding of Jesus and his teaching. After surveying current views of the question, the introduction states why the subject is important and why the author feels it has been inadequately handled. Working presuppositions are expressed. The main body of the thesis consists of two sections. The first explores many of the narratives in which it appears Matthew has redacted his sources in favour of making the disciples understand Jesus. The section begins with a chapter on the notion of understanding in background literature to Matthew. Chapters follow which investigate Matthew's depiction of the disciples as those who understand the parables and other teachings of Jesus and partially understand his person and mission. The motives for Matthew's redaction are a primary focus of these chapters. Conclusions are reached concerning the portrayal of the disciples in Matthew vis-a-vis their portrayal in Mark and other Matthean sources. The second section of the thesis looks at the as yet unexplored dimension of the disciples' lack of understanding of Jesus, particularly as it relates to their 'stumbling' over his person. Again a chapter is devoted to the background literature concerning the notion of stumbling in order to establish that there is a noetic element in the concept; then, several chapters explore passages in Matthew which show the disciples misunderstanding Jesus and stumbling at his teaching. This lack of understanding is portrayed so thoroughly by the evangelist that the disciples not only stumble at Jesus but become stumbling blocks themselves, first for Jesus, and potentially for other members of the Christian community. A short summary chapter, explaining some conclusions to be drawn from the work and suggesting avenues of further needed exploration, concludes the work.