Ethnicity in the Gospel of Matthew with its application to ethnic issues in Burma
This thesis critically investigates the relationship between the Jewish majority and the Gentile minority in the church which gave rise to Matthew’s Gospel. That is, the investigation is one of ethnic divisions in one specific church. The central interest in this research is to examine the community life of Matthew’s church in order to discover whether there was any racial discrimination, tension, and conflict between the two ethnic groups which was exacerbated by quite different cultural backgrounds. In order to examine social division, it was necessary to study the background of the author and his community in relation to ethnicity, the requirements for entry into the Matthean community, their new group identity markers, and to analyse the community rules and leadership of Matthew. The research is done principally from a study of the text of Matthew’s Gospel and viewed from an ethnic perspective in evaluating any element relating to ethnicity. As the result of this research project, this thesis argues that Matthew accepted non-Jews also into his Christian-Jewish community regardless of ethnic origins and formed a new kinsfolk of God, but his community rules did not provide any room to accommodate the culture of the Gentile minority. This cultural intolerance caused division, tension, conflict, and finally church schism in the aftermath of the Matthean leadership. It is therefore, advisable for the present and future leadership in both Christian mission and in political administration to learn from Matthew’s failure to understand the power of culture and his lack of concern for the minority’s interest. The final argument of this thesis is to choose the alternatives of giving equal rights and privileges to both minorities and majorities, or granting devolution; whichever is preferred, all our aim should be to heal our wounded world and keep the Church catholic healthy and alive to her mission.