Matthew's Emmanuel Messiah : a paradigm of presence for God's people
The motif of divine presence is a clear phenomenon within the Gospel of Matthew. The modern critical means for assessing the ancient biblical text have multiplied to the point, some claim, of disparity. This study employs both narrative and redaction criticism in an attempt to respond authentically to the structural, historical and theological dimensions of Matthew's Gospel. This study begins with the presumption of the wholeness and integrity of Matthew's narrative, and assumes the gospel story to have an inherently dramatic structure which invites readers to inhabit imaginatively its narrative world and respond to its call. But since we are concerned with the role of both reader and author, this study also assumes a text with an historical author and context. The introduction focuses on the meta-critical dilemma facing New Testament students - what is the text and how do we read it? - and seeks some balance in terms of Krieger's analogy of the text as both window and mirror. Proposed is a narrative reading of Matthew's presence motif alongside a redaction critical assessment of it. In Chapter 2 the elements of narrative theory are introduced and relevant terms defined: the structure of narrative, the function of the narrator, points of view. Chapter 3 becomes an exercise in narrative reading, with Matthew's presence motif providing the focus, and the implied reader’s interaction with the story being predominant in interpretation. Characters, rhetorical devices, and points of view are discussed, to understand the motif's development throughout the story's progress. The thrust of Chapter 4 is thereafter to examine divine presence as a dominant motif within Matthew's most important literary context: the Jewish scriptures. Here the primary paradigms of divine presence provided by the Patriarchs, the Sinai experience, and the Davidic-Zion traditions are assessed. Chapter 5 follows with a more detailed examination of the OT "I am with you/God is with us" formula and its µeo' vµwv/ηuwv language, so strongly connected to Matthew's presence motif. Chapters 6-8 build on these investigations with a closer analysis of the three critical "presence passages" of Mt 1:23. 18:20 and 28:20. The passages and their contexts are probed from a redaction critical perspective, guided by the narrative investigation of Chapter 3, and the background from Chapters 4 and 5.The three major "presence passages" examined in Chapters 6-8 are also complimented by a number of secondary issues: worship, wisdom, the Spirit and the poor in Matthew, and their relation to Jesus' divine presence. These are discussed in Chapter 9. Chapter 10 summarizes and looks briefly at some implications. Matthew' presence motif proves to be an important element of the Gospel’s rhetorical design, redactional strategy and Christology. The presence of Jesus, the Emmanuel Messiah, exhibited in his risen authority, becomes the focus of his people's hopes and experiences in the post-Easter world. What the presence of Yahweh was to his people. Jesus now provides in a new paradigm for his people - his followers, the little ones, the poor and the marginalized, from all nations.