It’s not exactly a blazing tempo, but it was still significant for me.
Earlier this week, within 36 hours, I immersed myself in Matthew’s gospel, reading it all the way through—mostly aloud, to myself. (This was one step among many taken to prepare for a presentation early next month.) I took a couple chapters at a time, eating leftover thin-crust pizza and accomplishing other miscellany in between. I noted so many textual connections that it made my befuddlable brain dizzy!
I’m struck by at least two levels of literary connectivity:
- A possible, quasi-chiastic, document-level structure that has outer sections, inward sections, and a center. Several ties may be seen, for example, between teaching sections in chapters 5-7 and chapters 23-25 (apparently the next-to-outermost sections). I also noticed connections between the birth and crucifixion narratives. This feature of Matthew has been noticed, discussed, and sometimes disagreed with by scholars, and I was aware of that going in.
- A repetitive structure that has seemingly less significant items showing up more than once, possibly for emphasis. Example: the mentions of children in 18:1-4, 19:13-15, and 21:16. These features will surely have been noticed by others, but I had no preparation or predisposition to notice the repetitions. They just kept popping up!
Overall, GMatthew’s portrait of the Messiah has been 3rd on my list in terms of familiarity. It has now risen to 2nd, and I think I might even love it more than either Mark or John now.
The gospels are historical, to be sure, but a close and honest look at them shows them to be less concerned with an exact historical chronology of events than with the faith-significance of the events. – Gary D. Collier, The Forgotten Treasure, 44.