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The Gospels according to Sts. Matthew and John involve heated negative rhetoric toward either Jewish leadership or the Jewish people themselves. A tremendously unfortunate result is the adoption of an antisemitic posture by Christians through the centuries. This occurred primarily because of a lack of an historical-contextual awareness on the part of both readers and preachers.

1) Provide a general introductory overview of Matthew’s Gospel: historical origins, key themes, structure, etc.

2) Point out some key moments of heated rhetoric against the Jewish leaders specifically or Jewish people generally. You might choose a few of the following pericopes though this list is certainly not exhaustive:
• Matt. 3:7-12
• Matt 12:33-37
• Matt. 21:33-46
• Matt. 23:1-36
• Matt. 27:22-26

3) Most importantly, provide an interpretation of these passages utilizing context to explain that the rhetoric occurred as a sort of inner-fight between the Jewish community itself or as an exaggerated attempted by Gentile / Jewish-Christians (ekklesia) to distinguish themselves from traditional Judaism (synagogue). [See below]. And, in any event, why do the discussed passages not justify antisemitism today?
“The treatment of this problem in the study and use of Matthew by New Testament scholars has tended towards two poles. (26) On the one hand are those who consider the Matthean community to be extra muros (outside of Jewish society). The decisive break with Judaism has already occurred and this work is an attempt to define for its largely Gentile membership the relationship of the ekklesia (church), its practices, and its beliefs, to its Jewish past. (27)
Another group of scholars has argued for an intra muros (within Jewish society) position for the Matthean community. They regard the Gospel of Matthew to be addressed to a group of followers of Jesus who were still part of the Jewish community of the time. Many of these scholars consider the first Gospel to be the product of what they would label as Jewish Christians.” – John Kampen, “The Gospel of Matthew and the Challenge of Antisemitism” in Mennonite Quarterly Review, (Vol. 92, Issue 4), 2018.

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