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Matthew as Story, 2nd ed. [Paperback]

By Jack D. Kingsbury (Author)
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Item description for Matthew as Story, 2nd ed. by Jack D. Kingsbury...

Much of literary criticism involves a study of the content of the narratives and of the rhetorical techniques by means of which they are told. Some chapter discussions are; the method itself, tracing the storylines of Jesus, Jesus' designation of himself as the Son of man, the disposition and character of the great speeches Jesus delivers, and the social and religious circumstances in which the Christian community apparently lived. The author views Matthew as a unified narrative, organized with a coherent plot, the story of which is governed by a single, overarching, "evaluative point of view."

Publishers Description
This work uses literary (narrative) criticism to explore the world of the evangelist Matthew. The focus is on the plot of the gospel story, with discussions of the storylines, Jesus' speeches and journey, the disciples' experiences, and the contemporary community. The book is a completely revised and enlarged version of the first edition. Two chapters have been added: one discussing the speeches of Jesus and one tracing the storline of the religious leaders. Also, chapter 5 on Jesus' use of "the Son of man" has been substantially rewritten to explain more fully and more clearly the meaning and function of this self-designation. Throughout the book, new topics and insights have been added and developed, and the citations and bibliography have been updated.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Augsburg Fortress Publishers
Pages   196
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.96" Width: 6.11" Height: 0.5"
Weight:   0.7 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 1, 1988
Publisher   Augsburg Fortress Publishers
Edition  Revised  
ISBN  0800620992  
ISBN13  9780800620998  

Availability  120 units.
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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Bible & Other Sacred Texts > Bible > New Testament
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4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > New Testament > Study
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Reviews - What do customers think about Matthew as Story, 2nd ed.?

A pioneering study  Jun 25, 2007
This book by Jack Dean Kingsbury, who is widely recognized as a pioneer in the literary-critical interpretation of Matthew's Gospel, is a revised and enlarged edition of a study that first appeared in 1986. Building on the work of literary theorist Seymour Chatman and others, Kingsbury interprets the First Gospel in terms of plot, characters, and settings. Along with the story of the narrative, or "what" the story tells us, Kingsbury analyzes the discourse of the narrative, or "how" the story is told: The subject matter includes, among other things, what narrative critics call the "implied author," the "narrator," the "evaluative point of view," and the "implied reader." The concept of "implied reader" is important to Kingsbury's analysis of the Gospel, and his explanation of the term is interesting:

"[I]t refers to an imaginary person who is to be envisaged, in perusing Matthew's story, as responding to the text at every point with whatever emotion, understanding, or knowledge the text ideally calls for. Or to put it differently, the implied reader is that imaginary person in whom the intention of the text is to be thought of as always reaching its fulfillment."

What should be ultimately significant to real readers therefore is that the text, understood as Kingsbury would have us understand it, prods us to read from the vantage point of the implied reader (to the extent that such is possible), so that the intention of the text may "reach its fulfillment" in us. Approached that way, Matthew's Gospel has power to transform the reader.

According to Kingsbury, Matthew's story, like all good stories, has a beginning (the presentation of Jesus to the reader), a middle (the teaching, preaching, healing mission of Jesus to Israel and Israel's repudiation of Jesus), and an ending (the journey of Jesus to Jerusalem, his suffering, death and resurrection). In terms of salvation history, it encompasses two epochs: the time of prophesy (OT), and the time of fulfillment, which is the time of Jesus (earthly and exalted). Kingsbury traces the story lines of Jesus, who is the main character (protagonist); of the religious leaders treated collectively as the antagonist; and of the disciples of Jesus. The central motif is that of escalating conflict: between Jesus and the religious leaders (and to a lesser extent, the public), and between Jesus and the disciples. The resolution of the conflict in both cases is related to the crucifixion of Jesus. From the point of view of the religious leaders, a false messiah meets with his deserved end and Israel is "purged of evil." But from the point of view considered as normative throughout Matthew's story - the "evaluative point of view" of God with which Jesus (as well as the "narrator") is in complete accord - the resolution of the conflict occurs as Jesus is resurrected (vindicated) and the leaders stand condemned.

The conflict between Jesus and his disciples is of a different nature. Although through Jesus the disciples are the recipients of divine revelation, and understand who he is, they often display "little faith," think the "things of man" not the "things of God," and would not accept that Jesus had to suffer and die. In the end they forsake him. The resolution of the conflict happens as the risen Jesus reconciles them to himself, and finally leads them to understand that "servanthood is the essence of discipleship." In the final scene Jesus appears to the disciples as the risen one who is also crucified, and commissions them to enter on a mission to all the nations. Kingsbury is adamant that the resurrected Son of God is at the same time the crucified Son, and repeats it several times at various points in the book. His reference is the last part of verse 28:5; the literal translation of the Greek is, "Jesus the (one) having been crucified." NASB translates, "Jesus who has been crucified;" NAB, "Jesus the crucified;" but all the other main, modern English versions translate, "Jesus who was crucified." Kingsbury takes the Greek perfect participle seriously - "has been (and remains) crucified."

The study also includes two chapters, on Jesus' self-designation as Son of Man, and on the discourses of Jesus, respectively. In the former, he discusses the meaning and function of Son of Man as used by Jesus, and how it enhances the themes of "repudiation" and "vindication" that we meet elsewhere in the book. In the latter, he shows how the speeches of Jesus fit in the plot of Matthew's story, and do not stand apart from the rest of the story as some interpreters have assumed.

A last chapter, before three pages of concluding remarks, has more to do with historical-critical considerations than with the literary analysis which Kingsbury adopts throughout the rest of this fine study. He mines the text of Matthew for clues, as he strives to reach conclusions about the date of the Gospel, the social standing of Matthew's community, the social climate, the organization of the community, and so forth. For the first time we find references not only to the Gospels of Mark and Luke, but also to Ignatius. Kingsbury then conjectures the identity of the first evangelist (the real - as differentiated from the implied - author of the Gospel). Because of the different methodology used here, one may see this chapter as an addendum to the main work.

Finally, we may ask, what is the message of Matthew's story? Kingsbury tells us twice (on page 42 and in the last paragraph of the book): "In the person of Jesus Messiah, his Son, God has drawn near to abide to the rest of time with his people, the church, thus inaugurating the eschatological age of salvation." Kingsbury asserts that the message is a bold theological claim, and a call to commitment.

Treats the Gospel of Matthew in its own right  Jun 17, 2006
Jack Dean Kingsbury is a Lutheran (ELCA) and serves as professor of Biblical Theology at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. "Matthew as Story" is a narrative-critical analysis of the Biblical Gospel of Matthew; that is to say that Kingsbury treats this Gospel as one would treat any peace of narrative literature with plot, characters, setting, rising action, climax, etc.

The first (and longest) chapter is an introduction to literary criticism, lays out most of Kingsbury's suppositions (e.g. how Matthew is structured), and introduces literary terms even as he applies them to Matthew's Gospel. Most helpful in this chapter is his brief introductions to the "characters" (Jesus, the religious leaders, the disciples, etc.), the setting, the themes/motifs, and the overall message of Matthew. Chapters Two through Four cover the four basic divisions of the Gospel of Matthew: 1:1-4:16 (the reader's introduction to Jesus, the prophesied Son of David/Abraham), 4:17-16:20 (Jesus' teaching, preaching, and healing ministry to the Jews, his escalating conflict with the religious leaders, and his instruction of the disciples), and 16:21-28:20 (His journey to Jerusalem where he is killed and resurrected, his final commission to the disciples). The following chapters deal with aspects of Matthew's Gospel topically: The use of the term "Son of Man" (Chapter 5), Jesus' speeches (Chapter 6), a thorough analysis of Jesus' enemies (Chapter 7) and disciples (Chapter 8), and finally Kingsbury's theory about who Matthew was and to whom he wrote (Chapter 9). While the prose can be difficult at times, the author does his reader a great service by frequently using concluding paragraphs and summaries (his "Concluding Remarks" section at the end of the book even sums up the entirety of this work).

This reader found this book extremely helpful in my understanding of the Gospel of Matthew. Kingsbury treats Matthew in its own right (as opposed to finding connections with Mark, Luke, and John) and thus brings out many themes that tend to get overlooked. His analysis of the personality and motivation of Jesus, the disciples, and the other characters make them more vivid; his outline of Matthew is convincing; and his presentation of the "narrator/author" brings out the reason why Matthew wrote his Gospel (as opposed to John, Mark, and Luke). Kingsbury's analyses make me more equipped to read Matthew, teach it, and preach on it.

There were some aspects of this book that were not helpful. These include Kingsbury's treatment of Jesus' Trinitarian identity, his treatment of Jesus' major speeches, and finally, the whole of Chapter 9. As it relates to Jesus' identity within Matthew's Gospel, Kingsbury is not incorrect in what he writes, but rather fault lies in the fact that he did not write enough about Jesus' identity. He shows that Matthew viewed Jesus' birth as prophesied and his relationship with God the Father as a loving-Father-and-perfectly-obedient-son relationship, but does not advance Matthew's idea that Jesus is in fact God--coequal with the Father and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:13-17; 28:18-20). Second, Kingsbury only covered the functional aspect of Jesus' speeches (how they advance the plot and how they developed the various "characters" in the Gospel); he really didn't give the speeches' actual teachings much coverage. Finally, while aspects of Chapter 9 (the author and his audience) did point out some helpful aspects of this Gospel, he relies too much on speculation and arguments from absence. His final conclusion is that the Apostle Matthew didn't write this Gospel, this author borrowed material from Mark's Gospel, and that his audience was a wealthy, urban-dwelling, persecuted Christian community who probably lived in Antioch.

While these negative aspects are bothersome to this reader, on the whole, this book was well worth my effort. As previously mentioned, it has helped me understand and appreciate the Gospel of Matthew in its own right, distinguish Matthew's unique presentation of the Gospel, and I find it very practical and useful for my work in the parish. While the lay person may have trouble reading some of the jargon, pastors and those very interested in attaining a fuller understanding of Matthew would do well to read it. Recommended.
Good theological background on the Book of Matthew  Aug 14, 1999
Kingsbury does an excellent job at examing the background and aspect of the Gospel bearing Matthew's name. He takes a look at almost every conceivable topic that can come up with a Gospel study. The only problem that comes out of his book is that it is set at a very difficult reading level and probably only theologians and pastors will understand much of it. But for those people that can understand the material the material is amazing.

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