Saturday, February 17, 2007
Does Matthew Introduce a Time After Jesus?
I'm curious whether Matthew does the same thing. It's common, of course, to attempt to determine Matthew's ecclesiology for his own time, partly by his explicit statements and partly by teasing out implications of how he chose to tell his story. But does Matthew indicate how the transition took place between the time when Jesus taught his disciples in person and the time when he no longer did so?
It has been argued, of course, that Matthew's lack of an ascension account, coupled with Jesus' promise, "Behold, I am with you always," indicates that Matthew wishes to emphasize the continuity between the accounts described in the gospel and whatever took place in the church after that time. Yet Jesus also tells his disciples in Matthew that they will have authority to bind and loose matters for the church, so clearly something has changed. So my question is, does Matthew indicate this shift more or less explicitly through the rhetoric of his narrative? I plan to emphasize an audience oriented approach, with appropriate reference to other methods of criticism.
For my notes, I'll also consider passages that seem aimed directly at the reader, i.e., that jump from Jesus directly to the church member in Matthew's day. However, what I really would like to find are indications (other than just the great commission) of the transition that is implied at the end of the gospel.