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Author Topic:   Book of Matthew - Serious or Satire?
purpledawn
Member (Idle past 3563 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 1 of 19 (285265)
02-09-2006 3:49 PM


Could the Gospel According to Matthew have been purposely written as a satire or humorous writing and not a serious religious work?
The Satire According to Matthew written by Kyle Williams describes the Book According to Matthew as a satire or humorous writing and not a piece that the author meant for his readers to take seriously.
IMO, it is possible that the author of Matthew (80-100CE) did intend it as a satire or humorous writing. I would like to compare Matthew with the Book According to Mark (65-80-CE), the synoptic written first, and the Book According to Luke (80-130CE), the supposed investigative synoptic, written after Matthew.
In the book "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel, expert Craig Bloomberg states: "It's important to acknowledge that strictly speaking, the gospels are anonymous."
Even though I agree that the synoptic authors are anonymous, I will be refering to the books by their traditional names. NOTE: This discussion is not about proving authorship. Please don't go there.
Williams has the satire markers broken down into five categories:
The Genealogy, Double Vision, Phony Fulfillments, Zechariah, and General Nonsense.
Genealogy
Mark carries no genealogy. Luke does not mention the women, which is normal. The women mentioned in the Matthew genealogy are rather questionable. An unusual group to bring forward and Luke didn't.
We also find that the genealogy doesn't stack up to what is written in Kings and Chronicles. Four generations seem to be omitted.
Luke did not support Matthew's genealogy. The point being that the investigator came up with different information and Matthew was trying to keep the numbers even.
(I don't want to argue about which is correct, if either, since there is already an open thread for that: Luke and Matthew's genealogies)
Double Vision
Several examples are given where the author has increased the number of participants in an event.
Mark (5:9) has one demon possessed man named Legion and Matthew has two (8:28-34). Now Luke (8:30) who claimed to investigate for his writing agrees with Mark and not Matthew. So the author of Luke does not support Matthew's rendition.
Phony Fulfillments
This brings up the ever popular virgin birth which was already fulfilled by Isaiah's son, which the Jews would know. (usage of the word almah, not up for debate-Don't go there)
Mark didn't have the birth story and Luke downplayed the impression that there was no sex between Joseph and Mary. Luke also doesn't bring up the name Immanuel. So the investigator again doesn't strongly support Matthew.
The prophecies brought out by Matthew don't hold water and aren't supported by the other two synopotics. (Out of Egypt 2:15, Nazarene 2:23, and Donkey Riding King 21:4-5.)
Zechariah
This is being covered in another thread Matthew 27:9: Quoted from Jeremiah? so I won't go into it here.
Conclusion:
Even though religious writings tend to have amazing stories within them, the author of Matthew brought up information that the Jews knew to be incorrect or could easily check.
As I understand it there were several men who tried to present themselves as the messiah in those days (First Century CE). Unfortunately, presenting the wrong information wouldn't make the author's candidate for messiah very impressive.
IMO, the author may have made these "mistakes" on purpose using ancient satire/humor to poke fun at the messiah craze.
__________________________________________
Please put this in the Bible: Accurracy and Inerrancy Forum please since this discussion is looking at accuracy of the information in the Book of Matthew in relation to the OT, the other two synoptics, and known history.
Edited by purpledawn, : Clean up

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02-09-2006 4:03 PM


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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 3563 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 4 of 19 (285670)
02-10-2006 3:29 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by purpledawn
02-09-2006 3:49 PM


The Genealogy
Why would an author who is presenting a messiah born of a virgin (no sexual relations) present a genealogy of a man who is not the child's biological father, especially one going through a cursed line and include women not so chaste? All of them women with stories in the Bible, so their history was conveniently known.
From Abraham to King David (straight from the OT), Luke and Matthew agree, after that they took different branches.
IMO, Luke the investigator probably presented a more correct genealogy for Joseph identifying which Joseph was supposedly the father of Jesus.
Matthew seemed to be more intent on getting the numbers to come out right (Three groups of 14) and giving a genealogy that was guaranteed not to be believed even if the audience missed the point that the child wasn't Joseph's anyway.
IMO, all of these are extremes that would show that the piece was done as satire or humorous writing.

"Peshat is what I say and derash is what you say." --Nehama Leibowitz

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Chiroptera
Inactive Member


Message 5 of 19 (285676)
02-10-2006 3:41 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by purpledawn
02-09-2006 3:49 PM


Oops. I tried to cancel my post but hit the wrong button instead.
This message has been edited by Chiroptera, 10-Feb-2006 08:42 PM

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nwr
Member
Posts: 6434
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 6 of 19 (285704)
02-10-2006 6:08 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by purpledawn
02-09-2006 3:49 PM


What would satire have looked like?
We are talking about a time before the invention of the printing press. Thus writing at that time was very different from what it is today.
Satire is usually written to amuse and entertain. Today you can achieve that by writing a book of satire, and having it published. But at the time of Matthew, that wouldn't be guaranteed to get you an audience.
My guess is that a satirist at that time would have written his satire either in the form of drama, or in the form of dramatic speeches to be performed at various places. So it would probably be written in a more dramatized form than contemporary satire.
Maybe I am mistaken in these guesses. Either way, there is a question of whether those considering Matthew to be satire are taking into account the way that satire would have been written in that period.

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Chiroptera
Inactive Member


Message 7 of 19 (285707)
02-10-2006 6:15 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by purpledawn
02-09-2006 3:49 PM


(This is what I meant to write in a previously aborted post.)
-
quote:
IMO, the author may have made these "mistakes" on purpose using ancient satire/humor to poke ”fun at the messiah craze.
I know that when trying to identify the original words of Jesus (as opposed to later additions), one of the criteria used by the Jesus Seminar was whether the statement or story could be seen as humorous. Their opinion is that Jesus himself used satire and over-the-top exaggerations in his teachings.
If Matthew was sympathetic to Jesus' teachings but was feeling annoyed with the Messianic cult developing around Jesus, then a satirical Gospel would seem to be in the proper spirit.

"Intellectually, scientifically, even artistically, fundamentalism -- biblical literalism -- is a road to nowhere, because it insists on fidelity to revealed truths that are not true." -- Katha Pollitt

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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 3563 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 8 of 19 (285810)
02-11-2006 8:06 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by nwr
02-10-2006 6:08 PM


Re: What would satire have looked like?
quote:
Satire is usually written to amuse and entertain. Today you can achieve that by writing a book of satire, and having it published. But at the time of Matthew, that wouldn't be guaranteed to get you an audience.
Writers don't always write for a large audience or to be published. This author may have only been writing to amuse a small group.
Matthew was written after Mark and the author had access to Mark or the same source as the author of Mark so he wasn't starting from scratch.
Compare this section of Mark and the same section in Matthew and then Luke. I'm using NIV
MARK
2:13
And He went out again by the seashore; and all the people were coming to Him, and He was teaching them.
2:14
As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, "Follow Me!" And he got up and followed Him.
2:15
And it happened that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him.
2:16
When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, "Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?"
2:17
And hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
MATTHEW
9:9
As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector's booth; and He said to him, "Follow Me!" And he got up and followed Him.
9:10
Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples.
9:11
When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, "Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?"
9:12
But when Jesus heard this, He said, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.
9:13
"But go and learn what this means: 'I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
LUKE
5:27
After that He went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, "Follow Me."
5:28
And he left everything behind, and got up and began to follow Him.
5:29
And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table with them.
5:30
The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?"
5:31
And Jesus answered and said to them, "It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick.
5:32
"I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."
Mark uses the name Levi for the tax collector, but Matthew changes it to Matthew and Luke's investigative author changes it back to Levi.
At the end of the excerpts we see that the author of Matthew added a line which isn't relative to the incident. Luke again sticks with Mark's rendition with a little embellishment.
While first century circulation may not be as fast as we have today, no one says the writing spread quickly. Some things take time to catch on.
Word of mouth usually starts the ball rolling.

"Peshat is what I say and derash is what you say." --Nehama Leibowitz

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Phat
Member
Posts: 18417
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003


Message 9 of 19 (285824)
02-11-2006 9:33 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by purpledawn
02-09-2006 3:49 PM


Don't Go there, either!
Are you suggesting that there is no Messiah? Why would an "anonymous" author choose to ridicule such a concept?
Perhaps we should think about the motives that people have for the books they write.
After all, it was not as easy to write a book back in those days!
To do so, one would have to have quite a deeply ingrained motive for doing so. I see two basic passions and motives as being possible.
1) The "anonymous author wished to share the impartation that he/she received by the Spirit of the living Christ
2) The author was dead set against any rival religions to his/her own mindset and sought to ridicule the new cult of christianity, (as they saw it)
Either way, we could conclude that the anonymous authors were serious.

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ramoss
Member (Idle past 717 days)
Posts: 3228
Joined: 08-11-2004


Message 10 of 19 (285831)
02-11-2006 10:30 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Phat
02-11-2006 9:33 AM


Re: Don't Go there, either!
The Jewish concept of the Messiah is different than the one developed by the CHristians. The origial Jewish concept was that someone , fully human, would kick the foreigners out of Jerusalum, and become a home grown king, from the house of David.
While I personally doubt that was matthews intention, having someone who was familar with the origininal intention of what the Mosishe would be is certianly feasible in that time period.
Remember, according to the Jewish religion, the Messiah has not come yet.

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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 3563 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 11 of 19 (285833)
02-11-2006 11:23 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Phat
02-11-2006 9:33 AM


Messiahship
quote:
Are you suggesting that there is no Messiah?
Are you suggesting that Jesus' messiahship hangs on the Book of Matthew?
This is not about whether Jesus is the messiah, but about whether the biography written by the author of Matthew concerning Jesus was serious or intended as humor.
quote:
Why would an "anonymous" author choose to ridicule such a concept?
Someone who didn't believe that Jesus was the messiah.
Someone who didn't like the way people were creating messiahs.
Someone who found messiah literature ridiculous.
Like I said earlier, there were several who had been brought forth as the messiah. More than likely each had their supporting info.
Our author may have poked fun at everybody for all we know.
quote:
After all, it was not as easy to write a book back in those days!
Elaborate. What do you mean by difficult?
Matthew isn't a very long piece of work.
The author of Matthew seemed to have had access to written works: Mark, the Torah, prophets, etc. So he wasn't a run of the mill farmer. He was probably a scribe or someone used to writing. So he had access to writing materials.
quote:
To do so, one would have to have quite a deeply ingrained motive for doing so.
Why? It could have been a hobby, it could have been a bet. Maybe he was making a copy of Mark and went silly.
Just because their mode of writing seems difficult to us, doesn't mean it was difficult for them.
quote:
I see two basic passions and motives as being possible.
How does what the writer wrote support your two motives?

"Peshat is what I say and derash is what you say." --Nehama Leibowitz

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arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 1449 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 12 of 19 (285957)
02-12-2006 10:35 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by purpledawn
02-09-2006 3:49 PM


genealogies
Mark carries no genealogy. Luke does not mention the women, which is normal. The ”women mentioned in the Matthew genealogy are rather questionable. An unusual group ”to bring forward and Luke didn’t.
the women matthew mentions are tamar, rahab, ruth, and uriah's wife -- harlots and adulterers, basically. these women are specifically and conspicuously mentioned.
We also find that the genealogy doesn’t stack up to what is written in Kings and ”Chronicles. Four generations seem to be omitted.
matthew omites the cursed king jehoiakim, but curiously includes his son who should not be in the royal lineage. we had a whole thread on this, here is the important post where i lay out what exactly is wrong with the genealogy:
quote:
when josiah dies, jehoahaz takes the throne. but he's taken off to egypt, so jehoiakim his brother takes the throne. when he dies, jeconiah his son takes the trone -- but when he's carried off, the next son of josiah takes his place. so maybe there's your answer -- maybe the line of kings has to read:
  • josiah
  • zedekiah
    ...
  • jesus
and not
  • josiah
  • (jehoiakim)
  • jeconiah
    ...
  • jesus
curiously, matthew leaves out jehoahaz too -- why leave out the brother, but not go through the father's brother like the line of kings actually went through? the presence of jeconiah is incredibly conspicuous.
jaywill also brings up a curious point in reply: matthew counts david twice to get to his magic number. more subtlety.
Mark (5:9) has one demon possessed man named Legion and Matthew has two (8:28-34). ”Now Luke (8:30) who claimed to investigate for his writing agrees with Mark and not ”Matthew. So the author of Luke does not support Matthew’s rendition.
[edit] nevermind, found it. this wasn't very clear -- the demons are named "legion" not the man. mark as one man, matthew has two men.
This message has been edited by arachnophilia, 02-12-2006 10:41 AM


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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 3563 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 13 of 19 (285959)
02-12-2006 11:34 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by arachnophilia
02-12-2006 10:35 AM


Re: genealogies
So why would an author who is writing a serious religious biography present a messiah born of a virgin (no sexual relations) and present a genealogy of a man who is not the child's biological father, especially one going through a cursed line and include women not so chaste? All of them women with stories in the Bible, so their history was conveniently known.
Considering that the author of Mark didn't have a birth story, the Matthew author did not really promote his messiah in the best light for the Jewish community.
Luke the investigator seemed to tone down the virgin part and presented a more reasonable genealogy.
It would make more sense to see the author's work as satire or humor instead of riddled with unintentional errors, IMO.
quote:
the demons are named "legion" not the man
You weren't supposed to notice that mistake.
But as you noted, only one man housed the demons in Luke and Mark, whereas Matthew had two.
Since Matthew's author pulled his information either from Mark or the same source as Mark, either the story of the demons was not real and the author had no problem changing the numbers or the author deliberately increased the number (as he did several times in his work) so that people understood his work was not a serious biography.

"Peshat is what I say and derash is what you say." --Nehama Leibowitz

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nwr
Member
Posts: 6434
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 14 of 19 (285960)
02-12-2006 12:05 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by purpledawn
02-12-2006 11:34 AM


Re: genealogies
So why would an author who is writing a serious religious biography present a messiah born of a virgin (no sexual relations) and present a genealogy of a man who is not the child's biological father, especially one going through a cursed line and include women not so chaste? All of them women with stories in the Bible, so their history was conveniently known.
Why not?
The author would have known that most of the people he was addressing would not be able to check the details. So he can present a genealogy designed to look impressive, with little concern that it would be checked. These days we have a technical term for that kind of writing. We call it a "snow job."

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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 3563 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 15 of 19 (285981)
02-12-2006 3:44 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by nwr
02-12-2006 12:05 PM


Re: genealogies
quote:
So he can present a genealogy designed to look impressive, with little concern that it would be checked. These days we have a technical term for that kind of writing. We call it a "snow job."
Now you've added another possibility to what I mentioned in Message 13
It would make more sense to see the author's work as satire or humor instead of riddled with unintentional errors, IMO.
If you look at the genealogy as a "snow job" then that presents a work that was possibly written to sway the pagans to the new religion and not the Jews.
Of course it still could have been a satire written to poke fun at how the new religion was recruiting pagans since this was written between 80-100CE after the "christian" sect was separated from Judaism.
The question is, can we discern which one it is?
Satire, Serious, or Snow Job?

"Peshat is what I say and derash is what you say." --Nehama Leibowitz

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