The man of St Matthew


Chapter 14: Overview

Commentators point out that from this point onwards Matthew follows Mark's order of events closely. Up to this point as we have seen, Matthew has been free in the way he has used his sources, including the Gospel of Mark.
However, following Mark's order does not necessarily mean following Mark's message. We will be seeing how some deft editing by Matthew gives a different slant on Mark's stories. We'll consider this below when we look at Matthew's treatment of the first episode in this chapter. That is the story of the fate of John the Baptist, Mt 14,1-12. This is followed by Jesus feeding the crowds, 14,13-21. We will see below what links these two episodes.
It is only when Jesus gets into the boat that Matthew begins to follow Mark closely, 14,13 and Mk 6,32. The two Gospels then continue to be parallel (but subject to editing) until the beginning of Matthew's community discourse in chapter.

Most of the rest of this chapter 14 is the scene of Jesus walking on the water, 14,22-34. Linking the walking on the water to the feeding of the crowds seems to be fixed in traditon. We find the two episodes together even in chapter 6 of John's Gospel.
Then at the end of the chapter there is a short summary of Jesus' healings in verses 35 and 36.

We can therefore read this remarkably compact chapter over three pages:

Matthew the editor

Before we begin our reading, we need to consider how Matthew has edited the setting of the John the Baptist story. Look in both Mark and Matthew and see what happens after the death of John the Baptist. You will find that Matthew has changed Mk 6,30-32 to just the one verse, 14,13. Then look back to what happens before the John the Baptist scene. You will find Mk 6,12-13 has no equivalent in Matthew. If you write this out, you will find that Mark has given a setting to the execution of John the Baptist which has been removed by Matthew. (The mission of the disciples has already been told by Matthew as the lead-in to the discourse of chapter 10.)

Consider therefore the meaning of Matthew's editing which brings this story of John's execution closer to both the preceeding (13,54-58) as well as to the following (14,13-21) stories.

Look now at my response.

We begin reading the chapter with Herod's birthday, Mt 14,1-12.