The man of St Matthew


Chapter 14: Overview

From chapter 14, onwards Matthew follows Mark's order of events more closely. The evangelist joined Mark's story in 12,1, but up to this point he has been following it quite freely.

However, following Mark's order does not necessarily mean that Matthew is following Mark's message. We will be seeing how some deft editing by Matthew gives a different slant on Mark's stories. We'll explore this below as we look at how Matthew has rearranged Mark in the first episode in this chapter.
This is the story of the fate of John the Baptist, 14,1-12 which is followed by the first feeding the crowds by Jesus, 14,13-21. Here Matthew has made a significant omission and changed the way that Mark links these two episodes.

It is only after that, from 14,13 and Mk 6,32 and the feeding of the crowd, that the two Gospel stories can be said to be in parallel until the beginning of Matthew's community discourse in chapter 18.

Following the feeding of the crowds, 14,13-21, 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. Even in John's Gospel (Jn 6) we find the two episodes together.
Then at the end of the chapter there is a short summary of Jesus' healings, 14,35-36.

Chapter 15 then opens with the arrival of the Pharisees and a new topic.

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

Matthew the editor: Mt 14,1-13

Before we begin our reading, we need to consider as I noted above how Matthew has edited the setting of the John the Baptist story, 14,1-12. 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.

Consider therefore the results of Matthew's editing. See how it brings the story of John's execution closer to both the preceeding (13,54-58) and to the following (14,13-21) stories. What now becomes Matthew's theme?

Then look at my response.

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