The man of St Matthew


Marriage, divorce, celibacy, children: 19,1-15

In our overview of chapter 19, we saw how this scene marks the final departure of Jesus from Galilee. Henceforth Jesus will be in Judea (even though Matthew in 19,1 has to strain geography to make the point).

We also saw the frame that links the various units in 19,1-15 so that they need to be read together. Note though the different audience in verses 3 and 10. Note too that verses 13 to 15 form a little sub-unit with the same phrase repeated in verse 13 and 15.

Verse 2 tells us something about Jesus' activities before verse 3 becomes specific. See how Matthew has made three significant alterations to Mk 10,1

Now look to see how Matthew has edited Mark, Mk 10,2-12. Note in particular how the intervention of the disciples has been changed. What is the effect of this?

Perhaps more than usual, the audience sets the tone. Jesus is discussing law, Torah, with the Pharisees who are his opponents. In verse 3, the Pharisees ask a question. What has Matthew added to the question as asked in in Mark (Mk 10,2)? How has Matthew in verse 4 changed the mode of Jesus' reply in Mark (Mk 10,3)?

Then see how Matthew has altered Mark 10,2-10 and Jesus' approach in his answer.

Jesus has already considered divorce briefly in the Sermon on the Mount (5,31-32), but the audience there was different.

Jesus' answer in verses 4 and 5 is based on two OT texts: Gen 1,27; Gen 2,24.

The reply of the Pharisees in verse 7 looks to Dt 24,1, Malachi 2,16.

Unique to Matthew is the exception clause in verse 9. Possible background is found in Lev 18,6-8.

In verses 10-12, Matthew adds to Mark the reaction of the disciples. With a different audience Jesus gives a different message. Consider why the disciples ask the question.

Jesus then speaks of three types of eunuch. For the first two, see Dt 23,1. See also Is 56,3-5. When might it be acceptable?

This opens up another stage in verses 13 to 15. How is this example of the children linked to the preceeding teaching? Then consider the implications of the kingdom of heaven belonging to the children, see 18,3-4. Note how Matthew has altered Mark, Mk 10,13.

Now go to my response.

We continue to read about the rich young man and eternal life, Mt 19,16-30.