Matthew, A Chronological Narrative -- By: J. F. Springer

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 080:317 (Jan 1923)
Article: Matthew, A Chronological Narrative
Author: J. F. Springer


Matthew, A Chronological Narrative

J. F. Springer

Quite a number of those who have given attention to Synoptic matters entertain the view that the Gospel of Matthew is more or less wanting in chronological arrangement. This is doubtless in part due to the assumption that the Markan account is the more primitive and that in case of any difference in order Matthew must be the one with the non-chronological sequence, and in part attributable to an exaggerated conception of what is perhaps a tendency of the Matthaean writer to group some of his materials in accordance with numerical and topical ideas.

At all events, whatever the underlying cause, there is a considerable inclination discernible that would disparage Matthew from the point of view of a chronological document. I proceed to give a couple of excerpts, one of which is in the form of a translation from the German.

“A comparison of Mk. and Mt. thus proves that the latter is upon the whole secondary, and that he had no independent chronological tradition or information to guide him in placing either sayings or incidents. His choice and disposition of materials becomes less and less reliable, from a historical standpoint, when he leaves the Marcan record.”—An Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament (1911), James Moffatt, p. 247.

“In Matthew everything is rounded off. There, the numbers three, seven, ten govern genealogy, temptation, miracles, parables and woes. In Matthew, everything is marshalled and everything is disposed in rank and file in accordance with points of view or rubrics. Matthew gathers speeches and small sayings in order to fashion the Sermon on the Mount into a rather considerable discourse; and he links miracles of every sort into a comprehensive picture of the miracle-working power of Jesus. But, on just this account, on account of this order, conditioned and defined in accordance with the content, Matthew loses sight of the natural development and completely destroys the chronological order, so that Jesus is at the beginning just about the same as at the end, so that the author carries his conception of the Messianic dignity of Jesus back as early as to the very beginnings of the Ministry.”—Einleitung in das neue Testament (1909), C. R. Gregory, S. 758.

These excerpts will suffice, perhaps, to illustrate the point that the historical character of the order of events in Matthew has been challenged.1

From the fact that the preceding two excerpts and the two references have been made, the reader is not to conclude that the following investigation into the chronological character ...

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