The Stilling Of The Storm In Matthew: A Response To Günther Bornkamm -- By: Paul Frederick Feiler

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 26:4 (Dec 1983)
Article: The Stilling Of The Storm In Matthew: A Response To Günther Bornkamm
Author: Paul Frederick Feiler


The Stilling Of The Storm In Matthew:
A Response To Günther Bornkamm

Paul Frederick Feiler*

I. His Thesis And Development

According to Bornkamm,1 Matthew has interpreted the story of the stilling of the storm in a new way. He has taken the story out of its biographical setting in Mark and Luke, placed it in a different context in his gospel, and altered it in a characteristic way in order to make it serve a new motive. The new role in which the story is cast is that of a kerygmatic model of “the danger and glory of discipleship.”2

The underpinnings for Bornkamm’s hypothesis are provided by an initial methodological assertion: Kerygmatic faith in Jesus served as the foundation of the gospel tradition.3 The gospels have been written, and therefore Jesus must be understood, from the perspective of the faith in Jesus proclaimed by the early Church. Consequently we do not have biographies of Jesus but rather a proclamation of his words and deeds drawn from primitive Christian tradition and shaped to serve kerygmatic concerns. Although the evangelists take pains to record the tradition accurately, they are clearly free to alter it in the light of pragmatic interests. This methodology is confirmed by the pericope found in Matt 8:23–27, the stilling of the storm.

Bornkamm’s first contextual observation is that the story occupies a different place in Matthew than in Mark or Luke. Matthew has taken the story out of its biographical setting and placed it in a context of a series of miracles (chaps. 8–9) whose purpose is to show Jesus as the “Messiah of deed” after showing him as the “Messiah of the word” in the sermon on the mount (chaps. 5–7).4 Thus observation of the overall context substantiates Matthew’s free use of the tradition.

Second, careful analysis of the immediate context of the pericope demonstrates that its interpretation is not exhausted by labeling it a straightforward nature miracle as in the Markan account. Matthew has prefaced the story with tw~ sayings of Jesus about discipleship (akolouthein). To the scribe who has

*Paul Feiler is a doctoral candidate in New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey.

pledged unfailing allegiance, Jesus warns of the perils of following him. To the disciple ...

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