Synoptic Gospels 2021 Programme

Chairs: Tim Carter and Kent Brower

Session 1

Kai Akagi, Japan Bible Seminary, ‘Is This a Joseph Reference?: Chain Allusion in Matthew 2:18’

The quotation of Jeremiah 31:15 in Matthew 2:18 has puzzled readers both by its form and its placement. Maarten J. J. Menken has observed that the form of the quotation combines Jeremiah 31:15 with Genesis 37:35. In contrast to Menken’s proposal that this form resulted from scribal exegesis reflected in Matthew’s Vorlage, this paper argues that a combination of Jeremiah 31:15, Genesis 37:35, and Genesis 42:36 occurred at Matthew’s compositional stage for the purpose of signaling allusions to Jeremiah and the Joseph Story simultaneously. This chain allusion functions in Matthew to appropriate new exile and new exodus themes while also recapitulating the beginning of Israel’s history through Jesus’s entrance to Egypt for the life of his people in parallel to the role of Joseph in Genesis. Finally, this paper considers how this use of the Joseph story in Matthew may have served to provide one Christian answer to expectations for a messiah son of Joseph when Jesus was known as a Judahite.

Peter Turnill, Independent scholar, ‘Matthew’s Apocalyptic Christology: a study of the Transfiguration’

The Gospel of Matthew is well known for its greater use of apocalyptic imagery and it is also well known for its particularly elevated christology. What is less well appreciated is the connection between the two. Matthew’s Gospel has also in particular been the subject of intense scrutiny and speculation regarding the social situation of Matthew and his supposed community, to account for the strong tensions regarding Judaism in general and the Torah in particular. A good fit for this Gospel has been the parting of the ways between Judaism and Christianity, with concomitant questions over Jewish identity with Gentile conversions. These tensions, identity problems and possible persecution, have provided a fertile background to explain the heightened apocalypticism in the work. But has focus on background questions eclipsed the theology of Matthew itself, and even more so the christology? Rather than studying the apocalyptic features to speculate about the community, a potentially more fruitful area of study is how Matthew uses such imagery in service of his high christology. I will focus on Matthew’s Transfiguration narrative as perhaps the clearest example of his apocalyptic reworking of the tradition.

Mireia Vidal i Quintero, University of Edinburgh, ‘From Lament over Jerusalem to Lament over Jesus: a reading through cultural trauma and ritual lamentation approaches’

The Lament over Jerusalem (Luke 13:34-35 // Matt 23:37-39) is one of the most interesting pericopae in the double tradition as it holds the only piece that can be rightly labelled as “lament” in the whole New Testament. While in Luke and Matthew the lament is to be read as a prophecy ex eventu on the occasion of the destruction of the Temple/Jerusalem in 70 CE, I contend that in Q it makes all the more sense when understood as a traumatic marker over Jesus’s death. Indeed, approaching the text through cultural trauma and ritual lamentation insights, I argue that the Lament offers a narrative designed to make sense of Jesus’s death while structuring a commemorative action that allows the group espousing his memory to push forward. In this vein, ritual lamentation, in which women played a crucial role within the social mores of Jewish piety, reveals itself as a critical and remarkable early instance of elaboration of Jesus memory.

Session 2: Joint Session with NT and Second Temple Judaism

Book Review Panel: Matthew Thiessen, Jesus and the Forces of Death: The Gospels’ Portrayal of Ritual Impurity Within First Century Judaism (Baker Academic Press, 2020)

Panel members: Chris Keith (St Mary’s University, Twickenham) and Candida Moss (University of Birmingham), with Matthew Thiessen (McMaster University) in attendance.

Session 3

Richard Burridge, University of Manchester, ‘The Rough Mark: Attempting a Literal Verbatim Translation’

 This reading of the first half of the Gospel of Mark will be based upon a literal translation , following various guiding rules or principles, such as:

  • keeping to the same word order (which tends to make Mark sound all Yorkshire like Geoffrey Boycott, or the Jedi master, Yoda, with the subject following the verb!),
  • keeping to the same tenses (so Mark’s 151 uses of the historic present keep popping up in sentences with past main verbs),
  • keeping to the same word groups (thus the link between the common verb συνάγω, gather together, and the ‘synagogue’, συναγωγή, is missed in most English translations, while the perfectly normal ἀφίημι, ‘to leave or let go’ (in Mark 1:18, 20, 31, 34) is often translated as “forgive” (in Mark 2:5, 7, 9) – and any link between these close references is lost

The translation is designed for oral performance, preferably in its entirely, in three Acts over two parts (splitting at Mark 8.21-26 as the boundary hinge). This session will feature the reading or performance of as much of the first half of Mark as possible, together with some pointers for lessons which have been learned, difficulties encountered, reactions garnered etc in order to provoke a good discussion.