Archive | December, 2010

The Seventy- Luke 10:1-24

24 Dec

Back on 25 March 2009, I began my last post on a section of the Gospel of Luke with a flashback to the Annunciation, the event recounted in the opening chapter of Luke when the Angel Gabriel announces to the Virgin Mary that she would bear a son, Jesus, “Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32). Gabriel’s message is one of great joy: “Hail, favoured one! The Lord is with you,” yet Mary is said by Luke to be “greatly troubled” by it (vv 28-29). This episode ends with Mary’s joyful acceptance of God’s will for her: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (v 38). At those words, though, in characteristically Lukan fashion, Gabriel exits the scene and Mary is left alone. The joy of the occasion is combined with anxiety. Throughout Luke’s Gospel, the experience of discipleship is one of joy amid crisis.

That combination of joy and of crisis is again at the forefront at the close of Luke’s infancy narrative. As the prophetess Anna exhibits the mark of a true disciple by her ceaseless prayer in the Temple, Simeon, even while he blesses the Holy Family who has come to Jerusalem to present the Child Jesus to the Lord, predicts ominously: “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35). Joy abounds as the anticipated “redemption of Israel” (v 25) is fulfilled by the Incarnation of the Son of God, yet from a young age Jesus knows that He “must be in [His] Father’s house” (v 49). He must complete His mission that will culminate on a cross in Jerusalem, the city upon which the Lukan Gospel is focused. Christ’s Passion and death on that cross, though, will not be the end. At Emmaus the Risen Jesus opens the hearts and minds of His fearful disciples to the Scriptures (Luke 24:32, 45) and to His presence “in the breaking of the bread” (v 35).  Then, as He ascends to the Father, Jesus directs His disciples back to Jerusalem where they will receive the Holy Spirit and will be sent forth as His witnesses (Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:8, 2:1-4). Thus begins the mission of the Church.

Like the earthly life of Our Lord, the era of the Church has been marked by joy and by crisis, and like the early disciples in Luke’s account we must orient ourselves toward the Holy City. Indeed, as Christ set His face toward that goal (Luke 9:51), we must set ours toward the Heavenly Jerusalem. We are promised success in our Christian vocation, even while on earth we await the eternal bliss of heaven. Our earthly joy in God’s presence is intrinsic to our divine call to discipleship, a mission of which none of us are worthy. Simon Peter, the first of the Twelve chosen by Jesus to follow Him according to Luke, encountered his own sinfulness on the shore of the Lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5:8). Peter’s sorrow, fear, and incomprehension in the presence of the holy are transformed by Jesus into joy and reassurance as the Rock of the Apostles is sent forth: “From now on, you will be catching [people]” (v 10).

Jesus, though, is not content to send only Peter in His stead; twelve Apostles are selected “to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick” (Luke 9:1-2) Jesus clarifies that the mission of the Twelve will be demanding; they are to “take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor food, nor money, and… no one” is to “take a second tunic” (v 3) Our Lord’s commissioning of the Twelve begins Chapter nine of the Gospel of Luke. In that chapter, the Twelve grapple with the Messianic identity of their divine Master (vv 18-21). This Messiah predicts His death twice in the same chapter (vv 22 43b-45), leaving His Apostles confused and frightened. Jesus is transfigured before Peter, James, and John in a tremendous theophany in which the Son of God is affirmed by His heavenly Father: “This is my chosen Son; listen to Him” (v 35). However, even the Transfiguration unmistakeably points toward Jesus’ “exodus” (v 31); the Gospel’s climax, Jesus’ death outside Jerusalem, is again vividly foreshadowed.

Even the most fervent disciple would find the demands of fellowship in this Messiah difficult. After the awe-filled Transfiguration, the Twelve experience repeated failure in living the mission that they were sent to accomplish. Commissioned to heal the sick, they are not able to cure the demoniac child; their faith is no greater than that of the “faithless and perverse generation” (v 41) to which they belong. Jesus’ command to take nothing with them and to rely on God’s providence is neglected as the disciples clash over which one among them is greatest (vv 46-48). Instead of welcoming the outcast– they were to enter into the houses of the people on their way and build Christ’s kingdom of peace– they exclude the foreign exorcist (vv 49-50). Jesus, though, presses on.

Our Lord is determined to reach Jerusalem, although the road to the Holy City is arduous. It traverses the land of the hated Samaritans (vv 51-56). To follow Jesus requires the subordination of one’s earthly priorities– the security of one’s home, one’s family, one’s comfort in familiar surroundings and activities, and even one’s life (vv 57-62)– to discipleship of and in Christ. Jesus knows the difficulty of the task He entrusts to His disciples; this mission must conclude in self-sacrifice so that God will fill our emptiness with the glory of His resurrection. The path of Jesus leads us to the Cross if we are willing to accompany Him. Christ will not be deterred in accomplishing His salvific goal, nor does He stop at the call of only Twelve Apostles. Instead, Jesus expands the vocation of the Twelve to the whole Church, symbolized by the group of seventy[-two] first mentioned at the outset of Chapter Ten of the Gospel of Luke. There, Jesus sends these seventy “ahead of Him in pairs to every town” (Luke 10:1) with similar yet more expansive instructions to those with which He sent the Twelve in the preceding chapter of the same Gospel:

Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals, and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him, but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you… Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’ Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’ (vv 3-11)

These verses are not mere repetition by Jesus or by the Evangelist, although they do represent a typically Lukan couplet motif together with Luke 9:1-5. For example, the list of forbidden articles and activities in Luke 10:4 is similar to that in Luke 9:3: neither the Twelve nor the Seventy are to bring money or a sack in which to carry it on their journeys. The “walking stick” proscribed in 9:3 is substituted for a sanction against greeting other persons “along the way,” while instead of instructing the disciples not to “take a second tunic,” as in 9:3, in 10:4 Jesus says to the Seventy, “Carry… no sandals.”

Despite differences in wording and in order between the prohibitions in Luke 9:3 and 10:4, the message of both verses is essentially identical: discipleship in Christ requires total reliance on God, thus detachment from three sources of material security, whatever temporary good these might yield. The first of these sources is financial gain, symbolized by money and the sack in which to store it. The second, represented by the walking stick or by greeting people “along the way,” is adherence to a particular place or dependence upon particular people for happiness. The third source is attachment to goods– not only to clothing– indicated by the tunic or by the sandals.

Firstly, by these orders to His two sets of disciples, the Twelve and the Seventy, Jesus does not advocate destitution. In fact, Our Lord affirms in Luke 10:7 that “the labourer deserves his payment.” To deny the remuneration due a worker is a grave injustice: “Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts” (James 5:4). Secondly, neither does Jesus teach against close interpersonal relationships, or against a desire to serve in a specific environment. From my own perspective of religious life, for instance, I am frequently asked by friends, relatives, former students, and confrères alike whether I would want to return someday to our Basilian community in Colombia in which I last served over two years ago. I respond to such questions that I would go without reserve if called to serve there again. In six months in Cali, the people of our Congregation’s parish and school there taught me about true poverty: out of their material nothingness came a deep joy and faith that filled my comparative void and that continues to sustain me spiritually to this day. By the grace of God, though, I have also experienced great joy in Basilian community, whether in Edmonton, Cali, Windsor, or Toronto. I am open to service in any apostolate to which I am appointed, and I pray that this might always be so. Thirdly, by barring His disciples from carrying a second tunic or sandals, Jesus does not teach that to be well-attired is contrary to Christian fellowship. He does, though, urge simplicity of a pilgrim people. Money, friendship, a place to live and to work, and physical belongings are all necessary, but a Christian disciple must not regard these passing earthly goods as greater than the enduring good that awaits us in heaven.

Perhaps Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical Rerum Novarum, on Capital and Labour, puts this message best. Following an affirmation of the right of the worker to a just wage, Rerum Novarum continues:

The Church, with Jesus Christ as her Master and Guide, aims higher still… The things of earth cannot be understood or valued aright without taking into consideration the life to come, the life that will know no death.[1]

The valuation of eternal life over any finite earthly good is at the core of Jesus’ instruction as He commissions the Twelve and then the Seventy. Elsewhere in the Gospels, the same message is proclaimed even more clearly: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides” (Matt 6:33).

Upon sending forth the Twelve as well as the Seventy, Jesus stresses confidence in God over material possessions and even over other persons who might welcome His disciples along their way. The same instructions are conveyed in similar vocabulary and order, yet one ought not to dismiss as insignificant the true differences between Jesus’ words at the commissioning of the Twelve and of the Seventy. For example, Jesus’ more urgent exhortation to the Seventy in Luke 10:2, “the harvest is abundant but the labourers are few, so ask the Master of the harvest to send out labourers for His harvest,” is entirely absent from His directions to the Twelve in Luke 9. The following verse, a warning to the Seventy that they will be “like lambs among wolves,” also is not paralleled at the beginning of Luke’s previous chapter. However, comparable orders to those in Luke 10:1-16 are given by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew.[2] No parallel of any of Luke’s sending of the Seventy is found in Mark’s Gospel. Some sayings in Luke 9, such as Jesus’ mandate to the Twelve, are much less detailed than in Luke’s following chapter: “Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. And as for those who do not welcome you… shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them” (Luke 9:5). In Luke 10, this directive is more expansive; the Seventy are to accept and to return the hospitality of the “peaceful person” (Luke 10:6)– literally the “son of peace”[3]– and the proclamation of the imminence of the “Kingdom of God”[4] (vv 9, 11) is to follow whether or not the disciples are welcomed in the towns through which they travel.

These noteworthy discrepancies between the beginnings of Luke 9 and 10, and parallels or lack thereof between Luke 10:1-16 and passages in the other Synoptic Gospels, suggest that Luke’s accounts of the commissioning of the Twelve and of the Seventy stem from different sources. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all share the account of the sending out of the Twelve, although Matthew’s version of this pericope is arranged differently than those of Mark and of Luke.[5] In cases where a passage is included in all three Synoptic Gospels or in Mark and either Matthew or Luke, most Biblical scholars assume Markan priority– that is, that Matthew, Luke, or both used Mark, whose Gospel is held to have been the first to have been written, as their documentary source about the life of Christ.[6] Material shared by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, known as “triple tradition,” makes up approximately five hundred verses, or about three quarters of Mark, forty-five percent of Matthew, and forty-one percent of Luke. Moreover, ninety-one percent of Mark is also paralleled in Matthew, in Luke, or in both of these other Synoptic Gospels. While these parallels in wording and often in arrangement between the Synoptics can be explained by Markan priority, this theory does not account for “double tradition” material, found in Matthew and in Luke but not in Mark. These nearly two-hundred-fifty verses of double tradition, of which Mark could not have been a source, comprise almost a quarter of the Gospel of Matthew and over one fifth of the Gospel of Luke. A majority of scholars theorize that the origin of this double tradition is a non-extant document called “Q,” after the German word quelle, which means “source.” Chief among many arguments against the Q hypothesis by a strong minority of Scripture scholars is that Q, a theoretical written collection of sayings of Jesus, compiled from oral tradition and probably lacking Nativity and Passion narratives, has yet to be discovered.

Nevertheless, double and triple tradition agreements among Matthew, Mark, and Luke have led to widely accepted theories such as Markan priority and Q. In addition to material paralleled in multiple Synoptic Gospels, though, many verses and entire passages in Matthew or in Luke are unique to these Gospels. About thirty-five percent of the Gospel of Luke is uniquely Lukan, while one fifth of the content of Matthew is found in no other Gospel. Such a vast amount of uniquely Matthean or Lukan material is unlikely to have been the result of these evangelists’ independent additions to source documents available to both of them; more plausibly, Matthew and Luke employed in their composition written and oral sources not accessible to the other author. Matthean source material can be abbreviated “M,” and Lukan source material “L.”

M and L content are important to the distinctive order and structure of the Gospels of Matthew and of Luke, respectively. In the case of Luke 10, a verse of material found only in Luke begins both a new chapter in that Gospel and a new pericope: “After this the Lord appointed seventy [-two] others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit” (Luke 10:1). Such verses as this, which represent clear breaks between pericopes, are called seams. Matthean seam verses, including the evangelist’s adaptation of Old Testament texts, are more often M content than are Lukan seams comprised of L text.  In the Gospel of Matthew, M material seams follow particular formulas, two examples of which are “fulfillment citations” and use of contrast between the sayings of Jesus and the commandments of the Old Testament. Matthean fulfillment citations, wherein events occur to fulfill “what the Lord had said through [a] prophet,” introduce or conclude six pericopes between Matthew’s infancy narrative and the beginning of his account of Jesus’ nascent Galilean ministry.[7] The latter form of Matthean seam is found six times in a section of the Sermon on the Mount often called the “antitheses,” in which Jesus cites a tenet of Mosaic Law, prefaced by the phrase, “You have heard that it was said…” Then, Jesus interprets each statute for His own audience: “But I say to you…” Here, Jesus is not portrayed as abolishing the Law, but, as Matthew writes, in fulfillment of it (Matt 5:17). Thus, like Matthew’s fulfillment citations, the so-called antitheses– not true antithetical pairings of Moses’ Law and Jesus’ teachings, as if Jesus were attempting to supersede the Torah, but Rabbinic applications of the Torah to the social situation of Jesus’, or more likely Matthew’s, hearers– present Jesus in continuity with Israel’s religious and legal tradition.[8]

Unlike Matthew, Luke’s inclusion of Old Testament citations is rare, as are L material seams as opposed to M seams in Matthew. Where L seams occur in Luke, their break from the preceding pericope and led into the subsequent text are subtle. For example, Luke 10:1, an L verse, continues on the theme of the demands of discipleship presented in the triplet of proverbs in Luke 9:57-62. Discipleship is the central thesis through to Jesus’ blessing of the seventy in Luke 10:23-24. Nevertheless, Luke 10:1 is a break from the texts that precede and succeed it. Luke 9:57-62 and 10:2-16 is shared by Matthew and is therefore Q material with important Lukan modifications.

I turn now to the final four verses of this sequence of Q sayings in which Jesus condemns towns whose people have not accepted His message. Those towns, Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, are contrasted with Tyre and Sidon, cities that would have repented readily given the same opportunity to hear Jesus as were the three Galilean communities. Especially in comparison with the larger pagan centres of Tyre and Sidon, Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum were small fishing villages near the shore of the Sea of Galilee in the first-century C.E.[9] Jesus’ denunciation of these particular communities for their rejection of His preaching of God’s Kingdom, then, as opposed to larger towns where He had been, seems quite harsh. Of these villages, Capernaum is alluded to most often in Luke– four times (4:23, 31; 7:1; 10:15).[10] It was, despite its small size, a main centre of Jesus’ teaching ministry. It had presumably had more opportunities than other villages in its vicinity to reject Jesus. Evidently from Luke’s account, Capernaum had developed a worse reputation than other nearby villages for declining to receive Jesus’ Gospel of the Kingdom. Thus, it draws the starkest condemnation: “As for you, Capernaum, ‘Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down into the netherworld’” (Luke 10:15). As poor as Capernaum’s reputation may have been, though, it was not, even for Luke, entirely depraved. Jesus’ first miracle there according to Luke is well-received; the people of Capernaum recognize Jesus’ authority (Luke 5:32) and rapidly spread the news (v 37) of His healing of a demoniac (vv 33-35) and teaching in their synagogue (v 31). Luke mentions Chorazin only once in his Gospel (Luke 10:13), while he refers to Bethsaida twice (Luke 9:10, as site of the Feeding of the Five Thousand, and 10:13). Why, then, such insignificant villages draw such a scathing rebuke in Luke 10:13-16 remains a mystery. Nonetheless, the message of this pericope is clear: Jesus’ human disciples, whether the Twelve or the Seventy, have been given divine authority to herald the inauguration of God’s kingdom. To fail to heed their message is to reject Christ, and therefore whoever rejects the Son of God, mediator between the divine and human as He is fully both, rejects God the Father.

If one reads no further than Luke 10:16, the tone of the Lukan account of the mission of the Seventy would suggest their utter failure. If those sent “ahead of [Jesus] to every town… He intended to visit” (Luke 10:1) had been unable to elicit repentance in three tiny fishing communities, their success would have been even less likely in larger towns, yet the Seventy return to their Lord rejoicing: “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name” (v 17). Their joy is not inappropriate; the Seventy recognize that their power to exorcise demons comes from Christ (Luke 9:1). However, Jesus warns them, “Do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20) Insofar as Jesus’ disciples have been empowered to participate in bringing to fulfillment the reign of God on earth, it has already been established in Christ. Satan, cast in Luke 10:18 as the “adversary”– the “prosecuting attourney,”[11] writes John L. McKenzie, of late Old Testament prophecy and wisdom traditions– has already fallen “like lightning from the sky” (v 18). Jesus’ disciples are promised that they will conquer even “serpents and scorpions,” and that nothing will harm” them (v 19). This promise is not a prediction by Jesus or by the evangelist of an end to persecution of Jesus’ followers. That has yet to occur, and if this latest “century of martyrs”[12] is any indication, maltreatment of Christians is on the increase. Instead, Luke’s message is that Jesus has provided for His disciples’ eternal welfare. Although Satan’s tyranny is still very much active in the world, it will be brought to an end with the eschaton, a process that is already underway.[13]

Following his admonition of the Seventy, newly-returned from their successful mission of evangelization, Jesus takes His turn to rejoice in prayer. McKenzie notes that Luke 10:21-22 parallels Matthew 11:25-27 almost exactly, with one important Lukan addition: Luke “alone mentions the rejoicing of Jesus in the Spirit.”[14] This allusion to the Holy Spirit is characteristic of Luke and of Acts.[15] At Jesus’ Ascension in Acts, the Apostles are reminded of our Lord’s own Baptism “with the Holy Spirit.” That Baptism is then conferred upon them; in the Holy Spirit they are to be Christ’s witnesses “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8) Luke often presents the Holy Spirit together with the Father and the Son. Three examples come to mind of this Trinitarian tendency of Luke: The first is his account of Jesus Baptism, during which the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus while “a voice from heaven,” that of the Father, declares that in His Son He is “well pleased.” (Luke 3:21-22)  The second is the Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36), in which some consider the cloud (v 34) to be a reference to the Spirit, and the voice that says, “This is my chosen Son” (v 35), to be that of the Father. Jesus is present, of course, as a man. The third instance in Luke of the presentation of the whole Trinity in the same pericope is in Luke 10:21-22. Here, Jesus’ praise of the Father for His revelation to the “childlike” (v 21) is prefaced by Christ’s joy in the Holy Spirit.

These and other Lukan texts have therefore been used to support Trinitarian theology and in particular the divinity of the Holy Spirit. These dogmas, universal among Christians today, were disputed questions in the fourth century. The Council of Constantinople in 381, drawing especially upon the theology of the Cappadocian Fathers, Sts. Gregory Nazianzen, Basil of Caesarea, and Gregory of Nyssa, affirmed that the Spirit is equal in divinity to the Father and the Son. Although St. Basil never cited Luke 10:21 specifically in his formative work De Spiritu Sancto to argue that the Holy Spirit is divine, this verse is used liturgically to this day by various Christian churches on the feast day of Sts. Basil and Gregory Nazianzen.[16]

Another pertinent feature of Luke 10:21-22 is the identification in these verses between Jesus and divine wisdom.[17] Jesus and “anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him” (v 22) are alone able to know the identity of the Father. Moreover, the Father has chosen through the Son to reveal “these things” not to the “wise and learned” but to the childlike.” These verses recall the wisdom texts of the Old Testament. For instance, Sirach 51:1 reads, “I give you thanks, O God of my Father; I will praise you, O God my saviour!” Additionally, the prophetic tradition contains warnings about the limits of human wisdom compared to that of God, as in Isaiah 29:14b: “The wisdom of… wise men shall perish, and the understanding of… prudent men be hid.” God alone can reveal wisdom to humankind, for God alone is wisdom. Christ is at once wisdom’s mediator and wisdom incarnate. God will fill the humble disciple with His own wisdom. In this sense Luke points us toward God, wisdom and giver of wisdom to those who turn to Him: “To him who lacks understanding, I say, ‘Come, eat my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed! Forsake foolishness that you may live; advance in the way of understanding.” (Proverbs 9:4-6) At the same time as we, who lack understanding of God’s ways, are called to turn toward God, we have been supremely blessed like no other people: God-wisdom has become for us a human being. Thus we can say as our Lord said to His disciples: “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it” (Luke 10:24)

I began this article by recalling the Annunciation, a moment of great blessing told by Luke, and I conclude on this day before Christmas, another such moment. The announcement to Mary that she would bring Christ our Saviour into the world was at the same time a joyful and a troubling mystery. Likewise, the discipleship in Christ to which we are continually called brings with it experiences of blessing, of struggle, of joy, and of crisis. Let us pray as we celebrate our Lord’s Nativity for those who struggle in their faith, and for the persecuted, that they might be truly blessed. Let us also pray for those whose encounter with Christ, wisdom of God, who comes to us as a baby in a manger and will come again, has impelled them to proclaim the Gospel with joy. We, the disciples of Christ after the Twelve and the Seventy, await with this same joy the blessing of God that lasts forever. Amen.


[2] See Matthew 9:37-38, 10:7-16. The sayings of Jesus to His disciples found in Matthew differ in arrangement from those in Luke 10.

[3] John L. McKenzie, “The Gospel According to Luke,” in The Jerome Biblical Commentary, edited by Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Roland E. Murphy, 2:143 (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1968).

[4] Matthew parallels these “Kingdom of God” sayings found in Luke 10:9, 11. See Matthew 10:7, although note that Matthew prefers “Kingdom of heaven” to Luke’s “Kingdom of God.” See Philip P. Kapusta, “The ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ Versus the ‘Kingdom of God:’ Two Kingdoms, or One?” http://www.bibletopics.com/biblestudy/157.htm. Accessed 24 December, 2010.

[5] Colleen Shantz, “Redaction Criticism and the Gospel of Matthew,” Class Notes, SMB 1501 HS: Introduction to the Study of the New Testament, University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 28 January, 2010. Unless otherwise noted, these course notes are my source for definitions (especially double and triple tradition, Q, M, and L content) and figures I discuss in this section, such as the percentages of triple and double tradition found in each of the Synoptic Gospels.

[6] Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, 4th ed. (New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 94.

[7] These pericopes are the birth of Jesus (Matt 1:18-25) visit of the Magi (2:1-12), the flight of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus to Egypt (vv 13-15), the massacre of the infants (vv 16-18), the Holy Family’s return from Egypt (vv 19-23), and the beginning of the Galilean ministry (4:12-17). Seam verses (also fulfillment citations) are Matthew 1:23; 2:6, 15, 18, 23, and 4:15-16.

[8] Anna Wierzbicka, What Did Jesus Mean? Explaining the Sermon on the Mount and the Parables in Simple and Universal Human Concepts (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 65.

[9] McKenzie, “The Gospel According to Luke,” 2:143.

[10] Bible Gateway, “Keyword Search Results: Capernaum,” http://www.biblegateway.com/keyword/?search=Capernaum&version1=31&searchtype=all&limit=none&wholewordsonly=no. Accessed 23 December 2010.

[11] McKenzie, “The Gospel According to Luke,” 2:143.

[12] H.W. Crocker, Triumph: The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church, a 2,000-year History (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2001), 377.

[13] “Eschaton” is from Greek, referring to the “last things”; the term is synonymous with the end times.

[14] McKenzie, “The Gospel According to Luke,” 2:143.

[15] Ibid. Luke and Acts are held to have been written by the same author.

[16] “Readings for the Feast of St. Basil the Great,” http://www.liturgies.net/saints/0614basil/readings.htm. This site lists Catholic as well as Orthodox and Anglican liturgies and prayers. Roman Catholics celebrate the feast of Sts. Basil and Gregory on January 2; otherwise this feast is observed on June 14.

[17] D. Rebecca Dinovo, “Developing a Biblical Sophia Christology.” http://www.franciscan-anglican. com/Sophia.htm#_ftn12. Accessed 24 December 2010.

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Jesus as the Wisdom of God: Wisdom Christology in the Gospel of Matthew

17 Dec

Jesus is never explicitly identified in the canonical Gospels with divine wisdom, and the sole Biblical instance of such an equation is in 1 Corinthians 1:24, where Paul writes that Jesus is “the wisdom of God.” Wisdom is therefore unlike titles commonly used in the Gospels to refer to Jesus such as teacher, son of man, son of God, son of David, and Christ or Messiah. According to Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, though, “Christological discourses” began within “a time span as short as twenty years after Jesus’ death” that described Jesus as the incarnation of the wisdom of God.[1] Wisdom Christology is more often associated with the Gospel of John, wherein Jesus is likened to the divine logos present from the creation of the cosmos (John 1:1, Genesis 1:1), than with the Synoptic Gospels.[2] However, the identification of Jesus as divine wisdom incarnate is present in Matthew, albeit more subtly than in John. In this paper, then, I will examine the wisdom Christology of the Gospel of Matthew. I will begin with a discussion of the historical roots in ancient Israel of the link between God and wisdom; a strong argument is made that this history originated in Israel’s monarchical period with the Israelite appropriation of wisdom literature, along with monarchical government itself, from Egypt. Following this historical sketch, I will identify where wisdom Christology is present in Matthew’s Gospel, with what divine actions this understanding of Jesus is associated, and how this notion of Jesus as wisdom might enrich the contemporary Church.

Wisdom literature in ancient Israel was an “exceedingly complex” tradition with a “variety of uses and implications” both secular and religious.[3] It was not novel at the time of Jesus’ earthly life, but dates back, according to Fiorenza, to at least the Babylonian Exile.[4] Moreover, Fiorenza writes, “wisdom’s theological roots are found not only in postexilic Jewish circles… but also in apocalyptic literature and in the writings of Qumran.”[5] Roland E. Murphy traces the wisdom genre of Israel to its monarchical period, and even beyond, to ancient Egypt: “Israel seems to have imitated Egypt in cultivating this type of literature, just as she had imitated Egypt in adopting the government of kingship.”[6] 1 Kings 3:1, which tells of the marriage of Solomon to a daughter of Pharaoh, is Biblical evidence in Murphy’s view of a strong probability of Egyptian cultural influence on monarchical Israel. The complex bureaucracy of a royal court system resulted from Israel’s adoption of monarchical government in imitation of its neighbours. Therefore, as “other nations” (1 Samuel 8:5) upon which Israel’s kinship was patterned had governed the intricate relationships between and “conduct of” courtiers, so too did Israel.[7]

Egypt’s ordering of its royal court through “teaching” or Sebayit, is notable, Murphy contends, for its influence on the organization of Israel’s monarchy, particularly under King Solomon. Murphy goes on to cite “remarkable similarities” between the Egyptian Sebayit and wisdom sayings of the Book of Proverbs that relate to order in a royal court and by extension to regulation of society as a whole. For example, both the Sebayit and Proverbs 2:4 extol those who seek after wisdom as a “hidden treasure.” Proverbs 23:1 mirrors passages of the Sebayit that list rules to be observed when dining before a ruler, and Egyptian wisdom writings about the “absolute reliability”[8] of a royal messenger are paralleled in Proverbs 25:13. Murphy contends that sapiential sayings from the Sebayit resemble not only those in Proverbs but many contained in other Old Testament wisdom books as well. He relates for instance the twenty-second century B.C.E. instructions in the Sebayit (ANET 417) to Meri-ka-re from his father Wah-ka-re on the importance of a ruler’s virtue– “More acceptable is the character of one upright of heart than the ox of an evildoer”– to the connection in 1 Samuel 5:22 and Ecclesiastes 4:17 between the value to God of Israelite kings’ sacrifices and their moral integrity.[9]

While the wisdom literature of the kingdoms of Egypt and of Israel is concerned with the ordering of expanded royal court systems, prophetic allusions to wisdom immediately prior to and during the Babylonian Exile take on a more negative tone than in the sapiential writings of Israel’s monarchical period. The first “explicit references to… wise men, or hăkāmîn,” Murphy writes, are found in Isaiah, whose characterization of those said to be wise is especially “harsh.”[10] Murphy quotes Isaiah 29:14 to support this assertion: “The wisdom of [Israel’s] wise men shall perish and the understanding of its prudent men [will] be hid.” In the midst of the Exile, the prevailing notion among Israelites became that human wisdom is negligible in comparison to that of God. This sapientology persisted after the Exile, with two important modifications: Firstly, human beings were increasingly viewed as capable of discerning right moral conduct from experience and from natural order, thought to be a manner of divine self-communication to humankind. Secondly, Mosaic Law was increasingly understood as the utmost form of God-to-human communication of wisdom. Thus the roles of scribes and priests– both of whom Ezra is a prime example (Ezra 7:6)– evolved into that of interpretation and instruction in Torah.[11] These sopherim, or wise men (in Greek, σοφοι), whose main function had become religious, in contrast to the mainly secular occupation of the wise men of Israel’s royal courts, were significant well into the New Testament period and especially in the Gospel of Matthew (Matt 23:34).[12]

Although the concept of divine self-communication as wisdom– particularly through Torah and through nature– developed in the post-Exilic period, “only in the later books [of the Old Testament]” was “wisdom… predicated of God.”[13] The personification of divine wisdom present in these late Old Testament period texts introduces a paradox: wisdom is at once remote from creation, attributable only to God (Job 28:13, 23), yet revealed to humankind as the recognition that “the fear of the LORD is wisdom” (v 28) or as the “craftsman” present in creation (Proverbs 8:30, Wisdom 9:9). Another problem arises with this representation “of wisdom as a person”: Wisdom thus might be understood as “no more than a personification, just as other aspects of God are personified in the Old Testament [such as God’s] Word (Isa 55:10-11) and spirit (63:10-11).” Roland E. Murphy responds to that potential danger by emphasizing not the late Old Testament personification of wisdom itself, but that the chief theological purpose of this period’s depiction of wisdom as a person is to highlight wisdom as divine communication to humankind. Wisdom in this period is not yet synonymous with God, but wisdom personified is understood in the late Old Testament era as a means of God-to-human communication. Therefore “the possibility of a supreme communication [of God as wisdom in the person of] Jesus Christ” in the New Testament age is left open.[14]

The depiction of Jesus as divine wisdom incarnate is most overt in 1 Corinthians and in the Gospel of John, among the earliest and latest New Testament writings, respectively. In the former, Paul affirms that Jesus is Θεου σοφιαν, “the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:24), while from the outset of the latter, while not using the Greek word for wisdom, σοφια, or its derivatives in his prologue, John identifies Jesus as God’s wisdom and then immediately as God; the Johannine Jesus is the Word who at the creation of the universe “was with God and… was God” (John 1:1).  Clearly, then, the notion present throughout the New Testament period of Christ as God expressed as wisdom represents a shift from the latest Old Testament sapientology in which divine wisdom is not God but an attribute of God and the principal manner of divine-to-human communication. This shift, as Fiorenza indicates, occurred within twenty years of Jesus’ death,[15] during a time that gave rise to the written source material for much of the New Testament. Thus, the probability is strong that where wisdom sayings are present in the New Testament, they are intended, after their sources, to portray Jesus as God’s wisdom, not only as a divine trait but as fully God.

Jesus is associated with divine wisdom not only in the Johannine and Pauline literature, but also in the Synoptic Gospels. While such an identification of Jesus as the wisdom of God is made once in Mark (6:2) and six times in Luke (2:40, 52; 7:35; 11:31, 49; 21:15),[16] wisdom Christology is also integral to the Gospel of Matthew. Five instances of σοφια and cognates occur in the first Gospel (Matt 11:19, 25; 12:42; 13:54; 23:34).[17] This term is used Christologically the first four times it appears in Matthew, whereas in its fifth and final incidence it is applied to those whom Jesus has sent in his stead and who will be persecuted and killed.

Matthew refers to wisdom or to the wise on these five occasions in five distinct pericopes, the first three of which are original to Q, paralleled in Luke but omitted in Mark: Jesus’ words about John the Baptist (Matt 11:7-19),[18] his thanksgiving to the Father (vv 25-27),[19] and his condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees for seeking signs from him (12:38-42).[20] One Matthean pericope that includes a sapiential saying, that of Jesus rejection at Nazareth, is of Markan origin and is not paralleled in Luke.[21] The fifth Matthean reference to wisdom or to the wise occurs within Jesus’ denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees (23:1-36). While this pericope is present in abbreviated form in both Mark and Luke, the allusion to the “prophets… wise men (σοφους) and scribes”[22] (Matt 23:34) sent by Jesus, who will be rejected by Israel’s religious authorities, is uniquely Matthean.[23]

Although Matthew and Luke share Jesus’ speech “to the crowds about John” (Matt 11:7-19, Luke 7:24-35), and both end this pericope with a wisdom saying, the two evangelists differ slightly yet significantly in their redaction of that concluding verse. Whereas in Luke Jesus asserts that “wisdom is vindicated by all her children” (Luke 7:35), Matthew has edited the same Q verse to “wisdom is vindicated by her deeds” (Matt 11:19). M. Jack Suggs argues that “Luke’s editorial activity has taken the entire passage out of the context of wisdom thought altogether.”[24] The purpose of Luke’s closer approximation of the Q form than Matthew is to emphasize the expanded accessibility of divine wisdom personified in Christ to “the entire nation of Israel” as wisdom’s “children.”[25] According to Fiorenza, the Lukan “Sophia-God of Jesus recognizes all Israelites as her children.” Israel therefore “is justified… by all of them.”[26] D. Rebecca Dinovo notes that Luke’s version of this verse more closely parallels the wisdom text of Proverbs in which Wisdom speaks to her children: “Now, O children, listen to me; instruction and wisdom do not reject… Happy [are] those who keep my ways” (Prov 8:32).

In contrast to Luke, Matthew’s redaction as “wisdom is vindicated by her deeds” emphasizes that Jesus is the unique manifestation of divine Sophia. The Matthean Jesus is “Sophia incarnate”[27]; the same cannot be said of the Lukan Jesus on the basis of this pericope alone. In Matthew as in Luke, Suggs writes, “Jesus and John stand as the eschatological envoys of Wisdom.”[28] Both are therefore Wisdom’s prophets, but at that point the Matthean characterizations of each diverge.  With the inclusion of the proverb that “wisdom is vindicated by her deeds” (Matt 19:11) within the longest Q section preserved intact in Matthew and Luke[29] that extends from John’s disciples’ question to Jesus about whether he is the awaited Messiah (vv 2-3) to Jesus’ thanksgiving to the Father (vv 25-27), Matthew distinguishes John, wisdom’s greatest-ever prophet, from Jesus, who is wisdom. Suggs therefore writes that, as per Matthew,

Jesus is no longer the last and greatest of wisdom’s children; in him are the deeds of Wisdom to be uniquely seen… A succession of prophets [has] been inspired by Wisdom, of whom the greatest is John… Wisdom sends forth her prophets– from the first generation to this generation [that] has rejected Jesus and John. However, it would not… overstate the case that for Matthew [as for John the evangelist] Wisdom has “become flesh and dwelled among us.” (John 1:14)[30]

Suggs therefore asserts that, by the Matthean redaction as “deeds” of wisdom as opposed to Luke’s “children,” the evangelist intended to present Jesus as Wisdom incarnate. His argument is sound in that he considers this proverb the culmination of the entire Q section that begins with the list of Jesus’ Messianic deeds in response to the Baptist’s question about whether Jesus is the Christ. (Matt 11: 2-4). The thesis of Matthew 11:2-27 is that Jesus, announced by the Baptist, is the divine deed of wisdom and is Wisdom, fully divine and fully human. Jesus’ deeds of wisdom, as listed in Matthew 11:4-6 and pointed to again in verses 21 and 24, affirm his Messiahship that is exclusive of all other human beings. However, Matthew’s stress on the transcendence of Jesus as wisdom and as Messiah does not relegate the Christian disciple, whether in Matthew’s time or contemporarily, to the role of passive spectator to Jesus’ Messianic deeds. Inasmuch as the Matthean Jesus is uniquely divine Wisdom in human flesh, he is also Wisdom’s eschatological prophet. As such, Jesus has been granted the fullness of the Father’s authority over “all things” (Matt 11:27, 28:18). Stephen C. Barton writes that Jesus’ authority as prophet and mediator of wisdom according to the divine will (Matt 11:26), and indeed Jesus’ identification with divine wisdom itself, “is the fruit of being in a filial relationship with God, a relationship characterized on the human side by specific moral-religious qualities such as humility, obedience, and trust.”[31]

Such are qualities of “the childlike,” whom Matthew contrasts with the “children… in the marketplace” (Matt 11:16) who reject both the austere John the Baptist’s proclamation of the coming kingdom of God– the dirge for which they “do not mourn”– and the joyous actualization of that kingdom in the person of Jesus– “the flute” for which they “do not dance” (v 17).[32] Those children are in Matthew the false disciples who are nevertheless “wise and learned” by the common understanding of the time of Jesus and of the evangelist. The Matthean distinction between the “childlike,” those who trust in God’s wisdom and “gracious will” (v 26), and the restless children in the marketplace or the “wise and learned” is, according to Barton, “part of the larger Gospel theme that wisdom is a gift from God and therefore is not constrained by conventional expectations about where to find it, even expectations [that] associate wisdom with… [leaders] like the scribes, Pharisees, and priests… with… places like Israel, Jerusalem, the Temple, or [with] Torah.”[33]

For the contemporary Church as for the Matthean community, the focal point of the wisdom Christology of Matthew 11:7-19 and 25-27, and of the larger Q section from which these pericopes originate, is that, as Barton indicates, wisdom belongs to God and is revealed by God most fully in Jesus and by the Son to the extent that and “to whom he wishes to reveal [the Father]” in himself as wisdom (Matt 11:27). As Jesus’ revelation to humankind of God’s wisdom is inseparable from the relational unity of being between the Father and the Son, so too, the Christian disciple’s reception and dissemination of that divine wisdom cannot occur outside the context of human commitment to relationship with other human beings– that is, to building inter-human community, a theme integral to the Gospel of Matthew– and with God. Wisdom as God’s gift revealed to and heralded by human beings, is therefore, as Barton states, “the fruit… of a way of life and a pattern of faithfulness, [as opposed to] a process of solitary intellection.”[34]

A pressing temptation for the Church today is to regard itself as capable of mediating wisdom apart from God. To succumb to this deception has eschatological consequences, in particular when Christian leaders, purporting to speak for God, incite anxiety about persecution and disasters that will precede the end of time. Teachings not to worry about these forthcoming events are prominent in Matthew. For example, one ought to depend upon God’s providence to sustain even his or her life (Matt 6:25-32). God, in this case “the Spirit of the Father,” will speak in the disciples’ favour in time of persecution (Matt 10:20); the faithful follower of Jesus will not escape the “knowledge” of the Father (v 29). Matthew therefore attributes to Jesus words of eschatological comfort to those who follow God’s will. That divine will proposes only two related Commandments for Christians to follow: to love God and to love one’s neighbour as one’s self (Matt 22:37-39). In observing those statutes, the disciple is freed from anxiety over final judgment (Matt 11:24) and is open to Jesus who is eschatological consolation, in continuity with “the law and the prophets” (v 40) as well as the wisdom tradition of the Old Testament. While Wisdom in Sirach 6:24-25 calls its disciples to live by Torah as under a yoke and fetters,[35] Jesus invites us to himself, as he is Wisdom and the fulfillment of Torah: “Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest… For my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Matt 11:28-30).

Like Matthew 11:2-27, which includes two references to Jesus as Wisdom and is appended by another, the Matthean addition in verses 28-30 of Jesus’ invitation to take up his yoke, the next application of wisdom to Jesus also occurs within a Q-based pericope.[36] In Matthew 12:38-42, the “scribes and the Pharisees” demand a sign from Jesus (v 38), but do not realize that Jesus, the utmost of divine signs, is the Messiah already among them. Thus, they incur Jesus’ rebuke; they have had many opportunities to witness God with Israel and now does not acknowledge Jesus, the sign of prophecy “greater than Jonah” (v 41) and that of wisdom “greater than Solomon,” (v 42) as divine. The sapiential saying in this pericope’s last verse complements those in Matthew 11: 19 and 26. While those point to the exclusivity of Jesus as Sophia-God and eschatological prophet of wisdom, that in Matthew 12:42 highlights the supremacy– the “greater than” aspect– of wisdom’s self-manifestation as Jesus Christ.[37] The theme of Jesus as supreme sign of God permeates the Gospel of Matthew. Thus Matthew underscores that Jesus, as a human being, is the fullness of God’s presence among human beings. The evangelist does so by applying the Old Testament notion of divine sign as expressions of the “activity of God”[38] in the world to Jesus, who is the sought-after “Emmanuel… God [who] is with us” (Matt 1:23, Isa 7:10) from the beginning to “the end of the age” (Matt 28:20).

Jesus’ claim in Matthew 12:41-42 of Messianic, prophetic, and sapiential supremacy is also relevant for Christianity today. Matthew identifies Jesus as “greater than” all wisdom and prophecy that has preceded or will succeed him, thus for contemporary Christians to dispute over who is greatest (Matt 18:1-5, 20:20-26) is at the same time futile and destructive of human community. The pre-eminence of wisdom and prophecy are the Messiah’s alone. Matthew consistently condemns the urge among some members of his community to dominate fellow disciples. In Matthew, Jesus does not lord his Godhead over his followers (Matt 21:25); his primacy is felt not as the bearer of titles (Matt 23:10) Instead, Jesus, “the greatest among [us],” is so because he has come among us “to serve and to give his life” (Matt 21:28). Jesus thus models service for the Church today to the point of self-sacrifice. In my own ministerial experience, particularly in a leadership role as a children’s sacramental preparation instructor, I am reminded by Jesus as depicted by Matthew that I am to the children I teach their servant and the Church’s servant more than their proud teacher. Jesus is the children’s teacher through me. Also, the more I ask questions of the children and allow them to reflect and to respond as opposed to lecturing them from my knowledge, the more I am awed by their wisdom. The children I teach, then, become my teachers of humility and faithfulness and draw me, as I hope to draw them, the future of the Church, closer to Jesus (Matt 18:2-5), servant, teacher, Wisdom, and God.

After the allusion to Jesus as “something greater than Solomon” in Matthew 12:42, the next reference to wisdom in the first Gospel is when the “people in [the] Synagogue” in Nazareth question the source of Jesus’ “wisdom and mighty deeds.” (Matt 13:54) As in the wisdom sayings in Matthew 11, the evangelist here links the identification of Jesus as wisdom with wisdom’s manifestation through the deeds of its prophet, Christ. Similarly to the wisdom references of Matthew 11, but emphasized further in Matthew 13:54, revelation of Christ as wisdom through his deeds is contingent upon the active faith of wisdom’s receiver. That message again is as true for today’s Church as it was for the Church to which Matthew wrote his Gospel.

The fifth and last Matthean instance of a cognate of σοφια is not applied to Jesus but to the disciples who by Matthew’s time had already come under persecution of both religious leaders within Judaism and Roman authorities. Jesus connects these emissaries of wisdom whom he sends– “prophets, wise men, and scribes” (Matt 23:34) insofar as Christ is the embodiment of wisdom and the prophets and scribes steward and proclaim it­– with the Old Testament prophets who were also persecuted (Matt 23:30). While religious persecution is remote from contemporary North American Christian experience, it occurs at an unprecedented rate, with an estimated annual number of Christians killed for their faith in the world of 150 000.[39] Such a degree of persecution impels Christians who enjoy freedom of religion to advocate its expansion and to be aware of ways to alleviate suffering of those for whom it is suppressed.

Matthew’s identification of Jesus, wisdom’s prophet, with wisdom itself calls us to such a prophetic role in today’s Church. Employing especially the late Old Testament period concept of God as communicator of divine wisdom to humankind, that itself evolved from Israelite and non-Israelite traditions, Matthew argued that Jesus is uniquely and supremely the fullness of divine wisdom in human flesh. The Christian of Matthew’s time and of ours is given the task to mediate Christ as prophet, as servant, as God, and as wisdom to the world.


Notes:

[1] Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Jesus: Miriam’s Child, Sophia’s Prophet: Critical Issues in Feminist Christology (New York: Continuum Publishing Company, 1994), 139.

[2] Stephen C. Barton, “Gospel Wisdom,” in Where Shall Wisdom Be Found? Wisdom in the Bible, the Church, and the Contemporary World, edited by Stephen C. Barton (Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1999), 104-105.

[3] Roland E. Murphy, “Introduction to Wisdom Literature,” in The Jerome Biblical Commentary, edited by Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Roland E. Murphy (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1968), 1:492.

[4] Fiorenza, Jesus: Miriam’s Child, Sophia’s Prophet, 133.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Roland E. Murphy, “Introduction to Wisdom Literature,” 1:488.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid., 1:490.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid., 1:488.

[11] Matthew Black, “Scribes,” in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, ed. George Arthur Buttrick et al. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1962), 4:246.

[12] Ibid., 4:246-247.

[13] Roland E. Murphy, “Introduction to Wisdom Literature,” 1:493.

[14] Ibid., 1:494.

[15] Fiorenza, Jesus: Miriam’s Child, Sophia’s Prophet, 139.

[16] Bible Gateway, “Quick Search Results: σοφ,” http://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch= %CF%83%CE%BF%CF%86&qs_version=TR1894. Accessed 8 December 2010.

[17] The Interlinear NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, trans. Alfred Marshall (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976), 44, 51, 59, 104.

[18] Burton H. Throckmorton, Gospel Parallels: A Comparison of the Synoptic Gospels, 5th ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992), 55-56.

[19] Ibid., 57-58.

[20] Ibid., 72-73.

[21] Ibid., 86. Luke includes Jesus’ rejection at Nazareth and, as in Matthew and Mark, this episode highlights Jesus’ prophetic role. However, this pericope is transposed to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Luke (4:16-30) and does not contain a wisdom saying. Throckmorton does not list the Lukan pericope in parallel with the similar account in the other Synoptic Gospels.

[22] The Interlinear NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 104.

[23] Throckmorton, Gospel Parallels, 165-168.

[24] M. Jack Suggs, Wisdom, Christology, and Law in Matthew’s Gospel (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970), 55-56.

[25] D. Rebecca Dinovo, “Developing a Biblical Sophia Christology.” http://www.franciscan-anglican. com/Sophia.htm#_ftn12. Accessed 10 December 2010.

[26] Fiorenza, Jesus: Miriam’s Child, Sophia’s Prophet, 140.

[27] Suggs, Wisdom, Christology, and Law in Matthew’s Gospel, 58.

[28] Ibid., 55.

[29] Ibid., 37.

[30] Ibid., 57.

[31] Barton, “Gospel Wisdom,” 96.

[32] John L. McKenzie, “The Gospel According to Matthew,” in The Jerome Biblical Commentary, edited by Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Roland E. Murphy (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1968), 2:83.

[33] Barton, “Gospel Wisdom,” 96.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Dinovo, “Developing a Biblical Sophia Christology,” accessed 10 December 2010.

[36] McKenzie, “The Gospel According to Matthew,” 2:85.

[37] James D.G. Dunn, “Jesus: Teacher of Wisdom or Wisdom Incarnate,” in Where Shall Wisdom Be Found? Wisdom in the Bible, the Church, and the Contemporary World, edited by Stephen C. Barton (Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1999), 88.

[38] McKenzie, “The Gospel According to Matthew,” 2:85.

[39] Ron Csillag, “Christianity Arguably the Most Persecuted Religion in the World,” Toronto Star, 4 December 2010.