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Running Bibliography on the Structure of Matthew

For many years I matthew & angel (cantarini)have been fascinated with the structure of the Gospel of Matthew. I continue to study and ponder the question of how the First Gospel is put together in literary terms, and I continue to grow in my understanding. Rarely a semester goes by that I don’t end up making some slight adjustment to how I understand the structure of Matthew — and sometimes I have made big adjustments!

I am not alone in having a passionate interest in this pet hobby of figuring out Matthew as a piece of literature. Dale Allison, the leading Matthean scholar in the Anglophone world, certainly shares this interest as well.

The reason is because those of us who have given ourselves to the study of the Gospel of Matthew realize that (1) this is a masterpiece and worthy of this kind of study; and (2) the subtle and powerful ideas being communicated in Matthew are frequently embedded into larger structural clues, not something that can be discerned by looking at individual stories/pericopes nor by doing only a surface reading of the text. I often describe it as “divine crop circles” — you have to get to a higher altitude over the text to discern intricate patterns that are woven into the whole structure.

In a couple of recent projects I’ve been working on I have addressed again what I (currently) think is going on in the structure of Matthew, both as a whole and in the Five Major Discourses as well. Chapter 5 in my The Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing commentary is dedicated to the structure of Matthew and the Sermon in particular. My 2015 Matthew Section SBL paper, which is being revised and going into a book in dialogue with Francis Watson’s work, also touches on the structure of Matthew.early_codex

I just re-read Wim Weren’s thoughtful and intriguing argument for his understanding of Matthew, “The Macrostructure of Matthew’s Gospel: A New Proposal,” in his, Studies in Matthew’s Gospel: Literary Design, Intertextuality, and Social Setting (Leiden: Brill, 2014): 13-41. While I don’t see things exactly the same way, I learned a lot from what he said. Moreover, I am very appreciative of the many references he made to other people’s attempts to understand the structure of Matthew.

This stimulated me to write this post. What I am providing here is a running bibliography of articles and books on the structure of Matthew’s Gospel. This is of course, incomplete, but I will be happy to update it as I find things or as you do. Please send them along so that we can have a live repository of resources on this fascinating topic. Also, if you find any errors in what I’ve put together, please let me know.

A few important caveats: This bibliography does not list the innumerable commentaries on Matthew, most of which have their own discussion of Matthew’s structure, some more than others. This bibliography also does not contain articles or books that focus on particular parts of the structure of Matthew (such as the Sermon on the Mount), but rather, highlights works that for the most part try to address the structure of Matthew overall.

Enough preliminary comments. Here it is:

[Latest Revision: March 4, 2017]

  • Allison, Dale C., Jr., “Structure, Biographical Impulse, and the Imitatio Christi,” in Allison, Studies in Matthew: Interpretation Past and Present (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005): 135-156.
  • Anderson, Janice Capel, Matthew’s Narrative Web: Over, and Over, and Over Again (JSNTSup 91; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1994).
  • Bacon, Benjamin W., “The Five Books of Matthew Against the Jews,” The Expositor VIII, 85 (1918)” 56-66. Also in Studies in Matthew (New York: Henry Holt, 1930).
  • Barr, David L., “The Drama of Matthew’s Gospel: A Reconsideration of Its Structure and Purpose,” TD 24 (1976): 349-359.
  • Bauer, David R., The Structure of Matthew’s Gospel: A Study in Literary Design (JSNTSup 31; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1988).
  • Boring, M. Eugene, “The Convergence of Source Analysis, Social History and Literary Structure in the Gospel of Matthew,” Society of Biblical Literature: Seminar Papers 33 (1994): 587-611.
  • Carter, Warren, “Kernels and Narrative Blocks: The Structure of Matthew’s Gospel,” CBQ 54 (1992): 463-481.
  • Combrink, H. J. Bernard, “The Macrostructure of the Gospel of Matthew,” Neot 16 (1982): 6-10.
  • Combrink, H. J. Bernard, “The Structure of the Gospel of Matthew as Narrative,” TynB 34 (1983): 233-253.
  • Filson, Floyd V., “Broken Patterns in the Gospel of Matthew,” JBL 75 (1956): 227-231.
  • Gaechter, Paul, Die literarische Kunst im Matthäus-Evangelium (Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwer, 1965)
  • Gooding, David W., “Structure littéraire de Matthieu, XIII, 53 à XVIII, 35,” RB 85 (1978): 227-252.
  • Green, H. Benedict, “The Structure of St. Matthew’s Gospel,” StEv 4 (1968): 47-59.
  • Keegan, Terence J., “Introductory Formulae for Matthean Discourses,” CBQ 44 (1982): 415-430.
  • Kingsbury, Jack D., “The Structure of Matthew’s Gospel and His Concept of Salvation-History,” CBQ 35 (1973): 451-474.
  • Kingsbury, Jack D., Matthew: Structure, Christology, Kingdom (Philadelphia: Fortress Press / London: SPCK, 1975).
  • Kingsbury, Jack D., Matthew as Story, 2d ed. (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988).
  • Krentz, Edgar, “The Extent of Matthew’s Prologue: Toward the Structure of the First Gospel,” JBL 83 (1964): 409-414.
  • Lohr, Charles H., “Oral Techniques in the Gospel of Matthew,” CBQ 23 (1961): 403-435.
  • Matera, Frank J., “The Plot of Matthew’s Gospel,” CBQ 49 (1987): 233-253.
  • Neirynck, Frans, “La redaction matthéenne et la structure du premier évangile,” ETL 43 (1967): 41-73.
  • Neirynck, Frans, “APO TOTE HRXATO and the Structure of Matthew,” ETL 64 (1988): 21-59.
  • Mullooparambil, Sebastian, Macrostructure of Matthew’s Gospel (Bangalore: Dharmaram Publicaions, 2011).
  • Pennington, Jonathan T., Chapter 5, in The Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing: A Theological Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017)
  • Powell, Mark Allan, “The Plot and Subplots of Matthew’s Gospel,” NTS 38 (1992): 187-203.
  • Powell, Mark Allan, “Literary Approaches and the Gospel of Matthew,” in Powell, ed., Methods for Matthew (Cambridge: CUP, 2009): 44-82.
  • Ramaroson, Léonard, “La structure du premier Évangile,” ScEs 26 (1974): 69-112.
  • Riesner, Rainer, “Der Aufbau der Reden im Matthäus-Evangelium,” ThBei 9 (1978): 172-182.
  • Rolland, Phillipe, “From Genesis to the End of the World: The Plan of Matthew’s Gospel,” BTB 2 (1972): 155-176.
  • Schmauch, Werner, “Die Komposition des Matthäus-Evangeliums in ihrer Bedeutung für seine Interpretation,” in Schmauch, … zu achten aufs Wort: Ausgewählte Arbeiten (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1967): 64-87.
  • Slater, Tommy B., “Notes on Matthew’s Structure,” JBL 99 (1980): 667-670.
  • Smith, Christopher R., “Literary Evidence of a Fivefold Structure in the Gospel of Matthew,” NTS 43 (1997): 540-551.
  • Via, Dan O., “Structure, Christology and Ethics in Matthew,” in Richard A. Spencer, Orientation by Disorientation: Studies in Literary Criticism and Biblical Literary Criticism (Pittsburgh: Pickwick, 1980): 199-217.
  • Weren, Wim J. C., “The Macrostructure of Matthew’s Gospel: A New Proposal,” in Weren, Studies in Matthew’s Gospel: Literary Design, Intertextuality, and Social Setting (Leiden: Brill, 2014): 13-41

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3 Comments so far
  1. Greg March 20, 2017 2:04 pm

    Hi Dr. Pennington, I appreciate your work! A quick question for you: what are your top 3 recommendations for commentaries on Matthew? And when will your commentary in PNTC be available? Thanks!

  2. Jonathan Pennington March 20, 2017 9:06 pm

    Hey, thanks. Commentaries on Matthew — RT France (NICNT), Dale Allison (ICC), Ulirch Luz (Hermeneia). Each different and offer their own thing. Mine? Still very much in progress; slow progress.

  3. Greg March 28, 2017 2:40 pm

    Thanks Dr. Pennington! Selfishly hoping the progress picks up pace.