n HTS : Theological Studies - Matthew as marginal scribe in an advanced agrarian society

Volume 58, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0259-9422
  • E-ISSN: 2072-8050



Analysis of 22 references to scribes in the Gospel of Matthew shows that a few of them are positive comments and that the author himself was a scribe. What type of scribe was he and how can we clarify his social context? By means of the models of Lenski and Kautsky, by recent research about scribes, literacy, and power, and by new marginality theory, this article extensively refines Saldarini's hypothesis that the scribes were "retainers". The thesis is that in "Matthew's" Christ-believing group, his scribal profession and literacy meant power and socio-religious status. Yet, his voluntary association with Christ believers ("ideological marginality"), many of whom could not participate in social roles expected of them ("structural marginality"), led to his living between two historical traditions, languages, political loyalties, moral codes, social rankings, and ideological-religious sympathies ("cultural marginality"). The Matthean author's cultural marginality will help to clarify certain well-known literary tensions in the Gospel of Matthew.

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