Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Article Published on Matthew and Paul

The friendship of Matthew and Paul: A response to a recent trend in the interpretation of Matthew’s Gospel

Author: Joel Willitts

David Sim has argued that Matthew’s so-called Great Commission (Mt 28:16–20) represents a direct anti-Pauline polemic. While this thesis may be theoretically possible and perhaps fits within the perspective of an earlier era in New Testament research, namely that of the Tübingen School, the evidence in both Matthew and the Pauline corpus does not support such a reading of early Christianity. In this paper, I argue that an antithetical relationship between Matthew’s Great Commission and Paul’s Gentile mission as reflected in his epistles is possible only (1) with a certain reading of Matthew and (2) with a caricature of Paul. In light of the most recent research on both Matthew’s Great Commission and the historical Paul, these two traditions can be seen as harmonious and not antithetical in spite of the recent arguments to the contrary. My argument provides a further corrective to the view of early Christianity, which posits a deep schism between so-called Jewish Christianity and Paul’s ostensibly Law-free mission to the Gentiles.

You can find the article here at HTS.


Geoff Smith said...

I always saw the Great Commission and Paul's goal of bringing about the obedience of faith as constituting a significant amount of unity between Paul and Matthew, but whatever.

Jason A. Staples said...

Looking forward to reading it, Joel. I enjoyed your paper at SBL (you might recall I mentioned I'd been headed in the same direction vis-a-vis Matthew and Paul), and I'm pleased it's in article form now.

Andrew said...

Can't wait to read it. Thanks for the link.


AndrewCas said...

Is it just me or is new testament scholarship, more about trying to destroy the Harmony of the Gospel than maintain it. Good work Joel.
ESV 2 Timothy 4:1-2 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

John Anderson said...

Dr. Willitts:

Is this the 'same' as your SBL paper from Boston?

Joel Willitts said...


Yes, it is the same paper; perhaps with some revision.

John Anderson said...


Good deal, congrats. I am waiting to hear back about mine. I am hopeful.

I still look back and remember fondly that Matthew SBL session. Some very fine papers and discussion.