Exploring Anti-Semitism in the Gospel of Matthew

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The issue between the Gospel of Matthew and Judaism is a convoluted one. The picture that emerges when talking about whether Jesus’s teaching is anti-Semitic or not becomes ambivalent and it is not easy to interpret, as Coogan has pointed out, “Matthew functions as a bridge between the two Testaments . . .”(Coogan, 1746). In the context of Jewish-Christian dialogue, the fundamental question is how much of Judaism’s principles and practices ascribed to Jesus are preserved from traditional Judaism? As much as Matthew’s Gospel has been considered to be an extremely anti-Semitic, especially in the Christian realm, there remains substantial evidence indicating how Jesus, as presented by Matthew, had preserved the quintessence of Judaism. Before going on to demonstrate Jesus’s anti-Semitic qualities in the biblical text, it is necessary to identify how Matthew begins the gospel with the story of Jesus’s birth. The purpose of opening the Gospel with the genealogy of Jesus, which fits the foreshadowed description of Jesus from the Old Testament, is to increase the validity of the Gospel. He pronounced his pro-Jewish elements, namely how the events of his birth are a reminiscent of those in the traditional Jewish prophecy. The Gospel of Matthew illustrates its strong connection to the Old Testament as Matthew dedicates a chapter of his text to tracing back Jesus’s ancestry, linking him to the founding father of the Israelites’ bloodline, Abraham. “Abraham was the father of Isaac . . . of whom Jesus was born, who is called Messiah” (Matthew 1:1-16). It is important for Matthew to carefully draw attention to Jesus’ genealogy in order to elucidate that Jesus is a descendent of David and that his birth fulfills the Old Testament prophesies... ... middle of paper ... ...s proven himself to be a sympathetic teacher of his followers. Throughout Matthew’s Gospel, he proposes a complex situation to the readers. He delineates the pro-Jewish traits of Jesus and how his birth fits the description of the prophecies and also how his teachings remain grounded on the traditional Jewish laws. Even though some of Matthew’s accounts of Jesus’ instructions are seemingly contradictory to that of the established tenets of Judaism, they are justifiable by Jesus’ humane character. The narrative on Jesus’ life depicts Matthew’s intention to blatantly portray that Jesus is not anti-Semitic and has no deliberation of revolutionizing the long-established Jewish laws but only to instill faith and help his followers to reach salvation. Work Cited The New Oxford Annotated Bible. Ed. Michael D. Coogan. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. Print.

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