Matthew 2:1-18


Step I - (Initial) Acquaintance
A. Comparison of English or other published translations

In v.1 Magi [capital M] (NIV) vs. magi [little m] (NASB) vs. wise men (RSV, NRSV)

Magi - noun or proper name?


In v. 2 come to "worship" (NIV) vs. "pay him homage" (NRSV)

Again in v. 8

In v. 10 "overwhelmed with joy" (NRSV) vs. "overjoyed" (NIV) vs. "rejoiced with exceedingly great joy" (RSV)

Is the RSV statement more powerful?

B. Greek/Hebrew Textual Criticism

Magoi? plural of magus as in Acts 13:6 - magician or sorcerer

C. One's Own Rough Translation

Step II - Disposition
A. Genre - How the text says what it says

continuation of birth narrative

B. Personal Interaction - Questions and observations

are the wise men different after this experience?

"joy" language seems to suggest so

epiphany that which brings joy?

Are we too quick to ascribe to the wise men elements of faithfulness, goodness, warm fuzzy feelings when the text might not support it?

"We Three Kings"

is their real motivation a combination of not only faith (possibly), but also scientific/professional curiosity

hedging their bets - being keen observers, they saw the signs, the writing on the wall and they simply chose to get on board, like an astute Wall Street investor?


What are they confident in?

Powers of observation?

What is Herod confident in?


What confidence does epiphany bring, if any?

C. Organization - Where the elements of "B" are located

Step III - Composition
A. Immediate Context - preceding/following pericope

before - genealogy and birth narrative

after - escape to Egypt (sort of a reverse-Exodus) and later return

B. Organization of the Compositional Whole

Pattern reversal from Galilee to Judea in ch. 3-18, now Judea to Galilee in birth story

Chiasm of ministry locations

A. Issues of Authorship

Step IV - Context
A. Primitive Christianity

seems quite distinctive from Luke's birth story

Matthew's story set among royalty, priests, wealthy foreigners

Luke's story seems more "humble"? manger, shepherds

Can these stories be harmonized? Should we even try?

B. Old Testament and Judaism

Later application of Psalm 72 and Isaiah 60 to Christmas story

That application is probably how we make the jump from magi to "kings"

Matthew's continuing sensitivity to Jewish audience/community, who were expecting a Messiah

What about that community's confidence?

A. Hellenistic World

Step V - Distillation
A. Summary of Salient Features

somehow, this epiphany is relief

awareness of Christ's identity may mean that we no longer have to do some things for ourselves

create joy

save ourselves through supreme confidence in ourselves

B. Smooth Translation

A. Hermeneutical Bridge

Collision of confidences

Wise men's confidence in their powers of observation

Herod's confidence in his brutal ability to effect change

Replaced by epiphany, new confidence in Christ

This new confidence produces joy

Those who can make the confidence shift experience the joy

Wise men

Those who cannot make the confidence shift come to an end


Step VI - Contemporary Address
A. Description of Audience

UM congregation

B. Intended Goals for the Address

Contrast confidence in self, intellect, money, power, ability to conjure up (magician connection) joy [like at Christmas] with confidence in/of Christ

"Confidence of the Children of God" often used liturgically

dominant culture invites us to be confident in self

epiphany makes a different invitation?

A. Address