Exegesis Matthew 2:1-18

by LRG

Step 1 (Initial) Acquaintance

A. Comparison of versions: RSV (henceforth "1"): "wise men";

Message (2): "scholars"; New English(3): "astrologers".

Verse 3: 1, "troubled"; 2, "terrified"; 3, "greatly perturbed".

Verse 6: 1, "ruler"; 2, "leader..who will shepherd-rule".

Verse 16: 1, "furious rage..sent"; 2, "flew into a rage...commanded"; 3, "fell into a passion...gave orders".

B. Greek/Hebrew Textual Criticism

C. Rough translation

After the genesis of Jesus in Judea's Bethlehem, in King Herod's time, came magi from the east, arriving in Jerusalem saying, "Where if this techtheis Jews' King? For we ourselves saw the astral body in the east in its ascent; we have come to worship.

When Herod heard this he was terrified, and all Jerusalem was too. He summoned the chief priests and scribes of the people to ask them where would be the Christ's birthplace. They told him, in Bethlehem of Judea; for it is written by the prophet, " And you, O Bethlehem in Judeah, are not least among the --; for out of you will come a ruler, who will shepherd those people of mine, Israel. Then Herod summoned clandestinely the Magi to ask the time of the star phenomenon, and sent them into Bethlehem saying, Go and look carefully for the baby, and when you have found him, announce it to me, so that I too may worship. When they had listened to the king, they went, and look! The star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped at where the child was. When the star they saw, they were majorly joyful.

And they entered the house and saw the baby with Marias the mother of him, and they kneeled down to worship him, and opening their thesaurus they presented gifts: cruson and libanon and smyrnan. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they went by a different way to their own country.

Then Herod saw that the magi had tricked him and was in a towering rage. And he (apostolically commissioned) that the babies of Bethlehem two and under etc should be murdered from the time he learned of the magi about the star. This fulfilled that spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, "Heard in Ramah: a cry! Much weeping. Raquel weeping for her young, refusing to be comforted, for they are not."

Step II-Disposition

A. Genre- how the text says what it says.

This passage is in the style of epic narrative. It demands our attention through dramatic prose, huge characters, and divine power. Colorful foreigners, a brutal dictator, a moveable star, Madonna and Child, blood and gore, weeping and wailing, and the triumph of good over evil mark this as an incomparable saga. The musical score to "Lawrence of Arabia" would work here.

B. Personal interaction: questions and observations.

. What power draws the magi? What is Herod afraid of? Note the juxtaposition of violence and tenderness; rage and love; selfishness and generosity; defiance and obedience; terror and worship.

The Baby at the center at times almost disappears from view but he is the cause of all the contrasting responses.

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

Step III-Composition

A. Immediate context-preceding/following pericope

The genealogy and birth in chapter 1 establish the royal/divine nature of this child, his pedigree and claim to the throne. Chapter 1 also announces the theme of unexpectedness, of "it's never going to be quite what you assume" when it comes to this Child. The genealogy has some "imperfections". The virgin birth contains potential for misunderstanding.

The following pericope contains another dramatic Manifestation, the Baptism of the Lord.

B. Organization of the Compositional Whole

C. Issues of Authorship

Step IV Context

A. Primitive Christianity. Matthew's story is unique within the gospels.

B. Old Testament and Judaism: Psalm 72--kings will come bearing gifts; he will care for the poor; messianic expectation/fulfillment from Mic. 5:2; Jer 31: 15 AND 17: "there is hope for your future -your children shall come back".

C. Hellenistic world: Divine Savior myths fulfilled in Jesus.

Step V. Distillation

A Summary of Salient features

This child creates cosmic changes by his very birth.

B Smooth translation

C. Hermeneutical Bridge: Various motives for wanting to "find" and "worship" the Christ.

Step VI Contemporary Address

A. Description of Audience

B. Intended goals: I want to get listeners to think about the "drawing power" but also the "judging" or convicting power of Christ. Does he bring out the best and the worst?