Why Did the Early Christians Care about the Temple after 70 CE? The Case of the Gospel of Matthew

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The gospel of Matthew was completed sometime in the 80s or 90s, perhaps in the Galilee. It combines elements that embrace the main aspects of contemporary Judaism with extremely harsh polemics against the Jews, particularly the Pharisees. Matthew is also preoccupied with questions relating to the Jewish Law, and it is possible that his audience consists of Law abiding Jewish believers in Jesus (e.g., Matt 5:17–19).
Some scholars argue that Matthew distances himself from other Jews (the so-called extra-muros approach). Matthew stresses a parting of ways with Judaism as a separate “church,” manifested by a deep rivalry with the Pharisees, scribes, and “their synagogue.” He sets against them the alternative of the ecclesia (a term that does not appear in the other gospels). For Matthew, the kingdom is given to a new people, including Gentiles. This hostility towards the Pharisees and scribes stems from Matthew’s communities’ separation from Judaism after a period of hostility, opposition, and persecution on the part of some Jews. Israel’s continued rejection of Jesus leads to the departure of the Matthean Christians from Jewish society. Matthew’s community has only recently broken with the parent body of Judaism (or “the synagogue”) and now lays claim to a common pre-history.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBrill Reference Library of Judaism
PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NameBrill Reference Library of Judaism
ISSN (Print)1571-5000


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