First Reading:                    Sirach 15:15-20

Responsorial Psalm:          Psalm 119:1-2, 4-5, 17-189, 33-34 (1b)

Second Reading:               1 Corinthians 2:6-10

Alleluia:                             cf. Matthew 11:25

Gospel:                             Matthew 5:17-37



The first reading is from Sirach about wanting Wisdom.  The first way to be wise is to want that virtue.  Sometimes the short-term losses from doing what is difficult do not seem worth the potential for long-term gains.  As someone who has been around for seventy-seven years, I can observe that those long-term gains, from attempting what is more difficult, are worth it.  Why?  Because Wisdom keeps the soul intact.  The Responsorial antiphon has it right, “Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!”  That, ultimately, is wisdom.

Mentioning crucifying the Lord of glory, 1 Corinthians is helping the Faithful get at what it means to be wise.  Wisdom requires accepting the hand one is dealt.  In the end, we are all dead, anyway.

The Gospel offers readings most suited for preaching.  The Gospel is about accepting what is inevitable and reaching out in love to everything that is not inevitable.  In the final analysis, prudence is the lodestar that guides all wisdom.


Annotated Bibliography

Material above the double line draws from material below the double line.  Those uninterested in scholarly and tangential details should stop reading here.  If they do, however, they may miss some interesting details.


Sirach 15:15-20

Sir 1:1—42:14

Dennis Hamm, S.J., “The Tamid Service in Luke-Acts: The Cultic Background behind Luke's Theology of Worship (Luke 1:5-25; 18:9-14; 24:50-53; Acts 3:1; 10:3, 30)”[1]

Hamm observes, “After presenting his synthesis of Jewish wisdom and piety for forty-two and a half chapters (Sir 1:1—42:14), Ben Sira [the author of the Book of Sirach] celebrated the Creator of all as master of sea and earth in a hymn (42:15—43:33).”  The section used in the Lectionary today is about Jewish wisdom and piety.  The God of power and might, ultimately, is also, the God of love.



Sir 15:15

Michael M. Winter, "Theological Alterations in the Syriac Translation of Ben Sira"[2]

The Syriac has “If you desire, you will observe his law, and (it is) prudence to do his will … and (it is) fidelity to do the will of God.”  Winter argues that the difference between the Syriac and Greek translations of the Hebrew reflects a Christian Syriac background.  “Fidelity to the will of God” seems like a Christian imposition onto the translation.  Syriac is a dialect of the Aramaic language that Jesus spoke.


Psalm 119:1-2, 4-5, 17-189, 33-34 (1b)

Psalm 119

Paul Overland, "Did the Sage Draw from the Shema?  A Study of Proverbs 3:1-12”[3]

Overland argues,


Although `heart’ … modified by `all’ appears frequently in the Hebrew Bible, the threefold `with all … with all … with all’ in Deut 6:5 greatly magnified the extent of the devotion.  In biblical wisdom literature `all your heart’ is a rare expression, occurring only in Prov 3:5 and five times in Psalm 119.


Verse 2 in the Lectionary has “who seek him with all their heart.”  My reason for noticing this is that modern Westerners regard the heart as the seat of the emotions, but the ancients thought it was the liver,[4] before they thought it was the heart.


Psalm 119

Hanan Eshel and John Strugnell, "Alphabetical Acrostics in Pre-Tannaitic Hebrew”[5]

The authors observe, “same letter beginning every line of each eight-line stanza, or octave, the order of the octaves begin the alphabetic order of their initial letters; all verses monostichs (but cf. the tripartite monostichs in vv. 34 and 48 [not used here].”  The point is that considerable thought and discipline went in to the acrostic Psalms, an aspect of the Psalms only realized in Modern Times.


Psalm 119

Anthony R. Ceresko, O.S.F.S., "Endings and Beginnings: Alphabetic Thinking and the Shaping of Psalms 106 and 150”[6]

Psalm 119 is a very deliberate acrostic psalm.


Psalm 119:1

J. Ross Wagner, "From the Heavens to the Heart: The Dynamics of Psalm 119 as Prayer”[7]

Wagner observes, “The Torah is … ([Ps 23] v. 8a), a word used to describe an unblemished animal fit for sacrifice (e.g., in … and to express the moral quality of blamelessness (e.g., in Pss … 119:1 [used here], 80).”  The Lectionary has, “Blessed are they whose way is blameless.”  Blameless is a type of legal term meaning fit for sacrifice to God almighty.  Nothing but the best is appropriate.


Jeremy Corley, “A Numerical Structure in Sirach 44:1—50:24”[8]

Corley observes, “… the longest psalm (Psalm 119) combines an alphabetic pattern with stanzas of eight poetic lines each.”


1 Corinthians 2:6-10

For recurring themes in Sacred Scripture, see the following.  The exclamation point (!) indicates where a principal reference list of passages related by a common theme or expression is found.[9]  With this material, I am trying to lay a foundation for developing Biblical themes the next time through the Cycles, when I intend to add in which Lectionary readings the relevant passages are found.


Through Reading 70A, January 30, 2011, I designed these notes on the availability of manuscripts to make the point that uncertainty exists about exactly what Greek is to be to used for the purposes of translation.  At that point, I began offering manuscript availability for background when examining Translating the New Testament:  Text, Translation, Theology.[10]  I purchased the book based on the review in the Catholic Biblical Quarterly.[11]


Themes for the following readings are developed at:

Verse   6       Ephesians 1:7;-19; 1 Peter 1:5-3; 1:18, 14:20; Philippians 3:15; Colossians 1:28; John 12:31!; Ephesians 1:21!

Verse   7       1 Corinthians 15:24-26, 14:2!; Matthew 13:35; Luke 10:21 f.; Colossians 1:26; Romans  9:23.

Verse   8       John 1:10; Acts 13:27.

Verse   9       James 2:1; Isaiah 64:3, 52:15, 65:16; Acts 7:23; Sir 1:10; Romans 8:28!

Verse 10       Matthew 11:25 f; Daniel 2:22; Proverbs 20:27 (LXX); Romans 11:33; Job 11:7 f.


While the Lectionary does not number the verses for 1 Corinthians 2:9-10, the physical layout of the page includes “this God has revealed to us through the Spirit.”  Then the Lectionary skips a line.  Contrary to the Lectionary, Douay-Rheims clearly separates the verses.  The Nestle-Aland Greek also separates verse 9 from verse 10 more clearly than the Lectionary.  In the Lectionary, after the introduction, all of verse 9 is italicized.  The Vulgate is interesting.  The first part of verse 9, “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, is italicized, but the latter part of the verse 9 is not italicized, “and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him.”  Are the differences simply sloppy scholarship or is there some other reason behind the differences?



1 Corinthians 2:6-10

Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism, 2nd ed., Erroll F. Rhodes, tr.[12]

The Public Library in Leningrad has a Seventh Century papyrus manuscript with 1 Cor 2:9-12.  Saint Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai has a Fifth Century manuscript with 1 Corinthians 2:6-8.  The Osterreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna has a Fourth Century parchment with 1 Corinthians 2:5-6 and 9.


1 Cor 1—4

Benjamin Fiore, S.J., "`Covert Allusion’ in 1 Corinthians 1—4”[13]

This is a complex article.  Fiore argues “Real, divine power has nothing to do with human wisdom but undergirds preaching and living (though self-effacement), the word of … Christ crucified (1:23-24; 2:2-5 [used here]).”


1 Cor 1:17—2:16    

George T. Montague, S.M., review of Ian W. Scott, Paul’s Way of Knowing: Story, Experience, and the Spirit[14]

Montague reports,





1 Cor 2:1-16

Yung Suk Kim, review of Sion Kim, Christ and Caesar: The Gospel and the Roman Empire in the Writings of Paul and Luke[15]

Yun Suk explains. 


… whereas K’s reading of Luke-Acts may be correct in terms of political conservatism that favors pax Romana, what he fails to discuss is the possibility of Luke’s alteration of the radical Jesus tradition.  So K’s uncritical acceptance of the Lucan Jesus as the historical Jesus is problematic.  Moreover, his juxtaposition of Luke-Acts with Paul’s letters is also problematic because Luke portrays Paul from the perspective of Lucan theology, which is different from Pauline theology.


The difference is that Paul stresses the Cross, whereas Luke does not.


1 Cor 2:6—3:4

Richard A. Horsley, "Wisdom of Word and Words of Wisdom in Corinth”[16]

Horsley agues, “In 2:1-5 he [Paul] directly disclaims eloquence.  Then in 2:6—3:4 he sarcastically derides the Corinthians’ obsession with Sophia [Greek for wisdom] as the means of salvation.”  For 1 Corinthians, Faith that God is revealing the truth overrides whatever other truth humans may think they have discovered.


1 Corinthians 2:6-16

Jerome Murphy O'Connor, O.P., "Interpolations in 1 Corinthians”[17]

1 Corinthians is generally regarded as a composite of several letters.  O’Connor argues that 1 Corinthians is one letter.  He titles one section of his article “1 Corinthians 2:6-16” for special examination.


1 Cor 2:6, 7

Jeremy Corley, "The Pauline Authorship of 1 Corinthians 13”[18]

Corley argues from such words as passing away in verse 6 and mysterious as an attribute of the Wisdom of God in verse 7, that 1 Corinthians is a genuine Pauline epistle.  Scholars observe that the epistle does not flow together as a complete single body of work.  Corley concludes, “the cumulative value of this evidence suggests that, in accordance with the opinion of the majority of commentators, we have in 1 Cor 12:31b—13:13 a characteristic piece of Paul’s writing.”


1 Cor 2:6

L. L. Welborn, review of Andrew D. Clarke, Secular and Christian Leadership in Corinth: A Socio-Historical and Exegetical Study of 1 Corinthians 1—6[19]

Welborn reports, “In chap. 8, C. rehearses Paul’s critique of `worldly’ leadership, concentrating 1 Cor 2:6 and 3:3-4, and traces Paul’s articulation of an alternative conception of leadership [as an act of pride to something else ] as humble service, representing himself and Apollos as menial farmworkers, construction workers, and household servants.”


1 Cor 2:8

Stanley B. Marrow, “Kosmos  in John”[20]

Marrow explains, “As is to be expected [in the New Testament] … we encounter phrases the `whole world … (Rom 3:19), `the world’ that `passes away’ (1 John 12:25); cf. 1 Cor 2:8).”  In the Lectionary, 1 Cor 2:8 has “none of the rulers of this age knew.”  The article has some aspects that are too technical to describe here.


1 Cor 2:8

Jeffrey S. Lamp, "Is Paul Anti-Jewish? Testament of Levi 6 in the Interpretation of 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16"[21]

Lamp presents the argument of J. Christiaan Beker, who “argues that for Paul the death of Christ, which marks the peak of the rebellion of the world rulers [who crucified Jesus], constitutes the eschatological judgment on the powers (1 Cor 2:8) in which the world itself is judged.  (1 Cor 1:21).”


1 Cor 2:8

Russell Morton, review of Anthony C. Thiselton, First Corinthians: A Shorter Exegetical and Pastoral Commentary[22]

Morton reports that Thiselton is an outstanding scholar of First Corinthians.  Thiselton is trying to write for a lay audience in a church setting.  In the process Thiselton passes over needed reflections on women and slaves.  For anyone interested, at 1 Corinthians 2:8, Thiselton displays his erudition by explaining the Greek behind the English translation.


1 Cor 2:8

C. Clifton Black, “Mark as Historian of God’s Kingdom,”[23]

Black argues, “We remain uncertain to whom Paul was referring as “the rulers of this age’ who `crucified the Lord of glory’ (1 Cor 2:8), but apart from Mark and the other evangelists we would never know that Jerusalem’s high priests and Rome’s Pontius Pilate (Mark 14:53-65; 15:1-15) were among the possible candidates.”  Paul was uninterested in the narrative that Mark supplies.  Paul assumed that the meaning of the narrative superseded the narrative itself.


1 Cor 2:9-13

Beverly R. Gaventa, review of Olle Christoffersson, The Expectation of the Creature: The Flood-Tradition as Matrix of Romans 8:18-27[24]

Gaventa reports that Christoffersson mismanages the facts to suit his theory.  Gaventa writes, “Tracing the Spirit’s intercession to the angels of 1 Enoch seems forced, particularly since Paul nowhere identifies the two, but he does comment on the Spirit’s knowledge of human hearts (1 Cor 2:9-13).”


1 Corinthians 2:9

Richard Clifford, S.J., and Khaled Anatolois, "Christian Salvation: Biblical and Theological Perspectives"[25]

The authors conclude,


… the saving God is encountered in human history, in liturgy, and in contemplation of the Christ event.  … They [these models] merely provide us with access to some of the central dimensions explored by Scripture and Christian tradition of the mystery of God’s saving work that extends into the eschatological future that “eye has not seen nor ear heard nor human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).



1 Cor 2:10-13

Richard A. Horsley, "Consciousness and Freedom among the Corinthians: 1 Corinthians 8—10”[26]

Horsley takes an example from 1 Corinthians 2:6, the rulers of this age who are passing away to note that the Greek word for passing away “occurs twenty-two times in the undisputed Pauline letters (including 1 Cor 1:28; 2:6 …), but elsewhere in the NT only five times.  All fourteen occurrences in the passive voice are in the undisputed Pauline letters.”  Using this and similar examples, Horsley concludes that Paul is the ultimate author of 1 Corinthians.


1 Cor 2:10-12

Clint Tibbs, "The Spirit (World) and the (Holy) Spirits among the Earliest Christians: 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 as a Test Case."[27]

Tibbs argues that the ancients accepted a spirit world, but insisted that the Holy Spirit was above them all.


Cyril of Jerusalem (ca. 348) (Catechetical Lectures 16.23) argues for a differentiation between the Spirit and the rest of the created spiritual world:  “No created being is equal in honor to him (the Spirit).  Not all classes of angels, not all their hosts together have equality with the Holy Spirit …” (then follows 1 Cor 2:101-12).  Cyril also distinguished the Holy Spirit from other spirits (Catechetical Lectures 16.12-16).



Whereas Basil [of Caesarea 329-379) can implicitly speak of “holy Spirits,” he does so in such a way that subordinates their nature to the Holy Spirit.  “The pure, spiritual, and transcendent powers are called holy, because they have received holiness from the grace of the Holy Spirit” (ibid., 16.38).  Basil also seems to have been influenced by Athanasius’s use of 1 Cor 2:11, 12 as a proof text for the divine and uncreated nature of the Spirit (ibid., 16.40).


The point is that early Fathers of the Church accepted a world of spirits.



1 Cor 2:10-12

Joseph Plevnik S.J., "The Understanding of God at the Basis of Pauline Theology”[28]

Plevnik observes that Saint Paul uses 1 Cor 2:10-12 to explain the Holy Spirit.  As the Lectionary translates the verses, “God has revealed to us through the spirit; For the Spirit scrutinizes everything.”


cf. Matthew 11:25


Matthew 5:17-37


Verse 17       Romans 3:31; 8, 4, 3:15; John 10:35; Romans 13:8; Galatians 5:14!.

Verse 18       Luke 16:17; 21:32 f. synoptic parallel; Baruch 43:1.

Verse 19       James 2:10; 1 Corinthians 15:9!, 20:26 synoptic parallel.

Verse 20       Matthew 6:1, 18:3!

Verse 21       Exodus 20:13 parallel pericope; Deuteronomy 5:17 parallel pericope; Exodus 21:12; Leviticus 24:17.

Verse 22       Ephesians 4:26; James 1:19 f.; 1 John 13:15; Deuteronomy 17:8-13; 231:18-20?.

Verse 23       Mark 11:25; Daniel 7:10.

Verse 24       Matthew 23:18 f.

Verse 25       Matthew 5:25 parallel pericope Luke 12:57-59; 18:3.

Verse 26       Matthew 18:34.

Verse 27       Exodus 20:14 parallel pericope; Deuteronomy 5:18 (parallel pericope).

Verse 28       Exodus 20:17Job 31:1; Sirach 9:8; 2 Peter 2:14.

Verse 29       Matthew 18:9 f. synoptic parallel.

Verse 30       Mathew 18:8 f. synoptic parallel.

Verse 31       Deuteronomy 24:1 ff.

Verse 32       Matthew 19:3-9 synoptic parallel Luke 16:18; 1 Corinthians 7:10 f.

Verse 33       Leviticus 19:12; Numbers 30:3; Deuteronomy 23:22 (LXX); Zechariah 8:17.

Verse 34       Matthew 23:22; Isaiah 66:1; Psalm 11:4; Isaiah 66:1; Psalm 99:5.

Verse 35       Lamentations 2:1; Psalm 48:3.

Verse 36      

Verse 37       2 Corinthians 1:17; James 5:12; Matthew 6:13!



Matthew 5:20-22, 25-28

Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism, 2nd ed., Erroll F. Rhodes, tr.[29]

The Fundació Sant Lluc Evangelista in Barcelona and other places have papyrus dating from about 200 with Matthew 5:20-22, 25-28.


Matt 4:17

Christopher Pramuk, “`Strange Fruit’: Black Suffering/White Revelation”[30]

Pramuk argues, “What can believing or hoping in the resurrected Christ mean unless still-crucified persons also have reason to hope, unless my hope becomes a non-egocentric hope for them?”  Pramuk does not understand that hope is about truth determining politics, rather than politics determining truth.


Matt. 4:17—16:20

Jack Dean Kingsbury, "Observations on the `Miracle Chapters’ of Matthew 8-9”[31]

Kingsbury argues, “… it is in his capacity as the Son of God that Jesus Messiah both delivers the Sermon on the Mount in chaps. 5-7 and undertakes in chaps. 8-9 his ministry of healing.”


Matt 4:17--7:27

Warren Carter, "Recalling the Lord's Prayer: The Authorial Audience and Matthew's Prayer as Familiar Liturgical Experience”[32]

Carter argues,


To pray for God’s will on earth means committing oneself to do that will.  The placement of the prayer in the narrative of the gospel ensures that any prayer for the presence of God’s reign and will is informed by the stories and instructions about the transforming effect of God’s reign and will among human beings (cf. 4:17—7:27).  To pray the prayer opens and binds the community to agency in enacting God’s responses to the prayer.



Matt 5:17-48, 20

Joy Lawrence, "`For truly, I tell you, they Received their reward’ (Matt 6:2): Investigating, Honor Precedence and Honor Virtue”[33]

In section IV.  Honor and Reward in Matthew, Lawrence has several pages on subdivision “A.  The `Antitheses’ (Matt 5:17-48).”


Lawrence argues,


Righteousness becomes `double-voiced’ in this passage because Matthew uses the term as a basis of a comparison between Jesus’ disciples and `the scribes and Pharisees’ that is unfavorable to the latter (Matt 5:20).  Righteousness, connoting a parity between moral action and the intentions of one’s heart, is what the religious leaders should have embodied; instead, they pursued earthly status and honor precedence.”


Matt 5:17-48

Tony Chartrand-Burke, review of Thomas L. Brodie, The Birthing of the New Testament: The Intertextual Development of the New Testament Writings[34]

Chartrand-Burke reports,


… B. believes that the Deuteronomy-inspired logia used by PL [Proto-Luke] and Matthew comprise Matt 5:5-9, 17-48 and 11:25b-30.  Matthew 5 indeed seems a reasonable candidate for a logia source (others have made similar claims), but the praise of God in Matthew 11 is included here only in order to achieve a parallel with Deuteronomy 29—34 (the “song” section).  Although an intertextual relationship between the NT and OT is impossible to deny, claiming it occurred to this degree stretches credibility.


In other words, Chartrand-Burke does not think Brodie makes his case well enough to be heard.


Mathew 5:17-20

Douglas R. A. Hare, "How Jewish Is the Gospel of Matthew?”[35]

The problem is that anti-Semites have used Matthew to justify their prejudice.  Jesus said to his disciples:  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.”  Hare concludes, “in any event, those on both sides of this debate [about the Jewishness of Matthew] can agree that for Matthean Christians Jesus has replaced Torah as the key to a right relationship with the God of Israel.”


Matt 5:17-20

Walter T. Wilson, “Seen in Secret:  Inconspicuous Piety and Alternative Subjectivity in Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18”[36]

Wilson argues that Matthew 5:17-20 should be read in parallel with Matthew 6:1-6 and 16-18.  The first section, for this Sunday, is in relationship to others; the second section, unused by the Lectionary, is in relationship to God.  In other words, it is all right to let others see good works.


Matt 5:17-18

Daniel G. Groody, C.S.C., “Crossing the Divide:  Foundations of a Theology of Migration and Refugees”[37]

Groody argues, “Jesus recognized the value of the Law (Mt 5:17-18), but he also challenged people to see the larger picture of the Law and understand its deeper meaning (Lk 13:10-17).”


Matt 5:18-20

Leroy Andrew Huizenga, “Obedience unto Death: The Matthean Gethsemane and Arrest Sequence and the Aqedah”[38]

Huizenga argues,


Obedience unto death, however, is the chief thematic link that binds the figure of Isaac with the Matthean Jesus.  Jesus’ obedience and teaching on obedience permeate the Gospel (cf. … 5:18-20 …), and the passion narrative in particular presents a decisive portrait of Jesus’ unwavering obedience.  Jesus’ obedience, however, is not mere passive resignation to his inevitable fate, as if his obedience consisted chiefly in an existential embrace of his inexorable suffering and death.  Rather, Jesus actively orchestrates events to facilitate his sacrificial death, which emphasizes the radical nature of his obedience.



Matt 5:17-20

Joel Marcus, "The Gates of Hades and the Keys of the Kingdom (Matt 16:18-19)”[39]

Marcus points out,


Here I rely upon J. P. Meier’s careful examination of the programmatic statement about the law in Matt 5:17-20 [used here].  Not an iota, not a dot will pass from the law until all is accomplished (5:18).  Yet the third, fourth, and fifth antitheses of the Sermon on the Mount (5:31-42) show that the fulfilled torah of Jesus is one in which the letter of the law has been revoked.


Matt 5:17-20

Terence L. Donaldson, "The Law That Hangs (Matthew 22:40): Rabbinic Formulation and Matthean Social World”[40]

Donaldson explains,


On the one hand, Matthew presents Jesus as the authoritative teacher whose interpretation of the law is the basis of life in the kingdom of God (5:17-20); on the other, he assumes that Gentiles can be included within the community of disciples with baptism (and submission to Jesus’ teaching) as the sole entrance requirement.  Unless one is prepared to argue the highly dubious proposition that Matthew assumes that all the ritual and cultic aspects of the Torah differentiating Jews from Gentiles are included within the commandments of Jesus which Gentile disciples were to observe, the clear implication of the mission mandate is that these aspects of the Torah have been set aside.



Matt 5:17-20

John P. Meier, "The Historical Jesus and the Historical Law:  Some Problems within the Problem”[41]

Meier argues,


To this day, some authors still identify the stance of the Matthean Jesus vis-ŕ-vis the Law with the stance of the historical Jesus, with the crown jewel of Matthew’s own theology of the Law (Matt 5:17-20), being cited as a programmatic statement of the historical Jesus … the complexity of treating the relation of Jesus to the Mosaic Law is not entirely on the side of the historical Jesus.  The “historical Torah” at the time of the historical Jesus can be a problematic quantity as well.  Jesus and the Law—but what was the Law?


Matt 5:17-18

Martin C. Albl, review of William Loader, The New Testament with Imagination: A Fresh Approach to Its Writings and Themes[42]

Albl concludes, “In sum, L.’s work provides he reader with a truly valuable, imaginative map to the NT world, but the map is at times misleading.”


Matt 5:17

Boris Repschinski, review of Peter Fiedler, Das Matthausevangelium[43]

Repschinski reports,


A dispute over the interpretation of the law would also explain the repeated references to the “Law and the Prophets” (5:17 …).  If, however, the Matthean community was at odds with Pharisees and scribes over at least some interpretive issues of the law, Matthew’s relationship to Judaism becomes complicated.  Here the omission of the mention of circumcision becomes more significant than F. allows.


Matt 5:17

Bogdan G. Bucur, “Exegesis of Biblical Theophanies in Byzantine Hymnography: Rewritten Bible?”[44]

Bucur argues,


As far as the Byzantine hymns are concerned, the intention is, of course, the same one professed by Christianity in general:  not to abolish the Law or the prophets (Matt 5:17), but to reinterpret them in light of the fundamental assumption that Christ is the telos [end] of the Law (Rom 10:4).



Matt 5:17

Warren Carter, “Jesus’ `I have come’ Statements in Matthew’s Gospel’[45]

Carter describes what this article does.  “Matthew’s Jesus, using the verb hlqon, makes seven declarations about his mission.  Six of these statements appear in chaps. 5—10, the seventh in 20:28.  A complete list of them follows.”  In verse 17, Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law …”


Matt 5:17

Kenton L. Sparks, "Gospel as Conquest: Mosaic Typology in Matthew 28:16-20"[46]

Sparks argues,


Although Matthew’s Jesus seems to draw on canonical texts that advise a different spirit toward one’s enemies, such as Prov 25:21-22, the theological changes initiated by Jesus in this sermon [Matthew 28:16-20, the commission to make disciples of all nations] were in fact so bold that it was necessary to allay fears that he had broken faith with Moses:  “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matt 5:17).  In spite of these words, it was obvious enough to the ancients that Jesus was not merely an exegete of Scripture.  He spoke as the New Moses, as “one who had authority, and not as the scribes” (Matt 7:29).  Further evidence for the Mosaic shaping of Matthew’s Gospel is found not only in these early chapters of the narrative but also in the book’s overarching redactional structure, which the evangelist seems to have cast in five sections to mimic the five books of the Pentateuch.  When the evidence is weighed together, it is fairly clear that Matthew’s portrait of Jesus was shaped not only to present him as the new Moses but also to show that Jesus’ authority superseded that of the Mosaic Law.


Matt 5:19

Daniel W. Ulrich, “The Missional Audience of the Gospel of Matthew”[47]

Ulrich uses Matthew 5:19, least and greatest to argue that the Missional audience of the Gospel of Matthew included the Gentiles.


Because of the concentration on Matthew 5:20 in the articles cited below, I note the Lectionary has “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees.”


Matt. 5:20

B. T. Viviano, O.P., "Where Was the Gospel According to St. Matthew Written?"[48]

Viviano argues from Matthew 5:20 about scribes and Pharisees, that Matthew wrote from assumptions suited for a Christian Jewish community.


Matt 5:21-48

Dino Dozzi, "`Thus Says the Lord' The Gospel in the Writings of Saint Francis"[49]

Dozzi explains, “One way to describe the passage from the first to the second covenant is from holiness as an achievement to holiness as a gift.”  Dozzi means from the first Testament to the second Testament.  There are several First Testament covenants.


Mathew 5:21-22

Eugene Hensell, O.S.B., review of Wilma Ann Bailey, “You Shall Not Kill” or “You Shall Not Murder”? The Assault on a Biblical Text[50]

Hensell notes


… Roman Catholicism is highlighted as the only major tradition that has retained the translation “you shall not kill” (pp.71-78).  B. sees this as due to Roman Catholicism’s consistency in translation, tradition, and a doctrinal position that says all of Scripture is to be interpreted through the teachings of Christ and the Christ-event itself.  Thus, Matt 5:21-22 is very important for the understanding and translation of Exod 20:13.



BG.’s analysis of the motivations of evangelical and mainline Protestants, as well as of Jewish translators, for changing the English rendering of Exod 20:13 from “kill” to “murder” is not convincing in every part.  The same can be said for her understanding of why Roman Catholicism has consistently retained the translation “kill.”  Nevertheless, this book is important …


Matt 5:22

William C. Mattison III, “Jesus’ Prohibition of Anger (Mt 5:22): The Person/Sin Distinction from Augustine to Aquinas”[51]

Because anger is an ascetic difficulty, this article is useful for preaching.  Since Jesus became angry, anger cannot always be either bad or wrong.  Mattison traces the use of reason in understanding the morality of anger.


Matt 5:23-24

Mark Allan Powell, "Matthew's Beatitudes: Reversals and Rewards of the Kingdom”[52]

Powell argues,


Any interpretation equating peace-making with reconciliation, however, fails to take into account Jesus’ claim that he has not come to bring peace in this sense of the word (10:34).  The expectation, in fact, is that association with him will create divisions and evoke hostility (10:35-36; cp. [sic] 5:11-12, 10:21-22).


Matt 5:23-24

Craig A. Evans, "Jesus' Action in the Temple: Cleansing or Portent of Destruction?”[53]

Evans argues, “Not only is there insufficient evidence that Jesus called for an end to sacrifice, but the saying found in Matt 5:23-24 (`So if you are offering your gift at the altar’) obviously militates against the view.”


Matt 5:23-24

P. M. Casey, "Culture and Historicity: The Cleansing of the Temple”[54]

Casey argues,


… forgiveness when praying does not render the temple’s sacrificial system needless; it does not relate to it in a negative way at all.  While Gentiles who forgave people when they prayed had no need to think of the temple, Jews in Jerusalem who forgave people would also obey God’s commands to offer the prescribed sacrifices (cf. Matt 5:23-24).



Matt 5:23-24

Daniel C. Olson, "Matthew 22:1-14 as Midrash"[55]

Olson relates Matthew 5:23-24 to Mark 11:25, as is noted above in the examination of the Greek.  Midrash, in the title of the article, concerns the underlying significance of a particular text in Sacred Scripture.


Matt 5:24

Sean Freyne, “The Galilean Jesus and a Contemporary Christology”[56]

Freyne speculates, “Thus, one might indeed wonder whether Jesus’ seeming casual encounter with this other—other by culture, race, and gender— helped him see more clearly the ethnic, yet universal, implications of his total trust in the creator God, whom he could call Father.”


Matt 5:26, 28, 31-32

Carolyn Osiek, R.S.C.J., “`When You Pray, Go into Your tameion’ (Mathew 6:6: But Why?”[57]

Osiek argues, “Most commentators seem to posit the Palestinian farmhouse as the point of reference for Matthew.  It is frequently assumed today that the gospel originated in Antioch or some similar urban environment, perhaps Tiberius or Sepphoris.  …”  To the contrary, I like the opinion that Matthew wrote on the Mediterranean coast, in Caesarea, near an important library.


Matt 5:29-30

Barbara E. Reid, O.P., "Violent Endings in Matthew's Parables and Christian Nonviolence”[58]

Before defining her topic, first Reid observes that “self-inflicted discipline can take violent forms, such as tearing out an offending eye or cutting off a hand that causes one to sin (5:29-30).”  Reid defines her topic: “`Violence’ means exertion of force so as to injure or abuse another.”



Matt 5:31-32

Barbara E. Reid, O.P., review of Marianne Blickenstaff, "While the Bridegroom Is with Them": Marriage, Family, Gender and Violence in the Gospel of Matthew[59]

Reid reports,


Blickenstaff devotes the fifth chapter to the sayings on marriage and divorce (5:31-32; 19:3-9; 22:30), concluding that the Matthean bridegroom [namely, Jesus] who has no bride disrupts the institutions of marriage and family, offering instead an ideal of singleness and celibacy.  While urging that current marriages be kept intact (based on the ideal of oneness set forth in Gen 2:24), Matthew advocates celibacy within marriage and elimination of procreation.  The ideal will be completed in the resurrection, when all will be like angels, who do not marry (22:30). … this book is an important resource for Matthean scholars and those interested in studies on violence and peacebuilding.


Matt 5:32

Michael J. McClymond, "Through a Glass Darkly: Biblical Annotations and Theological interpretation in Modern Catholic and Protestant English-language Bibles"[60]

McClymond observes,


The individual most responsible for determining the shape and form of [sic] English-language Catholic Bible from 1750 to about 1950 was Richard Challoner (1691-1781)  His task was to revise the Douai [1609] version and to revise or replace the older annotations with a new set more appropriate to the age. Challoner’s revision of the Old Testament translation became standard until the advent of the newer Catholic translations in the mid-20th century. … Throughout his notes, Challoner tried to show that the practices and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church rest on solid biblical precedents.  Numerous notes pertain to issues of marriage, divorce, celibacy, and sexuality—still controversial topics among Catholics today. … Almost every time “concubine” appears in Challoner’s Old Testament it is explained with the comment that they were “lawful wives … of an inferior degree,” or “not harlots,” as he sometimes indelicately phrased it.  Such a remark recurs no less than nine times.  Probably the concern is to prevent the reader from rationalizing nonmarital sex on the grounds that it is found in the Bible.  Regarding divorce, Challoner adopted the traditional Catholic view that Jesus’ so-called exception clause—`except for (sexual) immorality’ (Matthew 5:32)—allows a spouse who is married to an adulterer to separate from that person but not to marry someone else.   Thus Challoner’s notes enforced a distinctively Roman Catholic understanding of marriage and divorce.


Matt 5:32

Donald Senior, C.P., review of Dale C. Allison, Jr., Studies in Matthew: Interpretation Past and Present[61]

Senior credits Allison with “… an ingenious argument that porneia [adultery] in the prohibition of divorce in 5:32 and 19:19 refers to adultery in view of the fact that Joseph is declared a “just” man for contemplating divorce from Mary because of her supposed adultery (1:18-25) …”  Senior concludes, “… this is a wonderful book, revealing an erudite biblical scholar at work, one whose exegetical judgments are full of common sense and whose sensitivities to the contours and meaning of Matthew’s text are extraordinarily fruitful.”



For more on sources see the Appendix file.  Personal Notes are on the web site at

[1] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 65, No. 2 (April 2003) 220.


[2] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 70, No. 2 (April 2008) 305.


[3] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 3 (July 2000) 429.


[5] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 3 (July 2000) 444.


[6] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 1 (January 2006) 34.


[7] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 61, No. 2 (April 1999) 255-256.


[8] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 61, No. 2 (April 1999) 256.


[9] Nestle-Aland, Novum Testamentum: Graece et Latine: Textum Graecum post Eberhard et Erwin Nestle communiter ediderunt Barbara et Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger: Textus Latinus Novae Vulgatae Bibliorum Sacrorum Editioni debetur: Utriusque textus apparatum criticum recensuerent et editionem novis curis elaboraverunt Barbara et Kurt Aland una cum Instituto Studiorum Textus Novi Testamenti Monasterii Westphaliae (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft 1999) Editio XXVII.


[10] Translating the New Testament:  Text, Translation, Theology, Stanley E. Porter and Mark J. Boda (eds.), (Grand Rapids, Michigan:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2009).


[11] Robert Hodgson, Jr. review of Translating the New Testament:  Text, Translation, Theology, Stanley E. Porter and Mark J. Boda (eds.), the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 72, No. 4 (April 2009) 877-878.


[12] Grand Rapids, Michigan, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989, 96, 97, 124.


[13] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 47, No. 1 (January 1985) 85-102.


[14] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 71, No. 3 (July 2009) 656.



[15] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 71, No. 3 (July 2009) 649.


[16] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 39, No. 2 (April 1977) 224 ff.


[17] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 1 (January 1986) 81-94.


[18] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 66, No. 2 (April 2004) 260, 261, 269, 274.


[19] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 70, No. 1 (January 2008) 141.


[20] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 64, No. 1 (January 2002) 95.


[21] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 65, No. 3 (April 2003) 413.


[22] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 69, No. 4 (October 2007) 837.


[23] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 71, No. 1 (January 2009) 66.


[24] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 54, No. 1 (January 1992) 146.


[25] Theological Studies, Vol. 66, No. 4 (December 2005) 769.


[26] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 40, No. 4 (October 1978) 576.


[27] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 70, No. 2 (April 2008) 315-317.


[28] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 65, No. 4 (October 2003) 563.


[29] Grand Rapids, Michigan, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989, 100.


[30] Theological Studies, Vol. 67, No. 2 (June 2006) 357.


[31] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 40, No. 4 (October 1978) 565.


[32] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 57, No. 3 (July 1995) 529.


[33] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 64, No. 4 (October 2002) 4 698.


[34] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 4 (October 2006) 757.


[35] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 2 (April 2000) 265 ff.


[36] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 72, No. 3 (July 2010) 475, 477, 480, 486.


[37] Theological Studies, Vol. 70, No. 3 (September 2009) 654.


[38] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 71, No. 3 (July 2009) 516.


[39] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 50, No. 3 (July 1988) 453.


[40] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 57, No. 4 (October 1995) 693-708.


[41] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 65, No. 1 (July 2003) 54, 66.


[42] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 70, No. 2 (April 2008) 380-381.


[43] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 69, No. 3 (July 2007) 578-579.


[44] Theological Studies, Vol. 68, No. 1 (January 2007) 110.


[45] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 69, No. 1 (January 1998) 44-62.


[46] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 4 (October 2006) 659.


[47] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 69, No. 1 (January 2007) 75, 76.


[48] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 4 (October 1979) 538.


[49] Greyfriars Review, Vol. 18, Supplement (2004) 116.


[50] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 4 (October 2006) 720.

[51] Theological Studies, Vol. 68, No. 4 (December 2007) 839-864.


[52] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 58, No. 3 (July 1996) 473.


[53] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 51, No. 2 (April 1989) 265.


[54] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 59, No. 2 (April 1997) 330.


[55] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 67, No. 3 (July 2005) 442.


[56] Theological Studies, Vol. 70, No. 2 (June 2009) 293.


[57] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 71, No. 4 (October 2009) 728, 737.


[58] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 66, No. 2 (April 2004) 238, 247.


[59] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 3 (July 2006) 533-534.


[60] Theological Studies, 67, No. 3 (September 2006) 488-489.


[61] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 70, No. 1 (January 2008) 135.