Ancient Judaism Synoptic Gospels

NEW BOOK: Matthew within Judaism: Israel and the Nations in the First Gospel (eds. Anders Runesson and Daniel M. Gurtner)

Click picture to order.

Last week I received in the mail a book I have long-awaited: Anders Runesson and Daniel M. Gurtner, eds., Matthew within Judaism: Israel and the Nations in the First Gospel, Early Christianity and Its Literature 27 (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2020). This book represents a major contribution to Matthew scholarship.

The past decade or so has seen a renaissance of sorts in Matthean Studies. This book, edited by two of the most important Matthew scholars writing today, is over 500 pages long and is full of outstanding essays on important topics. The introductory piece by the editors, “Introduction: The Location of the Matthew-within-Judaism Perspective in Past and Present Research,” is quite interesting. It chronicles the rise of the “Matthew within Judaism” perspective. Among other things, it highlights the influence of W. D. Davies and Dale Allison’s “unmatched” commentary in the emergence of this school of thought.

What is “Matthew within Judaism”? I have written about this movement elsewhere on this site (and here). In short, Runesson and Gurtner situate the movement within broader trends in scholarship:

. . . if Judaism can no longer be understood as a monolithic entity, it would be methodologically fallacious to approach the New Testament against the background of, or comparing it too, “Judaism.” Rather, focusing on the various expressions of Judaism in and around the first century CE as a comparanda opens up new ground for a more complex understanding of the nature of the texts included in the New Testament and how they fit discursively and socioreligiously within this heterogeneous landscape.

Anders Runesson and Daniel M. Gurtner, “Introduction,” p. 4.

Matthew within Judaism, therefore, does not simply look at Matthew as a text against the background of Judaism, but as an expression of Jewish thought. That being said, the editors, are not looking to insulate themselves from criticism: the book concludes with a marvelous response from A. J. Levine, who offers various critiques.

The book’s Table of Contents reads like a “who’s who” of the leading Matthean scholars. Any book on Matthew that contains pieces from Dan Gurtner, Anders Runesson, A. J. Levine, Loren Stuckenbruck, John Kampen, and Nathan Eubank is definitely a must-read for a serious student of Matthew. I have gone to the trouble of typing it out here because I cannot find a website that lists it. You can find it below.

However, I should also mention that the back cover boasts three fine endorsements:

Unlike most collections by multiple authors, this volume displays remarkable unity. The contributors consistently argue for understanding Matthew in its entirety as a thoroughly Jewish text…. The chapters are unfailingly informative and provocative, and they move the discussion forward in multiple, significant ways.

–Dale C. Allison Jr., Princeton Theological Seminary

This volume is a challenge to biblical scholars, theologians, students, and preachers to see Matthew’s Gospel for what it is, a Jewish gospel…. The topics covered locate Matthew within a developing multifaceted late Second Temple and post-temple Judaism. It also covers the broader first-century context as well as updating us on the current state of New Testament studies. As such it will provide a rich and valuable source for anyone who longs to hear the historical voice of Matthew.

–Layang Seng Ja, Kachin Theological College and Seminary

Carefully assessing a wide range of topics using evidence from contemporary Jewish texts, the authors advocate the idea that Matthew’s Gospel is best understood as a Jewish rather than as a Christian text. For those wanting to interact with the best articulation of this idea, there is no better assembly of arguments for a Matthew-within-Judaism point of view than this magnificent collection.

–Paul Foster, University of Edinburgh


“Introduction: The Location of the Matthew-within-Judaism Perspective in Past and Present Research,” Anders Runnesson and Daniel M. Gurtner


“Matthew and the Torah: Jesus as Legal Interpreter,” James G. Crossley

“The Sermon on the Mount as Synagogue Teaching,” Jordan Ryan

“Matthew and the Temple,” Akiva Cohen


“Aspects of Matthean Universalism: Ethnic Identity as a Theological Tool in the First Gospel,” Anders Runesson

“His Glorious Throne: Israel and the Gentiles in Mission and Judgment in the Gospel of Matthew,” David L. Turner

“‘Nations,’ ‘Non-Jewish Nations,’ or ‘Non-Jewish Individuals’: Matthew 28:19 Revisited,” Terence L. Donaldson

“Ethnic Identities in the Dead Sea Legal Papyri and Matthew: Reinterpreting Matthew 25:31-46,” Philip F. Esler


“The Role of the Crowds in the Gospel of Matthew,” Matthias Konradt

“Whose King Is He Anyway? What Herod Tells Us about Matthew,” Wayne Baxter

“The Function of Teaching Authority in the Dead Sea Documents and Matthew’s Gospel,” Loren T. Stuckenbruck


“Moral Impurity in the Gospel of Matthew,” Cecilia Wassén

“Danielic Influence at the Intersection of Matthew and the Dead Sea Scrolls,” Daniel M. Gurtner

“Life after Death? The Question of Immediate Life after Death in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in the Gospel of Matthew,” David Sim

“The Resurrection of the Saints as a Prolepsis of the Resurrection of Jesus: A Reassessment of Matthew’s Portrayal of the Risen Jesus,” Lidija Novakovic


“The Problem of Christian Anti-Semitism and a Sectarian Reading of the Gospel of Matthew: The Trial of Jesus,” John Kampen

“Israel and the Nations in the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies and Recognitions 1.27-71: Receptions of the Gospel of Matthew,” Karin Hedner Zetterholm

“Merit and Anti-Judaism in Matthew’s Parables since Jülicher,” Nathan Eubank

“Concluding Reflections: What’s Next in the Study of Matthew?,” Amy-Jill Levine

Leave a Reply