Reflections on a Deep Journey Through Matthew’s Gospel

Barent Fabritius, Saint Matthew and the Angel (1656)

When I began working through Matthew’s gospel in 2019 I had no idea how consuming this project would become. I had ideas I wanted to test, and I knew that both the length of the chapters in Matthew and the wealth of discussions of those chapters would make this a longer project than anything I had done previously, and still I was not prepared for how deep this would take me. I never intended to retranslate the gospel but as I began working through many contemporary translations I found a number of places I found other enlightening possibilities in the original Greek. I did not intend to spend two and a half years on this project, but I am also amazed at it. If you take all the posts together it is roughly 180,000 words and over 270 pages of single-spaced text. This project was a little like a black hole, consuming time that I may have devoted to other projects, but it also was a like a bright light that gave me direction and purpose, especially through 2020 and 2021 with all the changes due to COVID 19.

At this point I will create a table of contents page and print out the document with all the work behind the posts and let it sit for a bit. I think there are some profound and unique contributions to reading Matthew’s gospel and I may attempt to develop this further in the near future. Each book I have worked through has changed me a little, and this project has profoundly impacted the way I understand myself as a ‘little faith one’ attempting to follow the way of Jesus in the world. As Anna Case-Winters could say at the conclusion of her commentary on Matthew:

There is a reorientation implied. A deep engagement with the Lord’s Prayer, the Sermon on the Mount, and indeed the whole of the Gospel of Matthew is a reorienting experience. I commend the Gospel of Matthew to your reading, but it is a powerful text that must come with a warning: read it at your own risk. (Case-Winters 2015, 353)

Many people are content with a passing glance at the gospels. They may admire Jesus from a distance as a wise sage or a loving savior and may puzzle when they are asked to ‘take up their cross.’ For those who are curious, I would echo Anna Case-Winter’s warning to “read at your own risk” for it is a reorienting experience, but it is also a great gift as Matthew attempts to form us as readers of scripture, ones who have been disciples and taught, but perhaps most importantly to Matthew those who can see in Jesus the ‘God who is with us.’

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