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Monday, January 3, 2011

+ Epiphany + Epiphany ONE +

Lexegete™ | Year A | St. Matthew

Epiphany of Our Lord

January 6, 2011

Isaiah 60:1-6
Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14 (11)
Ephesians 3:1-12
Matthew 2:1-12
Prayer of the Day
O God, on this day you revealed your Son to the nations by the leading of a star. Lead us now by faith to know your presence in our lives, and bring us at last to the full vision of your glory, 
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Almighty and ever-living God, you revealed the incarnation of your Son by the brilliant shining of a star. Shine the light of your justice always in our hearts and over all lands, and accept our lives as the treasure we offer in your praise and for your service, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Everlasting God, the radiance of all faithful people, you brought the nations to the brightness of your rising. Fill the world with your glory, and show yourself to all the world through him who is the true light and the bright morning star, your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia. We have observed his star | at its rising,
and have come to | worship him. Alleluia. (Matt. 2:2)


This pericope has little to connect it with the preceding chapter except the birth of Jesus, but just as with the foregoing, the interest is not biographical. The story has two main emphases. The first is the struggle between King Herod and the baby king. This conflict calls to mind the Old Testament story of Pharaoh and the Infant Moses (cf. Hebrews 3:1-6). As in the birth of Jesus, Moses' birth was foretold by an Egyptian scholar- astrologer and a turmoil ensues. Pharaoh calls together all the Egyptian astrologers. Based upon their information he orders the execution of all Hebrew male infants, hoping to slay the newborn savior of Israel (Josephus,ANTIQUITIES, ii 205-6, 215). In like manner, Herod convenes the chief priests and teachers of the law to learn what he can about this newborn king, but he relies upon the return of the Magi for complete information. One wonders why he didn't send soldiers or at least spies, rather that trust strangers.

Matthew has an interest in establishing Jesus' birth in the royal city of David, Bethlehem. This is done by means of inserting Micah 5:1-2 in his story at verse 6. This quotation already was interpreted in a messianic way by the Jews. The last line of verse 6 suggests Micah 5:3-4, but its actual wording is found in 2 Samuel 5:2, which is a promise to David.

The "Herod" of verse 1 is undoubtedly Herod the Great, thus Jesus' birth is dated in 7 B.C. when a brilliant conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter lit up the sky.

However this date is not easily confirmed, for about 11 B.C. Halley's comet shot across the skies, and in the years through 2 B.C.l, there was another rare phenomenon. On the first day of the Egyptian month of Mesori, the dog star Sirius rose at sunrise and shone incandescently.There is unusual significance here, for the name Mesori means "birth of a prince" and to astrologers such a star would herald the nativity of a great king.
To further complicate the matter, the Lucan narrative dates Jesus' birth 6-7 A.D. because of the tax enrollment and the governorship of Quirinius.

But the Matthean author knows nothing of a journey to Bethlehem. There is some evidence from Herodotus that the Magi were Medes, a part of the Persian Empire which became a tribe of priests much like the LevitesinIsrael. They were knowledgeable in the sciences, interpreting dreams, and were men of wisdom and holiness; hence the name "wisemen." Like all learned men of their day, they practiced astrology. Since it was their profession to watch the heavens, such a brilliant heavenly display bespoke the birth of a king.
Tacitus tells of the belief widespread throughout the known world at the time of Jesus' birth that a king was to be born: "There was a firm persuasion...that at this very time the East was to grow powerful, and rulers coming from Judaea were to acquire universal empire." (Tacitus, HISTORIES, 5:13.) We find other such references in Josephus, Suetonius, as well as Virgil, the Roman poet who wrote of the golden days to come. In Numbers 24:17, the messiah himself is referred to as a star. The phrase "king of the Jews" (basileus ton Ioudaion) places the infant Jesus in opposition to Herod the Great, as does yearning of foreign dignitaries to "fall down and worship him."
In this story we see one of the central themes of Matthew, the relationship between Israel and the gentiles illuminated both by the pagans who worship the child and the Jewish king who refuses to accept him. Jesus is portrayed as the new Moses, sent by God to save the people of Israel and at peril from those holding worldly authority, even in the manger. Unlike Moses, Jesus is worshipped as king of the universe. The messiah is exalted by those who nothing of God except the beacons they see in the heavens, while the recognized authorities reject him. Hence both Israel's rejection and the nature of his kingdom are indicated, and even the city of the messiah....Bethlehem...will not be a haven for long.
Matthew's author wants to portray the unique status of Jesus as the savior of all humankind. Additionally, he is concerned with the image of Jesus as a forerunner of the life of Christian discipleship. At birth Jesus is Immanuel, the Son of God; forced to wander, at enmity with the world
whose servant-king he is, but guided and protected by God Almighty.
1b. TEXT: MATTHEW 2:1-12

The Visit of the Wise Men

2:1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men [1] from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose [2] and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, re by no means least among the rulers of Judah; or from you shall come a ruler ho will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
ESV: English Standard Version Greek:


1του δε ιησου γεννηθεντος εν βηθλεεμ της ιουδαιας εν ημεραις ηρωδου του βασιλεως, ιδου μαγοι απο ανατολων παρεγενοντο εις
2λεγοντες, που εστιν ο τεχθεις βασιλευς των ιουδαιων; ειδομεν γαρ αυτου τον αστερα εν τη ανατολη και ηλθομεν προσκυνησαι αυτω.
3ακουσας δε ο βασιλευς ηρωδης εταραχθη και πασα ιεροσολυμα μετ αυτου,
4και συναγαγων παντας τους αρχιερεις και γραμματεις του λαου επυνθανετο παρ
αυτων που ο χριστος γενναται.
5οι δε ειπαν αυτω, εν βηθλεεμ της
ιουδαιας: ουτως γαρ γεγραπται δια του προφητου:
6και συ,
βηθλεεμ γη ιουδα, ουδαμως ελαχιστη ει εν τοις ηγεμοσιν ιουδα: εκ σου γαρ εξελευσεται ηγουμενος, οστις ποιμανει τον λαον μου
τον ισραηλ.
7τοτε ηρωδης λαθρα καλεσας τους μαγους
ηκριβωσεν παρ αυτων τον χρονον του φαινομενου αστερος,
πεμψας αυτους εις βηθλεεμ ειπεν, πορευθεντες εξετασατε ακριβως περι του παιδιου: επαν δε ευρητε απαγγειλατε μοι, οπως
καγω ελθων προσκυνησω αυτω.
9οι δε ακουσαντες του βασιλεως επορευθησαν, και ιδου ο αστηρ ον ειδον εν τη ανατολη προηγεν
αυτους εως ελθων εσταθη επανω ου ην το παιδιον.
10ιδοντες δε
τον αστερα εχαρησαν χαραν μεγαλην σφοδρα.
11και ελθοντες εις
την οικιαν ειδον το παιδιον μετα μαριας της μητρος αυτου, και πεσοντες προσεκυνησαν αυτω, και ανοιξαντες τους θησαυρους αυτων προσηνεγκαν αυτω δωρα, χρυσον και λιβανον και
12και χρηματισθεντες κατ οναρ μη ανακαμψαι προς ηρωδην, δι αλλης οδου ανεχωρησαν εις την χωραν αυτων.

Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition © 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft,
Stuttgart; The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition © 1975, United Bible Societies, London


MATTHEW 2:1 - Bethlehem was a little town 6 mi. to the south of Jerusalem. AlsoitwastheplaceRuthlivedaftershemarriedBoaz,andit is the site of the pillar beside the grave where Jacob buried his beloved Rachel. Most of all Bethlehem was the city of David. It was here that Jews expected the birth of God's anointed one. The name Bethlehem means "The House of Bread" and it was here the one who as the bread of life entered the world in a stable.

Mt. 2:2 - The verb "to worship" (proskuneisai) refers to prostration in the presence of the king or God and means worship in the literal sense of the word. Hence the desire of the Magi to worship him stresses the universal significance of Jesus from the very beginning.
Mt. 2:3 - Herod's terror at the idea of a messiah was well-founded. Herod was half Jews and half Idumaean. There was Edomite blood in his veins and his parents were Jewish converts. He had been a tool of Rome. He was called "The Great" because he had brought peace and order to Palestine. And he was a great builder, having built the Templein Jerusalem. Yet this nature was bitter, warped and murderous. He killed his wife, his mother-in-law and three sons when he thought they might rival his power. Thus he feared any messianic movement that might dispute his right to the throne.
Mt. 2:4 - There was a history of severe tension between the chief priests and the teachers of the law of the people. It is difficult to believe that even Herod could have successfully called them together.
Mt. 2:10 - The astrologers' joy at finding the baby is powerfully portrayed in the Greek. "When they say the star they rejoiced (echareisan) with exceeding (sphodra), great (megalein) joy (charan). How happy they were,
what gladness they felt" (cf. Luke 2:10).
Mt. 2:11 - The gifts are royal gifts (Ps. 72:10-11, 15; 45:7-9; also Isaiah 60:6; Song of Solomon 3:6) of gold (chrusos) for the king Jesus "the Man born to be King," frankincense (libanos) for the priest and bridge-builder to God, and myrrh (smurna) for the embalming of the dead, and Jesus is the one who is to die.
Mt. 2:12 - Once again a dream plays an important role as the vehicle for God's message. The magi are warned in a dream not to return to Herod and they do not. Joseph was told in a dream "...take Mary to be your wife...she will give birth to a son...he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:20-21).
Matthew's church is thought to have been located in Syria around AD 70. An association with Palestinian Judaism and the fundamental interpretation of the law is clearly delineated. Likewise a familiarity with the gentile world and the admission of pagans into the church are accepted facts. The Jewish background of Matthew's gospel is apparent. The debate on keeping the Law is a central question (5:17-20) and the Sabbath is being observed (24:20). Plainly the evangelist author of
Matthew was a Jewish Christian of the Syrian church, who had to deal with Gentile and Jew. Hence the universal theme of Matthew 2:1-12 would have struck a responsive chord with his community, as would the call to follow Christ's life as a wanderer, yet obedient to God in the life of discipleship.
3. STRATEGY: Matthew 2:1-12
The Universal theme of this Matthean pericope is strengthened when combined with the Lectionary text Ephesians 3:1-12. There Paul speaks of how "...the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and shares together in the promise in Christ Jesus." It is a powerful message for the universal church which has become a reality
Psalm 60:1-6, which states that "kings will come to the brightness of your dawn...bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord," shows in the visit by the Magi the fulfillment of the promise given in the Old Testament. There is a reluctance today to see the New Testament as a fulfillment of the Old Testament. Though this can be overdone, certain great scholars, such as Gerhard Von Rad, affirm the validityofdoingso [seeTHEMESSAGEOFTHEPROPHETS].
Hence it would be possible and authentic to develop a sermon based upon the similarities between the Moses-Pharaoh story and the Jesus-Herod story.This could become quite interesting. One would have to be cautious and clearly delineate the differences. Only one, Jesus, was the Son of
God, the one who died on the cross.
Another theme that might be explored is what it means to be a disciple of Christ...the wanderer, the king with no throne, the lover of the world who is the brunt of its enmity and the savior of all the nations...still unaccepted by even those who know him well. If this is to be our way, how do we live in such an alien place?
Our text divides its participants into three groups:
(1) Herod, who despised Jesus and sought to kill him rather than share his power.
(2) The chief priests and teachers of the Law who were indifferent to him. They were preoccupied with their rituals and legal discourses. They had little time for him.
(3)TheMagi,theoutsiders,thealienswhosoughthim outandwhenthey found him were overjoyed and worshipped him. How are we to exist in this world when we face these same three types of people? What do we do? We have our moments of seeing, but the journey of faith is sometimes in darkness.
John Killinger wrote a small piece entitled "At the end of the journey is Christ." In it he pointed out that we often think that the Christian is to experience Christ as the journey's beginning. But the real surprise in store for us all is that he is at the journey's end as well. He goes on to develop the theme of pilgrimage through the darkness, noting that for the wise men there was no question about whether the journey was worthwhile.
Killinger says this is "good news to those who are in a darkened phase of their life's journey, isn't it? When you have lost the star, hold on; you will come out on the other end of the darkness, and there will be light you cannot no believe. That is what our faith is all about: He has been there allthetime. Throughallthedarknessandallthestruggles,pastallthe pitfalls and all the valleys, he is there. And that is what sustains all wise men, or women, on their journeys" (p. 116).
Paul ends his message with these words, "I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged..." This word of encouragment might be the most powerful theme of all as we celebrate the Epiphany, the festival of the manifestation of Christ to us, the Gentiles. Immanuel--God is with us.
4. REFERENCES: Matthew 2:1-12
Josephus.COMPLETEWORKS. (SeeBookTwo:THEJEWISHANTIQUITIES.) Grand Rapids,MI: Kregel, 1960.
Schweizer, Eduard. THE GOOD NEWS ACCORDING TO MATTHEW. Atlanta John Knox Press, 1975.
Killinger, John, "At the End of the Journey is Christ," in James Cox,ed. THE MINISTER'S MANUAL 1986. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1986.
von Rad, Gerhard. THE MESSAGE OF THE PROPHETS. New York: Harper and Row, 1965.
5. WORSHIP SUGGESTIONS: Matthew 2:1-12
Three hymns that are suggested for Epiphany by the United Methodist tradition are:
IN BETHLEHEM 'NEATH STARLIT SKIES (UMH 377), AS WITH GLADNESS MEN OF OLD (UMH 397, HB 119,LBW 82), and BRIGHTEST AND BEST OF THE STARS OF THE MORNING (UMH 400,LBW 84, HB 117/8). Two of these are based on the Matthean pericope.

Other recommended hymns for this day are:

O LOVE, HOW DEEP (LBW 88,HB 448/9)

There is a scarcity of children's messages which address this theme, but one which I have used to develop the universality of Christ for children is the song "Ordinary Baby" from a song in the cantata HE STARTED THE WHOLE WORLD SINGING by Bill and Gloria Gaither. When presenting this message I try to help the children grasp the significance of Christ as an infant, hungry, helpless, crying and needing love as we all did and do.

Exegete: Rev. Saundra Craig

Lexegete™ | Year A | St. Matthew

Baptism of Our Lord

January 9, 2011 (Lectionary 1)
Isaiah 42:1-9
Psalm 29 (3)
Acts 10:34-43
Matthew 3:13-17

Prayer of the Day
O God our Father, at the baptism of Jesus you proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit. Make all who are baptized into Christ faithful to their calling to be our daughters and sons, and empower us all with your Spirit, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia. A voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, | the Beloved,
with whom I | am well pleased." Alleluia. (Matt. 3:17)
Color: White


1. CONTEXT: Matthew 3:13-17

Jesus' baptism was the original theme of the feast of the
Epiphany, as it still is in the eastern Churches. The account in
Matthew follows the story of the ministry of John the Baptist at the
Jordan, and his announcement of one "stronger" than himself who will
come to bring judgment.
All the gospels agree that Jesus' ministry began after John had
made this testimony, though the Fourth Gospel does not say that Jesus
was baptized. The Synoptics portray baptism in the light of early
Christian theology.
When 3:3-17 is compared with the accounts in Mark and Luke, the
most striking feature is John's reluctance. Matthew does not suggest
that this is because Jesus is sinless, as in the apocryphal gospels,
only that he is greater than John. Since John's disciples continued
for some time as a sect independent of the Christian Church, his
witness to Jesus was an answer to anyone who claimed that John was
the leader and Jesus the follower. Jesus insists on being baptized, for it is fitting to fulfill all righteousness. Righteousness is the theme of the Sermon on the
mount, and Jesus is shown throughout Matthew as the model of perfect
obedience to the Father's will (cf. Kingsbury, Matthew, p. 39).

As in Mark, Jesus sees the Spirit descending like a dove, but
others may have seen the skies open and heard the voice. The rabbis
believed that canonical prophecy had ceased, but they told of a voice
from heaven (bath qol, "daughter of a voice") which often spoke words
of Scripture, as on this occasion. Jesus is now proclaimed as God's
Son (AILL: "Child") , beloved and chosen. Similarly, in 4:3,6, the
tempter calls him Son of God (an infrequent title in Q, which usually
speaks of the Son of Man).

Mark 1:11 could have been understood as suggesting that Jesus
became Son of God at his baptism, but in Matthew he is that at least
from the time of his conception (1:20,23; 2:15). Thus the baptism
is the solemn appointment of the Messiah for his ministry. Acts
10:38, in the second reading for the day, says that Jesus was
"anointed...with the Holy Spirit and with power"(AILL).

1b. TEXT: Matthew 3:13-17

ESV: English Standard Version:
The Baptism of Jesus
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, [2] and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, [3] with whom I am well pleased.”
Footnotes: [1] 3:3 Or crying: Prepare in the wilderness 
[2] 3:16 Some manuscripts omit to him [3] 3:17 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved

13τοτε παραγινεται ο ιησους απο της γαλιλαιας επι τον ιορδανην προς τον ιωαννην του βαπτισθηναι υπ αυτου.

14ο δε ιωαννης διεκωλυεν αυτον λεγων, εγω χρειαν εχω υπο σου βαπτισθηναι, και συ ερχη προς με;

15αποκριθεις δε ο ιησους ειπεν προς αυτον, αφες αρτι, ουτως γαρ πρεπον εστιν ημιν πληρωσαι πασαν δικαιοσυνην. τοτε αφιησιν αυτον.

16βαπτισθεις δε ο ιησους ευθυς ανεβη απο του υδατος: και ιδου ηνεωχθησαν [αυτω] οι ουρανοι, και ειδεν [το] πνευμα [του] θεου καταβαινον ωσει περιστεραν [και] ερχομενον επ αυτον:

17και ιδου φωνη εκ των ουρανων λεγουσα, ουτος εστιν ο υιος μου ο αγαπητος, εν ω ευδοκησα.

Greek: Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition
© 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;

The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition
© 1975, United Bible Societies, London

2. ANALYSIS: Matthew 3:13-17

Mt. 3:14 - diekoluen - "would have prevented" (AILL) - the imperfect
of attempted action

3:15 - prepon - "fitting" (AILL) - suitable, proper, right - It is
Jesus' purpose to fulfil, complete the law (5:17) and the prophets
(22:40). This is the righteousness appropriate for the Kingdom of
the Heavens, which is more than that of the scribes and Pharisees

3:16 - hosei peristeran - not in bodily form, as in Luke 3:22 - There
may be a reminiscence of Genesis 1:2, in which the Spirit hovers over
the waters. In Jewish tradition the dove is usually the symbol of
Israel, only occasionally of the Spirit.

3:17 - ho huios mou - The primary reference must be to Psalm 2:7,
which celebrates the anointing of a Davidic sovereign. A few MSS.
of Luke 3:22 quote the verse in full: "You are my son, today I have
begotten you." - ho agapetos - In Greek literature the word often
suggests "only-beloved;" it is applied to Abraham and Sarah's son
Isaac (Gen. 22:2) and to Ephraim (northern Israel) as God's son (Jer.
38:20 LXX). Eph. 1:6 uses egapemeno as a designation of Christ.

- en ho eudokesa - Literally," I delight in you," but the verb can
refer to a decision made by God, hence the phrase may reflect Is.
42:1 (in the first of today's readings), where God's pais (servant,
child) is Israel ho eklektos mou; cf. Is. 44:2, Jacob/Israel is God's
pais egapemenos. Thus the verse may have a secondary reference to
Jesus as the Servant of 2nd Isaiah (as in Mt. 12:18; cf. Acts 3:13,
26;4:27,30; Didache 9:2f., 10:2f.). Is Jesus then to be identified
as (the true) Israel? This may be going too far, for the NT never
says so explicitly, though theologians sometimes make the inference.

3. STRATEGY: Matthew 3:13-17

The baptism of the Lord ("Sovereign": AILL) is an epiphany, a
revelation of the nature of Christ. One way of approaching the
homily is to think of Jesus as the pattern of Christians, in his
servanthood and obedience to God's righteousness. Although John
recognizes that he is in the presence of a greater one, Jesus accepts
his baptism, not to become John's disciple but to associate himself
with the movement of national renewal; cf. Ezek. 36:25-27. As
Christians we too receive the Holy Spirit in baptism and become God's
children, crying Abba (Rom. 8:15).. As such we are members of the
Israel of God (Gal. 6:16; Rom. 11:13-24).

Acts tells of Christian baptism from Pentecost on, as though it
needs no explanation. The Fourth Gospel once speaks of Jesus
baptizing during his ministry (John 3:26) but later states that only
his disciples baptized (4:2).

In Matt. 28:19 it is the risen Christ who definitely commands
baptism. Is the story of Jesus' baptism a model for the Christian
rite, at least in Mark and Luke? The gospels suggest this only by
the prominent place they give it, yet we might properly use the event
as a prototype. A good disciple must be ready to drink the cup that
Jesus drank and undergo a baptism like his (Mark 10:38, but Mt. 20:22
speaks only of the cup), and Paul says that we were baptized into his
death (Rom 6:4).

Another approach is to concentrate on Acts 10:38. Immediately
after his baptism, Jesus resisted temptation and began his ministry
of healing and liberation.

4. REFERENCES: Matthew 3:13-17

Kingsbury, Jack Dean. Matthew (Proclamation Commentaries, G. Krodel,
editor). Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977.

5. MUSIC SUGGESTIONS: Baptism of Our Lord (Epiphany 1)

Two hymns seems especially appropriate to the season and the day:

PRAISE (HB 135, LBW 90). Other suitable hymns include: "I COME," THE
120), CHRIST, WHEN FOR US YOU WERE BAPTIZED (HB 121), WHEN JESUS WENT TO JORDAN'S STREAM (HB 139), and FROM GOD THE FATHER, VIRGIN-BORN (LBW 83).If the Day is the occasion for a wider celebration or
affirmation of Holy Baptism, either BAPTIZED IN WATER (HB 294) or

Exegete: Sherman E. Johnson (†) was the fourth Dean and Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific until his entry into the Church Triuymphant in 1993.

His online obituary by Bob Kraft (one of the two main pioneers in online Bible Study,
along with Emanuel Tov of Jerusalewm/Oxford) follows:

From: Robert Kraft (UPenn)
Subject: Sherman E. Johnson
Date: Tue, 18 May 1993

It is with great personal sadness that I pass along the following information received from Arthur Van Eck of the National Council of Churches:

On the 20th of April, I received word of the death of Professor
Sherman E. Johnson on March 23, 1993. He was 85 at the time of his death. The cancer had returned and, added to that, was a stroke, earlier in the year.

Sherman was a graduate of Seabury Western and of the University of
Chicago, from which he had his PhD. He taught a Yale Divinity School and
played a major role in the founding of the Graduate Theological Union in
Berkeley, and for 20 years was Dean at the Chruch Divinity School of the

His widow is Mary Johnson, 2328 Mono Avenue, El Cerrito CA 94530. [ now Deceased]

The above information was circulated to the NRSV translation committee,
on which Sherman served for many years. He was a mild mannered person
with good scholarly credentials and instincts, friendly and supportive.
He was president of the SBL in 1957. My recollection of his scholarly
publications is that they were both readable and solid -- I wish there
were time to list some samples on this occasion. If anyone has seen a
more detailed obituary, I would appreciate the reference or a copy.

He will be missed !

Bob Kraft, UPenn

6. FURTHER READING: Year A / Gospel of Matthew

Those who found the Proclamation Commentary, MATTHEW, by Jack Dean Kingsbury of great help in understanding the First Gospel were no doubt enjoy even more pleased with his volume, Matthew As Story (Phila.: Fortress Press, 1986; rev'd ed. 1988). Kingsbury's goal was to trace the plot of the gospel as it unfolds through a literary-critical method in terms of the main and minor characters, the basic conflict which erupts and the ultimate resolution in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Of particular interest is the final chapter on "The Community of Matthew," an examination of the religious and social environment from which this gospel emerged and the evangelist. This is a concise, readable analysis of Matthew in light of recent scholarship. While Kingsbury is cautious about identifying the author of Matthew's gospel, his book as a whole draws a much clearer picture that makes excellent reading as Year A of the Lectionary gets underway!

Still highly recommended, especially for apprentice preachers, is Reginald H. Fuller's Preaching the Lectionary (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1984, Revised ed.). Fuller provides a brief comment on virtually every pericope in the 3-year cycle. Originally written for Worship in the 1970's, these articles have been rearranged and revised for easier reference. Written from a Roman Catholic perspective, Preaching the Lectionary has nevertheless been embraced by a wide ecumenical readership. This is truly a "handbook" which edifies the whole Church's exegesis and preaching!

Fortunately for those of us on the go, or lacking library access, this book has been added to the library at,M1

D. Buehler, PhD | Editor, Lexegete


LEXEGETE ™ © 2011


Dartmouth,MA 02747


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