Matthew within Sectarian Judaism


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John Kampen

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A renowned scholar of the Dead Sea Scrolls argues for reading the Gospel of Matthew as the product of a Jewish sect

In this masterful study of what has long been considered the “most Jewish” gospel, John Kampen deftly argues that the gospel of Matthew advocates for a distinctive Jewish sectarianism, rooted in the Jesus movement. He maintains that the writer of Matthew produced the work within an early Jewish sect, and its narrative contains a biography of Jesus which can be used as a model for the development of a sectarian Judaism in Lower Syria, perhaps Galilee, toward the conclusion of the first century CE.
Rather than viewing the gospel of Matthew as a Jewish-Christian hybrid, Kampen considers it a Jewish composition that originated among the later followers of Jesus a generation or so after the disciples. This method of viewing the work allows readers to understand what it might have meant for members of a Jesus movement to promote their understanding of Jewish history and law that would sustain Jewish life at the end of the first century.

John Kampen is an eminent scholar of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the New Testament, and Jewish history of the Greco-Roman period. He is the Van Bogard Dunn Professor of Biblical Interpretation at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio.

“Combining detailed knowledge of Second Temple texts with careful sociological analysis, Kampen offers new insights not only into Matthean legislative and communal identity, Christology and eschatology, but also into post-70 Galilean life within its Roman context. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the First Gospel and late-first-century Jewish life.”—Amy-Jill Levine, Vanderbilt University

“Drawing on his decades of engagement with both Matthew and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Kampen provides an authoritative and compelling reading of the Gospel of Matthew as the product of a sectarian community fully located ‘within Judaism.’”—Terence L. Donaldson, Wycliffe College

“This original work of expert scholarship sheds interesting new light on ancient Jewish sectarianism. This book should become the new standard-bearer for the thesis of a sectarian Jewish Matthew.”— Matt Jackson-McCabe, author of Jewish Christianity Reconsidered

“Since Papias, the church has understood Matthew’s Gospel as the ‘Jewish Gospel,’ but from a Christian perspective. In this excellent study, John Kampen skillfully opens up a historical Galilean context in which Matthew makes first-century Jewish sense. Reading Matthew as a ‘Jewish Gospel’ now means something entirely different than the Church Fathers could have imagined!”—Anders Runesson, author of Divine Wrath and Salvation in Matthew

“In this highly original and perceptive book, John Kampen sheds new light on Matthew’s Gospel, especially with regard to the Sermon on the Mount, the Gospel’s conception of community, and its undeniable polemical aspects. Anyone interested in understanding Matthew within its original social historical context will want to read this book and engage its arguments carefully.”—Mark Allan Powell, Trinity Lutheran Seminary

“This invaluable contribution represents John Kampen’s sophisticated grasp of the Dead Sea Scrolls, of emergent Rabbinic Judaism, and the varied Jewish movements of the post-70 period. Kampen is an ideal guide for those wanting to better understand Matthew’s Gospel and its environment.”— J. Andrew Overman, Macalester College 

“How Jewish is Matthew’s Gospel? Kampen takes this perennial question and answers it with nuance and sophistication. . . . A helpful volume for considering neglected angles of Matthew’s Gospel. This book is recommended for those who are seeking an informed analysis of the First Gospel’s relationship to sectarian literature.”—Charles Nathan Ridlehoover, Catholic Biblical Quarterly

“The book is ideal for doctoral students, professors, and scholars interested in Matthew specifically or Second Temple Judaism more generally.”—Matthew S. Rindge, Horizons
ISBN: 9780300171563
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
344 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
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