§ 94. The report of Matthew


§ 94.

The report of Matthew.

Matth. C. 27, 62 — 66.  C. 28.

A healthy person only needs to hear that the chief priests and scholars of Christ, on the day after the crucifixion, go to Pilate, tell him that they remember that the executed man said during his lifetime that he would rise after three days, that they ask him for a guard for the grave, so that his disciples do not steal his body and say afterwards that he has risen, that the guard is placed correctly, but flees in terror when the angel comes to roll the stone from the tomb, that the soldiers run to the priesthood, but are bribed by them to say that the disciples stole the body – one only needs to hear all this to see that Matthew has not invented anything particularly beautiful. Not to mention that Jesus only spoke of his resurrection to the disciples in a small circle, and that the Roman soldiers had to run to their Roman captains to report, the evangelist’s intention to counter the Jews’ rumour, which he expressly combats (28:15), that the disciples had stolen Jesus’ body, is too glaring. The chief priests had to say and fear from the beginning (C. 27, 64) what was only later Jewish desecration.

And it is not even certain, not even probable, that a Jewish legend of this kind was generally spread at the time of Matthew. Perhaps only here and there, perhaps only from individual Jews, Matthew had heard an interjection that made him so concerned that he now sat down and formed this episode.


But it is not only clumsily formed, but also interrupts the context of the whole report. The negotiations of the priests with Pilate (C. 27, 62-66) separate the report at the point where the women watch Jesus’ body being buried, and where it should immediately follow that they went to the tomb in the morning after the Sabbath. Hence, because Matthew does not particularly understand the rejoining of the separated, hence, especially, because he had previously said so clumsily, “on the morning day, which came after the preparation day” (27:62), hence it comes that he afterwards so awkwardly and abenthemously inserts the mention of the Sabbath, that he says (28:1) “late on the Sabbath bath,” and that he must therefore also set the time somewhat early: “when it dawned on the first day after the Sabbath”, the women went to the tomb.

The negotiations of the priests with the runaway soldiers not only separate the note that the women went to bring the good news to the disciples from the following (C. 28, 8-16), but they are also to blame for the fact that the women did not bring the message to the disciples at all. The disciples set out on the journey to Galilee without Matthew having actually invited them to do so through the women.

The watch is also against the inner plan of this passage. No unbeliever is allowed to witness the resurrection.

But also no believer! Matthew presents the matter in such a way that at the same moment when the women arrive at the tomb (28, 2: και ιδου. V. 5: αποκριθεις), the angel comes from heaven with an earthquake, rolls the stone from the grave and then sits on it (!). It is inappropriate that the angel rolls the stone away – how embarrassing is this pragmatism, of which Mark knows nothing yet; Mark covers this matter, which, when seriously considered, is very petty, with a benevolent veil, so that now the matter can rather come down to the fact that the stone, when it was time, made room of its own accord for the Risen One. It is inappropriate that the guards and the women should see the resurrection and see the supersensible, mysterious process as a sensual one.


But they do not see him. At the same moment when the angel speaks to the women and tells them: He is risen, he presupposes that the resurrection has already happened, i.e. Matthew writes Mark off again.

Matthew has worked out another episode: when the women hurry home to the disciples, Jesus himself meets them and gives them the order to tell the disciples to come to him in Galilee. Inappropriate superfluity! Especially since Jesus had already described Galilee as the point of unification after the resurrection, it was all the more inappropriate that He gave the women the same command again that they had just received from the angel. But Matthew did not remember at this moment that Jesus had already spoken to the disciples about this, the words of the angel: “as he told you”, Mark 16, 7, he changed into the other: “See, I told you”, because he did not know how to interpret the text of Mark immediately, and now Jesus Himself had to appear and give the women this commission.

How easily these contradictions are resolved! They remain, but as explained and resolved, and no art of lying will make them again the labyrinth in which the Minotaur of faith devours its victims.

From “the mountain” in Galilee, the disciples meet Jesus, who, with the formula of later dogmatics, baptises the nations in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Matthew does not explicitly mention the Ascension because he lets Jesus speak as one to whom all authority in heaven and on earth has been delegated and who, although occupying the throne of heaven, nevertheless dwells among His own all the days until the end of the world. He who speaks in this way is already enthroned in heaven and already dwells in spirit among his confessors.


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Neil Godfrey

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