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Matthew, the church and anti-Semitism

FP Viljoen

Verbum et Ecclesia; Vol 28, No 2 (2007), 698-718. doi: 10.4102/ve.v28i2.128

Submitted: 18 September 2007
Published:  17 November 2007


The use of the noun ekklesia forms a distinctive feature in Matthew’s Gospel. This term must have had a distinctive meaning for Matthew and his readers at the time he used it in his Gospel, though not as full blown as in the Pauline literature and later church history. At that stage the Matthean community considered itself outside the Jewish synagogues. This consideration can be noticed in the Matthean text, when reading the Matthean Jesus story as an “inclusive” story, including the story of the Matthean community. This story reveals a considerable portion of tension between the Matthean and Synagogue communities. An inattentive reading of this text has often unfairly led towards generalized Christian prejudice against all Jews. I argue that the conflict exposed in the text, must be read in context of the experiences of the Matthean community as to safeguard Christian from unjustified Anti-Semitism in general. Faith in or rejection of Jesus acts as dividing factor between the church and the synagogue, not ethnicity.

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Author affiliations

FP Viljoen, North-West University – Potchefstroom campus, South Africa



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1. The Matthean community within a Jewish religious society
Francois Viljoen
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies  vol: 72  issue: 4  year: 2016  
doi: 10.4102/hts.v72i4.3418

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