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432 BOOK REVIEWS/COMPTES RENDUS for ideas, source material and the latest scholarship on many Ciceronian topics. Non-specialists can learn from it how to read the orator, as the author does, "constantly and with pleasure." A.H. MAMOOJEE LAKEHEAD UNIVERSITY THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO P7B 5El J. ENOCH POWELL. The Evolution of the Gospel. A New Translation of the First Gospel with Commentary and Introductory Essay. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1994. Pp. xxix + 224. ISBN 0-30005421 -1. US $27.50. The Gospel of Matthew is a key document in understanding the literature and reconstructing the history of the early Christian movement. Where one places it and how one relates it to other gospels will decisively affect views on a wide range of other topics, because it has its own distinctive character alongside Mark, say, or the Gospel of Thomas or John. An important critical question is the relationships among the gospels; the arguments have been long and vigorous and they continue unabated today. The ground has shifted somewhat (e.g., to serious consideration of the relative age and importance of gospels such as Thomas and Peter, together with their possible influence upon the canonical gospels), but the view that still dominates the field is that Matthew uses Mark as a source (a strong majority of scholars still believe Mark must precede Matthew) and also another source (usually called "Q") that Matthew shares with Luke as well. It is a weakness-and perhaps also a strength--of Powell's book that he is independent of these common views. He includes a translation of Matthew (1-50) and a commentary o.p. it (51-221), preceded by an introductory discussion of critical issues and conclusions (xi-xxviii). The translation uses different typefaces and sigla to indicate various stages of the text's development, interpolations, omissions, emendations and corruptions. It is straightforward, useful and unmarred by quirks, once one gets over the apparatus. The commentary is addressed to analysis of the text, justification of the decisions made in the translation, and critical judgments on the stages of the development of the text of Matthew. It contains a number of interesting insights and raises good questions, but since it presupposes Powell's view of Matthew's BOOK REVIEWS/COMPTES RENDUS 433 priority and the complex steps he believes lie behind the present form of the Gospel its usefulness is often vitiated. His opinions are often the reverse of most scholarly views, views which, regrettably, he totally ignores. The most interesting part of the work is the introductory essay. Powell's views are not simple: "Matthew discloses that an underlying text was severely re-edited, with theological and polemical intent, and that the resulting edition was afterwards recombined with the underlying text to produce the gospel as it exists. That underlying text was itself the product of earlier processes which involved more than one series of major additions" (xi-xii). He believes-but does not substantiate-"that it is possible to demonstrate by rigorous proof that Matthew, in virtually the form in which we possess it, was used by the writers [of Mark and Luke]" (xi). Matthew is thus the primary gospel. The claim of "rigorous proof' would be more compelling if some were offered, but neither introduction nor commentary offers such proofs. Powell should be congratulated for his forthright style, even if his views do not command much assent among scholars of Christian origins. While those common views may be wrong, however, it is unhelpful not to give more indication why. In the end he gives little help in reshaping the debates about the questions that are of such interest to him and to others. Take the trial narrative. The Sanhedrin held a formal trial and found Jesus guilty; Powell's view requires that it acted with full intent in a travesty of justice, breaking the rules for trial procedures in Judaism, then slapping Jesus around after finding him guilty. The charge against Jesus was a claim to be Son of God, which Powell understands not as it should be within its Jewish context (i.e., roughly equivalent to "King") but as Christian theology came later to understand it, as...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1913-5416
Print ISSN
1496-9343
Pages
pp. 432-435
Launched on MUSE
2018-04-04
Open Access
No
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