Abstract

Abstract:

The difficulties raised by the form and content of Matthew's eunuch pericope (19:10–12) have provoked unfavorable evaluations. In this article, I offer a new reading of this passage that makes sense of some of its problems. My approach is rooted in the broader narrative and rhetoric of Matthew's Gospel in particular. In section I, I focus on the disciples' response (19:10) to Jesus's teaching on divorce and remarriage (19:3–9), arguing that ἡ αἰτία τοῦ νθρώπου μετὰ τῆς γυναικός in 19:10a should be translated as "the charge against the man with his wife," referring to the charge of adultery in 19:9. In section II, I demonstrate that multiple elements in 19:3–12 inextricably link the eunuch passage to Jesus's call to self-dismemberment (5:29–30 and context). Matthew's eunuch metaphor is a rhetorical device exhorting would-be disciples who have illegitimately divorced their wives to "cut off" (figuratively) what causes them to stumble (i.e., their male organ), lest they commit adultery in remarriage (cf 5:29–30). Thus, Matthew's "eunuchs" function literarily as exemplars of those who make extraordinary sacrifices in this age (i.e., a spouse and children) so that they might obtain immeasurably more in the kingdom of heaven. Section III provides corroborative support for this reading from the broader Second Temple Jewish and early Christian contexts. I conclude by showing how the Latin translation of this passage likely led to what I argue is the pervasive misreading of 19:10(–12) that we have today.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-3876
Print ISSN
0021-9231
Pages
pp. 399-418
Launched on MUSE
2018-07-26
Open Access
No
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