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‘I Desire Mercy but not Sacrifice’: Kindness and the Law in the Gospel of Matthew

CHAN, CHI YEE (2023) ‘I Desire Mercy but not Sacrifice’: Kindness and the Law in the Gospel of Matthew. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This study explores the significance of the double citation of Hosea 6.6 ‘I desire mercy but not sacrifice’ in the Gospel of Matthew and the meaning of ἔλεος therein. By comparing Matthew with Mark, this study highlights the difference between their parallel accounts to examine the implications of Matthew’s distinctiveness. A possible omission of Mark’s allusion to Hosea 6.6 suggests that Matthew understands the double love commandments as a summary of the whole Law. Adding the words from Hosea 6.6 to Mark’s narration of Jesus’s table fellowship with sinners and of the Sabbath stories, Matthew strengthens the portrayal of Jesus as the merciful Son of David, who gives his people healing, rest, and forgiveness of sins. Matthew’s designation of ἔλεος as among ‘the weightier matters of the Law’ indicates how the disciples should take heed of God’s commandments: by following Jesus, who does the will of God and performs kindness, which is one of the all-encompassing elements threaded throughout the Law. This relationship between kindness and the Law is further explored in light of comparable concepts found in Philo of Alexandria’s treatises. Philo summarises the Law by describing that, of the vast number of ordinances in the Law, there are ‘two highest heads’, piety and holiness towards God and justice and ‘philanthropy’ (φιλανθρωπία) towards humans, to which every particular commandment can be referred. Philo regards the Law as guiding people to imitate God just as God possesses and performs virtues, of which Philo highlights φιλανθρωπία. These concepts might help discern the purpose of Matthew’s emphasis on ἔλεος: to point out mercy and kindness as the character of God, Jesus and the Law. To be perfect like God and well-pleasing to God, following Jesus and keeping God’s commandments are both indispensable.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2023
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Jan 2024 10:38

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