We are aiming to read the Gospel of Matthew from the beginning and progress towards the end. Yet to do this well, especially as most of us will not be reading the Gospel for the first time, we will need some sort of roadmap, some sense of where we are going. Few of us will be reading the Gospel stories for the first time but possibly few of us have read the Gospel right through. This must be our first step so that we have a proper overview.
However, because Matthew has adapted the story of Mark, it is with an overview of the Gospel of Mark that we must begin.

To keep this overview managable, I have divided it into two pages. On this page we will review the story of the Gospel of Mark. Matthew's story and how he has changed Mark we can explore on the next page.

If you are already familiar with the story of Mark, you can move straight on to our overview of the story of Matthew.

Aim of the Overview

It is most important at this stage that we don't get locked into detail, there will be plenty of time for that. Our aim to get the flow of the two Gospel stories and so have an idea of how Matthew how changed Mark in his telling of his story. Done well this overall review will provide us with an essential background for our detailed reading.

The Lion of St Mark

The Gospel of Mark

The best approach to the Gospel of Matthew is as I have suggested to see it as a retelling of the Gospel of Mark. Matthew has taken the story of Jesus as told in the Gospel of Mark and recast it in his own way. He has also added extra material available to him from other sources. As with all the evangelists, Matthew's aim in writing was primarily to fulfil the needs of his community.

We find something similar happening with the Gospel of Luke: both Matthew and Luke have based themselves on the story which was told by Mark. Both though adapted that story for their own purposes and their own portrait of Jesus. That is why I (along with the vast majority of commentators) regard Mark as the earliest Gospel.

To begin our orientation therefore, I invite you to read through the Gospel of Mark: this is a reading simply in order to get the flow of the story. The details of the story and the actions of Jesus in Mark are not important at this stage.

Therefore read with pencil and paper available and make notes. Look especially for changes of time and place.

From this, consider the major developments in the story, what are the key turning points? Remember, I am asking this as a general question; we don't want to get caught up in the details of Mark's Gospel.

After that, have a look at my response

We are now ready to continue with our overview of the Gospel of Matthew itself.