The man of St Matthew


Chapter 14: Overview

Commentators point out that from this chapter onwards Matthew follows Mark's order of events closely. Up to this point as we have seen, Matthew has been free in the way he has used his sources, including the Gospel of Mark.

However, following Mark's order does not necessarily mean that Matthew is following Mark's message. We will be seeing how some deft editing by Matthew gives a different slant on Mark's stories. We'll consider this shortly when we look at Matthew's treatment of the first episode in this chapter. Here we have the story of the fate of John the Baptist, 14,1-12, which is followed by the first feeding the crowds by Jesus, 14,13-21. We will see how Matthew has made a significant omission and changed the way that Mark links these two episodes.

It is only after that, from 14,13 and Mk 6,32 and the feeding of the crowd, that the two Gospels can be said to be in parallel (but subject to editing) until the beginning of Matthew's community discourse in chapter 18.

Following the feeding of the crowds, most of the rest of this chapter 14 is the scene of Jesus walking on the water, 14,22-34. Linking the walking on the water to the feeding of the crowds seems to be fixed in traditon. Even in John's Gospel (Jn 6) we find the two episodes together.
Then at the end of the chapter there is a short summary of Jesus' healings, verses 35 and 36.

We can therefore read this remarkably compact chapter over three pages:

Matthew the editor: Mt 14,1-13

Before we begin our reading, we need to consider as I noted above how Matthew has edited the setting of the John the Baptist story, 14,1-12. Look in both Mark and Matthew and see what happens after the death of John the Baptist. You will find that Matthew has changed Mk 6,30-32 to just the one verse, 14,13. Then look back to what happens before the John the Baptist scene. You will find Mk 6,12-13 has no equivalent in Matthew. If you write this out, you will find that Mark has given a setting to the execution of John the Baptist which has been removed by Matthew.

Consider therefore the results of Matthew's editing. See how it brings the story of John's execution closer to both the preceeding (13,54-58) and to the following (14,13-21) stories. What now becomes Matthew's theme?

Then look at my response.

We can now begin reading the chapter with Herod's birthday banquet, Mt 14,1-12.