How far if at all do the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke set the agenda for the rest of their Gospels and do those agendas reflect common matters of concern?
Pells, Ian Peter
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
The introductory chapter considers whether the Infancy Narratives of Matthew and Luke are no more than a factual retelling of the events of Jesus’ birth. It concludes that there are inconsistencies between the accounts precluding such a conclusion. It argues that the narratives contain material that is more concerned with introducing literary and theological themes explored in the rest of the respective Gospels. It then sets out how those themes will be examined and how they relate to the rest of the respective Gospels. Chapters two and three are concerned with Matthew’s Infancy Narrative. Chapter two sets the context in which this Gospel was written, concluding that its purpose was to teach and defend early Christian teaching and to justify the present authority of that teaching by demonstrating continuity with the past. Chapter three considers the literary and theological themes of Matthew’s Infancy Narrative, concluding that the Narrative and the main body of the Gospel share many of the same thought patterns. Chapters four and five are concerned with Luke’s Infancy Narrative. Chapter four sets the context in which this Gospel was written, concluding that its purpose was not just to retell the past but to interpret its relevance for the present and future. Chapter five considers the literary and theological themes of Luke’s Infancy Narrative. It concludes that Luke’s Infancy Narrative seeks to link the past to the present and the future, which he then pursues in the rest of his Gospel The final chapter shows how both Matthew and Luke introduce a common agenda in their Infancy Narratives, which they then develop in their Gospels. Four key conclusions are drawn, showing how both evangelists seek to address the key issue of Jesus’ Messiahship by appealing to the past to affirm the truth of what is happening in the present and its importance for the future.
Masters by Research in Theology