What Did Matthew Say?
By: Robert D. Brinsmead
The Book of “Matthew” (whoever the writer/writers) has Jesus saying things about the Pharisees. This was all written up in the historical context of the Nazarenes being expelled from the synagogue by Rabbinic Judaism, post-temple era, when the Pharisees had assumed the controlling power within Rabbinic Judaism which was then a kind of “sola scriptura” religion. In Jesus’s time in Galilee the Pharisees were not in the ascendancy at all, and it is highly unlikely that they were the main enemies of Jesus anyway. There is even a lot of evidence that Jesus sounds very much like a Pharisee himself of the Hillel school – for some of his major sayings like the so-called Golden Rule and the one about the Sabbath being made for man rather than the other way around seem to be taken right out of the teaching of Hillel who died 10 CE at the ripe old age of 120 years (same as Moses).
The main reason why we question Matthew’s account of Jesus’s bitter diatribe against the Pharisees is because it is a transparent contradiction to what he says in the Sermon on the Mount about not judging and condemning others. Stephen Mitchell is no doubt correct in pointing out this contradiction. For a detailed argument on this matter, it would be hard to surpass Walter Schmitherals, ‘The Theology of the First Christians’. The NT Gospels, written near the turn of the first century and after the destruction of Jerusalem and temple destruction of Second Temple Judaism) unashamedly treat Jesus as if he had a wax nose. They did not hesitate to edit, add, subtract and conscript Jesus to support whatever theological and religious agenda they had to push. And added to this, the book of Matthew was edited again and again, bits added, bits subtracted as history unfolded. Matthew went through many versions, and one of them, called The Gospel According to the Hebrews, was the one used to create Islam in the 7th Century.
In short, the book of Matthew has more to say about the historical situation that prevailed at the time of writing each edition than it often had to say about the real historical situation of Jesus himself.
To be blunt, the Christ of the Gospels represents the beginnings of making the Christ myth – the Gospel about Jesus – rather than the actual Gospel that Jesus preached which was never centred on himself at all. The Gospel about Jesus was substituted for the Gospel of Jesus – a teaching about the Man put in the room of the teaching of the Man. The Christian Church spent 2,000 years accusing the Jews of crucifying Jesus, covering up their own greater mistake of crucifying the teaching of the Man.
All through history until Freud, the snake has been used as a symbol of the male sexual organ. In one place Ezekiel pokes fun at the Egyptian male member for being as big as the apparatus of a donkey (Ez. 23.20). In the myth of Alexander’s conception, his mother conceived by an encounter with a snake, and that’s how Alexander got to be virgin borne. Christian missionaries who went to the primite mountain people in the Philippines, discovered that these people had a myth about the Fall of man being a penis floating down the river to impregnate some virgins. They believed this without any shadow of doubt because, well, it was their sacred story, and not even Christians want to doubt any of their sacred stories. We defame all the other myths of course… they are so obviously ludicrous, but our myths are so transparently true. Aren’t they? So in the old myth of Genesis and comparable myths in the other nations at that time, there are sexual allusions – the woman is tempted by an encounter with a snake. And there is nakedness, shame and the penalty – great pain to the woman in the fruit of human sexuality and subjugation to the rule of men. Enough said. I would just as soon play around with the hidden meanings of Jack and the Beanstalk.