Sunday, February 13, 2011

Exegetical (Interpretive) Steps in Matt 13:44-50

Yung Suk Kim

The following is a quick note of my reflections on Matthew 13:44-50. How can we teach these texts or what do we learn? Below are the interpretive steps that I suggest to take. Compare with yours. *Note: Exegesis simply means interpretation that engages both the reader and the text.

Matt 13:44-50:
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy, he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad.

So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (the New Revised Standard Version).

1. Read these verses many times and take notes on your own. What comes to your mind? Write down any questions, troubles, insights, and anything that you consider important.

2. With all notes and studies on the above texts, now read Matthew as a whole through the theme of "the kingdom of God."

3. See whether your understanding about Matt 13:44-50 is clearer.

4. What is your primary focus on these verses? What are most important verses?

5. What is the primary or preliminary meaning of these texts?

Then, go through the detailed questions as follows:

1) What is the kingdom of heaven? Is it different from the kingdom of God?

2) What is the Matthean vision of the kingdom of God? Who can enter? When and/or how? What is nature of the kingdom of God? The best translation?

3) What is the primary metaphoric import in each parable (treasure in a field; a merchant in search of fine pearls; a net was thrown into the sea)?

4) How do these metaphors and parables help to strengthen intended discipleship in Matthew? Relate them to Jesus' overall message in Matthew and to the entire Gospel.

Then think back and forth about what you pulled out. Take some time and walk and meditate day and night.

5) What is the most important point of learning (knowledge, ethical exhortation, identity formation, motivational insight or force, etc) that you want to communicate with other people in a particular life context?

*References about biblical interpretation: Biblical Interpretation: Theory, Process, and Criteria. click on this.