Banished Messiah

Banished Messiah

by Robert R. Beck

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By arguing that Matthew's Gospel can be read as a "homecoming story" according to the ancient formula of the "Banished and Returning Prince," Robert Beck offers a fresh and provocative reinterpretation of the Gospel. He exploits this understanding of the narrative to disclose new elements within the plot, to identify a fresh resolution to conflict development within the tale, and to arrive at an unprecedented explanation of the place of violence and nonviolence within Matthew's text. The traditional roles of Usurper, Impostor, and Mentor are examined for insight into what Matthew's narrative achieves as well as, perhaps more importantly, what it excludes in the way of cultural expectations of violent reprisal.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781606085561
Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Publication date: 09/03/2010
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 222
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.47(d)

About the Author

Robert Beck is a priest of the Catholic Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa, and Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at Loras College in Dubuque. Beck has been involved with peace and justice issues, including co-founding the Catholic Worker in Dubuque, and is the author of Nonviolent Story: Narrative Conflict Resolution in the Gospel of Mark. He currently publishes a column, "Sunday's Word," on the Sunday lectionary.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements vii

Preface ix

Part 1 Constructing A Narrative 1

1 The Homecoming Story 5

Conspicuous Entrances

The Circle in the Text

A Village, a Town, and a City

2 Discourses in Conflict 33

A Clash of Discourses

Two Hills

Mark-in-Matthew: The Markan Intertext

3 The Return of the King 57

The Films

The Formula in Literature: The Odyssey and Hamlet

Studies of the Ancient Classics

Mapping the Formula Story onto Matthew

Part 2 Banished King; Exiled Nation 81

4 Usurper 87

The Wicked Uncle

Matthew's Genealogy (Matt 1:1-17)

Joseph's First Dream: The Hero's Mandate (Matt 1:18-25)

The Magi Come and Depart (Matt 2:1-12)

5 Impostor 109



Matthew as Postcolonial Text

Conclusions: Conflict in the Narrative Plot

6 Mentor 139


From Desert to Garden



Part 3 The Reckoning 163

7 Nostos 167

Temple and Garden

Innocent Blood

Go Forth to All Nations

Bibliography 193

Subject/Name Index 201

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"It's an age-old issue, pervasive in our literature, yet not engaged enough by contemporary biblical scholarship. With an eye on both the past and the present, as well as on Matthew's Gospel and various intertexts, Robert Beck profitably and insightfully explores the complex manifestations and interactions of violence and non-violence."

-Warren Carter, Professor of New Testament, Brite Divinity School at TCU

"Beck's Banished Messiah is superb, contrasting Jesus' nonviolence with dominant culture's 'hero myths' in which a prince or princess is exiled (banished) and returns home, only to retaliate against and destroy enemies. Matthew confounds myths that animate the entertainment fare. Surprises abound: genealogies theologically and ethically significant, comparative visions of John the Baptist and Jesus, and the magi as Matthew's mentor! 'Places' theologically significant in Matthew (Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Galilee) interact with 'plot design.' In Matthew, as well as Mark (Matthew's intertext), the banished one does not return for revenge upon enemies.

Beck's narrative style crafts a rich exposition of Matthew. He considers dissonant parts in Matthew (e.g. Jesus' diatribe against the Pharisees) that might counter Jesus' nonviolence in Matthew. Beck provides perceptive solutions, in dialogue with Gandhi and Gene Sharp on nonviolence.

Beck's presentation of Matthew carries the reader like a good novel. To quote one sentence: '[The Gospel story] does not allow a violent reprisal, the result is that the expected resolution of the violent formula story is replaced. The latter's symmetry is disrupted and broken, introducing an amnesty and refusing readers the bloody satisfactions of revenge' (108). Judgment of evil is deferred to God. Matthew gives us a 'meta-narrative' of political realism that culturally cross-cuts, shattering all pretenses of power."

-Willard M. Swartley,_Professor Emeritus of New Testament,_Associated Mennonite Seminary

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