Forgive our presumption: a difficult reading of Matthew 23:1-3

Perichoresis 16 (3):3-15 (2018)

Abstract
In Matthew 23:1-3, Jesus commands His disciples and the crowd to listen to the scribes and Pharisees even while not imitating their actions. Many modern interpreters have lessened the force of Matthew 23:1-3 by an assumption of irony on the part of Jesus. We presume that God could never ordain this for His people. However, this easier reading may not be the best reading. A more straightforward interpretation, but one that is difficult to hear, suggests that at times we may need to sit under bad leadership as means of receiving God’s Word. Pre-critical and modern interpreters provide an understanding of the words of Jesus that is consistent with a theology of God’s providence in times of transition and bad leadership. In addition, there are instances of His direction in both the Old and New Testaments that reinforce this challenging path. It is through this more faithful stance that we grow and flourish in difficult times.
Keywords Matthew 23:1-3  authority  irony  leadership  seat of Moses
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DOI 10.2478/perc-2018-0013
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