Tag Archives: ulrich luz

Ulrich Luz on Matthew as Gospel

Matthean scholar Ulrich Luz argues that the Gospels, particularly Matthew[1], should not necessarily be understood as βίος but a whole new genre, “Gospel.” Just as earlier Jewish writers picked up the foundation story and reworked it in there writings, likewise Matthew picked up Mark’s story and reworked it, forming a new foundation story. He says,

Between the biblical-Jewish literature and the Gospels, including the Gospel of the Jewish follower of Jesus, Matthew, the foundation story changes. With his story of Jesus Matthew tells a new foundation story that permits him to understand Israel’s previous foundational text, the Bible, in a completely new light. In my (Luz) judgment, here in the framework of the biblical-Jewish tradition and literary activity something completely new, a revolution, happened.

The ancient church recognized this revolution when it put the title “Gospel” at the head of Matthew’s Jesus story and thus created a new genre designation. In so doign it not only expressed a theological judgment; it also did justice to Matthew’s intention.

Luz, Ulrich. Matthew 1–7. Translated by James E. Crouch. Hermeneia. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007.


  1. At the time of writing, the genre βίοςm was not particularly well known but later readers might have understood Matthew to be some form of βίος.  ↩

QOTD: Ulrich Luz on Understanding Texts

Historical reconstruction means to describe the life situations to which the texts — as their frozen memories belonged and to which they referred. But again, this is not yet to understand the texts. Frozen food becomes meaningful only when it is unfrozen and can be eaten. A photograph becomes meaningful only when it is combined with our memory and when, through it, the persons represented in it come alive again in our hearts. In a similar way biblical texts are meaningful only when they become part of our life. In other words, to understand a New Testament text does not mean to understand the words of the text only but to understand the living Christ to whom it testifies and the life situation that was shaped by him, and to understand both as a gift, a question, and a challenge for our own lives. Understanding such texts is not an intellectual knowledge that can be separated from other dimensions of life; rather this understanding is possible only when it encompasses human life in its totality — intellectual insights, feelings, actions, and suffering

— Luz, Ulrich. Matthew in History: Interpretation, Influence, and Effects. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1994, 14

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