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Challenging The Circumlocution Assumption

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Chapter Summary

Heaven in Matthew is both a frequently used term and part of a key literary and theological theme in the First Gospel. While it is true that heaven in Matthew does often refer to God in a metonymic way, close examination reveals that the original circumlocution argument suffers from a faulty methodology and rationale. The historical arguments given for heaven as a reverential circumlocution in the first century rest on very slim evidence. Moreover, there is a better solution within Matthew's own usage. Nonetheless, as is often the case, the scholarly repetition of the same arguments has created a substantial edifice. This chapter seeks to show the structural weaknesses in this edifice, and dismantles it by challenging the common assumption about heaven as a circumlocution. As a result, it clears the ground for a comprehensive examination of Matthew's frequent use of heaven language.

Keywords: circumlocution; edifice; First Gospel; God; heaven; Matthew

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