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The Intention of the Woes of Matthew 23

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Chapter Summary

The nucleus of Matthew 23 is the seven woes which begin with v. 13, yet the intention of αὐαί is subject to debate. What exactly does αὐαί connote? Or even more to the point, what do the seven woes in context of Matthew 23 connote? Some claim that αὐαί expresses sorrowful pity with no hint of imprecation, while others argue that the woes are more akin to curses, and still others maintain that αὐαί may indicate either lamentation or malediction depending upon its context. This chapter determines the significance of the woe cry as it relates to Matthew's intention in chapter 23. Chap. 23 is a Matthean composition whereby Matthew has taken up traditions and interpreted them through alterations and re-arrangements to express his own theology. Therefore, Matthew's intention may express something quite opposite to Jesus' intention in original setting. This chapter uncovers Matthew's understanding of the series of woes.

Keywords: αὐαί; Jesus' intention; lamentation; Matthew 23; seven woes; sorrowful pity



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