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Evil at Odds with Itself (Matthew 12:22-29): Demonising Rhetoric and Deconstructive Potential in the Matthean Narrative

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image of Biblical Interpretation

Deconstructive analysis assumes that every text inevitably contains within itself the seeds of its own rhetorical self-destruction. The Matthean Gospel threatens to undermine its own rhetorical legitimisation in its depiction of evil, the cohorts of evil and evil's strategic incoherence. In Matt. 12:22-29 the story's central protagonist (Jesus) and his main antagonists (the Pharisees) are shown to hold different views on the character of evil. Within the course of the Matthean narrative, the view of the antagonists proves itself to be accurate, with the protagonist's view proving itself to be deficient. The reliability of the protagonist's discernment of things central to his own career and identity is thereby undermined. Comparison of the Matthean narrative with that of Mark suggests that this deconstructive tendency is to be credited to the Matthean evangelist in his efforts to demonise the synagogue of his contemporaries by means of a rhetoric of evil.

Affiliations: 1: St Mary's College, University of St Andrews


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