More Information
ISBN: 9781783687879
Imprint: Langham Academic
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 14
Publication Date: 31/08/2020
Pages: 264
Series: Studies in New Testament
Language: English

By What Authority?

The Literary Function and Impact of Conflict Stories in the Gospel of Matthew


Hostile encounters between Jesus and Jewish leaders are found throughout the Gospel of Matthew. Yet these encounters are rarely explored holistically, nor is attention given to the reason for their prominence in the Matthean text. In By What Authority?, Dr Rebecca Ye-Atkinson examines seventeen distinct moments of conflict in the first gospel, exploring the function of each narrative in light of Matthew’s overarching literary and theological purposes.

An excellent resource for scholars, this in-depth textual analysis is also accessible and engaging for any reader interested in deepening their understanding of Matthew’s gospel and its message.

Author Bios


In this fresh and searching exploration of the first gospel, Ye-Atkinson exposes that Jesus’s opponents are struggling, not with legal and theological disputes of their day, much less a later generation’s, but with the very identity of Jesus. His opponents eventually learn, just as modern readers of Matthew should, that there is no future in opposition to Jesus, their God and King.

Richard J. Gibson, PhD
Brisbane School of Theology, Australia

This study’s organized layout and fluent expression will definitely appeal to the reader’s appetite. I highly recommend that anyone who has the desire to understand the purpose and message of Matthew’s conflict stories should not miss the chance to read this study.

Emily Yeh Wang, PhD
Associate Professor of New Testament,
International Chinese Biblical Seminary in Europe (ICBSIE), Barcelona, Spain

For both its methodological contributions and its exegetical yield, this study deserves to be widely read and studied.

David W. Pao, PhD
Professor of New Testament,
Chair of the New Testament Department,
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois, USA

This study provides valuable insight into the narrative function of the conflict stories in Matthew’s gospel, showing their role in the overall design or plot of this gospel. Conflict leads to the passion. The author also rightly highlights the christological function that surfaces in some of these narratives, which reveal Jesus’s identity, including its divine aspect.

Craig S. Keener, PhD
F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies,
Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky, USA

In this insightful and judicious study, Rebecca Ye-Atkinson is putting literary methods to good use by asking the right, theological questions. She aptly guides the reader through Matthew’s use of the conflict stories, and she shows how they highlight Jesus’s divine authority, the Christ-centered nature of God’s people, and the pivot towards the gentile mission.

Sigurd Grindheim, PhD
Professor, Department of Pedagogy, Religion and Social Studies,
Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Bergen, Norway

The selection of seventeen conflict stories provides important data based on which a map of investigation is convincingly drafted. The strategy of narrative and rhetorical reading has provided a nexus in which conflict stories are better understood. Dr Ye-Atkinson’s treatment of the author’s interpretation of the Hebrew Scripture has highlighted the theological essence of the stories. More importantly, Dr Ye-Atkinson is found competent in demonstrating how conflict stories in the Matthean narrative impact on the reader. Readers of the Matthean gospel will be benefited by this carefully argued fine piece of work.

Poling Sun, PhD
Professor of New Testament,
Taiwan Graduate School of Theology, Taipei, Taiwan

Table of Contents

  1. Acknowledgements
  2. Abstract
  3. List of Abbreviations
  4. Chapter 1 Introduction and Methods
    1. Research Question and Purpose of the Investigation
      1. Research Question
      2. Purpose of the Investigation
    2. Conflict Stories in Previous Studies
      1. Conflict Stories in Different Form Categories
      2. Studies of Conflict Stories in the Gospel of Matthew
      3. Evaluation of Previous Studies
    3. Methodology in the Current Study
      1. Conflict Stories: Terminology and Criteria for This Study
      2. Tools of Literary Criticism Applied in This Study
    4. Scope of Methodology Applied in the Thesis
    5. Structural Plan of the Book
  5. Chapter 2 Conflict Stories in Matthew 9: Jesus, the Supreme Authority
    1. Analysis of Individual Pericopae: Matthew 9:1–8, 9–13, 14–17
      1. Matthew 9:1–8
      2. Matthew 9:9–13
      3. Matthew 9:14–17
    2. Conflict Stories in Context of Matthew 5–9
      1. The Wider Context: Matthew 5–9
      2. Conflict Stories in Matthew 8–9
  6. Chapter 3 Conflict Stories in Matthew 12: This Generation Encounters the Lord of the Sabbath
    1. Analysis of Individual Pericopea: Matthew 12:1–8, 9–14, 22–37, 38–45
      1. Matthew 12:1–8
      2. Matthew 12:9–14
      3. Matthew 12:22–37
      4. Matthew 12:38–45
    2. Conflict Stories in Context
  7. Chapter 4 Conflict Stories in Matthew 13, 15, 16 and 19: The Parting of the Ways
    1. Analysis of Individual Pericopea: Matthew 13:53–58; 15:1–9; 16:1–4; 19:1–9
      1. Matthew 13:53–58
      2. Matthew 15:1–9
      3. Matthew 16:1–4
      4. Matthew 19:1–9
    2. Conflict Stories in Context Matthew 13–20
  8. Chapter 5 The Jerusalem Conflict Stories: Whose Son Is the Christ?
    1. Analysis of Individual Pericopea: Matthew 21:14–17, 23–27; 22:15–22, 23–33, 34–40, 41–46
      1. Matthew 21:14–17
      2. Matthew 21:23–27
      3. Matthew 22:15–22
      4. Matthew 22:23–33
      5. Matthew 22:34–40
      6. Matthew 22:41–46
    2. Conflict Stories in the Context of Matthew 21–25
  9. Chapter 6 Summary and Conclusions
    1. Conclusion and Findings
    2. Summary
  10. Appendix 1 Jesus in Dialogue with Other Characters in the Gospel of Matthew
  11. Bibliography