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Day 4: Intertextual Context

 

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Learn to Study the Bible with Logos: Part 1

Day 4: Explore the Intertextual Context: Parallel Passages

Step 4 (cont.): Explore the Passage’s Literary and Intertextual Context

Welcome back! In the last video, we investigated the literary context of Matthew 4:1–11. This video will begin our look at the intertextual context. While studying the literary context we looked at the genre of the passage and the immediate context surrounding the passage we are studying. The intertextual context includes passages in the rest of Scripture that are somehow related. The strongest connections are passages that quote our passage, passages quoted within our passage, and parallel passages (for example, Luke’s parallel account of the temptation). Most Bibles include cross-references. Cross-references are a great place to start, but the results from Logos are much more inclusive.

Passage Section of the Passage Guide

First, we’ll compare the differences between the different gospels’ accounts of the temptation. Our goal is not to try to combine them together in order to come up with a “more complete” version of the account. Our goal is to compare them to see what each gospel writer emphasizes in his account.

Let’s go back to the Passage Guide, which should already be open from when you typed the passage into the Go box. If it isn’t, highlight Matthew 4:1–11 and right-click in the highlighted section. Select Matthew 4:1–11: Reference and then select Passage Guide on the left. The Parallel Passages section of the Passage Guide is extremely helpful for any text, but it’s particularly helpful if we want to compare an account that appears in one gospel to the parallel text in another.

Harmony Resources

We notice the titles of different harmony resources. A harmony is a work in which a scholar goes through parallel passages of Scripture and lines them up. For this video, we’ll use Sharman’s Records of the Life of Jesus because we can choose which translations of the Bible to use and its layout helps us see the differences a little more easily.

As we survey the differences, we immediately notice two things: the brevity of Mark’s account and the difference in order of the temptations between Matthew and Luke. We can speculate about why the order of the temptation is different in the two books, but some scholars believe that Luke wanted the culmination of the temptation event to be in Jerusalem thus emphasizing Luke’s major theme revolving around Jerusalem. Matthew may have wanted to emphasize the devil’s questioning of Jesus’ sonship in the first two temptations and place them closer to God’s declaration of Jesus’ sonship in Matthew 3. While it’s difficult to know exactly why Matthew used the order he did, his emphasis on Jesus’ relationship with the Father adds to our understanding of Matthew’s purpose. Matthew’s primary goal in his account of Jesus’ temptation is not to provide us with an example of how to fight temptation, though that is probably one of Matthew’s purposes. His primary goal is to show us how Jesus, as God’s Son, succeeded in obedience where Israel, as God’s son, failed.

This confirms something I read earlier from the Faithlife Study Bible, “The temptations Jesus encountered follow the same pattern as the Israelites’ disobedience in the desert. The Israelites demanded bread, doubted the Lord’s presence, and despaired of His help. Jesus reverses all of these acts of faithlessness.”

Let’s add a note to our Note file on Matthew 4 by highlighting the verses that speak about the temptations, right clicking on the highlighted text, choosing the reference range, and clicking “Add a note to Matthew 4 Notes.” If we’ve had another Note file open between now and the time we last used our Matthew 4 Notes file, we’ll have to go to the documents menu and open it for the “Add a note” feature to work in the context menu.

Parallel Gospel Reader

The Parallel Gospel Reader, available in Logos Now and Cloud, gives us even more control of how we view our results. It allows us to quickly switch between our harmony resources and allows us to choose which gospels to compare. For instance, I can choose to compare only Matthew and Luke.

Old Testament Quotations and Allusions

Now, let’s go back to the Parallel Passages section in the Passage Guide. In the Old Testament Quotations and Allusions in the New Testament section, Logos alerts us to the connection between the temptation narrative and Deuteronomy 8:3, “And He humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Jesus responds to Satan by quoting this passage. Many Christians have equated Jesus’ emphasis on man’s necessity for God’s “every word” in this passage with the importance of the spiritual nourishment that comes from reading Scripture. If we study the passage Jesus is quoting, we find that the “Word of God” that man is supposed to live by is God’s promise of provision. In other words, we are to trust God the Father for physical nourishment.

Jesus’ experience in the wilderness was like that of the Israelites. It was a place of solitude and scarcity. He may have felt abandoned by God and tempted to provide for His own needs just like the Israelites were tempted to provide for their own needs. But Jesus, unlike the Israelites, resisted temptation and fully relied on His Father. Again, the passage is much less about us, and much more about Jesus. The point we should take away from Jesus’ quotation is not, “I should read my Bible more,” but “Look at how Jesus trusted His Father on my behalf. I believe His obedience and faith in life and death are enough to make me right with God.” In the gospel, our call is toward faith in Jesus Who trusted God perfectly, in His performance for us, not toward our own performance. Let’s make a note with this idea by right clicking on verse 4, choosing the reference, and selecting “Add a note to Matthew 4 Notes.”

In some of the conclusions we’ve drawn in this video we’ve moved from observation to interpretation a bit. While we should avoid making that jump as much as possible while we are in the observation stage, I decided to add these conclusions because we won’t get back to these specific instances later on in the course.

If you want more harmony resources, Logos developed a collection of resources called the Parallel Passages Collection. You can check it out at Logos.com.

Assignments

Here are your assignments:

  • Use either a harmony resource or the Parallel Gospel Reader to find additional differences between the accounts of the temptation and record at least three in your Note file
  • Use either the cross references in your Bible or the Parallel Passages section in the Passage Guide to find out what other passages are quoted in Matthew 4 and read them in their context to see if you’ve misunderstood why Jesus and Satan were quoting what they did
  • Look at the other passages that are connected to Matthew 4 and record your observations in the Note file

You’re doing great! Next, we’ll get to see how considering a passage in its own history and location can add nuance to our understanding.