Mark, Matthew, and the Tanakh: A Comparison of Tanakh References in Mark and Matthew

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Wilfand, Doron Wilfand


Marcus, Joel

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This study examines the use of the Tanakh (the Jewish canon of the Bible) in the gospels of Mark and Matthew. At its core is a comparison of Tanakh references in these gospels which focuses on two central questions: Does Matthew raise the prominence of the Tanakh in his gospel? Is there a correlation between Matthean adaptations of Markan references and a the strength of his Jewish identity?

First and foremost, this investigation focuses on Mark, Matthew and the books that comprise the Tanakh in Greek (LXX) and Hebrew (MT). The gospels are surveyed according to NA28, the LXX according to the Gottingen Septuagint series, and the MT according to BHS. Additionally, all major variants of these three texts are considered.

The first methodological step in this comparison is the categorization of the 104 Tanakh references in Mark into three groups - explicit, implicit, and subtle references - with one chapter devoted to each. In each chapter, I open by pointing out the main focus of the Markan references. On a verse-by-verse basis, I then determine whether each Markan reference relies on the LXX or the MT, and if its Matthean version makes the Tanakh presence more or less prominent. Each chapter concludes with a concise summary of these individual comparisons.

A fourth chapter provides a discussion of the four Matthean omissions of the first verse of the Shema (Deut 6:4), an overview of scholarly understandings of these omissions, and my explanation for their elimination.

The main findings of this study are: 1) Matthew tends to make explicit Tanakh references more prominent in his gospel. This trend is present, albeit less evident, in the implicit references, and it is reversed in the subtle references. 2) Both Mark and Matthew were probably able to independently translate from the Hebrew text of the Tanakh. 3) The phrase “God is One,” which appears four times in Mark, is entirely eliminated from Matthew. 4) The primary effect of Matthean modifications of Markan references is the elevation of Jesus’ image rather than Law observance.

Thus, the primary conclusions of this study are: 1) that the Tanakh presence is enhanced in Matthew. 2) However, the evidence does not support the notion that this pattern stems from a Matthean Judazation of Mark but, rather, from an attempt to underscore the divine identity of Jesus.






Wilfand, Doron Wilfand (2016). Mark, Matthew, and the Tanakh: A Comparison of Tanakh References in Mark and Matthew. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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