Date of Graduation

Spring 2015


Master of Arts in Religious Studies


Religious Studies

Committee Chair

Leslie Baynes


This thesis examines some of the ways that the narrative of the Gospel of Matthew functions rhetorically, within the context of a broader first-century Jewish-Christian discourse of identity, to construct insider identity—i.e., to construct disciples—in relation to non-Jews. The focus, in particular, is on two key tensions regarding non-Jews in the narrative context of the gospel: 1) the tension between the negative stereotypical "Gentiles" of Jesus discourse and the very positive portrayal of some Gentile characters in the narrative; and 2) the tension between the two commissions of Jesus to his disciples, between his first command to "go nowhere among the Gentiles" (Matt 10:5) and his final command to "make disciples of all nations" (28:19). I argue, through my analysis of these two tensions within the narrative context of the gospel, that the Gospel of Matthew's narration of the life of Jesus functions for the narrative's implied reader as more (though certainly not less) than an etiology of Gentile inclusion; beyond explaining and defending the presence of non-Jews within the ekklēsia, the gospel itself forges an insider identity that includes people of ta ethnē, and it does this in part by negotiating the categories of ethnikoi/ethnē and mathētai/ekklēsia in relation to each other.


Gospel of Matthew, Gentiles, ethn─ô, ethnikoi, social identity theory, discourse, social construction, narrative criticism

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© Angela D. Ingram

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