Merrill Kitchen on ‘Jesus and His Brothers’ in Matthew

Last night was the Annual General Meeting of the Melbourne branch of the Fellowship for Biblical Studies hosted at Queen's College, where I happen to live which means that I have a mercifully short journey to these events.

It was a good evening with a large turnout that meant we were a bit squashed around the dinner table. The paper was delivered by the outgoing President, Merrill Kitchen who was, prior to retirement, Principal of the Churches of Christ Theological College in Melbourne.

Her paper was entitled 'Another Exile: 'Jesus and his Brothers' in the Gospel of Matthew'. Taking her cue from features of the Matthean genealogy (particularly the references to 'Judah and his brothers' and Jeconiah and his brothers' as well as the confusing Matthean enumeration in 1.17 which seems to miscount the 3rd list of names as 14 when there are only 12 or 13) she made a case for Matthew viewing the initial and ongoing disciple community in the light of exilic traditions. Matthew uses 'exile' as a way of accounting for the conflict between his own community that other Jewish communities and as such it is a motif that seeks to construe the community as remaining within but distinct from Judaism. This time, however, the exile is not in Eygypt or Babylon but in Galilee. The inclusio established by Matthew 28.10: 'Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee' sets up a model in which Jesus and his 'brothers' find refuge from a hostile Judea in Galilee. Matthew's own audience (who may be located in Galilee – a suggestion that elicited some strong responses) are therefore to be understood as brothers of Jesus, but also as 'children' of his God, and thus as the missing 14th generation of the genealogy.

I found it a fascinatng paper, alerting me to features of Matthew that I had not previously noticed. I a, sure that the full paper will find its way into print before too long.