Week Beginning Sunday, 3/6

Matthew 22-28


  • Read Matthew 22-28

I (Nancy) find it helpful when reading Cotton Patch to imagine myself sitting in a late 1950s rural, South Georgia church — or around a campfire in that region and time — as Clarence Jordan translates from the Greek, giving localized handles for the scandalous Gospel text. How did these variations sound in that context to hearers — most of whom, likely, had limited education and hadn’t traveled beyond a 100-mile radius of their community?

As you close the book of Matthew, here are some things to mull.

These last 7 chapters are filled with region– or era-specific versions of the original text.

  1. Do any of these variations fall flat for you? Resonate? Why do you suppose that’s true?
  2. Do you have any guesses about why Clarence may have used that image? (As always, there are no wrong answers.)
  3. What (if anything) stands out for you from this version about Jesus’ trial, execution and resurrection?
  • If you’re able, please respond with your thoughts by Saturday, 3/12, using the “Leave a Reply” box below. You may give your thoughts on the above questions or just thoughts of your own. What do you think?
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7 thoughts on “Week Beginning Sunday, 3/6”

  1. Clarence’s words in 23:23,25,27 connected with me. The words he chose helped me realize just how far these religious leaders were off in their thinking. “You fence in a flea and let your horse escape.” How perfect is that? Each of these paragraphs uses 20th century word pictures to describe what Jesus was thinking — trading stamps/groceries, trim the lawn/paint the house, slaughterhouses. Really helped bring the point home that I should be focusing on the INSIDE things (justice, sharing, integrity) and less on the outside!

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  2. I wonder if Clarence was so passionate about the power of the Gospel to change lives, he was simply trying to use the everyday language of his time to help people understand the true meaning of what Jesus said? I also wonder if some of his friends struggled with the King James Version of the Bible, and he was hoping to help them have a translation they could better understand — and perhaps be less intimidated by?

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  3. To be honest, this version of the trial, execution, resurrection of Jesus didn’t seem that much different to me. It’s always moving (and difficult) to read this in any translation/paraphrase, but nothing particularly stood out.

    However, in the Last Supper (26:26), I loved the way Clarence described what Jesus was saying about His blood: “It is being shed for many so as to write the Constitution of the Clean State.” How awesome it that?! Constitution of the Clean State? Wow — not “clean slate” — but “clean state” — think of living in a clean state with all our Christ-follower brothers and sisters. Now THAT’s a picture I connected with! 🙂 🙂

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  4. I also liked the images Dixie mentions — and I REALLY liked the image, “you resemble landscaped slaughterhouses” (23.27). The NRSV reads for that, “you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth.” I wonder if Clarence’s version may have resonated more with a Southern people of that era who (as I know from experience) showed great respect for cemeteries and monuments for the dead. This image more readily captures the scandal of Jesus’ statement.

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  5. A couple images fell flat to me. In 26.65 the archbishop “unzipped his robe” — missing the angst, distress and disgust of his tearing his clothes.

    The same for 27.50 when “the big curtain in the sanctuary of First Church was torn in two.” Though this image likely had more meaning in Clarence’s context, it doesn’t capture the revolutionary implications of the tearing of the temple curtain, a demarcation of genuine holiness and apartness for Jews.

    On a different note, I was struck by the imagery of “lynched” (early in chapter 28) in the midst of clear references to crucifixion. I’ve always thought of the term as a reference to vigilante hanging … I wonder if its usage with the crucifixion meant vigilante execution. Hmmmm.

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  6. I’m finished reading as I’ve already shared, but will go back to this. What stands out once again is when Jesus talks about drinking his blood and eating the bread. Dixie’s mentioning
    of the trading stamps reminds me as a child growing up in Brooklyn. There was a store where
    we were given green stamps when shopping. We collected them a traded them in for products.
    I don’t remember all, but I do remember the trading stamps.
    I once visited Savannah, Ga. back in the 90’sand was surprised to learn of the things that still
    existed. It makes one stop and think. I know it did me.
    Lots to think about from sharing all. Thank You!

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