Matthew’s Parable of the Royal Wedding Feast: A Sociorhetorical Interpretation

Publication details

Publisher name: SBL Press
Publication date: May 2023
ISBN number: 9781628373301
Status: Forthcoming




Ruth Christa Mathieson’s unique reading of Matthew’s parable of the royal wedding feast (Matt 22:1–14), which concludes with the king’s demand that one of the guests be bound and cast out into the outer darkness, focuses on the means of the underdressed guest’s expulsion. Using sociorhetorical interpretation, Mathieson draws the parable into conversation with early Jewish narratives of the angel Raphael binding hands and feet (1 Enoch; Tobit) and the protocol for expelling individuals from the community in Matt 18. She asserts that readers are invited to consider if the person who is bound and cast out is a danger to the little ones of the community of faith unless removed and restrained.

Ruth Christa Mathieson is Principal and lecturer in biblical studies at St Francis College, University of Divinity.

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Praise for Matthew’s Parable of the Royal Wedding Feast: A Sociorhetorical Interpretation

Ruth Christa Mathieson offers a strong, well-argued, and creative response to the exegetical and ecclesiological challenges reflected by the text of Matthew 22:1–14 in its canonical form. The strengths of this book are her unflagging commitment to read Matthew against Matthew and the detailed and outstanding intertextual work that she lays out patiently, theme by theme. In this work, Mathieson proves herself an outstanding researcher, an excellent biblical exegete, a gifted communicator, and a passionate churchwoman focused on issues of justice for “vulnerable ones” within or beyond the church.

Dorothy Jean Weaver
Professor Emerita, Eastern Mennonite Seminary

In this fresh interpretation, Ruth Christa Mathieson reads the wedding feast parable not as depicting a general judgment but as dramatizing the removal of persons who victimize vulnerable “little ones” from the assemblies (ekklesiai) envisioned by Matthew. Its application of sociorhetorical interpretation to a single biblical passage demands sophistication in a wide range of theoretical and methodological discourses, from literary and rhetorical criticism to the social sciences to communication theory. Mathieson’s attention to rhetography, or visual rhetoric, is especially effective. In this end, this interpretation is soulful and relevant. The question of child sexual abuse confronts us with urgency. A priest herself, the author models how critical interpretation and contemporary cultural engagement can work together.

Greg Carey
Professor of New Testament, Lancaster Theological Seminary 

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