The Jewish background is plain. Jewish customs are familiar to everyone (see the discussion of 15:5), the debate about the law is a central question (see the discussion of 5:17-20), and the Sabbath is still observed (see the discussion of 24:20). The dispute with the Pharisees serves primarily as a warning to the community (see the introduction to chapters 24-25); but a reference to leading representatives of the Synagogue is not far below the surface. Above all, the method of learned interpretation of the Law, which "looses" and "binds," was still central for Matthew and his community (see the discussion of 16:19; 18:18). Preservation of sayings, such as 23:2-3, which support the continued authority of Pharisaic teaching, and above all the special emphasis placed on the requirement not to offend those who still think in legalistic terms (see the discussion of 17:24-27), shows that dialogue with the Jewish Synagogue had not broken off. On the other hand, a saying like 27:25 shows that the Christian community had conclusively split with the Synagogues, even though hope for the conversion of Jews was not yet totally dead.


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