“Issi my kindt nie”: An ideological study of Matthew 2:16-18. Socio-cultural perspectives of children as sanctioning of violence against them

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Masters Thesis
Title “Issi my kindt nie”: An ideological study of Matthew 2:16-18. Socio-cultural perspectives of children as sanctioning of violence against them
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2023
URL https://scholar.sun.ac.za/handle/10019.1/129003
This thesis is a socio-rhetorical reading of Matthew 2:16-18, which seeks to understand how the reality of the Roman empire and the hierarchical social structures of the Matthean context intersect to create an ideological environment in which the massacre of the babies described in the pericope could occur. Matthew 2:16-18 narrates an account commonly referred to as the “Massacre of the Innocents,” a dark element in the Matthean birth narrative wherein King Herod, perceiving his position to be threatened, orders every child under the age of two, the vicinity of Bethlehem to be killed. Vernon Robbins’ socio-rhetorical analytic allows for a dynamic and multifaceted reading of the text and enables the investigation of imperial and hierarchical social interactions to construct and fill out the disastrous ideological environment behind the violent account depicted in the pericope. Robbins’ analytic furthermore allows for ideological analysis such as Postcolonial interpretation of the text. As the infants of Bethlehem were the children of subjugated people living in the context of the Roman Empire, Postcolonial analysis is appropriate to analyse domination and subjugation in its many manifestations throughout history, gaining insight into how the past informs the present. Postcolonial studies have been further advanced and made richer by such introductions as African Feminisms to the optic. From this perspective, scholars such as Musa Dube make us aware of the complexities and the intersectionality of oppression faced by colonised women under the foreign colonial systems of oppression as well as the foreign and domestic patriarchal systems of oppression. This point of contact is referred to as “double oppression,” It is the lens with which I attempt to read the pericope in
question. Accordingly, I propose that the children of Bethlehem suffer under two different yet interconnected forms of oppression: the first from the imperial oppression as children of the dominated and the second from the hierarchical, patriarchal structures that dominate their cultural and social lives. Ultimately, this study asks questions about the imperial and socio-cultural influences inherent to the Gospel and how the narrative helps to paint a nuanced picture of the vastly unjust interaction between the powerful and the powerless, as depicted in Matthew 2:16-18. It also provides insights into the underlying ideological environment of the pericope, its place in the nascency account, and the theology of the Gospel as a whole.

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