St. Irenaeus Ministries
Scripture Studies brought to you by the St. Irenaeus Center.
St. Irenaeus Ministries - a center of orthodox Catholic mission and renewal in Rochester, NY
St. Jerome tells us that the Gospel of Matthew was originally written in Aramaic, and that it was reworked into a Greek version later, which is supported by some evidence. Jerome also tells us that Matthew was the first gospel, but the actual order of composition is not clear. Matthew is also associated with a winged human in ecclesiastical symbolism, though this is not part of the inspired text.

The initial genealogy is abbreviated and separated into 3 sets of 14 generations beginning with Abraham, which provide a synopsis of Jewish history. Three women are mentioned in this genealogy, which is unusual for Jewish genealogies: Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth.

Matthew then begins the infancy narrative. Mary is a virgin who is betrothed to Joseph, which was more like marriage than a modern-day engagement. When Mary is found with child, Joseph resolves to divorce her privately, but an angel tells Joseph to remain with Mary and the child, who is to be called Emmanuel, which is translated for the benefit of Greeks as 'God with us.'

The closing theme is Gerard Satamian's Chansons Sans Paroles Op. 2 Pastorale, from the album Dry Fig Trees.
Direct download: Matthew1a.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:13am EDT

After the death of Antipater, Antigonus became high priest after mutilating the high priest Hyrcanus. Herod had been quickly rising to prominence, marrying into the house of Hasmon, sending his wife into exile, and Herod sought to have the Romans proclaim him leader of the Jews. Rome did declare him King of the Jews, a title never before declared for someone who was not of nobility. To ensure that the Hasmonean dynasty never returned to challenge his position, the remaining heirs to the Hasmonean dynasty suspiciously died.

Alexandra, the mother of one of these heirs, sent to Rome to request an inquiry, and Marc Antony requested that Herod defend himself. Herod went to Rome, but left instructions that if Antony killed him, his wife must die as well. His wife discovered this plan and this caused much intrigue and eventually his wife's death when Herod returned alive.

Herod built a new temple in Jerusalem and also several temples to Roman gods. It is against this backdrop that the magi arrived in Jerusalem and ask Herod ''where is the king born of the Jews?'' Herod, who was not born king, was outraged at this and sought to eliminate this threat. After he died, Herod was buried near the cave where Jesus was born.

The closing theme is Gerard Satamian's Chansons Sans Paroles Op. 2 Pastorale, from the album Dry Fig Trees.
Direct download: FBTB_5b.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:42am EDT

The Romans came to rule Judea in 63 BC. Leading up to that, the high priests of the Hasmonean Dynasty were the de facto kings in Israel, though their official title was Ethnarch. This dynasty began from the Maccabees, and lasted roughly eighty years. They did not want to be seen as usurping the rightful place of the line of David, since they were dependent on the pious Jews. The line of David was still known through this period, but it had fallen into obscurity. In this sense, the Hasmonean state is a biblical anomaly, lacking any leaders truly chosen by God. These rulers tended to be despots of a sort similar to Oriental and Hellenistic despots. These rulers were also expansionist, reacting to the rising birth rates of the neighboring countries. These circumstances give rise to a large upsurge in Messianic hope.

Salome Alexandra instituted a number of changes that pleased the Pharisees, and was fondly remembered by them for this. Her sons, Aristobulus II and Hyrcanus, fought for the high priesthood. At this point, Pompey comes to Israel and seeks an alliance with Hyrcanus, since Israel had sought such an alliance before. Hyrcanus was confirmed as high priest, but the position of king was saved for Rome, with local political authority resting in Hyrcanus' minister, Antipater the Idumean. Antipater made his son Phasael governor of Jerusalem and his other son Herod, who would be called the Great, was made governor of Galilee. Then, in 43 BC, Antipater was poisoned and the two sons battled for control of Judea.Messianic hope in the days of the Maccabees; the rise of the Pharisees and Salome Alexandra; Roman History.

The closing theme is Gerard Satamian's Chansons Sans Paroles Op. 2 Pastorale, from the album Dry Fig Trees.
Direct download: FBTB_5a.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:09am EDT

Out of the Maccabean revolt, three rulers rise successively, Judah Maccabee, Jonathan, and then Simon. Simon and two of his his sons were murdered, and only John Hyrcanus was left to rule. Various other rulers rise and fall, but Salome Alexandra is the only woman in antiquity to rule Judea and be praised for it.

During this time, Israel was consolidating power and various cities were breaking from Seleucid empire. John Hyrcanus rules as high priest and ethnarch, annexing Samaria and the remnants of Edom (now the Idumeans), forcing the people to become Jewish and be circumcised. The leading families of the Idumeans would become important, including the family of Herod.

During the later times leading up to Roman rule, the Jewish rulers start calling themselves kings, and their courts populated by Hellenized Jews. Several factions emerge, including the Pharisees and Essenes who react against these rulers. The Pharisees have a number of beliefs, such as belief in the resurrection and in oral tradition, that mark them as very different from the beliefs of the ruling class, which would include the Sadducees.

The Pharisees also had leaders who were not priests, but rather what would become the modern-day rabbi. The tension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees reached a head when the Pharisees demanded that the king choose between being a king or being high priest. The king sided with the Sadducees, which led to a civil war and suppression of the Pharisees.

Be sure to look at the image embedded in the MP3, which will make it much easier to follow.

The closing theme is Gerard Satamian's Chansons Sans Paroles Op. 2 Pastorale, from the album Dry Fig Trees.
Direct download: FBTB_4b.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:24am EDT