James LaGrand investigates the text of Matthew's Gospel to straw how the first Christians understood and claimed Israel's messianic mission to people of every ethnic group immediately after Jesus' death and resurrection.
LaGrand first examines the Hebrew Bible and other ancient documents to uncover the meaning in Matthew's time of the terms "Israel" and "the nations" in relation to fellowship and witness. This interesting background study not only demonstrates that "Israel" was understood much more broadly than its usual ethnic basis, but it also has contemporary relevance, showing, for example, that certain modern developments -- from the "homogeneous unit principle" of the Church Growth movement to political apartheid -- contradict the Christian gospel.
In the second part of the book, LaGrand discusses Matthew's Gospel in the context of Israel's literature, as a document written later than Paul's letters but before A.D. 70., and shows that, following Jesus' death and resurrection, his followers came to view the Gentile mission as a logical extension of Israel.
First published as part of the University of South Florida's International Studies in Formative Christianity and Judaism series, this paperback edition of LaGrand's work includes a new preface by Richard Bauckham, an author's note, redrawn maps, and an extended index.