Thursday, April 14, 2011

Structure: The Gospel of Matthew

I want to persuade you that writing is structured.  Here's another example.

The Gospel of Matthew has a beginning consisting of a two-part prologue, the first part narrating the birth and infancy of Jesus (Matthew 1-2) and the second part dealing with John the Baptist (Matthew 3).

Matthew also has a two-part ending, consisting of Matthew's passion narrative (Matthew 26-27), Jesus' suffering and death at the end of the Gospel paralleling his birth and infancy at the beginning, and Matthew's account of the resurrection and the commissioning of the apostles to go forth and baptize (Matthew 28), echoing the baptismal narrative of chapter 3.

The middle of the Gospel consists of five parts, each part split into two halves, the first half recounting actions of Jesus and the second half recording a sermon.  Jesus begins his ministry in chapter 4 with his temptations in the wilderness, followed by the calling of disciples and initial healings.  Then we get the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5 through 7).  In chapters 8 and 9, Jesus heals a leper, heals the centurion's servant, casts Legion out of a herd of swine, forgives sin, heals a paralytic, heals a blind man, etc..  Then in chapter 10 he preaches the Missionary Discourse... and so on, through three further action / sermon cycles.

Beginning, middle and end.  These are the basic building blocks we'll see in a novel's structure, too.  First, we'll look at some more non-novel structures.

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