Homicidal Anger. An Intertextual Reading of Mt 5:21-22


The article opens with a discussion of the originality of the adverb εἰκῇ (“without cause”) in Mt 5:22a, and the question of whether Jesus prohibits all anger or only unjustified anger. The main body of the article, however, examines to what degree Jesus’ teaching on homicidal anger should be viewed as innovative or even radical. This analysis is accomplished by looking at a wide range of intertextual connections between the Matthean idea of homicidal anger, as expressed in Mt 5:21-22, and various Old Testament and extra-biblical ancient Jewish texts. Jesus’ teaching does not in fact differ appreciably from biblical teaching on the issue, especially that found in wisdom literature. Peri-testamental and rabbinic literature likewise contain a number of more or less exact parallels to Mt 5:21-22. Taken together, these all help us establish the correct meaning of Mt 5:21-22. Nevertheless, there is an undeniable originality in the sharp and legalistic overtone of the Matthean formulation, specifically the idea of anger as a cause of murder. Moreover, the targumic reading of Gen 9:6 helps clarify the semantic field of κρίσις in Mt 5:22, which should be understood as divine punishment of any anger.


Mt 5; anger; murder; Cain; Abel; rabbinic literature

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Published : 2018-12-28

Kubiś, A. (2018). Homicidal Anger. An Intertextual Reading of Mt 5:21-22. Verbum Vitae, 34, 249-287. https://doi.org/10.31743/vv.2018.34.10

Adam Kubiś  adamkubis@kul.pl
Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski Jana Pawła II  Poland

Ks. Adam Kubiś, prezbiter diecezji rzeszowskiej, doktor nauk biblijnych École biblique et archéologique française de Jérusalem (2012), adiunkt w Katedrze Egzegezy Ewangelii i Pism Apostolskich Instytutu Nauk Biblijnych KUL.

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