This book seeks to establish the inadequacy of readings of the Gospel of Matthew as intended for, and a reflection of, a local audience or community. Despite repeated challenges, the local audience thesis continues to dominate a large proportion of Matthean scholarship, and, as such, the issue of
determining the Gospel's audience remains an open question.
In this book, Cedric E. W. Vine posits four main critiques. The first suggests the assumptions which underpin the text-focused process of identifying the Gospel's audience, whether deemed to be local, Jewish, or universal, lack clarity. Second, local audience readings necessarily exclude plot-related developments and are both selective and restrictive in their treatment of characterisation. Third, Vine argues that many in an audience of the Gospel would have incorporated their experience of hearing Matthew within pre-existing mental representations shaped by Mark or other early traditions. Fourth, Vine suggests that early Christian audiences were largely heterogeneous in terms of ethnicity, age, sex, wealth, familiarity with Christian traditions, and levels of commitment. As
such, the aural reception of the Gospel would have resulted in a variety of impacts. A number of these critiques extend beyond the local audience option and for this reason this study concludes that we cannot currently determine the audience of the Gospel.