Journal Article

Anatomy of Scandal: Self‐Dismemberment in the Gospel of Matthew and in Gogol's ‘The Nose’

John F. Cornell

in Literature and Theology

Volume 16, issue 3, pages 270-290
Published in print August 2002 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online August 2002 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/16.3.270
Anatomy of Scandal: Self‐Dismemberment in the Gospel of Matthew and in Gogol's ‘The Nose’

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Jesus' declarations, in Matthew 5:29–30 and 18:8–9, that it is better to remove an offending eye or limb than to risk hell, are usually explained in terms of hyperbole. Such a reading misses the text's hints at a more radical exposé of the causes of ‘sins of the flesh’. This essay argues that the artful redaction of Matthew's text presents an ironic Jesus with formidable insight into the syndrome that the New Testament calls scandal. It would take a master of the absurd like Nikolai Gogol to recognise that the Gospel reveals the controlling and insidious character of scandal, that scandal is at the heart of adultery and is therefore the true ‘adultery in the heart’.

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Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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