Earlier this year, Thomas Moore published The Book of Matthew: A New Translation with Commentary in which, as the title indicates, he reinterpreted one of the four Gospels. His aim was to make Matthew more accessible to the modern reader, improving “the flow” and using new words for a few key terms that he believed were misunderstood.
Moore was more than up to the task. He has Masters degrees in both religion and philosophy. And while he may be best known for his beautiful series of books on the soul (and his recent classic on creating our own spiritual path), for 13 years he served as a member of a Roman Catholic lay order, leaving just months before becoming an ordained priest.
Thomas Moore has a unique take on Jesus, who he sees as “a spiritual poet” who uses narrative and imagery to get his ideas across. He sees him as more than just a teacher of wisdom but “a social mystic, like a shaman who can heal, and lead people to appreciate multiple layers of reality”.In the extensive commentary section of the book, Moore writes that Jesus had no intention of setting up a new religion and was not advocating a specific religious viewpoint, “but a way of life, a secular set of values that could help humanity survive and thrive”. Jesus is promoting “a way of being in the world, (that is) open and radically accepting”. To this point, Moore says:
I think Jesus was trying to convince people to live in an entirely different way, with basic values of love and community instead of self-interest and conflict…he suggested that we get over all the artificial boundaries set up between religions and cultures and live as though we were brothers and sisters…he is forever telling people to love those who are outside their own circle.
As Moore reminds us, the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John first appeared somewhere between 65 CE and 110 CE, with Matthew appearing 35-40 years after the death of Jesus. He also points out that the gospels were not written as history books, but as “interpretations” of the life of Jesus.
On the pages that follow are 9 passages from the Gospel of Matthew by way of Thomas Moore. There are many, many translations of the Bible and for those who are interested I have included links to previous interpretations of the text. The bold headlines are mine and encapsulate what I believe is the core message of each passage. Click the continue bar below to begin.