Original Research - Special Collection: Nicholas Allen Festschrift

Conceptual blending in Matthew 2:23

Godwin Mushayabasa
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 57, No 1 | a2929 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v57i1.2929 | © 2023 Godwin Mushayabasa | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 January 2023 | Published: 24 August 2023

About the author(s)

Godwin Mushayabasa, Department of Ancient Texts, Text, Context and Reception, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


The research presented in this article formed part of an ongoing quest into the possibilities of using conceptual blending to understand the unresolved question of sources of Matthew’s fulfilment quotations.  The way Matthew handled his purported Old Testament texts in driving home the fulfilment motif in his Gospel has been noted to depart from the normative use of Scripture in quotations, even of his own time. Further, establishing the source(s) of the quotations is of interest to Old Testament text critical studies as well as New Testament (NT) hermeneutics. Most of the studies so far on the fulfilment quotations have centred around hermeneutics while the aspect of the use of texts, their transmission and preservation has been left to a few.

This article focused on the textual sources of the Matthew 2:23 quotation and how those sources were brought together to result in the quotation. It sought to investigate the possibility that cognitive linguistic mechanisms of producing the fulfilment quotations that closely resemble the processes of conceptual blending can be traced in the fulfilment quotations.

The method used in this research was that of the linguistic theory called conceptual blending. It was used to trace the thought processes that involved Old Testament texts as well as those from Matthew’s witness context.

It was observed that mechanisms of conceptual blending were behind the process of penning down the quote in Matthew 2:23, even though the author might not have been aware of such cognitive operations. Semiotic and linguistic relations that help explain the quotation emerged from the study using conceptual blending as an approach.

It was concluded that Matthew’s fulfilment quotations should not be understood in the regular way that modern readers would understand a quotation but as a result of integrating events in the OT and those in Matthew’s context of fulfilment. Matthew’s intention was to show clearly the connection between perceived prophecy and its fulfilment, rather than to produce quotations in the traditional sense of the word.

Contribution: This study contributed two key findings to the research field. Firstly it revealed the potential of the conceptual blending theory as a critical scientific tool in resolving the text-critical problems scholars are faced with in the history of the transmission of the biblical text with particular reference to Matthew 2:23. Secondly, the research contributes towards resolving the long-standing question of the textual sources of Matthew 2:23.


Matthew 2:23; fulfilment quotations; conceptual blending; prophecy and fulfilment; textual criticism; cognitive linguistics; Old Testament; New Testament.


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