The Conversation

Politico Cites the '5th Book' of Matthew

Sen. Marco Rubio appeared at a luncheon for the Faith and Freedom conference today. A Politico story on his appearance describes him as speaking from the "fifth book of Matthew."

According to the report, Rubio delivered a sermon of sorts on the proper use of American might in light of his own faith and values. His primary text was Matthew 5:15 which reads (ESV translation) "Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house." Rubio nationalized this idea (something Reagan did as well) and argued that America needed to be a light to the world. So far so good.

The problem with the story, as anyone who has ever attended church could tell you, is that there is only one book of Matthew. The book, which appears first in the New Testament, is divided in 28 chapters and those chapters are divided into verses. Matthew 5:15 is the fifth chapter, not the 5th book.

Referring to the "fifth book of Matthew" is the equivalent of referring to a line in the "fifth play of Hamlet." It's obvious what the writer intended but the error scans like nails on a chalk board, at least to a lot of people. And in this case, the same error appears as a caption to the photo attached to the story, "Rubio sermonized on the fifth book of Matthew."

It's not a big error just a telling one.

Update: I think they are trying to fix the error. It now reads "Rubio sermonized on the fifth book of Matthew 5." That is of course still wrong. The line either needs to be "Rubio sermonized on Matthew 5" or "Rubio sermonized on the fifth chapter of Matthew."

Update 2: The author responded to my query about his piece. He assures me he does know the difference between books and chapters. He says it was just a typo made in the haste of trying to cover the event and pump out content. Given the topic I guess a little grace is in order.


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