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Matthew's sharpening of Jesus' attacks on the scribes and Pharisees is an embarrassment to many Christian interpreters and an outrage to some Jewish ones. It is commonly alleged that Matthew in fact has no particular knowledge of distinctions between the Jewish leadership groups. In a fresh examination of Matthew's treatment of the scribes, the author argues that the first Evangelist is actually at pains to protect the esteem in which the office of the Jewish scribe itself was traditionally held, reserving Jesus' direct criticism for the unenlightened Pharisees.