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Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit CommentariesThe Pulpit Commentaries

- Matthew

by Editor - Joseph Exell


§§ 1.-3. The constituent parts of the First Gospel.
§ 1. The Framework.
§ 2. The Discourses.
§ 3. Matter peculiar to the First Gospel.

§§ 4-9. These represent different sources.
§ 4. The Framework: to whom it may be traced.
§§ 5-7. The Discourses.
§ 5. External evidence fails us.
§§ 6, 7. Internal evidence.
§ 6. Negative: the First Gospel considered in itself. the First Gospel considered in relation to the Third.
§ 7. Positive, especially in re doublets.
§ 8. Matter peculiar to the First Gospel.
§ 9. These sources were probably oral.

§§ 10-15. The authorship of the present Gospel.
§§10, 11. Preliminary inquiry apart from the question of its original language.
§ 10. Internal evidence is purely negative.
§ 11. External evidence.
§§ 12-15. What was the original language of this Gospel?
§ 12. Internal evidence points to a Greek original.
§§ 13, 14. External evidence.
§ 13. A. Probability of the existence of an Aramaic Gospel confirmed by recent investigations.
§ 14. B. Direct external evidence.
§ 15. Solutions.

§ 16. Canonicity.
§ 17. To whom was the Gospel addressed?
§ 18. Place of writing.
§ 19. Time of writing.
§ 20. Life of St. Matthew.
§ 21. The meaning of the phrase, "the kingdom of heaven."
§ 22. Plan of the Gospel.


THE constituent parts of the First Gospel, as it lies before us, are

(1) the Historical Framework;
(2) the Discourses;
(3) the matter peculiar to this Gospel.

It will be necessary to say a few words about each of these.
§ 1. (1) The Historical Framework. Upon comparing the First with the other two synoptic Gospels it will be seen that there is running through them all a certain outline of common matter, beginning with the baptism of our Lord, and tracing the more important events of his public life until his death and resurrection, omitting, therefore, what preceded the baptism and what followed the resurrection. In character this Framework consists of brief narratives, the connexion between which is not always apparent, and which have for their central point some utterance of the Lord, remark; able for its importance and often also for its brevity. So far as this Framework is recorded in words or parts of words common to the three synoptists, it has been called by the name of "the Triple Tradition;" but it must be noticed that this title is by its originator, Dr. E. A. Abbott, expressly limited to identity of language, and therefore fails to indicate fully the practical identity that often exists even when verbal identity is wanting. (cf. § 4).

§ 2. (2) The Discourses. These are

(a) the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:3-27);
(b) the commission to the disciples (Matthew 10:5-42);
(c) respecting John the Baptist (Matthew 11:7-19);
(d) against the Pharisees (Matthew 12:25-45);
(e) parables of the kingdom (Matthew 13:1-52);
(f) discipleship —especially humility, sympathy, and responsibility (Matthew 18:0.);
(g) parables (Matthew 21:28-14);
(h) woes on the Pharisees (Matthew 23:0.);
(i) the coming of the end (Matthew 24:25.).

Observe: First, that five of these, viz. a, b, e, f, i, are followed by the formula, "And it came to pass, when Jesus ended these words" Of the remaining four, c, d, g are shorter and of less importance than these five, while h is followed so immediately by i that we should hardly expect to find the customary concluding formula.

Secondly, that of these only the following are found in the other Gospels in at all the form of connected discourses, viz. a (vide Luke 6:0.); b (hardly, but for the first part cf. Luke 10:2-16); e (vide Luke 7:24, sqq.); h (partly in Luke 11:0.); i.

Thirdly, that although many parts of them are found also in Luke, and slightly in Mark, yet frequently these are recorded in quite a different context, and sometimes the connexion as recorded in Luke seems much more likely to be the original than that recorded in Matthew. Of this the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13; parallel, Luke 11:2-4) is a crucial instance (vide notes, in loc.), and others, almost equally certain, occur in parts of the Great Commission (see notes on Matthew 10:17, Matthew 10:39, Matthew 10:40-42).

§ 3. (3) Matter other than Discourses peculiar to the First Gospel. Of this there are three kinds.

(a) Matter of the same general character as that contained in the Framework (e.g. Matthew 14:28-33; Matthew 16:17-19; Matthew 17:24-27; Matthew 19:10-12; Matthew 27:3-10, Matthew 27:62-66; Matthew 28:9-20). In close connexion with this may be considered passages of the same character, which are not indeed peculiar to this Gospel, but are found also in either the second (especially Matthew 14:6-12; Matthew 14:22-27 [cf. John 6:15-21], 34-36; Matthew 15:1-39; Matthew 17:11, Matthew 17:12, Matthew 17:19, Matthew 17:20; Matthew 19:1-6; Matthew 20:20-23; Matthew 21:18, Matthew 21:19; Matthew 26:6-13 [cf. John 12:1-11]; 27:27-31) or the third (especially Matthew 4:3-11; Matthew 8:5-13, Matthew 8:19-22; Matthew 9:32-34 [cf. 12:22-24]).

(b) The opening sections, viz. the genealogy (Matthew 1:1-17) and the narrative of the birth and infancy (Matthew 1:18-23).

(c) Other details of our Lord's words and actions, which cannot be classed under a, or remarks which bring out his relation to the Old Testament and Jewish institutions (e.g. Matthew 4:12-16; Matthew 21:4, Matthew 21:5, Matthew 21:10, Matthew 21:11).


§ 4. How it came about that the First Gospel presents these constituent parts — how, that is to say, we must account for the formation of this Gospel, is a question of the greatest possible difficulty. We have so little external information about the origines of the evangelical records that we must form our impressions from internal evidence alone, Hence, not unnaturally, many answers have been given which differ greatly and often contradict each other. I shall content myself with giving that one which seems least exposed to objections.

It is that the three constituent parts represent three sources, the firs& two being entirely external to the author, existing, that is to say, before he composed our Gospel, and the third being partly of the same kind, aria partly due, as it would seem, to him alone.

(1) The Historical Framework. If the Triple Tradition be followed as it is marked in Rushbrooke's 'Synopticon', it will be seen to begin with the message delivered by John the Baptist in the wilderness, then to mention the baptism and the temptation, and after that to go on to the call of Simon and another, and of James and John the sons of Zebedee, by Jesus as he passed along by the flea of Galilee. Then, after speaking of the astonishment caused by the teaching of Jesus, it relates his entrance into the house and his healing the mother-in-law [of Simon]; and then it speaks of others also coming to him and being healed, Jesus afterwards preaching in the synagogues of Galilee. We need not trace the narrative further, but it is pertinent to ask in whose recollection these events would stand out most prominently, and to answer that the original narrator was probably one of those four to whom the call to follow Jesus made no great a difference. But not only so; the choice is limited from another consideration, for such signs of an eye-witness as exist in the Triple Tradition point still more definitely in the same direction. What, indeed, are signs of an eye-witness it is often not easy to decide, but among theme may be placed (still following, for convenience, the order in the 'Synopticon') Mark 1:41, "stretched forth his hand;" Mark 2:3, "bringing... a paralytic;" Mark 2:14, "[Levi] arose and followed him;" Mark 2:23, "going through the corn-fields;" Mark 4:39, "he arose and rebuked the wind..; and there was a calm;" Mark 5:40, "and they laughed him to scorn;" Mark 5:41, "he took the hand; ' Mark 9:7, "a cloud overshadowed them... a voice out of the cloud;" Mark 10:22, the grief of the young man; Mark 10:46, "a blind man sat by the wayside;" Mark 10:52, "he received his night, and followed him;" Mark 14:45, Mark 14:47, the kiss of Judas, and the cutting off the ear of the high priest's servant with a sword; Mark 15:30, Mark 15:31, the jeer, "Save thyself," and the high priest's mockery; Mark 15:37, Jesus crying with a loud voice at the moment of death.

Most of these marks of an eye-witness give us no further help towards discovering the original narrator than by showing us that he must have been among the twelve, but according to two of them he must have been among those three, viz. Peter, James, and John, who were with our Lord both in Jairus' house (Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51) and at the Transfiguration. But of these three apostles there is no reason for preferring fit. James (though the fact of his early death is not a great difficulty), and the style and character of St. John's writing is so well known to us from the Fourth Gospel, his Epistles, and the Apocalypse, that it is impossible to attribute the Triple Tradition to him. But fit. Peter suits the phenomena in every way. He was present on all the occasions, including perhaps (John 1:41) that of the testimony of the Baptist; and no one is more likely to have recorded his words at the Transfiguration, or the words addressed to him at his denial of his Master, than himself. Fully in accordance with this is the fact that that Gospel (Mark)which keeps most exclusively to the Triple Tradition, and which most often supplements it by further undoubted signs of an eye-witness, is the one which has from the time of Papias onward been attributed specially to the influence of St. Peter. Although, therefore, it is not a matter that admits of absolute demonstration, yet it may be concluded with comparative certainty that the first and chief basis of the First Gospel, what I have called the Historical Framework, is derived ultimately from this apostle.

(2) The Discourses. This second source is much more the subject of present controversy than the first, it being very hard to determine whether the existing discourses represent a distinct source used by the composer of the First Gospel, or are merely his own arrangement of certain sayings of the Lord found by him in various connexions.

§ 5. It must be frankly confessed that we get no assistance upon this subject from external evidence. It has been supposed, indeed, that Papias alludes to such a collection of the Lord's utterances both in the very name of his work (Λογιìων Κυριακῶν ̓Εξηìγησις) and in his statement that "Matthew composed ταÌ λοìγνα in the Hebrew tongue" (Eusebius, 'Ch. Hist.,' 3:39) ; but Bishop Lightfoot has demonstrated that λοìγια is equivalent to "Divine oracles," and that these are not to be limited to sayings only, but include just such narratives as we have in the Gospel generally. Thus the word is used of the Old Testament Scriptures in Romans 3:2, without any hint of limitation to sayings, and again in the same way in Hebrews 5:12, where such a limitation is excluded by the author of that epistle eliciting the Divine teaching quite as much from the history as from the direct precepts of the Old Testament. So again it is found in Philo and in Clement of Rome with the same wide reference, narratives being treated as part of the Divine oracles as well as sayings. When, therefore, we find Polycarp speaking of "the oracles of the Lord" (ταÌ λοìγια τοῦ Κυριìου), or Irenaeus, immediately after having used a similar term (ταÌ ΚυριακαÌ λοìγια), referring to the healing of the daughter of Jairus, it is natural to consider that neither of them intended (as some have supposed them to have done) to limit the application of the word to our Lord's sayings in contrast to his works. From the consideration of these and other arguments brought forward by Bishop Lightfoot, it seems clear that Papias used the term in the same way as we might use the word "oracles" at the present day, viz. as equivalent to the Scriptures. His book may well have been composed with reference to our present Gospels, and the volume which he says St. Matthew wrote may have been (so far as this one word is concerned) that which we now know by the apostle's name.

§ 6. Compelled, then, as we are, to reject all fictitious aid from external evidence, since this has been misunderstood, it is the more necessary to inquire into the internal evidence afforded by the First Gospel itself and into the evidence afforded by its relation to the Third Gospel.

In some respects, indeed, the evidence continues to be unfavourable to the view put forward above, that the Discourses existed as a separate work before the writing of our First Gospel. For, first, it might fairly be expected that, if the Discourses were already distinct, they would show traces of this original distinction in their difference of language and style. So no doubt they do to some extent, but not to a greater degree than can be accounted for by the fact that they are discourses, and, as such, deal with matters different from those contained in the Framework, and treat them, naturally, in a different way. Indeed, the wonder is, if they represent real speeches by the Lord — if, that is to say, they are reproductions of sustained argument by him — that they do not show more divergence from the type of the short, pointed remarks common in the Framework. Observe, also, that the quotations in the Discourses from the Old Testament generally agree with those of the Framework in Being taken from the LXX. (contrast infra, § 12). This points to both Discourses and Framework being formed at much the same time and among congregations of similar culture and acquirements.

Secondly, a similar negative result is obtained by comparing the discourses found in the First Gospel with those that are found in the Third. It has been already pointed out (§ 2) that some are found in the latter, but not in their entirety, and that detached portions are also found sometimes in a context that gives the impression of more originality than that in which St. Matthew embeds them. Do we see that St. Luke knew of a collection of Discourses such as has been supposed above? The answer is purely negative. We see separate discourses, and these so far varying in language from those in Matthew as to make it clear that they had had a history before being recorded by either St. Luke or St. Matthew, but there is no sign of these discourses being collected together. Certainly, if they were, St. Luke did not regard their arrangement. Dr. Salmon, indeed, goes as far as to say that a comparison of St. Luke's order in narrating our Lord's sayings "gives the deathblow" to the theory of a collection of Discourses. St. Luke, however, may have had many reasons for not adopting a particular order. If, for instance, he was acquainted both with such a collection and also with narratives containing the utterances in more historical connexion, there seems no reason why he should have preferred the former to the latter. His aim was not that of the author of the First Gospel, to present clearly Before his readers the Lord Jesus as a Teacher, to bring out his relation to the religion of the day, but much more to exhibit him as the Saviour of the world; and for this purpose narratives of his actions and records of his other teaching bringing out the universality of his love would be more effective. St. Luke's object, so far as we are in a position to argue on a priori grounds from the nature of his second treatise (and apart from the actual state of his first), was to show how fitted the gospel of Christ was to Become the religion of the whole world. The idea of universality running through the Acts and the Third Gospel is a reason of no little weight why we should suppose that the author should have deliberately rejected the arrangement of the collection of Discourses, even if this lay before him. For in the form in which they are found in the First Gospel they would not have suited his purpose. It is true that St. Luke did not refuse to follow the general order of the Framework, but this was probably in the main chronological, and even if it had not Been so this would not affect him, but the Discourses must have Been (ex hypothesi) summaries of our Lord's teaching upon different subjects, made from the Judaeo-Christian standpoint. St. Luke's use, therefore, of the Framework in such a way as to keep the order of it weighs little as an argument for the conclusion that he would have observed the order of the collection of Discourses if he had known of such a collection.

§ 7. So far the examination of the theory that a collection of Discourses existed before the writing of the First Gospel has proved only negative. There are, however, two reasons in favour of such a theory.

(1) It seems much more probable that a collection would be made by (me who were making it his special aim, than that a writer should take the Framework and pick out pieces that properly belonged to it and make them into discourses. In other words, it seems easier to suppose the ]Discourses to be the work of one who was only a collector of the Lord's saying, than of one who used, at the same time and for the same writing, the narratives of incidents, etc., to present a picture of the Lord's work.

(2) But not only so. The presence in the First Gospel of "doublets," i.e. of repetitions of the same sayings in different forms and connexions, may most easily be explained by the evangelist using different sources. For it is more natural to suppose the second member of a doublet to have already existed before the author of the First Gospel wrote, and that he did not mind incorporating it (if he Perceived that it was a doublet) with the rest of the material drawn from that source, than that he should deliberately give the saying once in its original context and, himself taking it out of that context, record it a second time. Doublets may easily come by unconscious accretion, or one member may be recorded out of its original context merely for the sake of its didactic connexion with that context, but one cannot imagine an author deliberately giving one member in its original and another (the duplicate) in its didactic context, unless he already found the latter in the second source that he was using.

In spite, therefore, of the absence of all external evidence, and in spite of the purely negative evidence both of style and language, and of the order of the sayings found in the Third Gospel, it seem probable, both a priori and on account of the presence of doublets, that the writer of the First Gospel found ready to his hand some such collection of the Lord's sayings as are represented by the Discourses that he records.

§ 8. Of the third constituent part there is but little to be said in this connexion. The matter, which is of the same general character as that contained in the Framework, may have originally belonged to this, but the genealogy must, one would suppose, have been derived from Mary's household. From the same quarter — perhaps Personally from Mary herself, or perhaps from our Lord's brethren, who obtained it from Joseph — must have come both the account of the birth and the materials for the second chapter. But it is to be noticed that the references to the Old Testament in these two sections point rather to growth in a community than representation by one person. They would appear, that is to say, to be rather the result of Church consideration and teaching than of individual insight. The other details referred to under § 3 c may be due partly to current teaching, partly to personal knowledge, and, where interpretation and standpoint are considered, partly to subjective impressions and aims.

§ 9. But the question must have already suggested itself whether these various sources existed in documentary or only in oral form. If we were considering the case of modern Western nations there would be no doubt whatever as to the answer. The invention of printing and the spread of elementary education have increased the culture of all arts except that of recitation. Hence with us the training of the memory does not consist so much in committing long passages to heart as in amassing details of knowledge — regardless of the exact words in which the information is conveyed — and in so co-ordinating them in our minds as to be able to grasp their relative significance and to apply them when they are required. But in the East, to a great extent even to the present day, the system is different — "Education... still consists largely in learning by heart the maxims of the wise. The teacher sits on a chair, the pupils arrange them selves at his feet. He dictates a lesson, they copy it on their slates and repeat it till they have mastered it. Then the task is over, the slates are cleaned and put by for future use. Substitute for the slates and pencils a writing-tablet and stylus, and you will have a scene which must have been common in the days of the apostles. The teacher is a catechist, the pupils catechumens, the lesson a section of the oral gospel." Further, while too much stress has often been laid on the rabbinic principle, "Commit nothing to writing," yet the principle may probably be rightly used to show that the tendency of the Jews in apostolic times was to teach orally rather than by books, and we may accept Mr. Wright's vivid picture as accurately describing what was usually done.

But other considerations of greater importance Point the same way. The hope of the speedy return of the Lord would not, indeed, prevent the taking of written notes of oral instructions, had that been the custom, but would certainly tend to prevent the formal composition of written accounts of him; and, most important of all, the relation of the different forms of the narratives preserved to us in the synoptic Gospels seems to require oral, not documentary, transmission. The frequent minuteness and unimportance, as one would say, of the differences are often almost inexplicable on the supposition that the evangelists had written documents before them which they altered. It might be the case in one or two places, but that they should make such minute alterations throughout seems most improbable. On the supposition of transmission by word of mouth, on the contrary, such differences are explained at once. A sentence would be transmitted accurately to the first and almost, but probably not quite, as accurately to the second person. The latter, in his turn, would transmit all save that which was of the least importance. The result would be that, after a section had gone through many mouths, the central thought of a passage or of a sentence — the more important words, that is to say — would still be present, but there would be numberless variations of greater and less importance, the character of which would depend largely upon the position and standpoint of the individuals through whom the section had been transmitted. If it were now written down by two or three persons who had received it by different lines of transmission, it is reasonable to suppose that the results would be very like the three forms of the common part of the Framework contained in the synoptists, or the two forms of those sayings peculiar to any two of them.
Whether, indeed, this writing down had at all taken place before the synoptists wrote, so that they used the oral teaching in written forms, cannot be shown. There seems to be no case in the Greek, in which variations may so certainly be traced to "errors of sight" as to compel us to believe that they used a common document in Greek, and the only direct reason that exists for supposing that the sources which they used had been crystallized into writing lies in the preface to the Third Gospel. St. Luke knew of such. But whether either he or the other evangelists used them for their Gospels, we cannot say. In one case, indeed, that of the genealogies, it might be thought that such written documents must have been used. But even this is not necessary. It may be granted that genealogies were at that time usually written down, and that documents of this kind may have been employed by the evangelists, but, whatever St. Luke may have done, the form of the genealogy found in the First Gospel, by its artificial and almost inaccurate arrangement into three sections of fourteen generations each, points to oral rather than documentary transmission.


Having considered the constituent parts of the First Gospel, and the probable sources from which they were derived, it is natural to ask who it was that united them — who, that is to say, was the author of this Gospel? It will conduce to clearness if the subject be considered, first of all, without any reference to the kindred question of the original language of the Gospel. It cannot, indeed, be answered fully before the latter question also is touched upon, but it is well to keep this as distinct as possible.
§ 10. Internal evidence. What assistance does the Gospel itself give us towards solving the problem of its authorship? That the author was a Jew will be granted by all. A Gentile Christian never would or could have described the relation of Jesus to the Jews and to their teaching in the way that the author has described it. The fact of his Jewish standpoint is further indicated by his Old Testament quotations. This is hardly the place in which to treat of these in detail; it is sufficient to note that the author knows not only the form of the Old Testament quotations that was current among the Greek-speaking Christians, but also such interpretations of the original text as would exist only among people trained in Jewish methods, for he quotes it in cases where the reference is, at the best; very remote (cf. Matthew 2:15, Matthew 2:18, notes). It may, then, be accepted as incontestable that the author was a Jew by birth, versed from his youth in the Hebrew Scriptures, and looking upon them from a Jewish standpoint.

Yet, if we except some very slight and doubtful indications of the place and the date of his writing (vide infra, §§ 18, 19), we cannot learn much about the author from the Gospel itself. It is only natural to examine it with the view of finding out whether it contains any marks of an eyewitness. But in doing so care must be taken. For it is evident that signs of an eye-witness recurring in one or two of the other synoptic Gospels belong rather to the sources used than to the author himself. So that not the whole Gospel as it stands, but only those passages and phrases which are peculiar to it, are to be considered. And when this is done the result is almost negative. The contrast to the result of examining the Second Gospel in the same way is enormous. There the innumerable undesigned touches point unmistakably to the presence of an eye-witness; here there is almost if not quite a blank.

Internal evidence, then, says nothing at all personal about the author of the First Gospel, other than that he was a Jewish Christian. It gives no indication whatever that he stood in any close relation to the Lord, much less that he was one of the apostolic band who travelled with him, sharing his privations, seeing his miracles, and hearing his private teaching. Internal evidence does not absolutely contradict the supposition that the author is St. Matthew, but is certainly rather against it.
§ 11. External evidence. But when we turn to the external evidence, matters stand very differently. There never appears to have been any doubt in the early Church (cf. § 14) that the First Gospel was composed by St. Matthew, and it is hard to understand why so comparatively unknown and unimportant a member of the twelve should have been named if he were not, in fact, the author. It is with him as it is with St. Mark, and as it would have been with St. Luke if the Book of the Acts had not been written. For if St. Luke had not written the second volume of his work, no one of the synoptic narratives could have been compared with a writing attributed to the same author as itself, and the authorship of all three would have rested on a tradition which finds the chief reason for its acceptance in the difficulty of explaining how it could have arisen if it were not true. It seems hard to believe that the early Church could be wrong in its assertion that the author of the First Gospel was St. Matthew, but the belief depends on a tradition, the cause of which cannot be demonstrated, and which is only just not contradicted by the phenomena of the Gospel itself.


§ 12. It has, however, been thought that the original language of the Gospel was not Greek, but "Hebrew," i.e. some kind of Aramaic. It will Be in accordance with the lines of our previous inquiries to consider, first, the evidence of the Gospel itself as to its original-language, without reference to any considerations derived from other quarters; secondly, to notice reasons that may be adduced for thinking that an Aramaic Gospel, either oral or written, was in existence during the first century; thirdly, to examine the direct external testimony that connects St. Matthew with such a Gospel.

(1) As regards the Gospel itself there is but little doubt. It is, indeed, saturated with Semitic, and particularly Jewish, thought and idioms, and the genealogy and also, perhaps, the remainder of the first two chapters may be directly or almost directly a translation from the Aramaic. But all the other phenomena of the Gospel contradict the supposition that it is a translation as we generally use the word. The Framework must have already existed in Greek if any satisfactory theory of it being used by all three evangelists is to be formed. The frequent minute verbal agreement necessitates this, and notwithstanding the fact that Professor Marshall shows that a few of the differences in the synoptists are accounted for by a common Aramaic original (cf. § 13), the evangelists themselves can hardly have used it when they wrote their Gospels. Similarly, the Discourses, or at least large portions of them, must have been known in Greek to the two authors of the First and Third Gospels. The principal sources, that is to say, must assuredly have existed in Greek before they were used by the evangelists. But should it be said that St. Matthew originally used these two sources in Aramaic, and that the corresponding Greek phrases and words and parts of words were only inserted by the translator (whoever he was) from his acquaintance with the other Gospels, then it must be answered that such a work would not only be altogether opposed to the spirit of ancient translations, but would be quite impossible from the minute and microscopic character of the process which it presupposes.

Besides, the distribution of the quotations is against the present Gospel being a translation. For how can we suppose a translator to have scrupulously observed the distinction between the quotations which are common to the synoptists, or which belong to the same kind of teaching (vide supra, § 6), and those which are peculiar to the evangelist, so that he nearly always took the former from the LXX. and the latter from the Hebrew? Further, the paronomasia are unlikely in a translation. Again, the explanations of Hebrew words and customs indicate that the Gospel in its present form was intended not for Jews alone, since Jews of the Dispersion would surely understand the meaning of the very ordinary Hebrew words thus explained. Such explanations might, indeed, in themselves be interpolated by a translator. When, however, they are taken with the other evidence they are not unimportant.

§ 13. (2) Yet although our First Gospel shows so few traces of being a translation from an Aramaic original, it is very probable that some Aramaic Gospel existed. Hence attempts have often been made to discover traces of an Aramaic Gospel underlying those that we now have, and forming the background to the thoughts of writers of other parts of the New Testament.

It is evident that if the Aramaic language will account for the variations in individual words existing in parallel narratives, then the vera causa of such variations lies in an Aramaic original being variously translated. By far the most satisfactory and convincing attempt is that made by Professor Marshall, in the Expositor for 1890 and 1891. Though several of his examples are far-fetched, or require too much change in the Aramaic words before these were translated into Greek, yet a few appear to be highly probable. It may, however, be doubted whether even those results that have been obtained necessitate an Aramaic writing. The differences are generally, if not always, explicable by sound rather than by sight, and suggest an oral rather than a documentary origin.

§ 14. (3) That, however, St. Matthew wrote in Hebrew (Aramaic), the early Church seems to have held as certain. The testimony is so important that it must be quoted at length.

Papias: "So then Matthew composed the oracles in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as he was able."
Irenaeus: "Now Matthew among the Hebrews published a writing of the Gospel in their own language, while Peter and Paul were preaching the gospel in Rome and founding the Church."
Origen: "Having learned by tradition concerning the four Gospels, which are alone indisputable in the Church of God under heaven, that there was written first that which is according to Matthew, who was once a publican, but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ, and it was issued to those who once were Jews but had believed, and was composed in Hebrew."
Eusebius himself is no independent witness, as is clear from two of the above quotations being found in his works, but is important for the further testimony that he adduces, and also for his own opinion, he tells us that it is reported that when Pantaenus, the first teacher of the Alexandrian school, went to India to preach the gospel, "he found that the Gospel according to Matthew had preceded his appearance, and was in the hands of some on the spot, who already knew Christ, to whom Bartholomew, one of the apostles, had preached, and had left behind him the writing of Matthew in the very character of the Hebrews, and that this was even preserved until the time referred to."
Eusebius says elsewhere, "Of all the disciples of the Lord, only Matthew and John have left us written memorials, and they, tradition says, were led to write only under the pressure of necessity. For Matthew, who had at first preached to Hebrews, when he was about to go to others also, committed his Gospel to writing in his native tongue, and thus compensated those from whom he was withdrawing himself for the loss of his presence."
So, too, when comparing Matthew 28:1 with John 20:1, he says, "The expression, 'on the evening of the sabbath,' is due to the translator of the Scripture; for the Evangelist Matthew published his Gospel in the Hebrew tongue; but the person who rendered it into the Greek language changed it and called the hour dawning on the Lord's day ὀψεì σαββαìτων." Ephraem the Syrian tells us, "Matthew wrote the Gospel in Hebrew, and it was afterwards translated into Greek." Cyril of Jerusalem says, "Matthew, who wrote the Gospel, wrote it in the Hebrew tongue."

Two witnesses, however, give much more detailed accounts.
Epiphanius, in describing the sect of the Nazarenes, says that they had the Gospel of St. Matthew complete written in Hebrew without, perhaps, the genealogy. He had, therefore, apparently not himself seen it, but he knew enough of it to compare it favourably with a Hebrew Gospel used by the Ebionites, which was corrupted and mutilated.
Jerome, however, goes much further. He not only accepts the common view that St. Matthew wrote in Hebrew, but he says that a copy of it in Hebrew was still preserved in the library at Caesarea, and, even that he himself had transcribed the Hebrew Gospel with the leave of the Nazarenes who lived at Beroea in Syria (Aleppo), and who used that Gospel. Yet the very details which Jerome gives show that the Hebrew Gospel which ha translated could not have been the original of our Matthew. Why, indeed, translate it at all if a translation, in our sense of the word, already existed? For he gives us no hint that his aim was only to improve the ordinary translation. But his words show that the book which he translated was, in fact, very different to our Matthew, and was a complete copy of what has come down to us only in fragments, the so-called' Gospel according to the Hebrews.' What the relation of the original Hebrew work of St. Matthew (if there was one) was to this is not our immediate subject. Jerome's words are in reality, notwithstanding the first impression that they give, against the theory of a Hebrew original of our Matthew, for they suggest that the mistake made by him as to the identity of the work may have been made by others before him.
Whether or not this was the case we have no means of finally deciding. The other statements fall into two groups — the statement about Pantaenus, and those of the remaining witnesses as quoted. That about Pantaenus is very curious, but what basis of truth underlies it we cannot say. He seems to have found a Hebrew Gospel in some place that he visited which was inhabited by a large Jewish population — perhaps the south of Arabia, where was the Jewish kingdom of Yemen, or less probably the Malabar coast of India proper, where Jews have lived from time immemorial. But that this Gospel represented the original form of our present Matthew is just such an assertion as might be expected to grow out of the report of his finding some Hebrew Gospel there, when joined with the current belief in the Hebrew original of the First Gospel. The statement that St. Bartholomew brought it there may rest upon some Basis of fact, but is probably due to an earlier legend which has not come down to us.
§ 15. The other statements, if they are independent, and there is no sufficient reason for supposing that they are all ultimately due to Papias, are more important, and cannot easily be disposed of. The question is — How are we to interpret their united evidence in view of the probability already expressed, that our Gospel is not a translation, and that we must attribute it in some way to St. Matthew? Three solutions of the difficulty have been put forward.

The first is that St. Matthew composed, or caused to be composed, a collection of the Lord's utterances, and that this was used by the author of the First Gospel, the name Matthew being applied to this latter Gospel also, because so important a part of it had in reality proceeded from that apostle. On this theory it will be observed that the term "Logia" used by Papias receives a sense more restricted than usage warrants; also that the later testimonies to the Hebrew original of the First Gospel will be due to a facile enlargement of what are, according to the theory, the true facts of the case. They state that St. Matthew composed a whole Gospel in Hebrew, although, in fact, he only composed the Utterances.
The second solution is that St. Matthew composed a Hebrew Gospel which has entirely perished, and afterwards himself published our Greek Gospel. But the objections to this are twofold. His Hebrew Gospel could not have been represented very closely by the present Greek text (vide aspca, § 12), and the idea of a version of it put forth by authority is quite opposed to Papias' testimony. In Papias' time our First Gospel was evidently accepted, but in earlier times, as he tells us, each translated the Hebrew as he was able — a process which would have been wholly unnecessary if this second solution of the difficulties had been the true one.

The third is that the belief in a Hebrew original is nothing more than a mistake. Papias and later authors knew personally and for a fact only the First Gospel in its present form, and considered that St. Matthew was the author of it, but they knew also that there was a Hebrew Gospel in existence, and that this was, rightly or wrongly, reported to be written by St. Matthew. They assumed the accuracy of the report, and supposed that it must have been the original form of the First Gospel. But their assumption was mistaken. If so, it is natural for us to go a step further, and identify this Hebrew Gospel with the 'Gospel according to the Hebrews,' so that the mistake of Papias and the others will be practically identical with that of Epiphanius and Jerome. It must be observed, however, that of the writers quoted above, Origen and Eusebius were well acquainted with the 'Gospel according to the Hebrews,' and that they did not think of identifying this with the original of Matthew. Further, it is clear that they had never seen the Hebrew original of the First Gospel, notwithstanding that they fully believed that it once existed. They may, therefore, have been only reproducing the Church's opinion of their time, without any independent reasons for their belief.
This third solution is certainly the most free from difficulties.


§ 16. It has been abundantly shown, even by the passages already adduced for other purposes, that this Gospel was unanimously accepted in the early Church. Probably also it is the very earliest of all the New Testament writings that is quoted as Scripture, for the 'Epistle of Barnabas' (placed by Bishop Lightfoot during the reign of Vespasian, A.D. 70-79) distinctly refers to it in this way, introducing a quotation from it (Matthew 22:14) by the phrase, "as it is written."


§ 17. Evidently, from its whole tone, Jewish Christians were chiefly thought of, but the fact that Gentile Christians seem to have been included (cf, § 12) points to the communities addressed being not limited to those in Palestine. It is true that Matthew 24:26, "the wilderness" and "the tombs," and perhaps also Matthew 24:20 suggest rather Palestinian readers (cf. also Matthew 10:41, note), but, first, these verses are in a Discourse, and therefore probably belong to the sources rather than to the Gospel itself; and, secondly, with the close intercourse between the Jews of Palestine and those of the Dispersion, whatever was said specially to the former would be of the deepest interest and importance also to the latter.


§ 18. This can be only conjectured, for the evidence is at most but negative. If the Gospel was, like the Epistle of St. James (James 1:1), written for Jewish Christians of the Dispersion, there is no reason to suggest Palestine rather than any other country, save that Palestine would naturally be the home to which St. Matthew would return when opportunity offered. It should be observed that the phrase, "that land," in Matthew 9:26, Matthew 9:31, excludes Galilee or perhaps Northern Palestine. There seems nothing to forbid the supposition that it was written in Jerusalem.


§ 19. This also can only be conjectured. If the date assigned to the ' Epistle of Barnabas' (vide supra, § 16) be right, and if his quotation can be fully accepted as showing that this Gospel was already in existence, we have as an inferior limit the year 79 A.D. But in both particulars so much doubt exists that not much dependence can be placed upon this argument.

Such others as there are give us no great exactness, but suggest an inferior limit of about the same date. The First Gospel, as well as the Second and the Third, appears clearly to belong to an earlier type of teaching than the Fourth Gospel, and as modern criticism is gradually showing that this cannot be placed much, if at all, later than A.D. 100, and may, perhaps, be ten or fifteen years earlier, the synoptio Gospels cannot be put much later than A.D. 75.

The hints of a date in the First Gospel itself are only those connected with the siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple (Matthew 23:37, Matthew 23:38; Matthew 24:0.). It may, indeed, be urged that one reason why the Lord's prophecy was recorded lay in the event already having come to pass before the record (not before the prophecy)was made. There will always be a difference of opinion in cases of this kind, but it seems probable that, had these prophecies been only recorded after their fulfilment, they would have been modified into closer accordance with the details of the siege. It is more important to bear in mind that there must have been some lapse of time between the first formation of the sources by oral teaching and their transmission in the forms finally adopted either in the First or in one of the other synoptic Gospels. Yet twenty years would, perhaps, be all that is required, and as the sources might have been begun quite early — say A.D. 35 or 40 — the year 60 would allow a fully long enough period to elapse. The limits would thus be about A.D. 60 and A.D. 75.


§ 20. If we may assume that Levi the son of Alphaeus (Mark 2:14) was of about the same age as our Lord (and while we have no hint that he was younger, it is very improbable that he was much older, for our Lord would hardly have chosen as his apostles those who by reason of their age would soon become unfitted to endure the difficulties and hardships involved in such an office), we may place his birth about B.C. 4 or 5 (Matthew 2:1, note). Of the place of his birth we know nothing, but we may again assume that it was in Galilee. Perhaps it was Capernaum. In his early youth he must often have heard of Judas of Galilee, who had first gathered a number of men round him at Sepphoris (some twenty miles from Capernaum), making the whole country unsafe (Schurer, 1. 2:4), and afterwards (A.D. 6 or 7) urged the people to rebel, and gave rise to the sect of the Zealots (Matthew 10:4, note).

But however much his boyish imagination may have been fired with zeal for the political and religious independence of his nation, he appears to have been in manhood content to take things as they were. For we find him engaged, not, like others of the twelve, in private business, but in collecting the custom-revenues that went to maintain the tetrarchy of Antipas (Matthew 9:9, note). This was one degree better than if he had collected them in Judaea, and had thus directly supported the rule of Rome, but still Antipas was Rome's creature, and could hardly have been supported by truly religious patriots of the time. Even in Galilee the profession of a tax-gatherer was despised, as we see on every page of the Gospels, and we cannot wonder that this was the case, for such a profession ran counter to the Messianic expectations of the time, and the moral character of those who adopted it was generally far from good (Matthew 5:46, note).

Yet St. Matthew became the type of the many government officials of all grades who have given up a morally doubtful, but a financially safe, position at the call of Christ. He reckoned his daily income and the opportunities that it gave of self-enrichment as nothing compared with the possibilities involved in following Christ.

Whether he had heard Jesus before the call we do not know, but we may safely assume that it was so. His time would not be so fully occupied but that he could often have left his booth by the roadside (Matthew 2:9, note), and listened to the words of him who spake as never man spake, and hear from the crowds the accounts of his miracles, even if he did not himself see some performed.

But when he is called he rises up and follows Christ, and, both to celebrate his entrance on a new life and to give his friends a chance of hearing more of the Master whose service he is now about to enter, he makes a feast for him.
"Levi," he who cleaves to the old ways, dies; "Matthew," the gift of Jehovah, henceforth lives instead.
From his call until Pentecost his history is that of the greater number of the apostles. Nothing special is recorded of him. He "attained not to the first three" who were admitted to special privileges, and wore with the Lord when he raised the daughter of Jairus, and when a glimpse of the Possibilities of human nature was shown in the Mount of Transfiguration. Not a word of his is recorded in the Gospels, not a word or an action in the Acts. We may, indeed, reasonably suppose that he stayed with the other apostles in Jerusalem, and left it when they left it. But of the scene of his labours we know nothing for certain.
We may imagine him during the years that he spent at Jerusalem, and perhaps during the earlier part of the succeeding time, as confining his attention almost entirely to that section of Jews and Christians which spoke Aramaic, anti not Greek, and, further, as perhaps composing, or at any rate as having a share in composing, that form of instruction given in the Christian synagogues which dealt chiefly with the Lord's sayings. There was another cycle of teaching comprehending these sayings as arising out of some event — what we have called the Framework — but the aim of St. Matthew and of those associated with him was rather to collect those sayings of the Lord that bore on cognate subjects, regardless of the occasion upon which they were spoken. Later on, however, perhaps about A.D. 65, he realized that there was a large and increasing number of Jewish believers in Jesus of Nazareth who did not speak Aramaic, but Greek alone, and with whom a good many Gentile Christians commonly associated, and that it lay in his power to draw up for them a treatise which should help them to understand more of the person and the claims of Jesus and of the relation in which he stood to the Law of their fathers, the religion which as Jews they had professed. This treatise he felt it necessary to write in Greek. He used as his bases two chief sources, both probably not fully written down, but current in men's minds by dint of oral repetition — the one traceable ultimately to St. Peter; the other that which was chiefly due to his own energy. But he now welded these two sources together, using his own judgment, and adding much that would serve his purpose, especially a genealogy hitherto preserved in oral tradition, and certain interpretations of prophecy that had been for some time in course of formation in the Church. He did not endeavour to be original, but the bent of his strong individuality could not fail to make itself felt.


§ 21. There is one phrase which occurs so often in St, Matthew's Gospel that it demands special consideration, "the kingdom of heaven" (ἡ βασιλειìα τῶν οὐρανῶν), or, as it is found elsewhere, "the kingdom of God" (ἡ βασιλειìα τοῦ Θεοῦ). I shall not discuss the relation of the two genitives, τῶν οὐρανῶν and τοῦ Θεοῦ, but assuming that the former seemed to Gentile Christians to savour of heathenism, and for this reason became restricted to Jewish circles, I shall consider them as for our purpose identical. But what does "kingdom" mean? Some say "rule" in the abstract, and appeal to certain passages in the LXX. and New Testament for corroboration (e.g. 2 Kings 24:12; 1 Corinthians 15:24; Luke 1:33). But the general tenor of Scripture, both of the Old and of the New Testament, is strongly in favour of the concrete meaning, "realm" (e.g. LXX.: Esther 1:22; 1 Samuel 28:17 [probably]; 2 Samuel 3:28; and in the Apocrypha, Wisd. 6:4; 10:10. New Testament: Matthew 4:8 [6:13, Received Text]; 12:25, 26; 16:28; 24:7). The word "kingdom," that is to say, does not mean the act of ruling, or the exercise of dominion, a reign, but a sphere ruled, a kingdom proper.

But what does the phrase as a whole mean? What is the kingdom? What is the sphere ruled? To answer this it is essential to notice that the earliest passage in which the thought is found, and on which the whole conception rests (Exodus 19:6), tells us that at Mount Sinai God offered to take the children of Israel to be to him "a kingdom of priests." This position the nation accepted then and there, professing their readiness to obey God's voice. Their action may be illustrated by the remarks of a far later time. The Lord proved his right, say the rabbis of circa A.D. 230, to be King over Israel by his delivering them from Egypt and working miracles for them, and they gladly accepted him as King, and "they all set one heart alike to accept the kingdom of heaven with joy." Thus, when Hoses, one Rabbi Berechiah says, asked God why Israel alone out of all the nations was committed to his charge, the answer was, "Because they took upon them the yoke of my kingdom on Sinai, and said ' All that the Lord hath spoken we will do, and be obedient'" (Exodus 24:7).

One can easily understand how the thought of the acceptance of this position as God's kingdom would lead to the desire to frequently renew the acceptance. The dates of the ritual observances of the Jews are in most cases quite unknown, but it is certain that the recital of the Sh'ma, "Hear, O Israel," etc., the summary of the teaching of the Law, is pre-Christian, and it is probable that it has come clown from the very earliest times. But this recital was looked upon as the daily renewal, on the part of every individual Israelite, of his personal acceptance of the position accepted by the nation at Sinai. So that the recital of the Sh'ma became commonly called, "the taking of the yoke of the kingdom of heaven." By every recital of the Sh'ma each Israelite pledged himself to do his best to work out his own share of the duties and responsibilities which belonged to him as a member of the kingdom.
I do not wish, however, to lay too great stress either on the antiquity of the recital of the Sh'ma or on the part it played in keeping up the thought of the kingdom; for it admits of no question that the nation of Israel did not forget its position accepted at Sinai. Though its behaviour was very unlike that of the special kingdom of God, the nation never finally surrendered its idea], but felt pledged to attain it. For the prophets always looked forward to this ideal as to be fully carried out one day under Messiah (e.g. Isaiah 2:2-4; Jeremiah 23:5, Jeremiah 23:6), and indeed to be then still further enlarged by the admission of others than Jews to the privileges of the kingdom (e.g. Isaiah 45:23; Isaiah 66:23; Zephaniah 2:11). The realm ruled over by Messiah became to the prophets a realm which was hereafter to be so completely realized that other realms, already in whole or in part existing, served only as the counterfoil to its greatness; for they were to be overcome by it (Daniel 2:7.). It would be, observe, the realm of Messiah, the realm of a King, resembling, of course, not a Western kingdom with the constitutional rights of the representatives of the people to enforce limitations, but one of the great empires of the East, whose rulers were absolute monarchs. Nothing less than that is the biblical idea — a realm ruled by Messiah as absolute King.

This conception of the kingdom of God, though it might be more or less altered under different circumstances, continued to exist in Jewish circles during the period between the last of the prophets and the coming of Jesus, and also afterwards. The study of the prophets could cause no less; and the ideal of the kingdom, an ideal to be realized at the coming of Messiah, has always been an integral part of Jewish belief.
It is the approach of the realization of this kingdom which John the Baptist announces. The brevity of the form in which his aunouncement has been recorded, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand," seems to point to his purposely avoiding all mention of details. He states it in its bare simplicity, without hinting at its extension beyond the Jews (though he must have known the utterances of the prophets), yet, on the other hand, without limiting it in any way to them. The "kingdom of heaven," Be simply says, is now at hand. We have been members of it, but we have realized the ideal of it most imperfectly; we have been unworthy subjects, notwithstanding our daily acceptance of our position as subjects. But now its realization is at hand. Arise to it, with preparation of heart. "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." John's expectation, that is to say, of the kingdom was doubtless much the same as that of pious souls in Israel before him, and even of many non-Christian Jews after him. It was the expectation of a kingdom which was to be merely the realization of the old idea of Israel as the kingdom of God, which was to take place in connexion with Messiah, and, in agreement with the expectation of the prophets, to include eventually many of the Gentiles. There is no hint that John the Baptist understood by the phrase any such thing as a distinct and new organization.
Did our Lord? For his first proclamation was the same as John's (Matthew 4:17), "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." He used a well-known term which had been understood in a definite meaning. No doubt he could have used it with a modified meaning so as himself to intend by it, though unknown at the time to his hearers, a separate organization. But is there any valid reason for supposing that he did so? It is undoubtedly prima facie the easier supposition. The mere fact that through the coming of Christ an organization began which has proved itself a mighty power in the world makes us inclined to think that this organization is directly meant by our Lord's words; and to our practical and logical Western minds it is far easier to conceive the kingdom of God as a realm both organized and visible.

In support of this prima facie supposition is urged the evidence of certain other sayings of our Lord's. It is, for instance, often asserted that when our Lord says that the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed or a dragnet, he means that the outward and visible organization, the Church, is like these objects. It is a very easy interpretation, but is it the right one? It is a serious matter to suppose that Christ altered the meaning of current phrase unless the case be fairly made out. What right have we to say that Christ in his parables compared a certain definite organization which he called the kingdom of heaven, with a mustard seed or a drag-net, when we may keep to the earlier meaning of the phrase by interpreting those parables as speaking solely of the principles connected with the establishment of the Divine realm, and of those principles taking effect in history? We must not allow the slowness of our Western imagination to prevent our catching the refined thoughts of Eastern pictures.

Again, in support of the belief that by the phrase, "the kingdom of heaven" Christ intended "the Church," appeal is made to Matthew 16:18, Matthew 16:19. It is said that the two terms are there used synonymously. But this is hardly so. Of the Church Christ affirms that it shall be founded on St. Peter and shall not be overcome by the gates of Hades (both phrases pointing to the personal meaning of "Church"), but of the kingdom of heaven Christ says that St. Peter is to be, as it were, its steward (cf. Matthew 13:52), withholding or granting things in it as he likes. The phrase implies a sphere that includes more than persons only. The Church forms but a part of the kingdom of heaven.

Christ, then, accepted the usage that he found existing, and only enlarged it; he did not alter it. But as he looked down the ages, and saw multitudes of non-Jews accepting his message and obeying his commands, he knew that his kingdom was not intended to have a merely national limit, but that it would stretch from sea to sea till it embraced the whole earth. The old idea was that the nation was to be the kingdom; Christ meant the kingdom to embrace the world.
"The Church," whatever view we take of it, is only a collection of persons. The kingdom of heaven includes persons and things. The ancient idea was that of a nation with all that belonged to it being the special realm of God. The completed idea is that of Revelation 11:15 (Revised Version), "The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ;" i.e. all that the world then contains of persons and things will be not merely possessed by God, or ruled as he rules it now, but, permeated with a spirit of submission to his rule, will correspond in will and action and use to its position, the present Church visible being only "the training-school for the kingdom." The "Holy Empire" expresses the idea more than the word "Church," but it will be a "Holy Empire," governed, not by a pope for an ecclesiastical and an emperor for a civil head, but by one God-Man, who contains in himself the source of all authority, alike civil and spiritual. The kingdom of God is a much grander conception, because wider, than that of the Church, harder far for us to grasp because its realization is so future, but full of promise for those who believe that every part of the material world, and every power of mind and act of hand or eye, is intended to be used for God, and has its place in his realm.

Thus it is that the earliest proclamation of Christianity is not that of the Church. It is that of "the kingdom of God," or, in probably still earlier phraseology, "the kingdom of heaven."


§ 22. Matthew 1., Matthew 1:2. Jesus is Messiah (a) by human inheritance; (b) by the fact that the circumstances of his birth and early life fulfil prophecy.

Matthew 3-4:16. His entrance on the Messianic office.

Matthew 4:17-20. Jesus as Teacher and as Worker. Opposition and acceptance seen in their growth.

The climax (ch. Matthew 16:13-20) of recognition of his true nature by some,

Matthew 16:21-25. Suffering: he accepts and does not shun it.

Matthew 26.-28. And thus enters upon his kingdom.


It may save misunderstanding if I state once for all that, except in rare cases, I have not thought it worth while to reinvestigate questions of textual criticism. Westcott and Hort's text has been accepted throughout as that which most nearly resembles the original Greek of the New Testament. The Received Text has been taken from Scrivener's Novum Testamentum Graece, editio major, 1887. I have tried to work independently, and though I have used everything that came in my way, I have not cared to reproduce what may be found in the ordinary English commentaries. Of recent commentators, Weiss, Nosgen, and Kubel have been the most helpful. Bruder's 'Concordance,' Winer's 'Grammar', Thayer's Grimm's 'Lexicon,' are too well known to require further mention. Of course, Rushbrooke's 'Synopticon "is indispensable to all serious students of the Gospels. The references to the Septuagint have been taken from Dr. Swete's edition so far as that has been published, those to the Vulgate of Matthew from Wordsworth and White's edition. I cannot let these chapters go forth without expressing my thanks to the Rev. F. H. Chase, B.D., Principal of the Clergy Training School, Cambridge, for his untiring kindness in reading both the manuscript and the proof-sheets, and for making many most valuable suggestions.

April 24th, 1892.

"I have never been able to consent with that which so often is asserted — namely, that the Gospels are in the main plain and easy, and that all the chief difficulties of the New Testament are to be found in the Epistles."


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