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Matthew, Gospel of,

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the first of the four memoirs of our Lord in all the arrangements. (See NEW TESTAMENT).

I. Author. There is no ancient book with regard to the authorship of which we have earlier, fuller, and more unanimous testimony. From Papias, almost if not quite contemporary with the apostles, downwards, we have a stream of unimpeachable witnesses to the fact that Matthew was the author of a gospel; while the quotations which abound in the works of the fathers prove that at least as early as Irenaeus if we may not also add Justin, whose "Memorabilia of Christ" we cannot but identify with the "Gospels" he speaks of as in public use the Gospel received by the Church under his name was the same as that which has reached us. As in the case of the other synoptists, a subsidiary argument of no small weight in favor of the correctness of this assignment may be drawn from the comparative insignificance of Matthew among the twelve. Any one desirous of imposing a spurious gospel on the Church would naturally have assumed one of the principal apostles as its author, instead of one whose name could add but little weight or authority to the composition.

Nevertheless a number of alleged circumstances have led Strauss and others to consider the Gospel of Matthew as an unapostolical composition, originating perhaps at the conclusion of the first century; while some consider it a production of the Aramsean Matthew, augmented by some additions; others call it a historical commentary of a later period, made to illustrate the collection of the sayings of Christ which Matthew had furnished (comp. Sieffert, Ueber die Aechtheit und den Ursprung des ersten Evalgelii. 1832; Schneckenburger, Ueber den Ursprung des ersten Evangelii. 1834; Schott, Ueber die Authenticitat des Ev. Matt. 1837).

(1st.) The representations of Matthew (it is said) have not that vivid clearness which characterizes the narration of an eye-witness, and which we find, for instance, in the Gospel of John. Even Mark and Luke surpass Matthew in this respect. Compare, for example, Matthew 4:18 with Luke 5:1 sq.; Matthew 8:5 sq, with Luke 7:1 sq. This is most striking in the history of his own call, where we should expect a clearer representation. To this it may be replied that the gift of narrating luminously is a personal qualification of which even an apostle might be destitute, and which is rarely found among the lower orders of people; this argument, therefore, has recently been given up altogether, In the history of his call to be an apostle, Matthew has this advantage over Mark and Luke, that he relates the discourse of Christ (Matthew 9:13) with greater completeness than these evangelists. Luke relates that Matthew prepared a great banquet in his house, while Matthew simply mentions that an entertainment took place, because the apostle could not well write that he himself prepared a great banquet.

(2d.) He omits some facts which every apostle certainly knew. For instance, he mentions only one journey of Christ to the Passover at Jerusalem, namely, the last; and seems to be acquainted only with one sphere of Christ's activity, namely, Galilee. He even relates the instances of Christ's appearing after his resurrection in such a manner that it might be understood as if he showed himself only to the women in Jerusalem, and to his disciples nowhere but in Galilee (Matthew 26:32; Matthew 28:7). But an argumentum a silentio must not be urged against the evangelists. The raising of Lazarus is narrated only by John, and the raising of the youth at Nain only by Luke; the appearance of five hundred brethren after the resurrection, which, according to the testimony of Paul (1 Corinthians 15:6), was a fact generally known, is not recorded by any of the evangelists. The apparent restriction of Christ's sphere of activity to Galilee, we find also in Mark and Luke. This peculiarity arose perhaps from the circumstance that the apostles first taught in Jerusalem, where it was unnecessary to relate what had happened there, but where the events which had taken place in Galilee were unknown, and required to be narrated: thus the sphere of narration may have gradually become fixed. At least it is generally granted that hitherto no satisfactory explanation of this fact has been discovered. The expressions in Matthew 26:32; Matthew 28:7, perhaps only indicate that the Lord appeared more frequently and for a longer period in Galilee than elsewhere. In Matthew 28:16, we are told that the disciples in Galilee went up to a mountain, whither Christ had appointed them to come; and, since it is not previously mentioned that any such appointment had been made, the narrative of Matthew himself here leads us to conclude that Christ appeared to his disciples in Jerusalem after his resurrection.

(3d.) He relates unchronologically, and transposes events to times in which they did not happen; for instance, the rejection at Nazareth, mentioned in Luke 4:14-30, must have happened at the commencement of Christ's public career, but Matthew relates it as late as Matthew 13:53 sq. But, on the other hand, there is no reason to suppose that the evangelists intended to write a chronological biography. On the contrary, we learn from Luke 1:4, and John 20:31, that their object was of a more practical and apologetic tendency. With the exception of John, the evangelists have grouped their communications more according to subjects than according to chronological succession. This fact is now generally admitted. As to the particular event above referred to, namely, the rejection of Christ at Nazareth, it appears to have occurred twice; Luke (Luke 4:14-31) giving the earlier, and Matthew (Matthew 13:53-58) the later instance. See Strong's Harmony of the Gospels, § 32, 60, and notes.

(4th.) He embodies in one discourse several sayings of Christ which, according to Luke, were pronounced at different times (comp. Matthew 5-7, 23). But if the evangelist arranges his statements according to subjects, and not chronologically, we must not be surprised that he connects similar sayings of Christ, inserting them in the longer discourses after analogous topics had been mentioned. These discourses are not, in fact, compiled by the evangelist, but always form the fundamental framework to which sometimes analogous subjects are attached. Moreover, it can be proved that several sayings are more correctly placed by Matthew than by Luke (compare especially Matthew 23:37-39 with Luke 13:34-35).

(5th.) He falls, it is asserted, into positive errors. In ch. i and ii he seems not to know that the real dwellingplace of the parents of Jesus was at Nazareth, and that their abode at Bethlehem was only temporary (compare Matthew 2:1; Matthew 2:22-23 with Luke 2:4; Luke 2:39). According to Mark 11:20-21, the fig-tree withered on the day after it was cursed; but according to Matthew 21:19, it withered immediately. According to Matthew 21:12, Christ purified the Temple immediately after his entrance into Jerusalem; but according to Mark he on that day went out to Bethany, and purified the Temple on the day following (Mark 11:11-15). Matthew 21:7 says that Christ rode on a she-ass and on a colt, which is impossible; the other Gospels speak only of a she-ass. But it depends entirely upon the mode of interpretation whether such positive errors as are alleged to exist are really chargeable on the evangelist. The difference, for instance, between the narrative of the birth of Christ, as severally recorded by Matthew and Luke, may easily be solved without questioning the correctness of either, if we suppose that each of them narrates what he knows from his individual sources of information. The history of Christ's childhood given in Luke leads us to conclude that it was derived from the acquaintances of Mary, while the statements in Matthew seem to be derived from the friends of Joseph. As to the transaction recorded in Matthew 21:18-22, and Mark 11:11; Mark 11:15; Mark 11:20-21, it appears that Mark describes what occurred most accurately; and yet there is nothing in Matthew's account really inconsistent with the true order of events.

On the other hand, some of the most beautiful and most important sayings of our Lord, the historical credibility of which no skeptic call attack, have been preserved by Matthew alone (Matthew 11:28-30; Matthew 16:16-19; Matthew 28:20; compare also Matthew 11:2-21; Matthew 12:3-6; Matthew 12:25-29; Matthew 17:12; Matthew 17:25-26; Matthew 26:13). Above all, the Sermon on the Mount, although containing some things apparently not coincident in time (for instance, the Lord's prayer), is yet far more complete and systematic than the comparatively meager report of Luke. It may also be proved . that in many particulars the reports of several discourses in Matthew are more exact than in the other evangelists, as may be seen by comparing Matthew 23 with the various parallel passages in Luke. See, generally, Kern, Ueber den Ursprung des Evanyelii Matthaei (Tubingen, 1834); Olshausen, Drei Programme, 1835; and the two Lucubrations of Harles, 1840 and 1843.

II. Time and Place of its Composition. There is little in the Gospel itself to throw any light on the date of its composition. In Matthew 27:7-8; Matthew 28:15, we have evidences of a date some years subsequent to the resurrection; but these may well be additions of a later hand, and prove nothing as to the age of the substance of the Gospel. Little trust can be placed in the dates given by. some late writers e.g. Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, Eusebius's Chron., eight years after the Ascension; Niceph., Callist., and the Chron. Pasch., A.D. 45. The only early testimony is that of Irenmeus (Haer. 3:1, p. 174), that it was written "when Peter and Paul were preaching in Rome, and founding the Church." This would bring it down to about A.D. 63 probably somewhat earlier, as this is the latest date assigned for Luke's Gospel; and we have the authority of a tradition, accepted by Origen, for the priority of that of Matthew (ἐν παραδόσει μαθὼν .... ὅτι πρῶτον μὲν γέγραπται τὸ κατὰ τόν ποτε τελώνην ὕστερον δὲ ἀπόστ. I. Χρ . Ματθαῖον , Eusebius, H. E. 6:25). On the supposition of a Hebrew original, we may presume that that would have been written the first of all the Gospels, or soon after the Ascension-i.e. about A.D. 31; and then the present Greek edition may have been issued not much later, or shortly before Matthew's removal from Juduea, i.e. about A.D. 47. Tillemont maintains A.D. 33; Townson, A.D. 37; Owen and Tomline, A.D. 38; Davidson, Introd. N. Test., inclines to A.D. 41-43; while Hug, Eichhorn, Credner, Bertholdt, etc., identifying "Zacharias the son of Barachias" (Matthew 23:35) with Zacharias the son of Baruch, whose murder is recorded by Josephus (War, 4:6, 4), place its composition shortly after the fall of Jerusalem, a theory which is rejected by De Wette and Meyer, and may safely be dismissed as untenable.

With regard to the place, there is no difference of opinion. All ancient authorities agree that Matthew wrote his Gospel in Palestine, and this has been as unanimously received by modern critics.

III. For what Readers was it Written? The concurrent testimony of the early Church that Matthew drew up his Gospel for the benefit of the Jewish Christians of Palestine (τοῖς ἀπὸ Ι᾿ουδαϊσμοῦ πιστεύσασι , Orig. ap. Eusebius, H. E. 6:25), has been accepted without question, and may be regarded as a settled point. The statement of Eusebius is that, "having previously preached to the Hebrews, when he was about to go to others also, he committed to writing in his native tongue his Gospel (τὸ κατ᾿ αὐτὸν εὐαγγέλιον), and so filled up by his writing that which was lacking of his presence to those whom he was departing from" (Eusebius, H. E. 3:24). The testimony of Jerome, frequently repeated, is to the same effect (Proef. ad Matt.; De Vir. III.; Comm. in Hosea 11). The passages quoted and referred to above, it is true, have reference to the supposed Aramaic original, and not to the present Greek Gospel. But whatever conclusion may be arrived at on the perplexed question of the origin of the existing Gospel, Mr. Westcott has shown (Introd. to Gospels, p. 208) that "there is no sufficient reason to depart from the unhesitating habit of the earliest writers who notice the subject, in practically identifying the revised version with the original text," so that whatever has been stated of the purpose or characteristics of the one may unhesitatingly be regarded as applicable to the other also.

Looking, therefore, to our present Gospel for proofs of its original destination, we find internal evidence tending to confirm the traditional statement. The great object. of the evangelist is evidently to prove to his countrymen that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Messiah, the antitype of the figures of the old covenant, and the fulfillment of all prophecy. The opening words of his Gospel declare his purpose. Jesus Christ is set forth as "the son of David" and "the son of Abraham," fulfilling "the promises made to the fathers," and reviving the faded glories of the nation in the heir of David's royal line, Abraham's promised seed (comp. Iren. Fragm. 29; Hear. 3:9, 1; Orig. in Johann. 4:4). In the symmetrical arrangement of the genealogy also" its divisions," as dean Goodwin has remarked (Comm. in St. Matt., Introd.), "corresponding to the two great crises in their national life, the maximum and minimum points of Hebrew prosperity" we have an accommodation to Jewish prejudices and Jewish habits of thought, in marked contrast with the continuous order of the universalistic Luke. As we advance, we find that the accomplishment of the promises, the proof that Jesus Christ is he of whom "Moses in the law and the prophets did write," is the object nearest to his heart. Thus he is continually speaking of the necessity of this or that event happening, in order that a particular prophecy might be fulfilled (ἵνα πληρωθῆ τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ τοῦ Κυρίου ῾θεοῦ ) διὰ τοῦ προφήτου , Matthew 1:22; Matthew 2:15; Matthew 21:4; Matthew 26:56; comp. Matthew 2:17; Matthew 3:3; Matthew 4:14; Matthew 8:17, etc.), while his whole Gospel is full of allusions to those passages and sayings of the O. Test. in which Christ was predicted and foreshadowed. As Da Costa has remarked (Four Witnesses, p. 20), he regards the events he narrates as "realized prophecy," and everything is recorded with this view, that he may lead his countrymen to recognize in Jesus their promised Deliverer and King.

It is in keeping with the destination of his Gospel that we find in Matthew less frequent explanations of Jewish customs, laws, and localities than in the other Gospels. Knowledge of these is presupposed in the readers (Matthew 15:1-2 with Mark 7:1-4 : Matthew 27:62 with Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:14; John 19:31; John 19:42, and other places). Jerusalem is the holy city (see below, Style anud Diction). Jesus is of the elect line (Matthew 1:1; Matthew 9:27; Matthew 12:23; Matthew 15:22; Matthew 20:30; Matthew 21:9; Matthew 21:15); is to be born of a virgin in David's place, Bethlehem (Matthew 1:22; Matthew 2:6); must flee into Egypt and be recalled thence (Matthew 2:15; Matthew 2:19); must have a forerunner, John the Baptist (Matthew 3:3; Matthew 11:10); was to labor in the outcast Galilee that sat in darkness (Matthew 4:14-16); his healing was a promised mark of his office (Matthew 8:17; Matthew 12:17), and so was his mode of teaching by parables (Matthew 13:14); he entered the holy city as Messiah (Matthew 21:5-16); was rejected by the people, in fulfillment of a prophecy (Matthew 21:42), and deserted by his disciples in the same way (Matthew 26:31; Matthew 26:56). The Gospel is pervaded by one principle, the fulfillment of the law and of the Messianic prophecies in the person of Jesus. This at once sets it in opposition to the Judaism of the time, for it rebuked the Pharisaic interpretations of the law (Matthew 5:23), and proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God, and the Savior of the world through his blood, ideas which were strange to the cramped and limited Judaism of the Christian aera. In the Sermon on the Mount Christ is introduced declaring himself not as the destroyer but the fulfiller of the Mosaic law. When the twelve are sent forth they are forbidden to go "into the way of the Gentiles" (Matthew 10:5; comp. Matthew 15:24). In the same passage the only one in which the Samaritans are mentioned that abhorred race is put on a level with the heathen, not at once to be gladdened with the Gospel message.

But while we keep this in view, as the evangelist's first object, we must not strain it too narrowly, as if he had no other purpose than to combat the objections and to satisfy the prepossessions of the Jews. No evangelist expresses with greater distinctness the universality of Christ's mission, or does more to break down the narrow notion of a Messiah for Israel who was not one also for the whole world; none delivers stronger warnings against trusting to an Abrahamic descent for acceptance with God. It is in Matthew that we read of the visit of the magi (Matthew 2:1 sq.), symbolizing the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles; it is he that speaks of the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy, when "the nations that sat in darkness saw a great light" (Matthew 4:15-16), and adds to the narrative of the cure of the centurion's servant what is wanting to the universalistic Luke, that "many should come from the East and West," etc. (Matthew 8:11). The narrative of the Syro-Phoenician woman, omitted by Luke, is given by Matthew, in whom alone we also find the command to "make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19), and the unrestricted invitation to "all that labor and are heavy laden" (Matthew 11:28). Nowhere are we made more conscious of the deep contrast between the spiritual teaching of Christ and the formal teaching of the rulers of the Jewish Church. We see also that others besides Jewish readers were contemplated, from the interpretations and explanations occasionally added, e.g. Immanuel, Matthew 1:23; Golgotha, Matthew 27:33; Eli, lama sabachthani, Matthew 27:46.

IV. Original Language. While there is absolutely nothing in the Gospel itself to lead us to imagine that it is a translation, and, on the contrary, everything favors the view that in the present Greek text, with its perpetual verbal correspondence with the other synoptists, we have the original composition of the author himself; yet the unanimous testimony of all antiquity affirms that Matthew wrote his Gospel in Hebrew i.e. the Aramaic or Syro-Chaldee dialect. which was the vernacular tongue of the then inhabitants of Palestine. The internal evidence, therefore, is at variance with the external, and it is by no means easy to adjust the claims of the two.

1. External Evidence. The unanimity of all ancient authorities as to the Hebrew origin of this Gospel is complete. In the words of the late canon Cureton (Syriac Recension, p. 83), "no fact relating to the history of the Gospels is more fully and satisfactorily established. From the days of the apostles down to the end of the 4th century, every writer who had occasion to refer to this matter has testified the same thing. Papias, Irenaeus, Pantsenus, Origen, Cyril of Jerusalem, Athanasius, Epiphanius, Jerome, all with one consent affirm this. Such a chain of historical evidence appears to be amply sufficient to establish the fact that Matthew wrote his Gospel originally in the Hebrew dialect of that time, for the benefit of Jews who understood and spoke the language." To look at the evidence more particularly

(1.) The earliest witness is Papias, bishop of Hierapolis, in Phrygia, in the beginning of the 2d century; a hearer of the apostle, or more probably of the presbyter John, and a companion of Polycarp (Irenaeus, leur. v. 33, 4). Eusebius describes him (H.E. 3:36) as "a man of the widest general information, and well acquainted with the Scriptures" (ἀνὴρ τὰ πάντα ὅτι μάλιστα λογιώτατος καὶ γραφῆς εἰδήμων); and,though in another place he depreciates his intellectual power (σφόδρα συικρὸς ]β τὶν νοῦν , H. E. 3:39), this unfavorable view seems chiefly to have reference to his millennarian views (comp. Irenaeus, Haer. v. 33, 3), and can hardly invalidate his testimony on a matter of fact. Papias says, it would seem on the authority of John the Presbyter, "Matthew compiled his Gospel (or the oracles') in the Hebrew dialect; while each interpreted them according to his ability" (Ματθαῖος μὲν ουν ῾Εβραϊ v δι διαλέκτῳ τὰ λόγια συνεγράψατο; ἡρμήνευσε δ᾿ αὐτὰ ὡς ην δυνατὸς ἕκαστος ). In estimating the value of this testimony, two important points have to be considered-the meaning of the term λόγια, and whether Papias is speaking of the present or the past. On the latter point there can be little doubt. His use of the aorist, ἡρμήνευσε, not ἑρμηνεύει , evidently shows that the state of things to which he or his original authority referred had passed away, and that individual translation was no longer necessary. It would seem, therefore, to follow, that "an authorized Greek representative of the Hebrew Matthew" had come into use "in the generation after the apostles" (Westcott, Introd. p. 207, note). The signification of λόγια has been much controverted. Schleiermacher (Stud. u. Krit. 1832, p. 735) was the first to explain the term of a supposed "collection of discourses" which is held to have been the basis that, by gradual modification and interpolation, was transformed into the existing Gospel (Meyer, Comm. 1:13). This view has found wide acceptance, and has been strenuously maintained by Lachmann (Stud. u. Krit. 1835), Meyer, De Wette, Credner, Wieseler, B. Crusius, Ewald, Renan, etc., but has been controverted by Lucke (Stud. u. Krit. 1833), Itug, Ebrard, Bauer, Delitzsch, Hilgenfeld, Thiersch, Alford, Westcott, etc. But λόγια, in the N.T., signifies the whole revelation made by God, rather than the mere words in which that revelation is contained (Acts 7:38; Romans 3:2; Hebrews 5:12; 1 Peter 4:11); and, as has been convincingly shown by Hug and Ebrard, the patristic use of the word confirms the opinion that, as used by Papias, both in this passage and in the title of his own work (λογίων κυριακῶν ἐξήγησις), it implies a combined record of facts and discourses corresponding to the later use of the word gospel.

(2.) The next witness is Irenaeus, who, as quoted by Eusebius (II. F. v. 8), says that "Matthew among the Hebrews published also a written Gospel in their own language" (τῇ ἰδίᾷ αὐτῶν διαλέκτῳ). Hug and others have attempted to invalidate this testimony, as a mere repetition of that of Papias, whose disciple, according to Jerome, Irenaeus was; but we may safely accept it as independent evidence.

(3.) Pantaenus, the next witness, cannot be considered as strengthening the case for the Hebrew original much; though, as far as it gods, his evidence is definite enough. His story, as reported by Eusebius, is that "he is said to have gone to the Indians (probably in the south of Arabia), where it is reported that the Gospel of Matthew had preceded him among some who had there acknowledged Christ, to whom it is said the apostle Bartholomew had preached, and had left with them the writing of Matthew in Hebrew letters ( ῾Εβραίων γράμμασι τὴν τοῦ Ματθαίου καταλεῖψαι γραφήν ), and that it was preserved to the time mentioned." Jerome tells the same tale, with the addition that Pantaenus brought back this Hebrew Gospel with him (De Vir. Ill. 36). No works of Pantaenus have been preserved, and we have no means of confirming or refuting the tale, which has somewhat of a mythical air, and is related as a mere story (λέγεται, λόγος εὑρεῖν αὐτόν), even by Eusebius.

(4.) The testimony of Origen has already been referred to. It is equally definite with those quoted above on the fact that the Gospel was "published for Jewish believers, and composed in Hebrew letters" (ἐκδεδωκότα αὐτὸ τοῖς ἁπὸ Ι᾿ουδαϊσμοῦ πιστεύσασι, γράμμασιν ῾Εβραικοῖς συντεταγμένον, Eusebius, 1 H. E. 6:25). There is no reason for questioning the independence of Origen's evidence, or for tracing it back to Papias. He clearly states what was the belief of the Church at that time, and without a doubt as to its correctness. (For a refutation of the objections brought against it by Masch and Hug, etc., see Marsh's Michaelis, 4:128, 135 sq.)

(5.) We have already given the testimony of Eusebius (H. E. 3:24), to which may be added a passage (ad Marin. quaest. ii, p. 941) in which he ascribes the words ὀψὲ τοῦ σαββάτου to the translator (παρὰ τοῦ ἑρμηνεύσαντος τὴνγραφήν), adding, "For the evangelist Matthew delivered his Gospel in the Hebrew tongue." This is very important evidence as to the belief of Eusebius, which was clearly that of the Church generally, that the Gospel was originally composed in Hebrew.

(6.) Epiphanius (Haer. 29:9, p. 124) states the same fact without the shadow of a doubt, adding that Matthew was the only evangelist who wrote ῾Εβραϊστί καὶ ῾Εβραϊκοῖς γράμμασιν. The value of his evidence, however, is impaired by his identification of the Hebrew original with that employed by the Nazarenes and Ebionites, by whom he asserts it was still preserved (ἐτὶ σώζεται ).

(7.) The same observation may also be made concerning the testimony of Jerome, whose references to this subject are very frequent, and who is the only one of the fathers that appears to have actually seen the supposed Hebrew archetype (Proef ad Matt.; De Vir. Ill. 3 and 36; in Quat. Ev. ad Dam. praef.; Ep. Dam. de Osanna; Ep. ad Hedib. quaest. viii; Comm. in Hosea 11). A perusal of these passages shows that there was a book preserved in the library collected by Pamphilus at Caesarea, which was supposed to be the Hebrew original ("ipsum Hebraicum"), and was as such transcribed and translated into Greek and Latin by Jerome, about A.D. 392, from a copy obtained from the Nazarenes at the Syrian city of Bercea. Afterwards, about A.D. 398 (Comm. in Matthew 12:13), he speaks more doubtfully of it, "quod vocatur a plerisque Matthew authenticum." Later on, A.D. 415 (Confr. Pelay. 3:1), he modifies his opinion still further, and describes the book used by the Nazarenes, and preserved in the library at Cuesarea, as "Ev. juxta Hebraeos... secundum Apostolos, sive ut plerique autumant juxta Matthueum" (comp. Edinb. Rev. July, 1851, p. 39; De Wette, Einl. p. 100).

While, then, we may safely accept Jerome as an additional witness to the belief of the early Church that Matthew's Gospel was originally composed in Hebrew (Aramaic), which he mentions as something universally recognised without a hint of a doubt, we may reasonably question whether the book he translated had any sound claims to be considered the genuine work of Matthew, and whether Jerome himself did not ultimately discover his mistake, though he shrunk from openly confessing it. We may remark, in confirmation of this, that unless the Aramaic book had differed considerably from the Greek Gospel, Jerome would hardly have taken the trouble to translate it: and that while, whenever he refers to Matthew, he cites it according to the present text, he never quotes the Nazarene Gospel as a work of canonical authority, but only in such terms as "quo utuntur Nazareni," "quod lectitant Nazaruei," "quod juxta Heb. Nazar. legere consueverunt," and still more doubtingly, "qui crediderit evangelio, quod secundum Hebrueos editum nuper transtulimus;" language inconsistent with his having regarded it as canonical Scripture.

(8.) The statements of later writers, Cyril of Jerusalem, Athanasius, Chrysostom, Augustine, Gregory Nazianzen, etc., merely echo the same testimony, and need not be more particularly referred to.

An impartial survey of the above evidence leads to the conclusion that, in the face of so many independent witnesses, we should be violating the first principles of historical criticism if we refused to accept the fact that Matthew wrote his Gospel originally in Hebrew. But whether this original was ever seen by Jerome or Epiphanius is more than questionable.

2. Internal Evidence. What, then, is the origin of our present Gospel? To whom are we to ascribe its existing form and language? What is its authority? These are the questions which now meet us. and to which it must be confessed it is not easy to give a satisfactory answer. We may at the outset lay down as indisputable, in opposition to Cureton (who asserts, ut sup., that "a careful critical examination of the Greek text will afford very strong confirmation of the Hebrew original), that the phenomena of the Gospel as we have it-its language, its coincidences with and divergences from the other synoptists, the quotations from the Old Test. it contains, and the citations made from it by ancient writers, all oppose the notion of the present Greek text being a translation, and support its canonical authority.

(1.) An important argument may be drawn from the use made of the existing Gospel by all ancient writers. As Olshausen remarks (Clark's ed., 1, 28), while all the fathers of the Church assert the Hebrew origin of the Gospel, they without exception make use of the existing Greek text as canonical Scripture, and that without doubt or question, or anything that would lead to the belief that they regarded it as of less authority than the original Hebrew, or possessed it in any other form than that in which we now have it.

(2.) Another argument in favor of the authoritative character of our present Gospel arises from its universal diffusion and general acceptance, both in the Church and among her adversaries. Had the Hebrew Gospel been really clothed with the authority of the sole apostolic archetype, and our Greek Gospel been a mere translation, executed, as Jerome asserts, by some unknown individual ("quis postea in Grecum transtulerit non satis certum est," De Vir. Ill. 3), would not, as Olshausen remarks, ut sup., objections to it have been urged in some quarter or other, particularly in the country where Matthew himself labored, and for whose inhabitants the Hebrew was written? Would its statements have been accepted without a cavil by the opponents of the Church? No trace of such opposition is, however, to be met with. Not a doubt is ever breathed of its canonical authority.

(3.) Again, the text itself bears no marks of a translation. This is especially evident in the mode of dealing with the citations from the Old Test. These are of two kinds: (a) those standing in the discourses of our Lord himself, and the interlocutors; and (b) those introduced by the evangelist as proofs of our Lord's Messiahship. Now if we assume, as is certainly most probable (though the contrary has been maintained by Hug, the late duke of Manchester, and more recently by the Rev. Alexander Roberts, whose learned and able "Discussions on the Gospels" demand attentive consideration from every Biblical student), that Aramaic, not Greek, was the language ordinarily used by our Lord and his Jewish contemporaries, we should certainly expect that any citations from the Old Test., made by them in ordinary discourse, would be from the original Hebrew or its Aramaic counterpart, not from the Septuagint version, and would stand as such in the Aramaic record; while it would argue more than the ordinary license of a mere translator to substitute the Sept. renderings, even when at variance with the Hebrew before him. Yet what is the case? While in the class (b), due to the evangelist himself, which may be supposed to have had no representative in the current Greek oral tradition which we assume as the basis of the synoptical Gospels, we find original renderings of the Hebrew text; in the class (a), on the other hand, where we might, a priori, have looked for an even closer correspondence, the citations are usually from the Sept., even where it deviates from the Hebrew. In (a) we may reckon 3:3; 4:4, 6, 7, 10; 15:4, 8, 9; 19:5, 18; 21:13, 42; 22:39, 44; 23:39; 24:15; 26:31; 27:46. In (b), called by Westcott (Introd. p. 208, note 1) "Cyclic quotations," 1:23; 2:6,15, 18; 4:15, 16; 8:17; 12:18 sq.; 13:35; 21:5; 27:9, 10). In two cases Matthew's citations agree with the synoptic parallels in a deviation from the Sept., all being drawn from the same oral groundwork. Matthew's quotations have been examined by Credner, one of the soundest of modern scholars, who pronounces decidedly for their derivation from the Greek (Einzleit. p. 94; comp. De Wette, Einzl. p. 198). We may therefore not unwarrantably find here additional evidence that in the existing Greek text we have the work, not of a mere translator, but of an independent and authoritative writer.

(4.) The verbal correspondences between Matthew and the other synoptists in their narratives, and especially in the report of the speeches of our Lord and others, are difficult to account for if we regard it as a translation. As Alford remarks (Gr. Test. Proleg. 1:28), "The translator must have been either acquainted with the other two Gospels, in which case it is inconceivable that, in the midst of the present coincidences in many passages, such divergences should have occurred, or unacquainted with them, in which case the identity itself would be altogether inexplicable." Indeed, in the words of Credner (Einzleit. p. 94, 95), "the Greek original of this Gospel is affirmed by its continual correspondence with those of Mark and Luke, and that not only in generals and important facts, but in particulars and minute details, in the general plan, in entire clauses, and in separate words-a phenomenon which admits of no explanation under the hypothesis of a translation from the Hebrew."

(5.) This inference in favor of an original Greek Gospel is strongly confirmed by the fact that all versions, even the Peshito Syriac, the language in which the Gospel is said to have been originally written, are taken from the present Greek text. It is true that canon Cureton (Syriac Recens. p. 75 sq.) argues with much ability against this, and expends much learning and skill in proof of his hypothesis that the Syriac version of Matthew published by him is more ancient than the Peshito, and may be regarded as, in the main, identical with the Aramaic Gospel of Matthew; which he also considers to have been identical with the Gospel according to the Hebrews, used by the Nazarenes and Ebionites, "modified by some additions, interpolations, and perhaps some omissions." His statement (p. 42) that "there is a marked difference between the recension of Matthew and that of the other Gospels, proving that they are by different hands the former showing no signs, as the others do, of translation from the Greek" demands the respect due to so careful a scholar; but he fails entirely to explain the extraordinary fact that, in the very country where Matthew published his Gospel, and within a comparatively short period, a version from the Greek was substituted for the authentic original; nor have his views met with general acceptance among scholars.

3. Having thus stated the arguments in favor of a Hebrew and Greek original respectively, it remains for us to inquire whether there is any way of adjusting the claims of the two. Were there no explanation of this inconsistency between the external assertions and the internal facts, it would be hard to doubt the concurrent testimony of so many old writers, whose belief in it is shown by the tenacity with which they held it in spite of their own experience.

(1.) But it is certain that a Gospel, not the same as our canonical Matthew, sometimes usurped the apostle's name; and some of the witnesses we have quoted appear to have referred to this in one or other of its various forms or names. The Christians in Palestine still held that the Mosaic ritual was binding on them, even after the destruction of Jerusalem. At the close of the first century one party existed who held that the Mosaic law was only binding on Jewish converts; this was the Nazarenes. Another, the Ebionites, held that it was of universal obligation on Christians, and rejected Paul's Epistles as teaching the opposite doctrine. These two sects, who differed also in the most important tenets as to our Lord's person, possessed each a modification of the same Gospel, which no doubt each altered more and more, as their tenets diverged, and which bore various names-the Gospel of the twelve Apostles, the Gospel according to the Hebrews, the Gospel of Peter, or the Gospel according to Matthew. Enough is known to decide that the Gospel according to the Hebrews was not identical with our Gospel of Matthew; but it had many points of resemblance to the synoptical Gospels, and especially to Matthew.

What was its origin it is impossible to say: it may have been a description of the oral teaching of the apostles, corrupted by degrees; it may have come in its early and pure form from the hand of Matthew, or it may have been a version of the Greek Gospel of Matthew, as the evangelist who wrote especially for Hebrews. Now this Gospel, "the Proteus of criticism" (Thiersch), did exist; is it impossible that when the Hebrew Matthew is spoken of, this questionable document, the Gospel of the Hebrews, was really referred to? Observe that all accounts of it are at second hand (with a notable exception); no one quotes it; in cases of doubt about the text, Origen even does not appeal from the Greek to the Hebrew. All that is certain is, that Nazarenes or Ebionites, or both, boasted that they possessed the original Gospel of Matthew. Jerome is the exception, and him we can convict of the very mistake of confounding the two, and almost on his own confession. "At first he thought," says an anonymous writer (Edinburgh Review, 1851, July, p. 39), "that it was the authentic Matthew, and translated it into both Greek and Latin from a copy which he obtained at Bercea, in Syria. This appears from his De Vir. Ill., written in the year 392. Six years later, in his Commentary on Matthew, he spoke more doubtfully about it Quod vocatur a plerisque Matthaei authenticum.' Later still, in his book on the Pelagian heresy, written in the year 415, he modifies his account still further, describing the work as the Evangelium juxta Hebraeos, quod Chaldaico quidem Syroque sermone, sed Hebraicis literis conscriptum est, quo utuntur usque hodie Nazareni secundum Apostolos, sive ut plerique autumant juxta Matthaeum, quod et in Caesariensi habetur Bibliotheca.' "There have pronounced for a Greek original Erasmus, Calvin, Leclerc, Fabricius, Lightfoot, Wetstein, Paulus, Lardner, Hey, Hales, Hlug, Schott, De Wette, Moses Stuart, Fritzsche, Credner, Thiersch, and many others. Great names are ranged also on the other side, as Simon, Mill, Michaelis, Marsh, Eichhorn, Storr, Olshausen, and others. May not the truth be that Papias, knowing of more than one Aramaic Gospel in use among the Judaic sects, may have assumed the existence of a Hebrew original from which these were supposed to be taken, and knowing also the genuine Greek Gospel, may have looked on all these, in the loose, uncritical way which earned for him Eusebius's description, as the various "interpretations" to which he alludes? It is by no means improbable that after several inaccurate and imperfect translations of the Aramaean original came into circulation, Matthew himself was prompted by this circumstance to publish a Greek translation, or to have his Gospel translated under his own supervision. It is very likely that this Greek translation did not soon come into general circulation, so that it is even possible that Papias may have remained ignorant of its existence. See Stuart, in the Amer. Bib. Repos. 1838, p. 130-179, 315-356.

(2.) We think that Mr. Westcott to whom the study of the Gospels owes so much-has pointed out the road to a still better solution. Not that the difficulties which beset this matter can be regarded as cleared up, or the question finally and satisfactorily settled, but a mode of reconciling the inconsistency between testimony and fact has been indicated, which, if pursued, may, we think, lead to a decision. "It has been shown," says Mr. Westcott (Introd. p. 208, note), "that the oral Gospel probably existed from the first both in Aramaic and in Greek, and in this way a preparation for a fresh representative of the Hebrew Gospel was at once found. The parts of the Aramaic oral Gospels which were adopted by Matthew already existed in the Greek counterpart. The change was not so much a version as a substitution; and frequent coincidence with common parts of Mark and Luke, which were derived from the same oral Greek Gospel, was a necessary consequence. Yet it may have happened that, as long as the Hebrew and Greek churches were in close connection, perhaps till the destruction of Jerusalem, no authoritative Greek Gospel of Matthew i.e. such a version of the Greek oral Gospel as would exactly answer to Matthew's version of the Aramaic-was committed to writing. When, however, the separation between the two sections grew more marked, the Greek Gospel was written, not indeed as a translation, but as a representation of the original, as a Greek oral counterpart was already current." This theory of the origin of the Greek Gospel, it appears to us, meets the facts of the case, and satisfies its requirements more fully than any other.

We have seen above that the language of Papias indicates that, even in his day, the Gospel of Matthew existed substantially in Greek, and its universal diffusion and general authority in the earliest ages of the Church prove that its composition cannot be placed much after the times of the apostles. May it not have been then that the two the Aramaic and the Greek Gospel existed for some time in their most important portions as an old tradition side by side that the Aramaic was the first to be committed to writing, and gained a wide though temporary circulation among the Hebrew Christians of Syria and Palestine? that when, as would soon be the case, the want of a Greek Gospel for the use of the Hellenistic Jews was felt, this also was published in its written form, either by Matthew himself (as is maintained by Thiersch, Olshausen, and Lee), or by those to whom, from constant repetition, the main portions were familiar; perhaps under the apostle's eye, and with the virtual, if not the formal sanction of the Church at Jerusalem? As it supplied a need widely felt by the Gentile Christians, it would at once obtain currency, and as the Gentile Church rapidly extended her borders, while that of the Jewish believers was continually becoming confined within narrower limits, this Greek Gospel would speedily supplant its Hebrew predecessor, and thus furnish a fresh and most striking example of what Mr. Westcott, in his excellent work on The Bible in the Church (Introd. p. 8), calls "that doctrine of a divine providence separating (as it were) and preserving special books for the perpetual instruction of the Church, which is the true correlative and complement of every sound and reverend theory of inspiration." No other hypothesis, as Dr. Lee has satisfactorily shown (Inspir. of H. Sc. Appendix M), than the Greek Gospel being either actually or substantially the production of Matthew himself, "accounts for the profound silence of ancient writers respecting the translation... or for the absence of the least trace of any other Greek translation of the Hebrew original." The hypotheses which assign the translation to Barnabas (Isid. Hispal., Chron. p. 272), John (Theophyl., Euthym. Zigab.), Mark (Greswell), Luke and Paul conjointly (Anastas. Sinaita), or James the brother of our Lord (Syn. Sacr. Scr. apud Athanas. 2:202), are mere arbitrary assertions without any foundation in early tradition. The last named is the most ingenious, as we may reasonably suppose that the bishop of Jerusalem would feel solicitude for the spiritual wants of the Hellenistic Christians of that city.

Those who desire to pursue the investigation of this subject will find ample materials for doing so in the Introductions of Hug, De Wette, Credner, etc.; Marsh's Michaelis, vol. iii, pt. i, where the patristic authorities are fully discussed; and they will be found, for the most part, in Kirchhofer, Quellensammlung, where will also be found the passages referring to the Gospel of the Hebrews, p. 448; also in most of the commentaries. The following have written monographs on this point: Sonntag (Altorf, 1696), Schroder (Viteb. 1699, 1702), Masch (Halle, 1755),Williams (Lond. 1790), Elsner (F. ad V. 1791), Buslaw (Vratisl. 1826), Stuart (Bibl. Repos. 1838), Harless (Erlang. 1841, also 1842, the latter tr. in Bibl. Repos. 1844), Tregelles (Kitto's Journ. 1850, and separately), Alexander (ibid. 1850), Roberts (Lond. 1864). More general discussions may be found in Lardner's Credibility, vol. v; Reuss's Gesch. d. Kanonl; Tregelles on The Original Language of St. Matthew; Rev. A. Roberts's Discussions on the Gospels; the commentaries of Olshausen, Meyer, Alford, Wetstein, Kuinol, Fritzsche, Lange, etc.; and the works on the Gospels of Norton (Credibility), Westcott, Baur, Gieseler (Entstehung), Hilgenfeld, etc.; Cureton's Syriac Recension, Preface; and Dr. W. Lee on Inspiration, Appendix M; Jeremiah Jones's Vindication of St. Matthew; Ewald, Die drei Erst. Ev.; and Jahrbuch d. Bibl. Wissensch. 1848-49.

V. Characteristics. Matthew's is emphatically the Gospel of the Kingdom. The main object of the evangelist is to portray the kingly character of Christ, and to show that in him the ideal of the King reigning in righteousness, the true Heir of David's throne, was fulfilled (comp. Augustine, De Consens. Ev. passim). Thus the tone throughout is majestic and kingly. He views things in the grand general aspect, and, indifferent to the details in which Mark loves so much to dwell, he gathers up all in the great result. His narrative proceeds with a majestic simplicity, regardless of time and place, according to another and deeper order, ready to sacrifice mere chronology or locality to the development of this idea. Thus he brings together events separated sometimes by considerable intervals, according to the unity of their nature or purpose, and with a grand but simple power accumulates in groups the discourses, parables, and miracles of our Lord (I. Williams, Study of Gospels, p. 28). From the formation and objects of the Gospels, we should expect that their prevailing characteristics would be indicated rather by a general tone and spirit than by minute peculiarities. Not, however, that these latter are wanting. It has already been remarked how the genealogy with which Matthew's Gospel opens sets our Lord forth in his kingly character, as the heir of the throne of David, the representative of the royal line of which he was the true successor and fulfillment. As we advance we find his birth hailed, not by lowly shepherds as in Luke, but by wise men coming to wait on him with royal gifts, inquiring, "Where is he that is born king of the Jews." In the Sermon on the Mount the same majesty and authority appear. We hear the Judge himself delivering his sentence; the King laying down the laws of his kingdom, "I say unto you," and astonishing his hearers with the "authority" with which he speaks. The awful majesty of our Lord's reproofs in his teaching in the Temple, and his denunciations of the Scribes and Pharisees, also evidence the authority of a king and lawgiver-" one who knew the mind of God and could reveal it;" which may also be noticed in the lengthened discourses that mark the close of his ministry, in which "the king" and "the kingdom of heaven" come forward with so much frequency (Matthew 21:31; Matthew 21:43; Matthew 22:2 sq.; Matthew 23:14; Matthew 24:14; Matthew 25:1). Nor can we overlook the remarkable circumstance that, in the parable of the marriage-feast, so similar in its general circumstances with that in Luke (Luke 14:16), instead of "a certain man," it is


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Matthew, Gospel of,'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/m/matthew-gospel-of.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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