Perhaps surprisingly the Catholic Church gets Jesus just about right in a tweet today..

Today the Church celebrates St. Matthew (Feast Day – September 21).

The Gospel of Matthew is anonymous: the author is not named within the text, and the superscription “according to Matthew” was added some time in the second century. The tradition that the author was the disciple Matthew begins with the early Christian bishop Papias of Hierapolis (c. AD 60–163), who is cited by the Church historian Eusebius (AD 260–340), as follows: “Matthew collected the oracles (logia: sayings of or about Jesus) in the Hebrew language (Hebraïdi dialektōi), and each one interpreted (hērmēneusen – perhaps “translated”) them as best he could.”

On the surface, this has been taken to imply that Matthew’s Gospel itself was written in Hebrew or Aramaic by the apostle Matthew and later translated into Greek, but nowhere does the author claim to have been an eyewitness to events, and Matthew’s Greek “reveals none of the telltale marks of a translation”. Scholars have put forward several theories to explain Papias: perhaps Matthew wrote two gospels, one, now lost, in Hebrew, the other our Greek version; or perhaps the logia was a collection of sayings rather than the gospel; or by dialektōi Papias may have meant that Matthew wrote in the Jewish style rather than in the Hebrew language. The consensus is that Papias does not describe the Gospel of Matthew as we know it, and it is generally accepted that Matthew was written in Greek, not in Aramaic or Hebrew.


Categories: Catholic, Christianity, Gospels, Jesus

4 replies

  1. The Gospel of Matthew, John the elder and the Papias tradition : a response to R H Gundry – by David C Sim:

    ” … the belief that the disciple Matthew had written the Gospel that bears his name went unchallenged in Christian circles for many centuries. It was not until the rise of Biblical criticism in the eighteenth century, when longheld church assumptions and traditions were questioned and tested according to the evidence, that the tide began to turn away from the view that the disciple Matthew wrote the first book of the Christian canon. This trend continued in the following centuries, and the dominant view in modern Matthean scholarship is that the author of this Gospel was not the disciple of Jesus.3 These scholars maintain that the internal evidence of the Gospel itself points against apostolic authorship, while the external evidence of the Church Fathers is far from trustworthy.”


    • The Church tradition that claims the disciple Matthew compiled the first Greek gospel, or a ‘Hebrew’ gospel of which the Greek is a translation, went unchallenged from the second century to the nineteenth century, but can no longer be defended with any reasonable confidence. The main reasons relate to the fact, now it is generally accepted amongst NT scholarship, that the first canonical gospel is not a translation from the ‘Hebrew’, but was actually composed originally in Greek on the basis of at least two written Greek sources, Mark and Q.

      A closer assessment of the earliest tradition on Matthew from Papias gives some insights on how the tradition originated regarding his authorship of the first gospel. Papias has stipulates:

      “Matthew compiled the Logia in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted (the Greek word may mean ‘translated’) them as he was able.

      Most scholars agree that ‘Hebrew’ here probably means ‘Aramaic’ the common language of the Jews in the first century. The widely accepted view is that these ‘Logia’ were sayings of Jesus, with perhaps occasional stories about him contained in the Greek Q source used to compile the first canonical gospel of Matthew by an unknown author.

  2. Maybe they should consider this “Jesus” who writes The Last Testament

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