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October 25, 2006


Paul H

I just found this interesting web site, thanks to Karl Keating's recent e-letter:


One of the many articles on this site deals at length with the question of the authorship, dating, and order of composition of the four Gospels -- thus dovetailing nicely with the subject of Jimmy's post. He agrees that Matthew wrote Matthew's Gospel, and moreover that he wrote it first, prior to the composition of the other three Gospels. The first page (of five pages) of the article can be found here (each page contains a link to the next page):


Or the complete article in Jimmy's favorite file format ;-) can be found here...


I mention this article because it may be interesting to some folks here as further reading on this issue.


For those that do not have a copy of Father Brown's book on the New Testament:

From Father Ray Brown's 878-paged, An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday, New York, 1996, p. 172, (with Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur (with regard to Matthew's Gospel)
Date: 80-90 AD,give or take a decade
"Author by traditional (2nd century) attribution. Matthew a tax collector among the Twelve, wrote either the Gospel or a collection of the Lord's sayings in Aramaic. Some who reject this picture allow that something written by Matthew may have made its way into the present Gospel.

Author detectable from contents: A Greek-speaker, who knew Aramaic or Hebrew or both and was not an eyewitness of Jesus' ministry, drew on Mark and a collection of sayings of the Lord (Q) as well as on other available traditions oral or written. Probably a Jewish Christian.
Locale Involved: Probably the Antioch region
Unity and Integrity: No major reason to think of more than one author or sizable additions to what he wrote."

As per Crossan and many contemporary biblical scholars:

22. Gospel of Matthew [Matt]. Written around 90 CE and possibly at Syrian Antioch, it used, apart from other data, the Gospel of Mark and the Sayings Gospel Q for its pre-passion narrative, and the Gospel of Mark and the Cross Gospel for its passion and resurrection account (Crossan, 1988)."

See Crossan's complete list of scriptural references at

For another list of early Christian documents and the date of publication, see: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/

From this reference:
"It is also the consensus position that the evangelist was not the apostle Matthew. Such an idea is based on the second century statements of Papias and Irenaeus. As quoted by Eusebius in Hist. Eccl. 3.39, Papias states: "Matthew put together the oracles [of the Lord] in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as best he could." In Adv. Haer. 3.1.1, Irenaeus says: "Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome and laying the foundations of the church." We know that Irenaeus had read Papias, and it is most likely that Irenaeus was guided by the statement he found there. That statement in Papias itself is considered to be unfounded because the Gospel of Matthew was written in Greek and relied largely upon Mark, not the author's first-hand experience."

The referenced lists have rather extensive review links. Interesting information if you have time to read it all.


I've found it interesting that the Gospels of Matthew and John are the two whose authorship are most questioned, while the authorship of Mark and Luke are rarely questioned. Matthew and John claim to be eyewitness accounts, while Mark and Luke do not (although Mark, who was a boy at the time, may have witnessed some of the events he chronicled). Those who wish to debunk the Faith just can't allow those eyewitness accounts to stand.

Tim J.

Realist -

"It is also the consensus position that the evangelist was not the apostle Matthew"

Crossan, et all, consistently operate from a hermeneutic of suspicion - that is, they assume that the NT documents are not genuinely Apostolic and then interpret all the evidence to support their assumption.

They engage in circular reasoning, dismissing all the evidence that stands against their pet theories with statements like "That statement in Papias itself is considered to be unfounded..." (meaning considered *by them* to be unfounded).

Crossan (like many modern sceptical scholars)sees what he wants to see.


I misread "Ray Brown" as "Dan Brown" and I thought, "Why on earth should we care what DAN BROWN thinks of the authorship of the Gospels??"

I'm going to go get some coffee now.


"...the Gospel of Matthew was written in Greek and relied largely upon Mark"

Realist -

The Hebrew text of Matthew did exist and was said to be present in the library at Caesarea:

"Among other priceless lost treasures in the library, Jerome knew the copy of the Aramaic (so-called "Hebrew") text of the Gospel of Matthew."


Irenaeus quoted Papias as stating that Matthew wrote his gospel in Hebrew letters.

Further, according to Jerome, De Viris Illustribus, ii:

Matthew, also called Levi, apostle and aforetimes publican, composed a gospel of Christ at first published in Judea in Hebrew for the sake of those of the circumcision who believed, but this was afterwards translated into Greek though by what author is uncertain. The Hebrew itself has been preserved until the present day in the library at Caesarea which Pamphilus so diligently gathered, a city of Syria, who use it. In this it is to be noted that wherever the Evangelist, whether on his own account or in the person of our Lord the Saviour, quotes the testimony of the Old Testament he does not follow the authority of the translators of the Septuagint but the Hebrew. Wherefore these two forms exist: 'Out of Egypt have I called my son,' and 'for he shall be called a Nazarene.'

Jeb Protestant

I don't have my copy of Called to Communion handy, but I believe that Ratzinger refers to the Pastorals as "post-apostolic" or "sub-apostolic" indicating that he rejects Pauline authorship.

In addition, here he referes to "Duetero-Pauline Epistles" epistles also indicating that he denies Pauline authorship of some that the NT says Paul wrote.



Both Irenaeus and Papias are quite unreliable. Eusebius says that Papias records many fabulous tales, one of which is that Judas head expanded to the width of a wagon trail and that the place where he died mantained a stench such that even to this day nobody would go near it. Irenaeus tells us that Jesus lived to the age of 50 and that he got this tradition from those who knew the apostles themselves. You cannot count on either of them for reliable historical information about such things. The argument must rest on something else.


Please provide sources to support your conjectures.


Origen also wrote that the very first account to be written was by Matthew, once a tax collector but later an apostle of Jesus Christ. Matthew published it for the converts from Judaism and composed it in Hebrew letters. This is affirmed by Eusebius who stated that the Apostles were led to write only under the pressure of necessity. Matthew, who had first preached the Gospel in Hebrew, when on the point of going to other nations, committed the Gospel to writing in his native language. Therefore he supplied the written word to make up for the lack of his own presence to those from whom he was sent.(Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 3.24.6).



Could you cite the Irenaeus' quotes?

Take care and God bless,

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