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(1) That our first Gospel has been ascribed to Matthew from the end of the second century. On the one hand, an anonymous Gospel based on S. Mark's Gospel and on the Matthæan Logia was in use in the Church. It might, of course, have been called after its compiler. But there would be an irresistible tendency to find for it Apostolic sanction; and the tradition as represented by Papias, that the Logia, which formed so large a part of it, were drawn from a work of the Apostle Matthew, would naturally suggest the name of that Apostle as a sanction for the importance ascribed to the first Gospel. To have called it after its other and chief source, S. Mark's Gospel, would have led to confusion, since the second Gospel was also in common use.
(2) That the Church writers from the second century onwards speak of the first Gospel as having been written in “Hebrew.” This is quite simply explained as an after consequence of the transference of the name Matthew from the original Apostolic work to the canonical Gospel. It was traditional knowledge that Matthew had written an Evangelic work in Hebrew, and this statement easily became attached to the first Gospel. If there seems to be a measure of unreality about such a statement as applied to the first Gospel, the fault must lie at the door of those who first transferred the name Matthew from the primary to the secondary work. Yet what could they do? They wanted a name for the first Gospel. The compiler was either unknown, or, if known, a man of second rank in the Church. The book embodied much of the Apostle's work, and it would be a pity to allow his name as an authority for the Church's records to pass into oblivion. And so the first Gospel became the work of the Apostle. But S. Matthew, as all men knew, had written in “Hebrew.” And so wherever the first Gospel became known as his work, the statement that he had written in Hebrew followed his name, and was attached to the Gospel.
The canonical Gospel was not the only work ascribed to the Apostle Matthew in the second century. The Jewish Christian sect of the Nazarenes possessed a Gospel, which is referred to by second and third century writers as the Gospel according to the Hebrews. I give below some of the references to it. Lists of quotations from it may be seen in Preuschen's Antilegomena, or Nestle's Novi Testamenti Supplementum, or (in German) in Hennecke's Neutestamentliche Apokryphen. For critical discussions of the questions connected with the Gospel, see Zahn, Gesch. des Kanons, ii. 642 ff., or Adeney in the Hibbert Journal, Oct. 1904.
1. Ignatius (Hieronymus, De Vir. Illus. 16):
Ignatius—scripsit-ad Smyrnæos—in qua et de evangelio, quod nuper a me translatum est, super persona Christi ponit testimonium dicens "Ego vero et post resurrectionem in carne eum vidi et credo
quia sit; et quando venit ad Petrum et ad eos qui cum Petro erant dixit eis : Ecce palpate me et videte, qui non sum dæmonium incorporale. Et statim tetigerunt eum et crediderunt.” Cf. Ignatius, Ad Smyrn. iii. 1. 2. Jerome himself ascribes the expression “incorporale dæmonium” to the Gospel “quod Hebræorum lectitant Nazaræi,” Comm. in Isaiah, pref. to Bk xviii. Origen, De Princip. 1, procem. 8, says that the expression “non sum dæmonium incorporeum came from the book called Petri Doctrina.
2. Hegesippus (Eusebius, H. E. iv. 22):
έκ τε του καθ' Εβραίους ευαγγελίου και του Συριακού και ιδίως εκ της Εβραίδος διαλέκτου τινά τίθησιν.
3. Papias (Eusebius, H. E. iii. 39):
εκτέθειται δε και άλλην ιστοριών περί γυναικός επί πολλαίς αμαρτίαις διαβληθείσης επί του κυρίου, ήν το καθ' Εβραίους ευαγγελίον περιέχει.
Eusebius does not here assert that Papias quoted from the Gospel according to the Hebrews.
4. Irenæus, Adv. Hær. i. 26. 2:
Solo autem eo quod est secundum Matthæum evangelio utuntur (Ebionæi), et apostolum Paulum recusant, apostatem eum legis dicentes.
5. (a) Origen, Comment. in Joh. vol. ii. 6 (Paris, 1759, vol. iv. 63). εάν δε πρoσίεται τις το καθ' Εβραίους ευαγγέλιον. (6) Origen, Comment in Mt. vol. xv. 14 (Paris, 1740, vol. iii. 671).
Scriptum est in evangelio quodam, quod dicitur secundum Hebræos, si tamen placet alicui suscipere illud, non ad auctoritatem, sed ad manifestationem propositæ quæstionis.
6. Clement Alex., Stromata, ii. 9:
*Ήδη δ' εν τούτοις τινές και το καθ’ Εβραίους ευαγγέλιον κατέλεξαν, και μάλιστα Εβραίων οι τον Χριστόν παραδεξάμενοι χαίρουσι.
(0) Eusebius, H. E. iii. 27:
ευαγγέλιω δε μόνο τα καθ' Εβραίους λεγομένω χρώμενοι, των λοιπών σμικρόν έποιούντο λόγον.
8. (a) Jerome, De Vir. Illus. 3:
Porro ipsum Hebraicum habetur usque hodie in Cæsariensi bibliotheca, quam Pamphilus martyr studiosissime confecit. Mihi quoque a Nazareis, qui in Bercea urbe Syriæ hoc volumine utuntur, describendi facultas fuit.
(0) Jerome, Contra Pelag. iii. 2:
In Evangelio juxta Hebræos, quod Chaldaico quidem Syroque Sermone, sed Hebraicis literis scriptum est, quo utuntur usque hodie Nazareni, secundum apostolos sive, ut plerique autumant, juxta Matthæum, quod et in Cæsariensi habetur bibliotheca, narrat historia, etc.
(c) Jerome, Comment. in Is 112:
Evangelium quod Hebræo sermone conscriptum legunt Nazaræi.
(d) Jerome, Comment, in Mic 77:
Evangelium "quod secundum Hebræos editum nuper transtulimus.”
(e) Jerome, Comment. in Is 40°:
Evangelium "quod juxta Hebræos scriptum Nazaræi lectitant."
Jerome, Comment, in Esech 1618 : “In evangelio quoque Hebræorum, quod lectitant Nazaræi.” (g) Jerome, Comment. in Mt 1213 :
In evangelio quo utuntur Nazaræni et Ebionitæ, quod nuper in Græcum de Hebræo sermone transtulimus, et quod vocatur a plerisque Matthæi authenticum, etc.
() Jerome, Ep. 20. 5:
Denique Matthæus, qui evangelium Hebræo sermone conscripsit, ita posuit: Osanna barrama.
(1) Jerome, Comment in Mt 2385 :
* Evangelium quoque, quod appellatur Secundum Hebræos et a me nuper in Græcum Latinumque sermonem translatum est, quo et Origenes sæpe utitur," etc.
It will have been seen that Papias and the Gospel had a narrative in common; but it does not, of course, follow that Papias had seen the Gospel. Ignatius has a saying which was also contained in the Gospel. Hegesippus quoted from it. Irenæus speaks of it as in use among the Ebionites; but he probably uses Ebionites loosely as a general term for the Jewish Christians of Palestine, It was, as Jerome many times states, the Gospel of the Nazarenes, whilst the Ebionites had another Gospel (Epiphanius, Hares. xxx. 3. 13). Jerome saw the Gospel at Bercea, and says that there was a copy in the library at Cæsarea. He translated it into Latin and into Greek, and not infrequently (some eighteen times) quotes from it in his writings. The extant fragments of it are too scanty to admit of positive judgements, but it is unlikely that there was any dependence of our canonical Gospel upon the Gospel according to the Hebrews, or vice versa. All that can be said is, that from the beginning of the second century the Jewish Christian Nazarenes had a Gospel which they ascribed to Matthew, and which was written in the Aramaic language and in Hebrew letters. have been ascribed to Matthew for the same reason that caused his name to be connected with our canonical Gospel, viz., the fact that one main source for its material was that Apostle's col. lection of sayings of Christ.
The data furnished by the Gospel itself seem best satisfied if we suppose that its author compiled it within a period of a few years before or after the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. An earlier date does not seem possible, in view of the fact that the compiler had S. Mark's Gospel before him.
The writer's forecast of history is clear and unmistakable. The coming of the Son of Man, whom he clearly identifies with the crucified Christ, would be the first stage in a series of events, comprising the gathering of the elect and the final judgement, which together would form a terminus to the present dispensation of the world's history. Compare the following:
3 “What is the sign of Thy coming, and of the consummation of the age?”
2430 “They shall see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of heaven,” etc.
2531 “When the Son of Man shall come in His glory, then shall He sit on the throne of His glory, and all nations shall be gathered before Him."
This coming and the consummation of the age lay in the near future. Compare the following:
1023 “Ye shall not finish the cities of Israel, till the Son of Man be come.”
1628 “There are some of those who stand here, who shall not taste of death, until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."
2434 "This generation shall not pass away, until all these things come to pass.”
But it could be still further defined, for it was to take place “immediately after the tribulation of those days,” 2429 ; and this tribulation is clearly to the writer the distress which would accompany the downfall of Jerusalem ; cf. 242. 3 “There shall not be left a stone upon a stone. When shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the consummation of the age?"
It is true that the writer anticipates a previous preaching of the goodness of the kingdom in all the world to all nations, 2414; but he makes it clear that in his opinion this could be accomplished before the great tribulation of the final overthrow of the Jewish nation; cf. 2414ff, “then shall come the end. When, therefore, ye see (the approaching fall of the city),” etc. It is probable that he saw in the apostolic preaching in the West, culminating in the arrival of S. Paul at Rome, an ample fulllment of this " preaching in all the world (oikovnévn) for a testimony to all nations.”
It seems impossible to suppose that a Gospel in which Christ's sayings are so arranged as to give this quite definite impression that He had foretold His coming as Son of Man, and the consummation of the age, in close connection with the events of the year 70 A.D., could have been written more than a very few years after that date.
Nor does the Gospel contain anything that decisively conflicts with such a date.
Certainly not the narratives of chs. 1. 2. Whatever the amount of historical fact here recorded may be, there is no reason why these traditions should not have been recorded before the year 75 A.D., this date being chosen as the latest probable limit. See note on chs. 1. 2. It is only the narrow and undiscerning logic of modern criticism which finds it necessary to detect earlier and later stages of thought in these chapters, on the ground that one and the same writer could not have recorded the story of the supernatural birth, and, at the same time, have compiled as an introduction to it a genealogy professedly designed to emphasise the fact that Joseph was in a real sense the father of Jesus. I have endeavoured to prove in the commentary that the Gospel as it now stands is an indivisible unity; and that the only stages required are an early cycle of Palestinian traditions, and a compiler who placed them at the beginning of his Gospel, and compiled as an introduction to them a genealogy of the main figure in his Gospel narrative. The traditions may well have been current in Palestine before the year 70 A.D., and the compiler need not have done his work much later, if at all later, than this.
Nor need such sayings as 1617-19 1816-20 reflect a late period of Church history. The “Church” may well be the Palestinian community of Jewish Christian disciples of Christ in the middle of the century, and the prominence given to S. Peter probably reflects his position in the Palestinian Church during that period. If we regard the writer of the Gospel as a Jewish Christian, and do not read into his record of Christ's words ideas which the later Church quite naturally found there in the light of the development of Christianity, there seems no reason to suppose that he may not have written his book within the period 65-75 A.). And his arrangement of Christ's eschatological sayings almost conclusively points to that period.
THE STYLE AND LANGUAGE.
The Greek of the Gospel is not so full of Aramaisms and of harsh constructions due to translation from Aramaic as is the Greek of the second Gospel. Nor, on the other hand, has it the