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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/82

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MATTHEW


5S


MATTHEW


the Gospel of Matthew equal in point of authority to the writings of the Old Testament. — The "Shepherd of Hernias" has several passages which bear close fe- seniblanee to passages of Matthew, but not a single literal quotation from it. — In his "Dialogue" (xeix, 8), St. Justin quotes, almost literally, the prayer of Christ in the Garilen of Olives, in Matthew, xxvi, 39, 40.

A great number of passages in the WTitings of St. Justin recall the Gos|)el of Matthew, and prove that he ranked it among the Memoirs uf the Apostles which, he said, were called Gospels (I Apol., Ixvi), were read in the services of the Church (ibid., Ixvii), and were con- sequently regarded as Scripture. — In his " Legatio pro christianis", xii, II, Athenagoras (117) quotes almost literally sentences taken from the Sermon on the Mount" (Matt., v, 44).— Theophilus of Antioch (.\d Autol., Ill, xiii-xiv) quotes a passage from Matthew (v, 28, 32), and, according to St. .Jerome (In Matt. Prol.), wrote a commentary on the Gospel of St. Mat- thew. — We find in the Testaments of the Twelve Pa- triarchs — drawn up, according to some critics, about the middle of the second century — numerous passages that closely resemble the Gospel of Matthew (Test. Gad, V, 3; vi, 6; v, 7=Matt., xviii, 15, 35; Test. Jos., i, 5, 6=Matt., XXV, 35, 36, etc.), but Dr. Charles main- tains that the Testaments were written in Hebrew in the first century before Jesus Christ, and translated into Greek towards the middle of the same century. In this event, the Gospel of Matthew would depend upon the Testaments and not the Testaments upon the Gos- pel. The rjuestion is not yet settled, but it seems to us that there is a greater probability that the Testa- ments, at least in their Greek version, are of later date than the Gospel of Matthew; they certainly received numerous Christian additions. — The Greek text of the Clementine Homilies contains some quotations from Matthew (Horn, iii, o2=Matt., xv, 13); in Hom. xviii, 15, the quotation from Matt., xiii, 35, is literal. — Passages which suggest the Gospel of Matthew might be quoted from heretical writings of the second cen- tury and from apocryphal gospels — the Gospel of Peter, the Protoevangelium of James, etc., in which the narratives, to a considerable extent, are derived from the Gospel of Matthew. — Tatian incorporated the Gospel of Matthew in his " Diatesseron "; we shall (luote below the testimonies of Papias and St. Irenseus. For the latter, the Gospel of Matthew, from which he quotes numerous passages, was one of the four that constituted the quadriform Gospel dominated by a single spirit. — TertuUian (Adv. Marc, IV, ii) asserts, that the " Instrumentum evangelicum" was com- posed by the Apostles, and mentions Matthew as the author of a Gospel (De carne Christi, xii). — Clement of Alexandria (Strom., Ill, xiii) speaks of the four Gospels that have been transmitted, and quotes over three hundred passages from the Gospel of Matthew, which he introduces by the formula, iv Si tQ Kara MadSaTov (vayye\iif or by it>n(Tlv & /ci/pios.

It is unnecessary to pursue our inquiry further. About the middle of the third century, the Gospel of Matthew was received by the whole Christian Church as a Divinely inspired document, and consequently as canonical. The testimony of Origen ("In Matt.", quoted by Eusebius, "Hist, eccl.", Ill, xxv, 4), of Eusebius (op. cit.. Ill, xxiv, 5; xxv, 1), and of St. Jerome (" De Viris 111.", iii, "Prolog, in Matt.") are explicit in this respect. It might be added that this Gospel is found in the most ancient versions: Old Latin, Syriac, and Egyptian. Finally, it stands at the head of the Books of the New Testament in the Canon of the Council of Laodicea (363) and in that of St. Athanasius (326-73), and very probably it was in the last part of the Muratorian Canon. Furthermore, the canonicity of the Gospel of St. Matthew is accepted by the entire Christian world.

II. Authenticity of the First Gospel. — The question of authenticity assumes an altogether special


aspect in regard to the First Gospel. The early Chris- tian writers assert that St. Matthew wrote a (iospcl in Hebrew: this Hebrew <'iiispel has, however, entirely disappeared, and the ( li)spel which we have, and from which ecclesiastical writers borrow quotations as com- ing from the Go.spel of Matthew, is in Greek. What connexion is there between this Hebrew Gospel and this Greek Gospel, both of which tradition ascribes to St. Matthew? Such is the problem that presents itself for solution. Let us first examine the facts.

A. Testimony of Tradition. — According to Eusebius (Hist, eccl.. Ill, xxxix, 16), Papias said that Matthew collected (ffvuerd^aTo; or, according to two manu- scripts, crvueypdtpaTo, composed) rii \6yia (the oracles or maxims of Jesus) hi the Hebrew (Aramaic) lan- guage, and that each one translated them as best he could.

Three questions arise in regard to this testimony of Papias on Matthew: (1) What does the word X67ia signify? Does it mean only detached sentences or sentences incorporated in a narrative, that is to say, a Gospel such as that of St. Matthew? Among classical writers, \iyiov, the diminutive of X670S, signifies the "answer of oracles", a "prophecy"; in the Septua- gint and in Philo, " oracles of God " (to. d^Ka X67ia, the Ten Commandments). It sometimes has a broader meaning and seems to include both facts and sayings. In the New Testament the signification of the word Xdyiof is doubtful, and if, strictly speaking, it may be claimed to indicate teachings and narratives, the meaning "oracles" is the more natural. However, writers contemporary with Papias — e. g. St. Clement of Rome (Ad Cor., liii), St. Irenseus (Adv. Hser., I, viii, 2), Clement of Alexandria (Strom., I, cccxcii), and Origen (De Princip., IV, xi) — have used it to designate facts and sayings. The work of Papias was entitled "Exposition of the Oracles [\oyloiv] of the Lord", and it also contained narratives (Eusebius, "Hi.st. eccl.", Ill, xxxix, 9). On the other hand, speaking of the Gospel of Mark, Papias says that this Evangelist wrote all that Christ had said and done, but adds that he established no connexion between the Lord's say- ings {aOvTa^Ln Tuv KvpiaKum \oytuv). We may believe that here Xoylaf comprises all that Christ said and did. Nevertheless, it would seem that, if the two passages on Mark and Matthew followed each other in Papias as in Eusebius, the author intended to emphasize a differ- ence between them, by implying that Mark recorded the Lord's words and deeds and Matthew chronicled His discourses. The question is still unsolved; it is, however, possible that, in Papias, the term Xi7ia means deeds and teachings.

(2) Second, does Papias refer to oral or written translations of Matthew, when he says that each one translated the sayings "as best he could"? As there is nowhere any allusion to numerous Greek transla- tions of the Logia of Matthew, it is probable that Papias speaks here of the oral translations made at Christian meetings, similar to the extemporaneous translations of the Old Testament made in the syna- gogues. This would explain why Papias mentions that each one (each reader) translated "as best he could".

(3) Finally^ were the Logia of Matthew and the Gospel to which ecclesiastical writers refer written in Hebrew or Aramaic? Both hypotheses are held. Papias says that Matthew wrote the Logia in the Hebrew (e^patSi.) language; St. Irenaus and Eusebius maintain that he wrote his Gospel for the Hebrews in their national language, and the same assertion is found in several writers. Matthew would, therefore, seem to have written in modernized Hebrew, the lan- guage then used by the scribes for teaching. But, in the time of Christ, the national language of the Jews was Aramaic, and when, in the New Testament, there is mention of the Hebrew language {ifipats Sid\(KTos), it is Aramaic that is implied. Hence, the aforesaid