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MATTHEW


63


MATTHEW


cause of their sins, the Jews, as a nation, shall have no part in this kingdom ; (C) the Gospel will be announced to all nations, and all men are called to salvation.

A. St. Matthew has shown that in Jesus all the an- cient prophesies on the Messias were fulfilled. He was the Emmanuel, born of a Virgin Mother (i, 22, 23), announced by I.saias (vii, 14); He was born at Bethlehem (ii, 6), as had been predicted by Micheas (v, 2); He went to Egypt and was recalled thence (ii, 15) as foretold by Osee (xi, 1). According to the pre- diction of Isaias (xl, 3), He was heralded by a precur- sor, John the Baptist (iii, 1 sqq.) ; He cured all the sick (viii, 16 sq.), that the prophecy of Isaias (liii, 4) might be fulfilled; and in all His actions He was indeed the same of whom this prophet had spoken (xlii, 1). His teaching in parables (xiii, 3) was conformaljle to what Isaias had said (vi, 9). Finally, He suffered, and the entire drama of His Passion and Death was a fullil- ment of the prophecies of Scripture (Isaias, liii, 3-12; Ps. xxi, 13-22). Jesus proclaimed Himself the Mes- sias by His approbation of Peter's confession (xvi, 16, 17) and by His answer to the high priest (xxvi, 63, 64). St. Matthew also endeavours to show that the Kingdom inaugurated by Jesus Christ is the Messianic Kingdom. From the Ijeginning of His public life, Jesus proclaims that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (iv, 17) ; in the Sermon on the Mount He promul- gates the charter of this kipgdom, and in paraljlesHe speaks of its nature and conditions. In His answer to the envoys of John the Baptist Jesus specifically declares that the Messianic Kingdom, foretold by the Prophets, has come to pass, and He describes its char- acteristics : ' ' The bUnd see, and the lame walk, the lep- ers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the gospel preached to them." It was in these terms, that Isaias had described the future king- dom (xxxv, 5, 6; Ixi, 1). St. Matthew records a very formal expression of the Lord concerning the coming of the Kingdom: " But if I by the Sjiirit of God cast out devils, then is the kingdom of God come upon you " (xii, 28). Moreover, Jesus could call Himself the" Mes- sias only inasmuch as the Kingdom of God had come.

B. The Jews as a nation were rejected because of their sins, and were to have no part in the Ivingdom of Heaven. This rejection had been several times pre- dicted by the prophets, and St. Matthew shows that it was because of its incredulity that Israel was excluded from the Kingdom; he dwells on all the events in which the increasing obduracy of the Jewish nation is con- spicuous, manifested first in the princes and then in the hatred of the people who beseech Pilate to put Jesus to death. Thas the Jewish nation itself was account- able for its exclusion from the Messianic kingdom.

C. That the pagans were called to salvation instead of the Jews, Jesus declared explicitly to the unbeliev- ing Israelites: "Therefore I say to you that the king- dom of God shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a nation yielding the fruits thereof" (xxi, 43); "He that soweth the good seed, is the Son of man. And the field is the world " (xiii, 37-38). " And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a testimony to all nations, and then shall the con- summation come" (xxiv, 14). Finally, appearing to His Apostles in Galilee, Jesus gives them this supreme command : " All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations" (xxviii, 18, 19). These last words of Christ are the summary of the First Gospel. Efforts have been made to main- tain that these words of Jesus, commanding that all nations be evangelized, were not authentic, but in a subsequent paragraph we shall prove that all the Lord's sayings, recorded in the First Gospel, proceed from the teaching of Jesus. For this particular ques- tion see, Meinertz, "Jesus und die Heidenmission" (Munster, 1908).

V. Destination of the Gospel. — The ecclesiasti- «al writers Papias, St. Irenaeus, Origen, Eusebius, and


St. Jerome, whose testimony has been given above (II, A), agree in declaring that St. Matthew wTote his Gospel fir the Jews. Everything in this Gospel provjs, that the writer addresses himself to Jewish readers. He does not explain Jewish customs and usages to them, as do the other Evangelists for their Greek and Latin readers, and he assumes that they are acquainted with Palestine, since, unlike St. Luke, he mentions places without giving any indication of their topographical position. It is true that the He- brew words, Emmanuel, Golgotha, Eloi, are translated, but it is Ukely that these translations were inserted when the Aramaic text was reproduced in Greek. St. Matthew chronicles those discourses of Christ that would interest the Jews and leave a favouraljle im- pression upon them. The law is not to be destroyed, Ijut fulfilled (v, 17). He emphasizes more strongly than either St. Mark or St. Luke the false interpreta- tions of the law given by the scribes and Pharisees, the hypocrisy and even the vices of the latter, all of which could be of interest to Jewish readers only. Accord- ing to certain critics, St. Irenaius (Fragment xxix) said that Matthew wrote to convert the Jews by prov- ing to them that Christ was the Son of David. This interpretation is badly founded. Moreover, Origen (In Matt., i) categorically asserts that this Gospel was published for Jews converted to the Faith. Eusebius (Hist, eccl.. Ill, xxiv) is also explicit on this point, and St. Jerome, summarizing tradition, teaches us that St. Matthew published his Gospel in Judea and in the Hebrew language, principally for those among the Jews who believed in Jesus, and did not observe even the shadow of the Law, the truth of the Gospel having replaced it (In Matt. Prol.). Sulise- quent ecclesiastical writers and Catholic exegetes have taught that St. Matthew wrote for the converted Jews. "However," says Zahn (Introd. to the New Testa- ment, II, 562), "the apologetical and polemical char- acter of the book, as well as the choice of language, make it extremely probable that Matthew wished his book to be read primarilj' liy the Jews who were not yet Christians. It was suited to Jeivish Christians who were still exposed to Je^vish influence, and also to Jews who still resisted the Gospel".

VI. Date and Place op Composition. — Ancient ec- clesiastical ^\Titers are at variance as to the date of the composition of the First Gospel. Eusebius (in his Chronicle), Theophylact, and Euthymius Zigabenus are of opinion that the Gospel of Matthew was written eight years, and Nicephorus Callistus fifteen years, after Christ's Ascension — i. e. about A. D. 38—45. Ac- cording to Eusebius, Matthew ^\Tote his Gospel in Hebrew when he left Palestine. Now, following a cer- tain tradition (admittedly not too reliable), the Apos- tles separated twelve years after the Ascension, hence the Gospel would have been written about the year 40-42; but following Eusebius (Hist, eccl.. Ill, v, 2), it is possible to fix the definitive departure of the A|)ost les about the year 60, in which event the writing of the Gos- pel would have taken place about the year 00-68. St. Irenseus is somewhat more exact concerning the date of the First Gospel, as he says: "Matthew produced his Gospel when Peter and Paul were evangelizing and founding the Church of Rome, consequently about the years 64-67." However, this text presents difficulties of interpretation which render its meaning uncertain and prevent us from deducing any positive conclusion. In our day opinion is rather divided. Catholic crit- ics, in general, favour the years 40-45, although some (e. g. Patrizi) go back to 36-39 or (e. g. Aberli') to 37. Belser assigns 41^2; Comply, 40-50; Schilfer, 50-51; Hug, Reuschl, Schanz, and 'Rose, 60-67. This last opinion is founded on the combined testimonies of St. IreniEUS and Eusebius, and on the remark inserted par(!nthetically in the discourse of .lesus in chapter xxiv, 15: " When therefore you shall see the abomina- tion of desolation, which was^okcii of by Daniel the