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The Gospel According To Saint Matthew With An Explanatory And Critical Commentary by Rev. A.J. Maas S.J.

i. Christian antiquity is unanimous in maintaining that St. Matthew wrote a gospel in Hebrew. The testimony of St. Papias, St. Irenæus, St. Pantænus, Origen, Eusebius, St. Epiphanius, St. Jerome, and of many other Fathers and ecclesiastical writers bears out this statement.

1. St. Papias, bishop of Hieropolis in Phrygia and friend of St. Polycarp, wrote about the middle of the second century; the report that he suffered martyrdom at Pergamum in the time of Aurelius [c. 164 A. D.], like St. Polycarp and St. Justin Martyr, is more than doubtful [cf. Lightfoot, Coloss. p. 48, n.; Westcott, Canon of the N. T. sixth ed. p. 70, n. 1; Funk, Patres apostol. ii. pp. 1 ff.]. This witness testifies that “Matthew composed the oracles in Hebrew, and each one interpreted them as he was able [cf. Eus. H. E. iii. 39; Funk, Patres apostol. 2 pp. 276 ff.]. At the time of Papias, therefore, the gospel of St. Matthew was well known, and the writer intended to relate only a circumstance connected with its origin. The importance of this testimony is emphasized by the many attacks on its precise meaning on the part of many recent writers: cf. Schleiermacher, Über die Zeugnisse des Papias, Studien u. Krit. 1832, pp. 735 ff.; Lachmann, De ordine narration. in evang. synopt., Stud. u. Krit. 1835, pp. 577 ff.; Credner, Einleitung, pp. 201 ff.; Réville, Etudes crit. sur l’Evangile selon Saint Matthieu, Leiden, 1862; Renan, Vie de Jésus, Introd. p. xix, ed. xviii. p. lii. The main point of the dispute concerns the meaning of the word “oracles,” and is not influenced by the recently discovered Λόγια Ιησοῦ [Grenfell and Hunt, London].

a. Eusebius understood the word “oracles” [τὰ λόγια] in the sense of gospel; for after mentioning St. Mark, “who wrote the gospel,” the author proceeds to speak of St. Matthew, who “composed the oracles.” To evade this argument, the foregoing opponents contend that Eusebius did not fully understand the words of St. Papias.

b. In the text of Papias himself, “oracles” [τὰ λόγια] may, at least, signify “gospel.” Speaking of St. Mark he says that the evangelist recorded “what had been said and done by Christ,” and what he had heard from St. Peter, and not “as if he were composing an orderly account of the oracles [λογίων] of the Lord.” The “oracles” are therefore, in the language of St. Papias, equivalent to the recorded “words and deeds” of Christ. The very title of his work confirms this meaning of τὰ λόγια; for though the writer does not confine himself to an explanation of the words and instructions of Jesus, he entitles his work “an explanation of the oracles of the Lord” [λογίων κυριακῶν ἐξήγησις].

c. This meaning of “oracles” [λόγια] is not unknown in other writers: in Rom. 3:2 it applies to the whole of the Old Testament; in Heb. 5:12 to the whole body of Christ’s doctrine; in Fl. Joseph. [Bell. Jud. VI. v. 4] λόγια is equivalent to τὰ ἱερὰ γράμματα; St. Iren. [c. hær. proœm.] uses τὰ λόγια τοῦ Κυρίου of the gospel; other instances of a similar meaning of λόγια have been collected by Funk [patr. apost. ii. p. 280] and Schanz [Matthäus, pp. 27–31].

d. Finally, λόγια in the language of Papias must mean “gospel”: α. no writing of St. Matthew except the first gospel was generally known in the second century; β. there is no record of a work of the evangelist that contained the Lord’s words only; γ. Eusebius diligently collected all that had been written about Jesus by the apostles and disciples, but found no trace of λόγια κυριακά outside the gospel; δ. all antiquity could not have remained ignorant of such an important work, if it had existed; ε. the first gospel contains so many discourses and instructions of the Lord that it may well be called τὰ λόγια κυριακά [cf. Hilgenfeld, Einl. p. 456; Lightfoot, Contemp. Rev. Aug. 1867, pp. 405 ff.; Aug. 1875, pp. 399 ff., 410 f.].

2. St. Irenæus, bishop of Lyons in Gaul [c. 181 A. D.], represents not only the Gallican Church, but also that of Asia Minor, where he had been brought up, and where the civilization and Christianity of Gaul have their source. Lipsius in his Dict. of Christ. Biograph. gives 130 A. D. as the probable date of the Saint’s birth, and 180–188 A. D. as the probable period of his work against heresies. At any rate, Irenæus had been very familiar with St. Polycarp, the contemporary and disciple of St. John, so that his testimony is only one link removed from apostolic authority. Now this venerable witness testifies [Hær. iii. 1; Eus. H. E. v. 8]: “Matthew among the Hebrews published a gospel in their own dialect when Peter and Paul were preaching in Rome and founding the church.” In another passage he confirms this testimony [fragm. xxix.]: “The gospel according to Matthew was written to the Jews.” The exception that Irenæus may have drawn his information from the writings of St. Papias, which he knew and valued, disregards the chronological notice in the passage of the former writer, not found in the latter. The language of Irenæus supposes also the general acceptance of the gospel according to St. Matthew.

3. The next clear testimony in favor of St. Matthew’s authorship of a gospel in Hebrew is found in the history of Pantænus as related by Eusebius [H. E. v. 10; Jer. De vir. ill. 6]. Pantænus, president of the catechetical school of Alexandria in the time of Commodus [cf. Eus. H. E. v. 9, 10], penetrated before his appointment to that office, towards the end of the second century, “even to the Indians; and it is said that he found that the gospel according to Matthew had anticipated his arrival among some there who were acquainted with Christ, to whom St. Bartholomew, one of the apostles, had preached, and given on his departure [καταλεῖψαι] the writing of Matthew in Hebrew letters.” St. Jerome [l. c] adds that he took this gospel with him to Alexandria [cf. Westcott, Canon of the N. T. sixth ed. p. 83]. Credner’s exception [Einl. p. 90], that this Hebrew document is nowhere said to be the “Urtext” of our first gospel, is valid only if the author’s critical hypothesis be accepted as correct [cf. Cornely, Introd. iii. p. 26, n. 10]. A second argument of our opponents, based on Pantænus’ ignorance of Hebrew, assumes this fact without proof, and ignores the facility of learning from others the character of the gospel in question.

4. Origen [186–253 A. D.] followed Clement in the Alexandrian Church; its school is of the highest importance on account of the natural advantages of its position and the conspicuous eminence of its great teachers during the third century. Now Origen [Comment, in Matt. 1; cf. Eus. H. E. vi. 25] testifies: “As I have learned by tradition concerning the four gospels, which alone are received by the Church of God under heaven without dispute, the first was written by St. Matthew, once a tax-gatherer, afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ, who published it for the benefit of the Jewish converts, composed in the Hebrew language.” The expression “tradition” does not imply a doubt on the part of Origen, and there is no ground for tracing his testimony back to Papias [cf. Michaelis, iii. pt. i. p. 127].

5. From Africa we may return to Syria, where Eusebius [270–340 A. D.], the friend of Pamphilus and bishop of Cæsarea, exerted his powerful influence while the cruel persecution of Diocletian was raging. This writer testifies [Eus. H. E. iii. 24]: “Matthew, having first preached to the Hebrews, delivered to them, when he was preparing to depart for other countries, his gospel composed in their native language.” According to Westcott [Canon of the N. T. sixth ed. p. 415], “the great fault of Eusebius is a want of independent judgment”; but this reputed fault really increases the value of the writer’s testimony in a matter of ecclesiastical tradition.

6. The fact that St. Matthew wrote a gospel in Hebrew is also maintained by St. Cyril [315–586 A. D.], the illustrious catechist and bishop of Jerusalem [catech. 14, 15]; St. Epiphanius [d. 403 A. D.], bishop of Constantia in Cyprus and contemporary of St. Cyril [hær. li. 5]; St. Jerome, who mentions the Hebrew original of St. Matthew’s gospel in seven places at least [De vir. ill. 3; in Matt. proœmium; ep. 20; etc.]; St. Chrysostom, St. Augustin, and other writers of less authority and more recent date.

7. If it be asked whether the Hebrew of the first gospel was the old classical language, or the Aramaic dialect commonly spoken in Palestine at the time of Jesus Christ, opinions are divided. a. Schegg [Evangelium nach Matt., München, 1863, i. p. 13 ff.] and Kaulen [Einleit. Freib. 1890, p. 389] contend that the evangelist wrote in the pure Hebrew of the Old Testament for these reasons: α. The prophetical books of Aggeus, Zacharias, and Malachias, as well as Ecclesiasticus and the Pirquê Aboth, show that classical Hebrew was still written after the exile. β. St. Jerome [ep. 20] puts a Hebrew expression in the mouth of the first evangelist. γ. A book in which quotations from the Old Testament are of frequent occurrence, and which is written by a Jew for Jews, must by the nature of the case be composed in classical Hebrew. b. The common opinion holds that St. Matthew employed the dialect of his time and his country in the first gospel. α. The author was not a scribe learned in the accomplishments of his age. β. His readers were the common people who did not understand the Hebrew books of the Old Testament read in their synagogues without an interpreter. γ. The expressions of the Fathers do not necessarily refer to classical Hebrew.

ii. That the Hebrew gospel of St. Matthew is identical with our present first gospel may be proved by internal and external evidence.

1. Internal evidence: a. Eusebius [Demonstr. evangel. iii. v. 8] states the canon that the evangelists commonly relate of themselves what humbles them, and leave the record of their glory to others. Thus St. Mark, the writer of St. Peter’s oral gospel, narrates the apostle’s sin and penance, but not his prerogatives; thus, too, does St. John conceal his own privileged position under the humble words “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Now in the same manner do the second and third evangelist place Matthew before Thomas, and conceal his humble condition before his call, while our first gospel places Matthew after Thomas, and calls him the publican [cf. Mk. 3:18; Lk. 6:15; Mt. 10:3]; again, the third gospel knows that Matthew invited Jesus to a great feast, which our first gospel mentions only by way of remark, and does not attribute to the convert’s generosity [cf. Lk. 5:29 ff.]. These characteristics naturally point to Matthew as the author of our first gospel.

b. Our first gospel supposes in its readers a knowledge of the religious, local, and social conditions of the Jews [cf. Nippel, Matthäus-Evangelium, Wien, 1872, pp. 2–26; Österreich. Vierteljahrschr. für Theol. 1871, pp. 229 ff.; 331 ff.], so that it must have been written for Jews like the gospel composed by St. Matthew. α. The gospel supposes that the reader is well acquainted with the Old Testament: cf. 2:4, where the Messias is implicitly identified with the king of the Jews; see also 6:29; 10:15; 11:3, 14, 21–24; 12:39–42; 16:4; 22:2, 3, 35; 24:37–39. β. The gospel supposes also a knowledge of the religious customs of the Jews: of the Sabbath [compare Mt. 4:23 with Mk. 1:21; Mt. 8:16 with Mk. 1:32; Mt. 12:11, 12; 13:43 with Mk. 6:2; Mt. 24:20, 21 with Mk. 13:18], of fasting [cf. Mt. 11:14], of Levitical purity [compare Mt. 15:1, 2 with Mk. 7:1–5], of the Jewish feasts [cf. Mt. 26:2; 27:62; 28:1], of the manner of blessing [compare Mt. 11:15 with Mk. 10:16], of the gift imposed by Moses [compare Mt. 8:4 with Mk. 1:44]. γ. The gospel supposes a knowledge of the daily life of the Hebrews: of their weddings, 9:15; 25:1 ff.; of their mourning, 9:23; of their proselytism, 23:14; of the money-changing in the temple, 21:12; of many other minutiæ, 5:20; 6:2, 5, 16; 11:16, 17; 23:23; etc. δ. The first gospel supposes an acquaintance with many localities in Palestine: e.g. Bethlehem and Rama, 2:16, 18; the desert of Judea, 3:1; the land of Zabulon and Nephtali, 4:13–16; the land of the Gerasenes, 8:28, cf. Lk. 8:26; Bethsaida and Corozain, 11:21; the different nationalities around Tyre and Sidon, 15:21 ff.; the site of the temple and of the Mount of Olives, 14:3, cf. Mk. 13:3. ε. The gospel supposes a knowledge of Palestinian history: of Herod and Archelaus, 2:1, 22; of the tetrarch Herod, 14:3, 4; of the building of the temple, 24:2; cf. Jos. Antiq. XV. xi. 3; of Zacharias, the son of Barachias, 23:35; of the robberies of Barabbas, 27:16; cf. Mk. 15:7; Lk. 23:19. Taken singly, these details would have little value, but taken collectively, they force us to infer that the first gospel was written to the Hebrews.

c. The identity of our first gospel with the Hebrew gospel of St. Matthew follows also from the identity of object in both; for our first gospel proves the Messiasship of Jesus, and solves the difficulties resulting from his rejection by the Hebrew nation, two points that must have held the most prominent place in St. Matthew’s gospel.

2. External evidence: a. From the earliest times our first gospel has been quoted as Sacred Scripture. To appreciate the force of the following quotations we must remember that Scripture passages are commonly introduced by the formulæ [cf. Kaulen, Einl. 1890, p. 396]: “it is written” [γέγραπται, Mt. 4:4; γεγραμμένον ἐστίν, John 2:17]; or “Scripture says” [ἡ γραφὴ λέγει, Rom. 4:3; or ἡ γραφὴ εἶπεν, John 7:42]; or again “he [or it] says” [λέγει, Eph. 4:8; φησίν, 1 Cor. 6:16; Heb. 8:5]; or even by a simple “for” [γάρ, Rom. 10:13; 1 Cor. 10:26]. Since, then, the following patristic quotations are introduced by one or another of these consecrated formulæ, they belong according to the mind of the authors to the inspired books of Scripture.

α. The Epistle of Barnabas, which, if not written by the apostle, is owned on all hands to be a writing of great antiquity, dating from the end of the first century or the beginning of the second, contains the passage [4:14]: προσέχωμεν μήποτε, ὡς γέγραπται, πολλοὶ κλητοί, ὀλίγοι δὲ ἐκλεκτοὶ εὑρεθῶμεν, i. e. “let us take heed lest, as it is written, we be found, many called but few chosen” [Mt. 22:14; cf. 20:16]. Before the original Greek of the epistle was found, critics claimed that the Latin text had interpolated the words “sicut scriptum est.” Hilgenfeld [Die apostol. Väter, 1853, p. 48] went so far as to admit that the Greek text contained the formula in some way, but it must be something like “as Jesus says.” When the Greek text came to light with the newly discovered Sinaitic manuscript, it contained the fatal words “as it is written” [ὡς γέγραπται]. The author of Supernatural Religion [N. Y. 1879, sixth ed. pp. 215 ff.] has arranged the various answers of the critics in this emergency in systematic form, as if they all proceeded from one source, and were not the piecemeal subterfuges of a number of writers.

[1] “The generality of competent and impartial critics are agreed that it is impossible to entertain the idea that one of our gospels could have held the rank of Holy Scripture at the date of this epistle, seeing that, for more than half a century after, the sharpest line was drawn between the writings of the Old Testament and of the New, and the former alone quoted as, or accorded the consideration of, ‘Holy Scripture.’ ” Lightfoot [Essays on the work entitled Supernatural Religion, London, 1889, p. 177] answers the foregoing thus: “The only ground for refusing to accept St. Matthew as the source of these two quotations which are found there [in the Epistle of Barnabas] is the assumption that St. Matthew could not at this early period be regarded as Scripture. In other words, it is a petitio principii.” The sharp line of distinction between the writings of the Old Testament and of the New was drawn not only half a century after the time of St. Barnabas, but is drawn even now without implying a denial of the inspiration of the New Testament.

[2] “It is impossible,” adds the author of Supernatural Religion, “that if the author of the Epistle of Barnabas was acquainted with any of our gospels, and considered it an inspired and canonical work, he could have neglected it in such a manner.” Instead of repeating this difficulty, the writer might have referred us to its answer in Westcott’s Canon of the New Testament [sixth ed. p. 47]: “That they [the apostolic Fathers] do not appeal to the apostolic writings more frequently and more distinctly springs from the very nature of their position. Those who had heard the living voice of apostles were unlikely to appeal to their written words. We have an instinct which always makes us prefer any personal connection to the more remote relationship of books.”

[3] “In the very same passage,” the author of Supernatural Religion continues, “in which the formula [‘as it is written’] is used in connection with the passage we are considering, it is also employed to introduce a quotation from the Book of Enoch … and elsewhere he quotes from another apocryphal book as one of the prophets.… He also quotes [c. vi.] the apocryphal Book of Wisdom as Holy Scripture, and in like manner several other unknown works. When it is remembered that the Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, the Pastor of Hermas, the Epistle of Barnabas itself, and many other apocryphal works have been quoted by the Fathers as Holy Scripture, the distinctive value of such an expression may be understood.” Still, the author of Supernatural Religion does not understand it, all the writings mentioned, from the Book of Enoch down to the “many other apocryphal works,” were quoted by the Fathers as Holy Scripture, because they really, though erroneously if we except the Book of Wisdom, considered these writings as Holy Scripture. St. Barnabas therefore regarded the gospel of St. Matthew as belonging to the inspired writings.

[4] The statement of Supernatural Religion that the testimony of the Epistle of Barnabas expresses only the author’s view of the first gospel, and not the tradition of the Church, is equally unfounded. If the author were aware that his phrase “as it is written” would not be received by his readers as the opinion of the Church, his argument would amount to a mere literary browbeating.

[5] The remark of the author of Supernatural Religion concerning the spuriousness of Mt. 20:16, quoted in the Epistle of Barnabas, is wholly irrelevant, since the oldest MSS., the different versions, and the best editions have the words in Mt. 22:14, so that the argument remains intact even if our opponent’s contention concerning Mt. 20:16 be granted.

[6] Next it is suggested in Supernatural Religion that in the Epistle of Barnabas we have a quotation from 4 Esdr. 8:3; but here we read, “There be many created, but few shall be saved,” instead of “many are called, but few chosen.” Besides, it is uncertain whether the fourth Book of Esdras is not later than the first gospel [cf. Schürer, The Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, div. ii. vol. iii. p. 108]. Again, it is suggested that the writer of the Epistle of Barnabas may quote from an unknown apocryphal source, or that he may have used the formula “as it is written” through a mere lapse of memory; but the substitution of conjecture for fact and testimony may amuse, but cannot convince.

β. In the same Epistle of Barnabas [v. 9] we find another phrase that may have been taken from the first gospel: ὅτε δὲ τοὺς ἰδίους ἀποστόλους τοὺς μέλλοντας κηρύσσειν τὸ εὐαγγέλιον αὐτοῦ ἐξελέξατο, ὄντας ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν ἁμαρτίαν ἀνομωτέρους, ἵνα δείξῃ, ὅτι οὐκ ἦλθε καλέσαι δικαίους, ἀλλὰ ἁμαρτωλοὺς τότε ἐφανέρωσεν ἑαυτὸν εἶναι υἱὸν θεοῦ, or, “but when he selected his own apostles who should preach his gospel, who were sinners above all sin, in order that he might show that he came to call not the righteous, but sinners, then he manifested himself to be the Son of God.” This passage therefore embodies Mt. 9:13: “I am not come to call the just, but sinners.” Without following all the subterfuges of the critics, we indicate their main exceptions against this argument: First, in the received Greek text of the first gospel the phrase εἰς μετάνοιαν, “to repentance,” is interpolated after “but sinners”; why should not, then, the whole passage be interpolated? But this conjecture applies with equal right to the context of every interpolated passage. Secondly, Origen quotes the text of Barnabas without the words “in order that he might show that he came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” The unsuitableness of the omitted words in Origen’s context does not trouble the critics. Thirdly, the words may have been quoted from an earlier source than the first gospel, from the Spruchsammlung, for instance; but a mere “may” proves nothing against the evident agreement of the Epistle of Barnabas and the first gospel in the passage in question.

γ. Besides the foregoing coincidences, we have two more parallels between the Epistle of Barnabas and the first gospel [cf. Hefele, Das Sendschreiben des Apostels Barnabas, p. 233]; Barn. iv. 13 and Mt. 25:5 ff.; Barn. v. 12 and Mt. 26:31. Our opponents endeavor to weaken this testimony by referring to two sayings of the Lord quoted by Barnabas that are not found in the gospels. But the first of these texts [Barn. iv. 9, 10], “sicut dicit filius dei: resistamus omni iniquitati et odio habeamus eam,” has been eliminated by the Greek Sinaitic text of the Epistle, which reads ὡς πρέπει υἱοῖς θεοῦ, “sicut decet filios dei.” The second [vii. 11] οὓτω, φησί, οἱ θέλοντές με ἰδεῖν, καὶ ἅψασθαί μου τῆς βασιλείας ὀφείλουσι θλιβέντες καὶ παθόντες λαβεῖν με, can be safely regarded as a reminiscence of Mt. 16:24 and Acts 14:22.

δ. In the Epistle of St. Clement of Rome [A. D. 68–70, or c. 95, or 85–115, or 93–97; cf. Harn. et Gebh. Patr. apost. proleg. lix. f.; Harn. Chronol. d. altchr. Literat., i. pp. 251 ff.] we may compare c. xiii. with Mt. 5:7; 6:14; 7:2, 12; and c. xlvi. with Mt. 18:6, 7; 26:24. The markedly symmetrical form of the first parallel passage indicates a free and yet deliberate handling of the contents of our first gospel [cf. Westcott, Canon of the New Test. p. 60 n.], while the words of the second parallel may at least be a recollection of the gospel. The introductory remark of Clement’s first passage, “remembering the words of the Lord Jesus,” does not necessarily imply a well-known record, nor does it fully agree with Acts 20:35, “you ought … to remember the words of the Lord Jesus,” nor again does this latter passage suppose a well-known record. Finally, the difficult reference in Clem. xliv may have its source in Mt. 23:8 ff.; 20:20 ff. [cf. Westcott, l. c. p. 61].

ε. In the epistles of St. Ignatius [c. 117 A. D.] we find a number of coincidences with the first gospel rather than direct quotations from it: compare ad Ephes. v. 2 and Mt. 18:19; ad Ephes. vi. 1 and Mt. 10:40; ad Trall. xi. 1 and Mt. 15:13; ad Smyrn. vi. 1 and Mt. 21:12; ad Polyc. i. 3 and Mt. 8:17; ad Polyc. ii. 2 and Mt. 10:16 [cf. Westc. l. c. p. 54].

ζ. St. Polycarp [died Feb. 23, 155 A. D.; Harn.] also has a number of coincidences with our first gospel: compare c. ii and Mt. 7:1, 6:14, 5:7, 7:2, v. 3, v. 10; c. vii and Mt. 6:13, 26:41. Though some of Polycarp’s words may be influenced by those of Clement, the differences in order and phraseology in their quotations show conclusively that they are not taken from one common source different from the gospels. St. Polycarp has also two coincidences of language with our first gospel [c. v and Mt. 20:28; c. vi and Mt. 6:12, 14], but does not present any supposed allusions to apocryphal writings [cf. Westc. l. c. p. 62].

η. The Διδαχὴ τῶν δώδεκα ἀποστόλων, or the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, belongs substantially, at least, to the earliest post-apostolic age. The latter part of the document contains four distinct references to a written gospel: c. viii [cf. Mt. 6:5, 9], c. xi, c. xv bis; again, c. ix. 5 quotes Mt. 7:6 with the words “the Lord hath said”; thirdly, passages from St. Matthew, and also from other parts of Scripture, are incorporated into the writing without any indication that they are borrowed from other sources: cf. c. iii. 7 [Mt. 5:5]; 1:3, 4, 5; 7:1; 8:2; 11:7; 13:1; fourthly, the following three coincidences are especially striking: the summary of the law in c. i. 2 [cf. Mt. 22:37; 7:12], the warning not to fast on Mondays and Thursdays like the hypocrites in c. viii. 1 [cf. Mt. 6:16], and the regulation concerning Christian sacrifice in c. xiv. 2 [cf. Mt. 5:23 f.; Westc. l. c. pp. 63 ff.].

θ. The Gospel of Peter must have been written a good while before the year 190 A. D. The opening words of the fragment imply that something had preceded about the washing of Pilate’s hands before the people [cf. Mt. 27:24]; again, the expression “vinegar mingled with gall” is probably from Mt. 27:34; the request for soldiers to guard the tomb comes also from Matthew [27:64]; in a word, throughout the account its dependence on the first gospel is easily seen, though in many cases the synoptic tradition is so decidedly a unit that we cannot tell which gospel is quoted [110–130 A. D.; Harn.].

ι. St. Justin, who suffered martyrdom 166–167 A. D. under Marcus Aurelius, was of Greek descent, but his family had been settled for two generations in the Roman colony Flavia Neapolis, founded in the time of Vespasian near the site of ancient Sichem. Having escaped the delusions of the errors of Simon Magus, to which his countrymen were generally addicted, this writer studied successively the Stoic, the Peripatetic, the Pythagorean, and the Platonic philosophy, and was finally led by an aged, meek, and venerable man to the study of the prophets, from whom to Christ only one more step was required. Whatever may be thought of the martyr’s other works, his two apologies and his dialogue with Trypho are generally admitted as genuine, and it is from these that we shall endeavor to prove his acquaintance with our first gospel. Besides the. general coincidence of his principles and facts with the doctrine and the history contained in the first gospel,—e.g. the history of the infancy, of the ministry of the Baptist, and of the passion [cf. Dial. c. 120 and Mt. 1:18; Dial. c. 78 and Mt. 1:18 ff.; Apol. i. 33 and Mt. 1:23; Apol. i. 34, Dial. c. 78, and Mt. 2:5, 6; Dial. c. 78 and Mt. 2:11, 12; Apol. i. 33 and Mt. 1:21; Dial. cc. 78, 103 and Mt. 2:13; Dial. c. 78 and Mt. 2:17, 18; Dial. c. 88 and Mt. 3:1, 4; Dial. c. 49 and Mt. 17:11–13; Apol. i. 31, 48, Dial. c. 69, and Mt. 4:23; etc.],—we find in the writings of St. Justin also direct quotations from the Memoirs of the Apostles. The latter are not only coincidences with the synoptic gospels [cf. Apol. i. 34, 33, 66, 67; Dial. cc. 10, 49, 105, 106, etc.], but Justin’s description of the Memoirs, especially if it be compared with that given by Tertullian, applies to our gospels most accurately [Dial. c. 103; cf. Tert. adv. Marcion. 4:2]. The writer’s quotations from the Old Testament belong here, because he does not follow the lxx. version, but gives the passages as they are found in our first gospel: cf. Deut. 6:13 and Dial. c. 103; Is. 7:14 and Apol. i. 33; 31:15 and Dial. 78; Mich. 5:2 and Dial. c. 78; Zach. 9:9 and Apol. i. 35; etc. [cf. Westc. l. c. pp. 107 ff.].

The principal exceptions to the testimony of St. Justin may be reduced to the following: [1] The Apologist does not mention the evangelist’s name. But in this characteristic the writings of the Saint do not differ from those of Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, Tertullian [Apol.], Clement of Alexandria [Cohort, ad gent. mentions St. John alone, and that only once], Cyprian [ad Demetr.], Origen [cont. Cels. commonly cites the gospels anonymously], Lactantius [who mentions only St. John by name, and blames St. Cyprian for quoting Holy Scripture in controversy with the heathen], and Eusebius [Præp. Evang. quotes the gospels eighteen times without naming the evangelists]. Even if St. Justin quotes the Old Testament 197 times with the exact reference to the source, and only 117 times indefinitely, it does not follow that he ought to quote the New Testament with a proportionate definiteness; for in the first place, the writer may have estimated the two Testaments differently, though receiving both as equally certain; secondly, like Cyprian, Clement of Alexandria, and other apologetic writers, St. Justin gives his source accurately in prophetic passages only, in which the nature of the subject requires exactness of reference, so that we now understand the reason of his accurate reference to St. John, the prophet of the New Testament [cf. Westc. l. c. pp. 120 ff.].

[2] The second exception to the testimony of St. Justin is based on the inaccuracy of his quotations. But in the first place, a different degree of accuracy is required in the citation of history, of ethics, and of prophecy; secondly, when quoting from the Old Testament St. Justin combines different texts, adapts them, or does not accurately remember them, so that we must be prepared for similar inaccuracies in his quotations from the New Testament; thirdly, when the writer repeats the same passage, he not rarely quotes it in different ways, so that we must grant him a large margin of inaccuracy in his citations [cf. Apol. 15 and Dial. 96; Apol. 15 and Dial. 133; Apol. 16 and Dial. 76; Apol. 16 and Apol. 62; Apol. 16 and Dial. 35; Apol. 36 and Dial. 100; Dial. 17 and Dial. 112; Dial. 76 and Dial. 100; Dial. 49 and Dial. 88].

[3] The last answer is variously impugned by our opponents: [a] Such slips of memory are hardly admissible where St. Justin explicitly quotes the Memoirs; [b] such inaccuracies of memory cannot explain the fact that the same text is repeatedly quoted with the same variation from the gospel text; [c] such inaccuracies are wholly improbable when the quotation of the writer accurately agrees with heretical or apocryphal gospels.

[a] St. Justin’s explicit quotations of the Memoirs may be reduced to seven; five of these agree verbally with the gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke, though they exhibit three slight variations of reading not elsewhere found, but easily explicable: cf. Dial. 103 and Mt. 4:10; Dial. 105 and Mt. 5:20; Dial. 107 and Mt. 12:38 [39]; Dial. 49 and Mt. 17:1–13; Dial. 105 and Lk. 23:46. In the sixth passage the writer summarizes Mt. 27:39 ff. [cf. Dial. 101] with a reference to the corresponding prophecy in Ps. 21 [22]. Finally, Dial. 100 quotes Mt. 11:27 in such a manner as to agree in one point with a common variant of St. Luke [10:22], in another with a reading supported by St. Clement, Origen, and other Fathers, and in a third with a transposition found in Origen, St. Irenæus, and St. Epiphanius, though they admitted only our canonical gospels [Westc. l. c. pp. 131 ff.].

[b] The stereotype variations in the quotations of St. Justin occur not only where the Saint cites the gospels, but also where he quotes the Old Testament, e.g. Is. 42:6, though no one infers therefrom that the writer had before him an apocryphal or heretical copy of the prophet. Excluding errors in writing, differences in inflection and orthography, adaptations for ecclesiastical readings, and intentional corrections, the remaining variations may be divided into synonymous words and phrases, transpositions, marginal glosses, and combinations of parallel passages [compare the variations in MSS. of the N. T.]. We have synonymous phrases in Apol. i. 15, quoting Lk. 6:32 [cf. Mt. 5:46]; in Dial. 35 [cf. Apol. 1:16], quoting Mt. 7:17; we may regard as glosses the variations in Dial. 49 [cf. 88], quoting Mt. 3:11, 12 and Lk. 3:16, 17; we find a combination of parallel passages in Dial. 76 and Apol. 1:16, quoting Mt. 7:22, 23 and Lk. 13:26, 27; again in Dial. 112, 17, quoting Mt. 23:27 and Lk. 11:44. Since, however, the divergences in many of these stereotype variations are as striking as their constant coincidences, the memory of the writer must have been defective. As to the constant coincidences, we are justified in assuming that they are faithful quotations from certain codices of the New Testament; for the variations found in the cod. Bezæ, e.g., are more striking than those found in the writings of our Apologist.

[c] The agreement of the variations of St. Justin’s quotations with the readings of heretical and apocryphal gospels occurs only where the heretical or apocryphal readings have a solid foundation in catholic tradition or in the patristic writers. Besides, we must carefully distinguish between the words St. Justin professes to borrow from the Memoirs and his own narrative of the facts: the latter are at times embellishments of the history of our Lord, while the former substantially agree with their reputed source. St. Justin does not always cite the words of the New Testament in that technical way which denotes with certainty the sacredness of their source; but combining his technical citations [cf. Dial. 105, 76] with his numberless indefinite or general references, we cannot question the writer’s acquaintance with our first gospel nor his use of the same [cf. Westc. l. c. pp. 151 ff.].

κ. To the patristic witnesses for the identity of our first gospel with that written by St. Matthew belong also Athenagoras and Theophilus of Antioch. The former was an Athenian and a philosopher, who wrote [c. 177 A. D.] an Apology πρεσβεία περὶ Χριστιανῶν [“a mission about Christians”] to M. Aurelius. In leg. 32 he quotes Mt. 5:28 with the introductory words “he saith”; cf. also leg. 11 and Mt. 5:44, 45; leg. 12 and Mt. 5:46, 47. Theophilus of Antioch was, as it appears from his own writing, a heathen by birth and a native of the East; according to Eusebius he was the sixth bishop of Antioch [c. 186 A. D.] under Marcus Aurelius. He wrote several books for Christian instruction [καταχητικά τινα βίβλια], and among them three to Autolycus [στοιχειώδη συγγράμματα] in which he endeavors to prove the truth of Christianity to his learned heathen friend [c. 182 A. D.]. In 3:14 of this latter work he refers to Mt. 6:3, and in 3:13 to Mt. 5:28.

b. Many patristic writers, even of the earliest times, ascribe passages of the first gospel to St. Matthew. We have mentioned the testimony of St. Irenæus saying that the gospel of St. Matthew was written for the Jews [cf. fragm. 29]; if we invert this proposition, and there is nothing in antiquity prohibiting this process, we have the clear statement: the gospel written for the Jews is that of St. Matthew. Besides this, Irenæus [Hær. III. ix. 1, 2, 3] ascribes 1:23; 2:15; 3:3, 7 of our first gospel to the authorship of St. Matthew; the same is done by St. Clement of Alexandria [Strom. i. 21] with regard to Mt. 1:1–17; by Tertullian [De carn. Christ. 22; 20] with regard to Mt. 1:1, 16; by Origen [comm. in Matt.; de orat.; comm. in Joann.] with regard to Mt. 19:19; 6:11; 3:11; by Julius Africanus [cf. Eus. H. E. i. 7; Epiph. hær. li. 5] with regard to Mt. 1:1–16; by Eusebius [comm. in Ps. 77:2] with regard to Mt. 13:35; by later writers with almost innumerable passages of our gospel [cf. Kaulen, Einl. p. 397].

c. In the third place, ecclesiastical and patristic writers consider incidents that occur only in our first gospel as matter of revelation. Here belong the appearance of the star, the arrival of the Magi, the murder of the Holy Innocents, and also the passage Mt. 4:23 [cf. Just. Dial. 78; Apol. i. 31; Ign. ad Ephes. 19]. Though these incidents might have been learned by tradition, it is more probable on account of the character of early Christianity that the foregoing writers drew their knowledge from written sources. At any rate, St. Justin [Dial. 100] says expressly of Mt. 16:16, “it is written”; and since Tertullian’s acquaintance with the gospel of St. Matthew has been shown in the preceding paragraph, he learned the arrival of the Magi most likely from the same source [adv. Marcion. v. 9]. To insist on the innumerable testimonies of later writers is useless and needless.

d. Fourthly, the testimony of the early heretics and of the hostile pagan writers favors the identity of our first gospel with that of St. Matthew. The practice of heretics basing their tenets on the authority of the gospels must have been quite common in the time of Tertullian [de præsc. 39], and the inference that the writings thus invoked by the heretics enjoyed the greatest authority among the faithful was drawn as early as the time of Irenæus [adv. hær. III. xi. 7]. This conclusion would have been false, if the gospels had not been considered as resting on apostolic testimony, since the faithful generally considered apostolic tradition as their rule of faith. Few of the heretics have been logical enough to deny the apostolic origin of the New Testament; but even those that have done this testify for the canonical books in a double way: first, they show by their enormous errors the moral necessity of revelation; secondly, their denial implies the fact that the New Testament was considered as vitally connected with the doctrine of their opponents.

α. First we have the testimony of those heretics that appealed to the gospels in confirmation of their errors: [1] The history and doctrine of Simon Magus [c. 40 A. D.] was commonly regarded as beset with inextricable difficulties till the recent discovery of the work “against heresies,” in which Hippolytus gives not only a general outline of Simon’s principles, but preserves also several quotations from the ἀπόφασις μεγάλη, or “the Great Announcement,” a work published under the heresiarch’s name and containing an account of the revelation which he claimed to have received. It is in this work that we find a coincidence with Mt. 3:10 [cf. Hippol. adv. hær. vi. 16]. [2] The adherents of Cerinthus [c. 75 A. D.] also made use of St. Matthew’s gospel [cf. Epiph. hær. xxviii. 5], though they did not admit the whole of it. [3] Karpocrates [Epiph. hær. xxx. 14] relied on the gospel of St. Matthew on account of the genealogy of Jesus in its first chapter. [4] That branch of the Ophites which may be considered as a Christian sect shows an intimate acquaintance with the New Testament Scriptures. Hippolytus [adv. hær.] supposes their reliance on Mt. 3:10; 7:6, 21; 13:3 ff.; 21:31; 7:13, 14; 13:33. [5] The writings of the Sethiani allude to Mt. 10:34. [6] St. Irenæus [adv. hær. I. 26:2] says of the Ebionites [c. 75 A. D.] that they use only St. Matthew’s gospel. [7] Later on, the Clementine homilies quote St. Matthew almost verbatim: Mt. 5:17 in hom. iii. 51; Mt. 7:7; 11:28; 15:13 in hom. iii. 52; Mt. 22:32 in hom. iii. 55; Mt. 20:16 in hom. viii. 4; Mt. 11:25; 13:35 in hom. xviii. 15; Mt. 5:37; 6:13; 12:20, 26 in hom. xix. 2; Mt. 12:34 in hom. xix. 7. [8] Basilides [c. 133 A. D.], as quoted by St. Clement of Alexandria [Strom. iii. 1], appeals to Mt. 19:11, 12. [9] In the same manner Origen cites Heracleon [in Jo. tom. xiii. 59] as appealing to Mt. 8:12, and Clement of Alexandria [Strom. iv. 9] cites the same heretic as appealing to Mt. 10:32. [10] Next follows Ptolemæus [c. 145 A. D.], who according to the testimony of Epiphanius [adv. hær. xxxiii. 3] quotes in his ep. ad Floram, Mt. 5:22, 28, 39; 12:25; 15:4–6, 17; 19:6, 8, 17. [11] Still more references to St. Matthew [5:18; 10:34; 20:2; 26:38; 27:46] we find according to St. Irenæus [adv. hær. I. iii. 1, 2, 3, 5; II. iii. 2] in the writings of the Valentinians [c. 145 A. D.]. [12] In another passage St. Irenæus testifies that the Marcosians [c. 180 A. D.] appealed to Mt. 19:17 [cf. adv. hær. I. xx. 2]. [13] Finally must be mentioned the appeal of Tatian [c. 172 A. D.] to Mt. 6:19 and 22:30 [cf. Clem, of Alex. Strom. iii. 12; cf. also Maher’s articles on Tatian’s Diatessaron in the Month for 1892, vol. 76, pp. 345 ff. and 529 ff.], and the numerous quotations from St. Matthew’s gospel found in the Πίστις Σοφία, which has come down to us in its Coptic text [cf. Westc. l. c. pp. 272–330; Sanday, Second Century Gospels, c. vi.; Kirchhofer, pp. 357 ff.; Charteris, pp. 383 ff.; Kaulen, Einl. pp. 398 f.].

β. We now pass to those heretics that mutilated the first gospel in order to defend their errors: [1] Tertullian [adv. Marc. iv. 9] accuses Marcion [c. 144 A. D.] of mutilating Mt. 5:17. [2] St. Augustin [c. Faust. xvii. 1] charges the Manicheans with the same mutilation of Matthew. [3] A similar testimony we find in Eusebius [H. E. vi. 17] concerning Symmachus and his handling of the first gospel. [4] The attacks of Celsus on Mt. 2:2 ff.; 26:39; 13:55; 21:24 [cf. Orig. c. Cels. 1:28, 38, 58, 66; ii. 24; vi. 16], [5] of Porphyry on Mt. 1:11 [Jerome, comm. in Dan. i. 1], and [6] again of Porphyry and Julian on Mt. 9:9 [Jerome, comm. in Matt.] go far to establish the paramount authority of the first gospel in the age of those scoffers.

e. Finally the existence of the apocryphal gospels bears testimony to the existence of gospels resting on apostolic authority, and especially does the apocryphal Gospel according to the Hebrews prove the apostolic origin of our first gospel. Though most of the apocryphal gospels enumerated in the writings of the Fathers have been lost, we can judge of the character of the lost ones by the few that have been preserved. We are especially well informed about an apocryphal gospel used by the Judaizing sects of the Nazarenes and the Ebionites in which the latter omitted the history of the infancy, while the former retained it [cf. Epiph. hær. xxx. 14; xxix. 9]. This apocryphal writing was so much like our first canonical gospel that according to Irenæus and Epiphanius the Ebionites and Nazarenes used the latter. St. Jerome appears to have changed his views on the relation between St. Matthew’s gospel and the Gospel according to the Hebrews. De Vir. ill. 3 he says that he had seen the Hebrew original of Matthew at Berosa by favor of the Nazarenes, and that he had copied it. In his commentary on Matthew [12:13] he says that he had lately translated from Hebrew into Greek the gospel in use among the Nazarenes and the Ebionites called “by most” Matthew’s authentic gospel. Still later [Dial. adv. Pelag. iii. 2] the Father introduces an apocryphal anecdote as found in the gospel according to the Hebrews, which is written in Chaldee and Syriac, but in Hebrew letters, used among the Nazarenes up to our day, composed by the apostles, or as most think, by St. Matthew, and preserved in the Cæsarean library.

Our argument for the authenticity of St. Matthew’s gospel may, therefore, be reduced to the following form: It is certain that the apostle Matthew wrote a gospel for the Jewish converts [cf. i. throughout]. But our first canonical gospel was written for Jewish converts [cf. 2:1 b, c], by an apostle [cf. 2:2 throughout], by St. Matthew [cf. 2:1 a; 2 b, e.]. Therefore our first canonical gospel is Matthew’s gospel written for the Jewish converts.

Cornely [Introd. iii. pp. 32 ff.] reduces the arguments against the authenticity of the first gospel to the following: 1. An eyewitness would have been clearer in his narrative and more definite in regard to place, time, and occasion of the incidents and discourses contained in the gospel. 2. He would have omitted what he knew to be false [e.g. the resurrection of many saints, and the history of the guard at the sepulchre] or mythological [e.g. the history of the infancy and of the temptation]. 3. An eyewitness and an apostle could not have contradicted the fourth gospel so flagrantly [cf. Meyer, Krit. exeget. Handb. über das N. T. Matt. Evang. ed. 5, Göttingen, 1864, p. 3; Davidson, Introduc. to the Study of the N. T. London, 1868, i. pp. 484 ff.]. 4. The gospel does in no way betray St. Matthew as its author. 5. An eyewitness would not have omitted the Lord’s Judean ministry, so explicitly told in the fourth gospel. 6. The chronological order of the first gospel is absurd, and it is false that Jesus was crucified on the first day of the pasch. 7. Several statements of the first gospel are historically doubtful [De Wette, Lehrb. der hist. krit. Einleit. in die kanon. Bücher des N. T. ed. 6, Berlin, 1860, p. 202; Reuss, Geschichte des N. T. ed. 5, i. pp. 189 ff.; Riehm, Handwörterbuch des bibl. Alterth. Bielefeld, 1879, pp. 960 f.].

Some of these exceptions suppose the impossibility of miracles [nn. 2, 7]; others imply that an eyewitness is necessarily a good narrator [n. 1], or must tell all he has seen [n. 5]; others again take it for granted that an inspired writer must follow the chronological order in his narrative [n. 6], or betray his identity [n. 4]. The statement that the first gospel contradicts the fourth [n. 3] is sufficiently answered by the explanation of any good commentary.

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