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An Introduction to the New Testament



Occasion. In presenting the Christian gospel to the Greek world, Christian leaders in the first century were more and more embarrassed by the fact that the Jewish people, among whom the new faith had arisen, did not in any large numbers accept it. Christianity seems to have failed in its first campaign. Its first field was obviously the Jewish people among whom it had arisen; Jesus was their Messiah, foretold by their prophets. But his own people had refused him. What did it mean? The prophets had been full of pictures of the redeemed nation. The coming of the Messiah was to release a new program of spiritual glory for Israel. In the cherished messianic drama his appearance was to be the cue for the nation to take the stage. But the nation had not responded. The Christians joyfully accepted the Jewish scriptures as their Bible, but the prophetic program seemed to be breaking down.

Yet Christianity was not failing. It was winning an amazing success, but in the Greek, not in the Jewish, world. Christianity was, in fact, rapidly becoming a Greek religion. But this success of Christianity in the Greek world only increased the difficulty of the problem. It was nothing like what the prophets had said would happen when the Messiah came.


Paul had seen this difficulty and grappled with it in Romans, chapters 9-11. He cherished the hope that eventually the Jewish people would turn and accept their own Messiah. But in the years that had since passed matters had gone steadily the other way.

An event had now happened that revolutionized Christian thinking on the subject and put into the hand of the evangelist the key to the problem. Jerusalem had fallen. It was a disaster that overturned a good deal of thinking, Jewish and Christian, and had to be reckoned with. Josephus tells terrible stories of carnage, famine, cannibalism, and suicide when rival Jewish groups fought one another in the city and the Roman legions pressed in to destroy the survivors.[1] It might well seem that all the righteous blood shed from the foundation of the world had come upon their heads. Matt. 23:35.

This fearful event put the Jewish rejection of Jesus into a new perspective. For here, within a generation of their refusal of him, they were destroyed, and their cultus and national existence extinguished. To the evangelist the lesson was obvious. Jesus was the Messiah of Jewish expectation. He had offered himself to the nation, but it had rejected him and in so doing condemned itself and sealed its own fate. It had now been rejected in its turn and punished, and the Kingdom of Heaven, which might have been its inheritance, had been given to the Greeks who saw its value. These others from the larger Greek world are

[1] Josephus Wars v 12-vi. 9.


therefore the true heirs of the Kingdom and the Scriptures.

To present this philosophy of history, the evangelist plans a book. It is to be a life of the Messiah, from his ancestry and birth to his resurrection, and it is to articulate Christianity with Jewish prophecy and show that it does fulfil the great hopes of the prophets. This is why Matthew especially emphasizes the fulfillment of prophecy, sometimes in trivial and even verbal details: "I called my son from Egypt"; "He shall be called a Nazarene." The book is also to present Jesus as a teacher and so to form an ethical statement of Christianity, comparing its morality with that of scribal Judaism.

For such an interpretative sketch of Jesus in his larger relations the author had various materials at his command. There was first the gospel we know as Mark, and this he made the basis of his book. There were already other brief written accounts dealing with portions of Jesus' work and teaching, and by combination with these and with materials current in the traditional preaching of the church, Mark could be built up into a gospel which should be a vehicle for the new interpretation of Jesus in his relation to the Jews, to the Greeks, and to the Jewish scriptures. This is what the writer seeks to do, keeping himself studiously in the background, from which he emerges just for an instant now and then to point out some fulfillment of Scripture, with the words, "This happened to fulfil what was said by the prophet," 1:22; 2:15, 17, 25; 4:14; 8:17; 21:4; compare also 2:5; 26:31, 54, 56. It


has been suggested by Dr. J. Rendel Harris and others that Matthew was making use in these passages of a collection of testimonies or Old Testament texts regarded as fulfilled in Christ and his work;[1] but it seems more probable that the literary use of this sort of thing had its beginning with Matthew and grew into the kind of collection Dr. Harris has so well described. The finding of ten or a dozen Old Testament texts which might be thought of as fulfilled in the gospel history is no large achievement that would require the use of a book of such texts to explain. Moreover, such a book, if it already existed, must certainly have contained Isaiah's words about being reckoned with the transgressors, 53:12 (the crucified thieves), and with the rich in his death, 53:9 (Joseph's tomb), and Hosea's reference to resurrection the third day, Hos. 6:2, none of which is pointed out in Matthew.

Contents. The Gospel of Matthew is biography with a purpose. Jesus, though legally descended from Abraham through David, is really the child of the holy Spirit—a very Jewish way of saying that he is both sinless and the Son of God. It was the Jewish practice to cast their beliefs in story form, instead of in propositions, like the Greeks. Think of the first clause of the Apostles' Creed, "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth," side by side with the first words of Genesis.

In the genealogy, 1:1-17, the generations arc grouped into three fourteens, so that Jesus would begin the seventh seven—a symbol of his supreme

[1] Testimonies (Cambridge, 1916).


significance, reminding us of the use of sevens in the Revelation: 1:4; 2:1; 3:1; 4:5; 5:1; 8:2, 6; 10:3, 4, etc. The four women named in the genealogy—Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Uriah's wife—are mentioned perhaps as a kind of apologetic for the Nativity in advance of the narrative, as much as to say, "If anyone stumbles at what he may think an irregularity in the immediate ancestry of Jesus, look at the ancestry of David and the kings of Judah."

The generations seem arbitrarily compressed by the omission of three from the second series—Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah being left out with reigns totaling seventy years, II Kings 8:25; 12:1; 14:2. This may be due to the similarity of the names of Ahaziah and Azariah, which may have led Matthew or his source to skip from Ahaziah to Azariah, combined with the attractiveness the series of three fourteens would have for Matthew. Matthew was not always accurate in his use of the Old Testament, as is shown by his reference of a passage in Zech. 11:13 to Jeremiah the prophet, 27:9, and his confusion of the martyred priest Zechariah, 23:35, with the prophet Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, and with the "son of Baruch" in Josephus.[1]

[1] It would seem that Zechariah the son of Jehoiada is meant, for his murder "in the court of the house of the Lord" is the last one recorded in the Jewish scriptures, in which the Books of Chronicles stood last. The vast sweep intended would be from the murder of Abel, recorded at the beginning of the scriptures. Gen. 4:8, to that of Zechariah, recorded at the very end of them, II Chron. 24:21. Zechariah the son of Berechiah was the prophet Zechariah, Zech. 1:1, of whose death nothing is known. But it is a curious fact that Josephus (Wars iv. 5.4) records the murder of a Zechariah the son of Baruch "in the middle of the Temple," in the course of the excesses that preceded the siege. This recent event probably influenced the confusion of names in Matthew's reference to the death of Zechariah. Matthew's Greek suggests the form "Barachiah" for the father's name.


The narratives that had grown up about the infancy of Jesus (ignored by Mark) describe every movement of the infant Messiah as divinely directed, usually through the dreams of his father Joseph. Mary is steadily mute and passive, a lay figure in the drama, in strong contrast to the Mary of Luke's story, Luke 1:26-2:20. The homage of the astrologers meant to the ancient mind, as Ignatius said forty years later, that with the coming of Christ magic was overthrown.[1] Astrology it must be remembered commanded the attention of some of the ablest men of the first century, like Tiberius, who, before he became emperor, seems to have spent years at Rhodes in the study of it.[2]

We must not overlook the fact that with the infancy interest in Matthew a new concern for childhood appears. The measures taken by Herod to destroy the infant Messiah leads to the Slaughter of the Innocents at Bethlehem, 2:16-18. It was an age of callous indifference to childhood. A personal letter from a husband in Alexandria to his wife in Oxyrhynchus, written in 1 B.C., instructs her that, if her child when it is born is a boy, she is to let it live, if a girl, it is to be exposed, [3] either to die or to be picked and reared as

[1] Eph.19:3.

[2] F. Cumont, The Oriental Religions Roman Paganism (Chicago, 1911), p. 180; Suetonius Tiberius 11.

[3] G. Milligan, Selections from the Greek Papyri (Cambridge, 1910), p. 32.


a slave. [1] Justin Martyr speaks of the ancient practice of exposing undesired children (Apology xxvii. 1). Nor is the infancy interest of Matthew confined to the infant Messiah: "Beware of feeling scornful of one single little child, for I tell you that in heaven their angels have continual access to my Father in heaven," 18:10. "It is the will of my Father in heaven that not a single one of these children be lost," 18:14. [2]

Jesus is divinely addressed as Messiah at his baptism and is victorious in the temptation conflict. He proceeds to declare his message in a series of six great sermons, most of them dealing with some aspect of the Kingdom of God or, as Matthew prefers to call it, the Kingdom of Heaven. The first of these is the Sermon on the Mount.

The approach to the sermon is carefully built up by the evangelist. Jesus has already achieved a wide reputation as a healer, exorcist, and preacher. Great crowds followed him about. When he saw the crowds, he went up on the mountain, as Moses had done. We must not soften Matthew's "mountain" to "hillside," for he uses the stronger word advisedly to remind us of another who went up on a mountain, Exod. 19:20, and came down with the Tables of the Law. What can the new lawgiver offer to equal that? Matthew's answer is the Sermon on the Mount. "There he seated himself," he goes on—the sign that Jesus was about to teach, for the oriental teacher taught seated, Luke

[1] Cf. Hermas, The Shepherd: Vis. i. 1. 1, "He who brought me up sold me to a certain Rhoda, in Rome."

[2] Cf. also Matt. 19:14, but it is paralleled in Mark and Luke.


4:20. It was the signal for the disciples to throng about to hear him. So "when his disciples had come up to him, he opened his lips to teach them."

The Sermon on the Mount deals with the Standards of Uprightness in the Kingdom of Heaven. It develops into a great statement, probably never surpassed, of the ethical ideals of Christianity. It begins with a commanding series of beatitudes and includes the Lord's Prayer, 6:9-13, and the Golden Rule, 7:12. This masterly body of teaching shows at once why Matthew immediately and permanently overshadowed Mark. Luke also has beatitudes and a Lord's Prayer, but these formulations of his have never rivaled Matthew's and are generally forgotten. Few people are aware that Luke contains a Lord's Prayer, and no one ever thinks of using it in public or private worship.

It would be easy to rhapsodize over the Sermon on the Mount; so many people say, "I have no theology; my religion is the Sermon on the Mount." It would be hard to find a nobler religion, but the rest of the New Testament has its religious values too. We must recognize the part the author of the gospel had in building up this sermon, for it is really his work, as anyone can see who will compare it section by section with the parallels in Mark and Luke. However much the evangelist owed to his sources, the arrangement and organization of the sermon at least are his work.

The end of the sermon, as of most of the six sermons in Matthew, is marked by a formal statement: "When Jesus had finished this discourse, the crowds were


astounded at his teaching, for he taught them like one who had authority, and not like their scribes." The sermon is followed by a series of incidents, gathered chiefly from Mark, designed to show that Jesus really possessed such authority, for his wonders showed it. Then the evangelist returns to his series of sermons for his plan is to interweave sermon with incident. In fact, Matthew is doing two things in his book; by the six sermons he is exhibiting Jesus as a supreme teacher; and he is at the same time showing how he offered himself and the Kingdom to the Jewish people and was refused by them, to their own destruction.

The second sermon, chapter 10, deals with the Proclamation of the Kingdom—how it is to be preached. It is prefaced by the calling of the Twelve, and in many particulars reflects what was felt to be the proper missionary approach at the time when the gospel was written. Certainly not a little of the experience of the young church is reflected in its words. The end of the sermon is emphasized by the formal statement, "When Jesus had finished giving his twelve disciples these instructions, he went on from there to teach and preach in their towns."

After a number of short narratives, chapters 11, 12, mostly drawn from Mark, the third sermon is introduced, 13:1-52. It deals with the Growth and Worth of the Kingdom and consists of a series of parables—the Sower, the Weeds, the Mustard Seed. The disciples now recognize Jesus as the Messiah. He welcomes Peter's confession but foretells his own death.

In a fourth discourse, chapter 18, Jesus speaks of


Life in the Kingdom, telling the parables of the Ninety-nine Sheep and the Unforgiving Debtor. He sets out for Jerusalem, well aware of his danger in going there, enters the city in messianic fashion, as Matthew is careful to point out, and proceeds to clear the Temple of money-makers. Challenged by the authorities, he responds with the Marcan parable of the Wicked Tenants, the point of which Matthew underscores by inserting the words. "That, I tell you, is why the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and given to a people that will produce its proper fruit. Whoever falls on that stone will be shattered, but whoever it falls upon will be pulverized!" To Matthew's readers the meaning was only too plain. The cornerstone, which had been rejected by the Jewish people, had fallen upon them, and they had been pulverized. Matthew did not overestimate the blow that had befallen them. Nineteen centuries have passed, and their national existence and cultus have never been revived.

This sentence marks the turning-point in the action of the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus had confined his efforts to the Jews; "I am sent only to the lost sheep of Israel's house," he had said to the Canaanite woman, 15:24. He had sent the Twelve not to the heathen or to the Samaritans but to the lost sheep of Israel's house, 10:5,6. Now he turns from them. In a fifth discourse he denounces the people's religious leaders for their hypocrisy and pretense, chapter 23. Their superior religious privilege—prophets, wise men, and scribes—they had steadily refused, 23:34, and in consequence


there was coming upon that age all the blood guilt of history. "All the righteous blood shed on the earth from the blood of Abel the upright to the blood of Zechariah, Barachiah's son, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar! I tell you, all this will come upon this age."

All that Jesus says in the gospels could have been uttered in two or three hours. Out of all that he uttered, the selective memory of the church preserved what its experience underscored. Of course, the reason Matthew wrote this terrific sentence was that he had heard of its fulfillment. He could hardly refer more unmistakably to the terrible scenes attending the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, which Josephus so graphically describes (Wars v. 12-vi. 9). It is idle in the presence of such a picture to say that Matthew does not show any knowledge of the fall of Jerusalem, and on the other hand it cannot have been very long after that event that he wrote so feelingly about it:

0 Jerusalem! Jerusalem! murdering the prophets, and stoning those who are sent to her, how often I have longed to gather your children around me, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you refused! Now I leave you to yourselves. For I tell you, you will never see me again until you say, "Blessed be he who comes in the Lord's name!"

This great invective, built up by Matthew from a number of sources, is almost immediately followed by a final discourse, the sixth, foretelling the fall of Jerusalem and the end of the age, chapters 24, 25. It can hardly be thought of as forming one sermon with chapter 23, for Matthew is careful to describe Jesus as


leaving the Temple, 24:1, and climbing the Mount of Olives 24:3, on the other side of the Kedron ravine. The sermon continues with three parables, ending with the Last Judgment. This tremendous apocalyptic picture also carries the ethical teaching of the gospel to its highest climax—"In so far as you failed to do it for one of these people who are humblest, you failed to do it for me." There is an emotional power about this parable that is not surpassed in the gospel, or anywhere else, as anyone who has had occasion to read it in public will agree. One might suppose that a gospel which gave so much in its first great broadside, the Sermon on the Mount, might end in anticlimax, as far as moral teaching was concerned, but this is far from true. And it is principally for this supreme moral note that the parable is recorded.

The drama of betrayal, arrest, trial, and crucifixion is played through in Matthew very much as in Mark, though with some additions designed to emphasize the guilt of the nation for Jesus' death; "His blood be on us and our children" was their terrible cry, 27:25. These words must have taken on an awful significance for a generation with the scenes attending the fall of Jerusalem fresh in their minds. Matthew records them for an age in sharp conflict with the synagogue, but he can hardly have dreamed of the long-enduring bitterness against the Jews his words would engender.

After his death Jesus reappears to some women and then to the eleven disciples at the mountain rendezvous they had agreed upon in Galilee. They are now to go not to the lost sheep of Israel's house, but to all the


heathen, and he is to stay with them, an enduring presence, until the age ends. So the curtain falls on the Gospel of Matthew, with Jesus restored to his disciples, never again to be taken from them. This is very significant for the doctrine of resurrection that Matthew held.

The Gospel of Matthew accomplished a number of things of great value and importance. It interpreted the Gospel of Mark. It substituted Jesus the Teacher for Jesus the Man of Action. It solved the writer's problem as to the apparent failure of the program of the prophets. It united his several sources into one. It rescued the Old Testament for Christianity, and it produced an ethical statement of Christianity that has never been surpassed.

It did all this with great religious and literary tact, although it is not literary in its Greek style. The gospels are, as Renan said, the first books written in colloquial Greek, and many of us will be inclined to agree with his judgment that the Gospel of Matthew is the most important book in the world.[1]

Problems. In writing his gospel the evangelist made use of a variety of sources. There was in the first place the gospel we know as Mark, which formed the basis of the book. It is not difficult to find fifteen sixteenths of Mark reproduced in Matthew. Indeed, Matthew is from one point of view simply a revised and enlarged Gospel of Mark. Of course it is much more than that; but it is certainly that. And it must

[1] Ernest Renan, Les Évangiles et la seconde generation Chrétienne (Paris, 1912), pp. 212-13..


he remembered that this missing sixteenth is not a. single block that Matthew turned away from but is made up of tiny fractions, a verse here and a phrase there, the longest being the story of the poor widow dropping her two coppers into the Temple treasury, Mark 12:41-44—a passage of only seventy-five words.

It is easy to see how Matthew, with his disposition to organize and assemble his material, should have omitted this, for it would hardly fit in with his teaching against public giving. We may say there is really no fundamental conflict between them, and yet we would hot want to record them together, no matter how much we prize them both. In fact, there is hardly a detail given by Mark which Matthew has omitted which we cannot understand his omitting. The demonic recognitions of Jesus, the difficulty Jesus sometimes seems to have in effecting a cure. Mark 8:23-25, his apparent use of means in healing. Mark 7:33; 8:23—these may have deterred Matthew from using some accounts when he had what he may well have considered better ones with which to fill his gospel.

This Marcan material, which can be seen displayed in any Greek or English harmony of the gospels, [1] Matthew somewhat rearranged, yet in using it he followed the order of Mark's phrases to an extraordinary degree. We can form a very fair idea of the way in which Matthew used his sources by the way he used Mark, and while he rearranged blocks and items of material with some freedom, in detail he was singularly

[1] Burton and Goodspeed, Harmony of the Synoptic Gospels (New York, 1917); Harmony of the Synoptic Gospels in Greek (Chicago, 1920).


faithful to the source he was using. Certainly that is the way he used Mark, and it seems reasonable to suppose that was the way in which he used his other sources.

To most moderns it seems an act of sheer plagiarism to use another man's book so freely and say nothing about it. But we must always remember that both Matthew and Mark were anonymous; neither writer gave his name to his gospel or claimed it as his own; both were probably well aware that their gospels were in a sense social products, to which other minds had contributed. Matthew's was certainly organized and refined by one person, peculiarly alive to the needs and possibilities of the situation. Yet he so carefully concealed himself behind his work that his name has disappeared, and we call him Matthew only because since early in the second century his work has been known by that name.

The question arises: What other sources had Matthew for the writing of his gospel? It is plain that one, at least, of these other sources was used by Luke also, since many things absent from Mark are present in both Luke and Matthew and in the same form of words. Luke is especially instructive here, for his method, unlike Matthew's, was to use his sources en bloc, not minutely interwoven. So it comes about that there are in Luke considerable areas where Mark has not been used at all; we may call them Mark-free areas. Since these alternate with solid extracts from Mark, which were evidently taken directly from that gospel with slight verbal changes, it seems very probable


that the non-Marcan passages were likewise taken from other written sources, which Matthew also used in his own peculiar way.

The longest of these Mark-free areas in Luke is 9:51-18:14. Then, after an excerpt from Mark, 19:1-28 is again Mark-free. These may be called the Perean Section, [1] since their scene is laid in Perea. They probably formed a separate document or documents; certainly they were used by Matthew.

Another of these Mark-free areas in Luke is 6:20-8:3, which may be called the Galilean Section, as its action takes place in Galilee. But with it we may naturally group scattered passages such as 3:7-18;

4:2-13, wanting in Mark and yet used also by Matthew. Whether these two sections, the Galilean and the Perean, were separate or are to be thought of as one (the so-called "Q" or "Quelle") has been much discussed; they are different in certain definite respects, and Luke in his preface, 1:1-4, leads us to expect him to show the use of a number of sources: "Many writers have undertaken to compose accounts, . ..." It is clear that Luke and Matthew used the material of these sections, in addition to Mark. There is no substantial reason for supposing that they were combined into one document, and Luke's statement, 1:1, is definitely against it. They had reached written form probably somewhere in the Greek world.

Papias of Hierapolis, in one of the fragments from

[1] Cf. D. R. Wickes, The Sources of Luke's Perean Section (Chicago, 1912), and E. W. Parsons, A Historical Examination of Some Non-Marcan Elements in Luke (Chicago, 1914).


his Interpretations of Sayings of the Lord preserved in Eusebius, says, "Matthew composed the Sayings in the Aramaic language and each one translated them as he was able." [1] This cannot possibly mean our Gospel of Matthew, for the identities of Greek expression between it and Mark and Luke cannot be reconciled with the idea that it is a translation; the Greek relationship between the three must have come through Greek and could not have survived independent translation, which always breeds variation in abundance.

This supposed Aramaic document mentioned by Papias used to be reckoned the second source of Matthew and Luke, from which they obtained their greater richness in Jesus' teaching. But their common discourse material shows so much identity of Greek language that this view has been given up. The non-Marcan materials of Matthew and Luke came to them from Greek sources; there can be no possible doubt of that, as an hour's examination of the non-Marcan parallels in Matthew and Luke will show. [2]

We can only conclude that Papias is here speaking not of a written document at all, but of the Oral Gospel used by Paul, Luke (Acts 20:35), Clement, and Polycarp, which would of course be composed in the Aramaic language and be variously translated into Greek by the pioneers of the Greek mission. His remark may therefore be dismissed as of no significance for the sources of Matthew.

[1] Church History iii. 39, 16.

[2] Barton and Goodspeed, Harmony of the Synoptic Gospels in Greek (Chicago, 1920),esp. pp. 162-231.


Yet Matthew probably had other sources, chiefly traditions of sayings of Jesus, current in more or less developed forms in Christian preaching, which he wrought into fuller and more finished forms, e.g., in the finely rounded parables of chapter 25. These may have been combined into a document or they may have existed separately. They had been reduced to writing somewhere in Greek Christian circles, probably about Antioch. They would be of that "formless," that is, unorganized, type of sayings collection natural enough in the oral stage in Jewish Christian groups, since it was in this way that the Jews were wont to gather and transmit (of course orally) the sayings of the rabbis.[1]

While there are touches in the Revelation of John that seem to show the influence of Matthew, the most striking early reflections of it are to be found in Ignatius of Antioch, who makes unmistakable use of it in Ephesians, chapter 19 (the virginity of Mary, the star, and the end of magic, suggested by the Adoration of the Magi), Smyrnaeans, chapter 1, etc. Streeter traces some fifteen reminiscences of Matthew in Ignatius' letters. [2] As Ignatius was bishop of Antioch in Syria, it seems probable that it was there the gospel was written. Antioch was, in Harnack's phrase, the first great fulcrum of Christianity. [3] It was there it had

[1] F. C. Grant, The Growth of the Gospels (New York, 1933), p. 163; R. R. Brewer, "The Source of the Matthaean Logia" (unpublished dissertation; Chicago, 1929), "University of Chicago Abstracts of Theses, Humanistic Series," viii, 481.

[2] The Four Gospels (New York, 1925), p. 505.

[3] Harnack, Mission and Expansion of Christianity (2d ed.; New York, 1908), II, 184.


first addressed itself directly to Greeks, Acts 11:20. It was the mother of the Greek mission. All this makes it a natural place for the composition of such a considered Greek gospel as Matthew. Moreover Matthew is not much influenced by the work of Paul as Western churches were likely to have been; it views Jesus as the giver of a new and better Law. Its emphasis upon Peter, 10:2; 14:29; 16:17-19, etc., fits well in Antioch, as does the presence of its infancy material chapters 1, 2. In Antioch, with its numbers of Jews and Christians, the fall of the neighboring city of Jerusalem would be keenly felt. There, too, the comparison of Jesus' ethical teachings with those of scribal Judaism would be very natural.

The date of Matthew is fairly fixed by its use of Mark and its evidently intense interest in the fall of Jerusalem, A.D. 70. The place the fall of Jerusalem plays in the writer's thought makes it likely that he wrote not long after that event and before its influence upon Christian thinking had subsided. This consideration finds some striking corroborations in the gospel:

1. In his discourse on the fall of the city and the end of the age, Jesus says that, immediately after the misery of the fall of the city, the messianic advent will occur. A book containing such a statement can hardly have been written very long after A.D. 70. This is all the more striking as the word "immediately" is absent from Mark 13:24 which is the basis for the passage in Matthew.

2. In 16:28 Jesus says to the disciples, "Some of you


who stand here will certainly live to see the Son of Man come to reign!"

3. In sending out the Twelve Jesus says, "You will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man arrives," 10:23.

4. Jesus answers the high priest, "You will soon see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Almighty and coming upon the clouds of the sky!" 26:64. The words translated "soon" are not in the parallel passage in Mark 14:62, which is Matthew's source here.

These facts point toward a date only a few years after A.D. 70, perhaps not long before or after the year 80. To date Matthew about 100, as some have done, is not only greatly hindered by these facts but rendered practically impossible by Matthew's evident non-acquaintance with the published letters of Paul, which came into circulation very soon after A.D. 90, since they are reflected in Ephesians, Revelation, Hebrews, I Clement, and I Peter. [1] The apparent use of Matthew in the Revelation is also incompatible with this late date. [2]

[1] E. J. Goodspeed, New Solutions of New Testament Problems (Chicago, 1927), chaps, ii-iv.

[2] The influence of the Gospel of Matthew upon the Revelation has been affirmed by Dr. R. H. Charles (The Revelation of St. John [London, 1920], I, lxxxiv f.); by Provost Streeter (The Four Gospels [New York, 1925], p. 469); and by Dr. Lloyd V. Moore (The Use of Gospel Material in Pre-Catholic Christian Literature [unpublished dissertation; Chicago, 1929], pp. 97-113). Rev. 1:3 reflects Matt. 28:18; Rev. 1:16 resembles Matt. 17:2; Rev. 3:3 reflects Matt. 24:42-44, and 25:13; Rev. 3:5 reflects Matt. 10:32, perhaps combined with Luke 12:8; Rev. 13:10 repeats the substance of Matt. 26:52; and Rev. 19:9 reflects Matt. 22:1-14. Other minor resemblances are noted by Dr. Moore. On the whole, these make it very probable that Matthew was used by the writer of the Revelation and was therefore not unknown in the circle of Ephesus about A.D. 90 or soon after.


While the author of Matthew was probably a Christian of Jewish blood, 1:1-17, the traditional view that Matthew was written for Jews cannot be maintained. The gospel steadily depreciates the practices and ethics of Judaism. It lays the responsibility for the death of Jesus at the door of the Jewish people with terrible solemnity. It gives the impression that the church and the synagogue are growing more and more hostile. It nowhere has the appearance of seeking to win or to conciliate Jews. Its purpose is rather to explain their refusal of the gospel and to establish the Jewish scriptures as a possession of the church. The upshot of its action is that, whereas Jesus had confined his efforts to the Jewish people, now that they have refused him (21:43; 27:1, 22, 23), his apostles are to carry his message to all the heathen, 28:19. This would be a strange approach to a Jewish public. The attitude of the Gospel of Matthew is rather that the Jewish mission is definitely and finally over. It is the Greek mission that is now before the church.

Great as is the author's devotion to the Greek mission, he does seem to be of Jewish blood. The long genealogy, mostly derivable from Genesis, Ruth, and I Chronicles, chapter 3, shows a Jewish interest; the conviction that every detail of the Law must be observed; the view of Jesus as a new Moses with a new and nobler Law; his fashion of gathering Jesus' sayings into extended discourses; his interest in Christianity as


fulfilling Jewish prophecy—these and other traits in his gospel make it probable that he came of Jewish stock. At the same time other items just as definite tend to show that he was not of Palestine but of the Dispersion. His view of the new faith is indeed very different from Paul's—almost as far from it as possible. But he writes in Greek for Greeks; he despairs of converting the Jews; they have lost their golden opportunity and have paid the penalty; he repeatedly departs from the king lists of the Books of Kings and the genealogical lists in I Chronicles, chapter 3; he ascribes to Jeremiah (Matt. 27:9) an oracle of Zechariah, 11:13; he makes use of the Septuagint Greek version. On the whole, he seems to have been—like Paul, Barnabas, and Stephen—a Hellenist, a Jew from the Greek world. He was certainly one of the greatest of those early Christians in whom the new faith had awakened such undreamed-of powers.


Bacon, B. W. Studies in Matthew (New York, 1930).

McNeile, A. H. The Gospel According to St. Matthew (London, 1915).

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Kirby, Peter. "Historical Jesus Theories." Early Christian Writings. <>.