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Wikipedia: Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Gospel of Matthew is one of the four Gospels of the New Testament. The gospels are traditionally printed with Matthew first, followed in order by Mark, Luke and John.

Synopsis

The book is divided into four parts:

  1. Containing the genealogy, the birth, and the infancy of Jesus (1; 2).
  2. The discourses and actions of John the Baptist preparatory to Christ's public ministry (3; 4:11).
  3. The discourses and actions of Christ in Galilee (4:12-20:16).
  4. The sufferings, death and resurrection of Jesus (20:17-28).

The author's object is to prove that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Messiah, and that in him the ancient prophecies had their fulfilment. The book is full of allusions to those passages of the Old Testament in which Christ is predicted and foreshadowed. The one aim pervading the whole book is to show that Jesus is he "of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write." This Gospel contains no fewer than sixty-five references to the Old Testament, forty-three of these being direct verbal citations, thus greatly outnumbering those found in the other Gospels. The main feature of this Gospel may be expressed in the motto, "I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil."

This Gospel sets forth a view of Jesus as Christ, and portrays him as an heir to King David's throne.

The cast of thought and the forms of expression employed by the writer show that this Gospel was written for Jewish Christians of Palestine.

Critics charge that some of the passages in this book are anti-Semitic, and that these passages have shaped the way that many Christians viewed Jews, especially in the Middle Ages. A majority of the phrases spoken by Jesus in this gospel were worded against the major Jewish parties of the time, primarily citing them for hypocrisy and a misunderstanding of the Jewish religion.

Authorship

There is little in the Gospel itself to indicate the date of its composition. Some conservative scholars argue that it was written before the destruction of Jerusalem (Matt. 24), probably between the years A.D. 60 and 65, but others would date it in the 70s, even as late as A.D. 85.

The authorship of this book is traditionally ascribed to St. Matthew, a tax-collector who became an apostle of Jesus Christ. However, most modern scholars are content to let it remain anonymous.

Like the authors of the other Gospels, the author wrote this book according to his own plans and aims and from his own point of view, while at the same time borrowing from other sources. According to the two-source hypothesis (the most commonly accepted solution to the synoptic problem), Matthew borrowed both from Mark and a hypothetical sayings collection, known by scholars as Q (for the German Quelle, meaning "source").

There is much controversy as to the language in which this Gospel was written. Many hold, in accordance with tradition, that it was originally written in Hebrew (i.e., the Aramaic or Syro-Chaldee dialect, then the vernacular of Palestine), and afterwards translated into Greek, either by Matthew himself or by some person unknown. Despite this theory being earnestly maintained by able critics, there is little ground for adopting it. This Gospel in Greek was received as being of authority in the Church from the first. There is nothing in the book to show that it is a translation. Though Matthew wrote mainly for the Jews, they were everywhere familiar with the Greek language. The same reasons which would have suggested the necessity of a translation into Greek would have led the evangelist to originally write in Greek. Furthermore, this Gospel has never been found in any other form than that in which we now possess it.

The relation of the Gospels to each other is the subject of some debate. Most modern scholars believe that Matthew borrowed from Mark and Q, but some scholars believe that Matthew was written first and that Mark borrowed from Matthew. Another view was that Matthew was written first in Aramaic, but was translated after Mark into Greek, and the translator used phrases from Mark in it. Out of a total of 1071 verses, Matthew has 387 in common with Mark and Luke, 130 with Mark, 184 with Luke; only 387 being peculiar to itself.

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