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Re: [Synoptic-L] Authorship of Matthew

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  • Stephen Nelson
    ... Brian is right, France s views are accessible in _Matthew, Evangelist and Teacher_, (Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1989), and also, at a very simple level, in
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 29, 1999
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      Jack wrote, with thinly veiled incredulity:

      >He defends the position that an Aramaic-speaking, Palestinian Jew...the
      >disciple known as Matthew...wrote the Gospel?? The present Canonical
      >Gospel of Matthew?
      >
      > Reference please.


      Brian is right, France's views are accessible in _Matthew, Evangelist and
      Teacher_, (Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1989), and also, at a very simple
      level, in his commentary on Matthew in the Tyndale New Testament series
      (Leicester: IVP, 1985). I expect he has also written elsewhere, and I would
      be happy to dig around and find some more material.

      I take it the tone above that Jack does not think that this is a terribly
      attractive proposition! Sadly, I will be on holiday for two weeks, and will
      not be able to debate this immediately. That is not to say that I hold
      France's position - I do not. However, as I have pointed out elsewhere, I
      think that the way in which such views are dismissed rhetorically, before a
      sufficient consideration of the actual arguments, is somewhat sad. In my
      experience many views that are swept aside in this manner are held by very
      able, intelligent scholars, and are perfectly defensible. We only need to
      note the variety of sometimes esoteric and minority views that are advanced,
      to an extent with success, on this list to realise that it is far more
      difficult to refute another position than one's initial language and
      attitude implies. In conclusion, and to give a flavour of France's
      perspective, allow me to present the following citation:

      "...I believe that authorship of the first gospel by the tax-collector
      apostle Matthew is the most economical explanation of all the relevant
      factors...[but]...I would be reluctant to claim it as a 'fact' tout simple.
      It fits comfortably into the context of first-century church life but it
      would not be responsible to claim objective certainty for my reconstruction
      any more than for those of other scholars...the apostolic authorship of
      Matthew should not be regarded as an article of faith; in that sense it does
      not really matter very much who wrote it. But i happen to believe that it
      fits the historical and literary data sufficiently comfortably to give us
      strong reason to accept that the early Christians who saw it as his work
      were not mistaken." (Matthew: Evangelist and Teacher, 79-80)

      Jack, if you wish to debate with me the extent to which such a view can be
      held to be responsible and intellectually coherent scholarship, please do.
      However, if you wish to refute the view outright, I would be interested to
      read your ideas, but would be less happy to engage in such discussion.
      Either way, I will be incommunicado until at least the last week of August.

      Regards,

      Steve Nelson,
      Wycliffe Hall,
      Oxford


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