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[Synoptic-L] A Hebraic Matthew?

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  • Kyle Dillon
    Papias (~AD 70-150), in his Fragments, wrote: The Presbyter [John] used to say this: ...Matthew collected the logia in a Hebrew dialect, and each one
    Message 1 of 3 , May 29 6:15 PM
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      Papias (~AD 70-150), in his Fragments, wrote:
      "The Presbyter [John] used to say this: ...Matthew collected the logia in a
      Hebrew dialect, and each one translated them as he was able."

      Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.1 (~AD 180)
      "Now these, all and each of them alike having the Gospel of God-Matthew for
      his part published also a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own
      language, whilst Peter and Paul were at Rome, preaching, and laying the
      foundation of the Church. And after their departure, Mark, Peter's disciple
      and interpreter, did himself also publish unto us in writing the things
      which were preached by Peter. And Luke too, the attendant of Paul, set down
      in a book the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards John the disciple of the
      Lord, who also leaned on His Breast,--he again put forth his Gospel, while
      he abode in Ephesus is Asia."

      These are among the earliest sources we have for the authorship of the four
      canonical gospels (of which, I should add, there is a unanimous agreement
      among all early church fathers). But what strikes me as interesting is that
      both of these authors (Irenaeus and Papias) were under the impression that
      the Gospel According to Matthew was originally written in a Hebrew dialect
      (most likely Aramaic), and Irenaeus clarifies that it was completed when
      Peter and Paul were preaching in Rome (~AD 60).

      Of what significance is this? Is there any evidence that Matthew may have
      been originally Aramaic/Hebrew? What ramifications would this have on the
      Synoptic problem? If this was an erroneous assumption on the part of the
      early church fathers, what spurred such a notion? Also, Papias mentions that
      Matthew collected the "logia." Could he be referring to the sayings of
      Christ, which would make the original Q a Hebraic proto-Matthew? If so, who
      translated it into Koiné Greek (the translation must have been a source of
      Luke's gospel if this is the case, since it so closely parallels the Greek
      text of Matthew's Q material), and what could have happened to the Hebraic
      original? Sorry to bombard you with so many questions, but I think this is a
      very interesting bit of information.

      Kyle Dillon
      kyledi@...
    • Stephen C. Carlson
      ... It is difficult to assess the significance of any so-called Hebraic Matthew, because no copy of it has survived and, aside from tiny fragment, we have no
      Message 2 of 3 , May 29 7:28 PM
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        At 06:15 PM 5/29/00 -0700, Kyle Dillon wrote:
        >Of what significance is this?

        It is difficult to assess the significance of any so-called Hebraic
        Matthew, because no copy of it has survived and, aside from tiny
        fragment, we have no clear idea as to its contents.

        >Is there any evidence that Matthew may have
        >been originally Aramaic/Hebrew?

        Apart from the patristic evidence, there is little reason, if any, to
        conclude that our Matthew was originally composed in Hebrew/Aramaic.
        The patristic evidence does speak of an Aramaic/Hebrew original version
        of Matthew, sometimes called the Gospel of the Hebrews, but since none
        of these fathers (until the early fifth century Jerome) knew Hebrew/Aramaic
        or show the document, it is difficult to credit their testimony as to
        whether this document had anything to do with the Greek Matthew, apart
        from the common ascription of authorship.

        >What ramifications would this have on the
        >Synoptic problem?

        If it is indeed the case that our Matthew was originally written in
        Aramaic/Hebrew, then it cannot be dependent on our Greek Mark or Luke.
        This premise, if accepted, would favor synoptic theories that posit
        the priority of Matthew, such as the Augustinian Theory and the Two
        Gospel (Griesbach) Theory.

        >If this was an erroneous assumption on the part of the
        >early church fathers, what spurred such a notion?

        I suspect that was some document (Aramaic, Hebrew,or Syriac) floating
        around whose supporters asserted that it was written by the apostle
        Matthew, perhaps under the name of the Gospel of the Hebrews. I also
        suspect there was an early ascription of the First Gospel to Matthew.
        The speculation that these documents are related would have been
        irresistible to the early orthodox Greek fathers who were interested
        in maintaining the apostolicity of their Greek Matthew and did not
        know Hebrew or Aramaic to check their suppositions.

        >Also, Papias mentions that
        >Matthew collected the "logia." Could he be referring to the sayings of
        >Christ, which would make the original Q a Hebraic proto-Matthew?

        Although it had been popular, especially in the 19th century, to
        understand Papias' testimony as a reference to Q, this view has
        been abandoned by the leading Q scholars. Rather, Papias's use
        of the "logia" (reports) is now taken to refer to a gospel that
        includes the words and deeds of Jesus. Furthermore, scholars are
        divided on whether Papias' hEBRAIDI DIALEKTWi (in a Hebrew manner
        of speech) refers to the language or merely the style of this
        document. The most common conclusion is that Papias meant that
        our Greek Matthew was written a Jewish style.

        >If so, who
        >translated it into Koiné Greek (the translation must have been a source of
        >Luke's gospel if this is the case, since it so closely parallels the Greek
        >text of Matthew's Q material), and what could have happened to the Hebraic
        >original? Sorry to bombard you with so many questions, but I think this is a
        >very interesting bit of information.

        Jerome, De Viris Ill. 5, wrote: "Matthew who is also Levi, ex-publican
        apostle, composed the Gospel of Christ in Hebrew letters and words first in
        Judea, on account of those from the circumcision who believed; who later
        translated it in Greek is not quite certain."

        In short, the identity of the translator (if any) had long been lost
        well before Jerome could write about it.

        Stephen Carlson


        --
        Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
        Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
        "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35
      • Jeffrey B. Gibson
        ... Yes, they are; but if you search the archives of Synoptic-L you will find that many of them were discussed in detain in recent months. As to your question
        Message 3 of 3 , May 29 9:11 PM
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          Kyle Dillon wrote:

          > Sorry to bombard you with so many questions, but I think this is a
          > very interesting bit of information.
          >

          Yes, they are; but if you search the archives of Synoptic-L you will
          find that
          many of them were discussed in detain in recent months.

          As to your question of how and why the early church fathers could have
          been
          wrong about Matthew having originally been written in Hebrew (if that is
          indeed
          what Papias EBRAIDI DIALEKTW actually means, which is by no means
          certain),
          especially in the light of the fact that canonical Matthew shows little
          or no
          signs of being translation Greek, see R.T. France, _Matthew: Evangelist
          &
          Teacher (Paternoster, 1989) 50-66, esp. 61-66.

          Yours,

          Jeffrey Gibson
          --
          Jeffrey B. Gibson
          7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
          Chicago, Illinois 60626
          e-mail jgibson000@...
          jgibson000@...
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