[Synoptic-L] A Hebraic Matthew?
- 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.
- 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 haveApart from the patristic evidence, there is little reason, if any, to
>been originally Aramaic/Hebrew?
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 theIf 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 theI suspect that was some document (Aramaic, Hebrew,or Syriac) floating
>early church fathers, what spurred such a notion?
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 thatAlthough it had been popular, especially in the 19th century, to
>Matthew collected the "logia." Could he be referring to the sayings of
>Christ, which would make the original Q a Hebraic proto-Matthew?
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, whoJerome, De Viris Ill. 5, wrote: "Matthew who is also Levi, ex-publican
>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.
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 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
- Kyle Dillon wrote:
> Sorry to bombard you with so many questions, but I think this is aYes, they are; but if you search the archives of Synoptic-L you will
> very interesting bit of information.
many of them were discussed in detain in recent months.
As to your question of how and why the early church fathers could have
wrong about Matthew having originally been written in Hebrew (if that is
what Papias EBRAIDI DIALEKTW actually means, which is by no means
especially in the light of the fact that canonical Matthew shows little
signs of being translation Greek, see R.T. France, _Matthew: Evangelist
Teacher (Paternoster, 1989) 50-66, esp. 61-66.
Jeffrey B. Gibson
7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
Chicago, Illinois 60626