Thursday, June 8, 2017

Authorship of Matthew

Decrees of the Pontifical Biblical Commission

June 19, 1911 (AAS 3 [1911] 294ff; EB 401ff; Dz 2148 ff)

I: Having regard to the universal and unwavering agreement of the Church ever since the first centuries, an agreement clearly attested by the express witness of the Fathers, by the titles of the Gospel manuscripts, the most ancient versions of the sacred books and the lists handed on by the holy Fathers, by ecclesiastical writers, by Popes and Councils, and finally by the liturgical use of the Church in the East and in the West, may and should it be affirmed as certain that Matthew, the Apostle of Christ, was in fact the author of the Gospel current under his name?

Answer: In the affirmative.

II: Should the verdict of tradition be considered to give adequate support to the statement that Matthew wrote before the other Evangelists and wrote the first Gospel in the native language then used by the Jews of Palestine for whom the work was intended?

Answer: In the affirmative to both parts.

III: Can the composition of this original text be postponed till after the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, so that the prophecies it contains about that destruction were written after the event ; or should the oft-quoted text of Irenaeus (Ads. Haer. Lib. 3, cap. 1, n. 2), of uncertain and controverted interpretation, be considered to have such weight as to impose the rejection of the opinion more in harmony with tradition according to which the composition of the Gospel was completed even before the arrival of Paul in Rome?

Answer: In the negative to both parts.

IV: Can even probable arguments be given in support of that opinion of certain recent writers according to which Matthew did not write a Gospel properly and strictly so-called, such as has been handed down to us, but merely a collection of the sayings or discourses of Christ which were drawn on by another anonymous author, whom they make the editor of the Gospel itself?

Answer: In the negative.

V: Can the fact that all the Fathers and ecclesiastical Writers and even the Church itself from its very cradle have used as canonical only the Greek text of the Gospel known under the name of Matthew, not even those being excepted who explicitly taught that the Apostle Matthew wrote in his native tongue, provide certain proof that the Greek Gospel is identical in substance with the Gospel written by that Apostle in his native tongue?

Answer: In the affirmative.

VI: Do the facts that the aim of the author of the first Gospel is chiefly dogmatic and apologetic, namely, to prove to the Jews that Jesus was the Messias foretold by the prophets and born of the lineage of David, and that moreover in the arrangement of the facts and discourses which he narrates and reports, he does not always follow chronological order, justify the deduction that they ought not to be accepted as true? Or may it also be affirmed that the accounts of the deeds and discourses of Christ, which are read in that Gospel, underwent a certain alteration and adaptation under the influence of the prophecies of the Old Testament and the more mature condition of the Church and are consequently not in conformity with historical truth?

Answer: In the negative to both parts.

VII: In particular ought it to be held that there is no solid foundation to the opinions of those who call in doubt the historical authenticity of the first two chapters, in which an account is given of the genealogy and infancy of Christ, as also of certain passages of great dogmatic importance, such as are those which concern the primacy of Peter (16:17-19), the form of baptism entrusted to the Apostles together with the mission of preaching everywhere (28:19f), the Apostles' profession of faith in the divinity of Christ (14:33), and other similar matters which are found in a special form in Matthew?

Answer: In the affirmative.

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