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Did Matthew exist in Hebrew?
Written by Abdullah Smith
Christians assert that Matthew was written in Hebrew, and then translated into Greek. This conjecture is based on the Church leader Papias, who said the apostle Matthew, preached to the Hebrews:
Matthew put together the oracles [of the Lord] in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as best he could. Papias (Eusebius, H.E. 3.39.16)
Yet, the Hebrew version of the Matthew does not exist today. The Gospel According to Hebrews from which the Greek Matthew was allegedly translated, exists only in fragments preserved by the Church Fathers. There is no evidence to prove the Greek Matthew (in the New Testament) is the translation of this Gospel According to Hebrews.
Amazingly, the first Church writer to mention the Gospel was Hegesippus (died 180 CE) by name. The oldest copies of Matthew are fragmentary; the complete MSS is the Codex Sinaiticus dating from the 4th century.
The Gospel of Hebrews omits the genealogy of Jesus, and it does not record the birth.
So if Matthew is the translation of the Gospel of Hebrews, where did Matthew derive his genealogy? He must have plagiarized the genealogy from the Jewish scriptures; needless to say, it was the source for Matthew and Lukes genealogy. The Old Testament serves the Midrashic tradition called Haggadah, which is the retelling of stories in a new light. Hence, the similarities between Jesus and Moses to fulfill Deuteronomy 18:18 have been fabricated.
Matthew records that Jesus was threatened
at birth, so Mary and Joseph fled to
There is plenty of evidence to show that these sayings were not first uttered by Jesus or invented afterwards by his followers. Many of them were pre-existent, pre-historic, and therefore pre-Christian. They were collections of Egyptian, Hebrew, and Gnostic sayings. (Tom Harper, The Pagan Christ, p. 140)
There is a huge amount of evidence that the core of the spiritual tradition handed down from earliest times was incorporated into collections of the most outstanding and vital utterances spoken by the Christos figure in the cryptic dramas and rituals of the past. These collations of sacred utterances of the divine Son of humans were circulated, in secret, all over the ancient world under the name the Logia, or sayings of the Lord. Having thoroughly weighed the research, I now believe they were the root documents from which the canonical Gospels were extracted. Then, to cover deterioration and suit the various emerging communities of Christians, they were amended, interpolated, and edited by many scribes. I am convinced that this explanation is as near to being the truth of the source, origin, and nature of the Christian Gospels as can be determined. (ibid, pp. 140-141)
Strangely, where did Matthew derive the birth narratives? He must have borrowed from the pagans:
In the Sanskrit dictionary, compiled more than two thousand years ago, we have the whole history of the incarnate deity, miraculously escaping in infancy from the reigning tyrant of his country." (Sir William Jones, Asiatic Researches, Vol. I, p. 273).
As we have already seen, the stories of the
angels and the shepherds, in Luke, and of the wise men, in Matthew, are rewrites of
Egyptian mythical themes from at least two thousand years earlier. They are portrayed
in the art at
The Holy Quran says:
They but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. (Al-Quran 9:30)
According to the book The Hero: A Study in Tradition, Myth and Drama by author Lord Raglan, it was very common to write about mythical god-man saviors of the ancient world by omitting the birth narratives that were subsequently added later, I quote from Amazon regarding this book:
His mother is a virgin and he's reputed to be the son of a god. But he loses favor and is driven from his kingdom to a sorrowful death. Such heroic figures from myth and legend, the author contends, are invested with a common pattern that satisfies the human desire for idealization. Lord Raglan outlines 22 typical motifs from heroic tales, illustrating his theory with events from the lives of Oedipus, King Arthur, Robin Hood, and other legendary characters.
(1) Born of a royal virgin.
(2) He is reputed to be the son of a god.
(3) An attempt is made to kill him at birth
(4) We are told nothing of his childhood.
(5) Faces trials and tests.
(6) Becomes king
Mark was the first Gospel to be written, yet he omits the genealogy and birth of Jesus. He was not a disciple of Jesus, or a witness to the crucifixion:
The author of Mark, the earliest of the narrative gospels, was not an eyewitness: he is reporting information conveyed to him by a third person or persons, who themselves were quite possibly not eye-witnesses (Robert Walter Funk, The Jesus Seminar: The Acts of Jesus, p. 4)
Mark, the earliest Gospel, omits everything
before Jesus appearance as an adult at the
The Gospel of Matthew is not translated from any Hebrew or Aramaic original. The Catholic Encyclopedia admits
Distinct unity of plan, an artificial arrangement of subject-matter, and a simple, easy style--much purer than that of Mark--suggest an original rather than a translation.
Although the phraseology is not more Hebraic than in the other Gospels, still it not much less so. To sum up, from the literary examination of the Greek Gospel no certain conclusion can be drawn against the existence of a Hebrew Gospel of which our First Gospel would be a translation; and inversely, this examination does not prove the Greek Gospel to be a translation of an Aramaic original.
The Dutch scholar Erasmus also testifies:
"It does not seem probable to me that Matthew wrote in Hebrew, since no one testifies that he has seen any trace of such a volume." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Matthew
In conclusion, the Gospel of Matthew was written separately from the Hebrews gospel; and the writer of Matthew may have borrowed from Hebrews, since it was composed before it. The Gospel According to Hebrews contained 2200 lines, 300 less than Matthew, at least 79 sayings were borrowed by the Gospel writers from the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas, written in 120 CE.
The Church has failed to provide evidence that the Gospels existed before 170 CE.
Not a single Gospel was written down at the time of Jesus, they were all written long after his earthly mission had come to an end. (Maurice Bucaille, The Bible, The Koran, and Science, p. 127)
In reality, the four gospels selected for inclusion in the New Testament do not make any appearance in the literary and archaeological record until the last quarter of the 2nd century, between 170 and 180 C.E., and even then they are not much mentioned for a couple of decades. In this regard, Church Fathers and archbishop of Constantinople John Chrysostom (c. 347-407) stated that the names traditionally attached to the canonical gospels were first designated at the end of the second century (The Suns of God, Acharya S.)
The first substantial physical evidence for the four Gospels comes from near the end of the second century CE, about 170 years after Jesus demise. (Tom Harper, The Pagan Christ, p. 139)
The books [canonical gospels] are not heard of till 150 A.D., that is, till Jesus had been dead nearly a hundred and twenty years. No writer before 150 A.D. makes the slightest mention of them." (Bronson, C. Keeler, A Short History of the Bible)
"The Four Gospels were unknown to the early Christian Fathers. Justin Martyr, the most eminent of the early Fathers, wrote about the middle of the second century. His writings in proof of the divinity of Christ demanded the use of these Gospels had they existed in his time. He makes more than 300 quotations from the books of the Old Testament, and nearly one hundred from the Apocryphal books of the New Testament; but none from the four Gospels. (The Book Your Church Doesnt Want You to Read, Tim C. Leedom)
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