The Hebrew gospel of Matthew.

One of the ancient Jewish gospels.

Refer also to my consolidated page on the Jewish-Christian gospels.

These patristic references to the original language of the gospel of Matthew are not necessarily related to the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew edited by George Howard. On the other hand, there is equally no certainty that the two have nothing to do with one another; the latter, a medieval text of Matthew found in the Eben Bohan of Shem Tov, a Spanish Jew from century XIV, appears to be considerably more ancient than that century, and the former, if it ever existed, has never been discovered for textual comparison and contrast.


Late century II.

Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.1.1, Greek from Eusebius, History of the Church 5.8.2:

Ο μεν δη Ματθαιος εν τοις Εβραιοις τη ιδια αυτων διαλεκτω και γραφην εξηνεγκεν ευαγγελιου του Πετρου και του Παυλου εν Ρωμη ευαγγελιζομενων και θεμελιουντων την εκκλησιαν.

Ita Mattheus in Hebraeis ipsorum lingua scripturam edidit evangelii cum Petrus et Paulus Romae evangelizarent et fundarent ecclesiam.

Indeed Matthew, among the Hebrews in their own dialect, also bore forth a writing of the gospel, Peter and Paul evangelizing in Rome and founding the church.


Early century III.

Origen, Commentary on Matthew, as cited in Eusebius, History of the Church 6.25.4:

Ως εν παραδοσει μαθων περι των τεσσαρων ευαγγελιων, α και μονα αναντιρρητα εστιν εν τη υπο τον ουρανον εκκλησια του θεου, οτι πρωτον μεν γεγραπται το κατα τον ποτε τελωνην, υστερον δε αποστολον Ιησου Χριστου Ματθαιον, εκδεδωκοτα αυτο τοις απο Ιουδαισμου πιστευσασιν, γραμμασιν Εβραικοις συντεταγμενον.

As learned in tradition concerning the four gospels, which even alone are not spoken against in the church of God under heaven, that the first written that according to the one who was once a publican, but later an apostle of Jesus Christ, Matthew, who published it for those from Judaism who had believed, ordered together in Hebraic letters.


Early century IV.

Eusebius, History of the Church 3.39.116, citing Papias, Exegesis of the Oracles of the Lord, probably citing the elder John:

Ταυτα μεν ουν ιστορηται τω Παπια περι του Μαρκου· περι δε του Ματθαιου ταυτ ειρηται· Ματθαιος μεν ουν Εβραιδι διαλεκτω τα λογια συνεταξατο, ηρμηνευσεν δ αυτα ως ην δυνατος εκαστος.

These things therefore are recorded by Papias about Mark. But about Matthew he says these: Matthew therefore in the Hebrew dialect ordered together the oracles, and each one interpreted them as he was able.

Eusebius, History of the Church 5.10.3, writing of Christian missionaries:

...ων εις γενομενος και ο Πανταινος, και εις Ινδους ελθειν λεγεται, ενθα λογος ευρειν αυτον προφθασαν την αυτου παρουσιαν το κατα Ματθαιον ευαγγελιον παρα τισιν αυτοθι τον Χριστον επεγνωκοσιν, οις Βαρθολομαιον των αποστολων ενα κηρυξαι αυτοις τε Εβραιων γραμμασι την του Ματθαιου καταλειψαι γραφην, ην και σωζεσθαι εις τον δηλουμενον χρονον.

...of whom one also was Pantaenus, and it is said that he went to the Indians, where word has it he found that the gospel according to Matthew had preceded him among some there who had known Christ, to whom Bartholomew, one of the apostles, had preached and left them the writing of Matthew in letters of the Hebrews, which was even saved unto the time mentioned.


Early century V.

From Jerome, commentary on Psalm 135 (de Santos 22):

In Hebraico evangelio secundum Matthaeum ita habet: Panem nostrum crastinum da nobis hodie, hoc est, panem quem daturus es in regno tuo da nobis hodie.

In the Hebraic gospel according to Matthew it has thus: Our bread for tomorrow give us this day, that is, the bread which you will give in your kingdom give us today.

From Jerome, On Famous Men 3 (de Santos 18):

Matthaeus, qui et Levi, ex publicano apostolus, primus in Iudaea propter eos qui ex circumcisione crediderant evangelium Christi Hebraicis litteris composuit; quod quis postea in Graecum transtulerit non satis certum est. porro ipsum Hebraicum habetur usque hodie in Caesariensi bibliotheca quam Pamphilus martyr studiosissime confecit. mihi quoque a Nazaraeis, qui in Beroea urbe Syriae hoc volumine utuntur, describendi facultas fuit; in quo animadvertendum quo ubicumque evangelista, sive ex persona sua sive ex domini salvatoris, veteris scripturae testimoniis abutitur, non sequatur septuagint translatorum auctoritatem, sed Hebraicum. e quibus illa duo sunt: Ex Aegypto vocavi filium meum, et: Quoniam Nazaraeus vocabitur.

Matthew, who is also Levi, the ex-publican apostle, first composed in Hebraic letters the gospel of Christ in Judea on account of those who had believed from among the circumcision; who afterward translated it into Greek is not sufficiently certain. Furthermore, this Hebraic [text] is held even until today in the Caesarean library which Pamphilus the martyr studiously put together. There was an opportunity for me from the Nazaraeans to copy this volume, which is used in Beroea, a city of Syria. In which [gospel] it must be noted that, wherever the evangelist, whether from his own person or from the Lord and savior, makes use of testimonies of the old scriptures, he does not follow the authority of the seventy translators, but the Hebrew. From which things two are: From Egypt did I call my son, and: For he shall be called a Nazarene.

These two Matthean references are 2.15 and 2.23, respectively. Jerome elsewhere reaffirms that the first draft of the gospel of Matthew was written in Hebrew. From the Prologue of the Four Gospels:

Primus omnium Matthaeus est, publicanus cognomento Levi, qui evangelium in Iudaea Hebreo sermone edidit, ob eorum vel maxime causam qui in Iesum crediderunt ex Iudaeis, et nequaquam legis umbra succendente evangelii vertitatem servabat.

First of all is Matthew, a publican with the cognomen of Levi, who published a gospel in Judea in the Hebrew speech, especially on account of those who had believed in Jesus from among the Jews, and with the shadow of the law in no way succeeding he served the truth of the gospel.

From the epistle of Jerome to Damasus, epistle 20:

Denique Matthaeus, qui evangelium Hebraeo sermone conscripsit, ita posuit: Osanna barrama, id est: Osanna in excelsis.

At last Matthew, who wrote the gospel in Hebrew speech, puts it thus: Hosanna barrama, that is: Hosanna in the highest.