I have published on the early church traditions about the evangelist Mark as the interpreter of Peter and John as the beloved disciple who reclined next to Jesus at the Last Supper and published his Gospel in Ephesus. Eventually I would like to turn to the traditions about the evangelist Matthew, one of the twelve apostles who wrote his Gospel to a Jewish audience in their own language. Here are the three pieces of the puzzle that have to be resolved.
- In Mark 2:14, Matthew 9:9, and Luke 5:27-28, Jesus called a tax collector to abandon his profession and follow him. However, in the Gospels of Mark and Luke the tax collector is named Levi, but in Matthew’s Gospel the tax collector is named Matthew.
- The names of the twelve Apostles are listed in Mark 3:16-19, Matthew 10:2-4, Luke 6:14-16, and Acts 1:13, but Matthew 10:3 added the description “the tax collector” after the Apostle Matthew’s name.
- The standard Gospel titles, and the early church traditions, unanimously ascribed the first canonical Gospel to Matthew. Moreover, they assumed that our Greek text was a translation of a Hebrew (or more likely Aramaic) original and some Patristic authorities identified this Semitic original with what they presumed to be the Gospel according to the Hebrews (e.g., Epiphanius, Jerome).
Update: here are all the posts that we have covered in this series, so that you can make your own judgment about the authorship of the first New Testament Gospel.