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The Portable Commentary.
OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS,
REV. ROBERT JAMIESON, D.D., ST. PAUL'S, GLASGOW ;
101. f. 13
INTRODUCTION TO THE GOSPELS AND ACTS.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO S. MATTHEW.
T HE author of this Groepel was a publican or tax-gatherer, residing at Capernaum, on the western shore of the sea of 1 Gallee. As to his identity with the "Levi" of the Second and Third Gospels, and other particulars, see on Matthew,
& Hardly anything is known of his apostolic labours. That, after preaching to his countrymen in Palestine, he went to the East, is the genernl testimony of antiquity; but the precise scene or scenes of his ministry cannot be determined. That he died a natural death may be concluded from the belief of the best informed of the Fathers--that of the apostles
ly three, James the greater, Peter, and Paul, suffered martyrdom. That the first Gospel was written by this apostle is the testimony of all antiquity.
For the date of this Gospel we have only internal evidence, and that far from decisive. Accordingly, opinion is much disided. That it was the first issued of all the Gospels was universally believed. Hence, although in the order of the Gepels, those by the two apostles were placed first in the oldest MSS. of the Old Latin version, while in all the Greek kas. vith sesreely an exception, the order is the same as in our Bibles, the Gospel according to Matthew is in every caso ploed first. And as this Gospel is of all the four the one which bears the most evident marks of having been prepared and
ostrocted with a special view to the Jewg-who certainly first required a written Gospel, and would be the first to make Ese of it there can be no doubt that it was issued before any of the others. That it was written before the destruction of Jerusalem is equally certain; for, as Hug observes (Introduction to the New Testament, p. 316, Fosdick's translation), when be reports our Lord's prophecy of that awful event, on coming to the warning about " the abomination of desolation" which they should "see standing in the holy place," he interposes (contrary to his invariable practice, which is to relate without remark) a call to his readers to read intelligently-" Whoso readeth, let him understand" (Matthew, 24. 15)--a call to attend to the divine signal for flight which could be intended only for those who lived before the event. But how long before that event this Gospel was written is not so clear. Some internal evidences seem to imply a very early date. Since the Jewish Christians were, for five or six years, exposed to persecution from their own countrymen-until the Jews, being penroosted by the Romans, had to look to themselves-it is not likely (it is argued) that they should be left so long without Some ritten Gospel to reassure and sustain them, and Matthew's Gospel was eminently fitted for that purpose. But the digests to which Luke refers in his Introduction (see on Luke, 1. 1-4) would be sufficient for a time, especially as the living price of the "eye-witnesses and ministers of the word "was yet sounding abroad. Other considerations in favour of a very arty date-ach as the tender way in which the author seems studiously to speak of Herod Antipas, as if still reigning,
his riting of Pilate apparently as if still in power-seem to have no foundation in fact, and cannot therefore be made the groand of reasoning as to the date of this Gospel. Its Hebraic structure and hue, though they prove, as we think,
xt this Gospel must have been published at a period considerably anterior to the destruction of Jerusalem, are no evitence in favour of so early a date as A.D. 37 or 38-according to some of the Fathers, and, of the moderns, Tillemont, Terenson, Owen, Birks, Tregelles. On the other hand, the date suggested by the statement of Irenaeus (3. 1), that Matthew a forth his Gospel while Peter and Paul were at Rome preaching and founding the Church-or after A.D. 60-though toals the majority of critics are in favour of it, would seem rather too late, especially as the Second and Third Gospels, which were doubtless published, as well as this one, before the destruction of Jerusalem, had still to be issued. Certainly, nch statements as the following. * Wherefore that field is called the field of blood unto this day; "And this saying is
only reported among the Jews until this day" (Matthew, 27. 8, and 28.16), bespeak a date considerably later than the ats recorded. We incline, therefore, to a date intermediate between the earlier and the later dates assigned to this Gospel, without pretending to greater precision.
We have adverted to the strikingly Jewish character and colouring of this Gospel. The facts which it selects, the points to which it gives prominence, the cast of thought and phraseology-all bespeak the Jewish point of view from
ich it was written and to which it was directed. This has been noticed from the beginning, and is universally acknow. How It is of the greatest consequence to the right interpretation of it; but the tendency among some even of the best of the Gemasne to infer, from this special design of the First Gospel, a certain laxity on the part of the Evangelist in the treatment of his faets must be guarded against.
Det by far the most interesting and important point connected with this Gospel is the language in which it was atten. It is believed by a formidable number of critics that this Gospel was originally written in what is loosely called Here, but more correctly Aramaie, or Syro-Chaldaie, the native tongue of the country at the time of our Lord; and that the Greek Matthes which we now possess is a translation of that work, either by the Evangelist himself or some unknown kod Ide evidence on which this opinion is grounded is wholly external. But it has been deemed conclusive by Grotius, Michael, (and his translator) Marsh, Townson, Campbell, Olshausen, Greswell, Meyer, Ebrard, Lange, Davidson, Cureton. irogas, Vector and Wilkinson, &c. The evidence referred to cannot be given here, but will be found, with remarks on in matisfactory character, in the 'Introduction to the Gospels' prefixed to our larger Commentary, pp. xxviii-xxxi.
Bat bos stand the facts as to our Greek Gospel? We have not & tittle of historical evidence that it is a Translation, athe by Matthew himself or any one else. All antiquity refers to it as the work of Matthew the publican and apostle, est as the other Gospels are ascribed to their respective authors. This Greek Gospel was from the first received by the Clacha ag an integral part of the one Quadriform Gospel. And while the Fathers often advert to the two Gospels which we are frota apostles, and the two which we have from men not apostles-in order to show that as that of Mark leans so tirely go Peter, and that of Luke on Paui, these are really no less apostolical than the other two-though we attach less
s to this circumstance than they did, we cannot but think it striking that, in thus speaking, they never drop a hint that the fall apostolio authority of the Greek Matthew had ever been questioned on the ground of its not being the original.