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Thread: Jerome and the Hebrew Matthew - (not canonical Matthew)

  1. Default Jerome and the Hebrew Matthew - (not canonical Matthew)

    Let's start with a number of Jerome quotes, that I placed on CARM.
    And I am putting in bold some references that do not match canonical Matthew (the first three bold.)
    (Later we can connect this with the Matthew 28:19 resources.)

    The Hebrew Gospel of Matthew vs the Greek

    Jerome, Lives of Illustrious Men, Ch.3 - De Viris Illustribus - 393 AD
    translated by Ernest Cushing Richardson

    Matthew also called Levi, apostle and aforetimes publican, composed a gospel of Christ at first published in Judea in Hebrew for the sake of those of the circumcision who believed, but this was afterwards translated into Greek though by what author is uncertain. The Hebrew itself has been preserved until the present day in the library at Caesarea which Pamphilus so diligently gathered. I have also had the opportunity of having the volume described to me by the Nazarenes of Beroea, a city of Syria, who use it. In this it is to be noted that wherever the Evangelist, whether on his own account or in the person of our Lord the Savior quotes the testimony of the Old Testament he does not follow the authority of the translators of the Septuagint but the Hebrew. Wherefore these two forms exist “Out of Egypt have I called my son,” and “for he shall be called a Nazarene.”
    The next is from the Commentary on Matthew:

    Jerome, Commentary on Matthew, written in Bethlehem - 398 AD
    (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 117, 2008)
    translated by Thomas P. Scheck

    Matthew 12.13. Then he said to the man: “Stretch forth your hand.
    ”And he stretched it forth, and it was restored to soundness, [to being] just like the other.

    In the Gospel that the Nazarenes and Ebionites use, which we recently translated into Greek from the Hebrew language, and which many call the authentic Gospel of Matthew, this man who has the withered hand is described as a stonemason. He prays for help with words of this sort: “I was a stone-mason, seeking a livelihood with my hands; I plead with you, Jesus, that you restore soundness to me, that I might not have to beg for my food in base fashion.” Until the coming of the Savior, there was a withered hand in the synagogue of the Jews. The works of God were not being done in it. But after he came to earth, the right hand was given back in the apostles, who believed, and it was restored to its former work.
    Jerome, Against the Pelagians, Ch. 3.2 Dialogus contra Pelagianos. - 415 AD
    translated by William Henry Fremantle

    In the Gospel according to the Hebrews,which is written in the Chaldee and Syrian language, but in Hebrew characters, and is used by the Nazarenes to this day (I mean the Gospel according to the Apostles, or, as is generally maintained, the Gospel according to Matthew, a copy of which is in the library at Caesarea), we find, ?Behold, the mother of our Lord and His brethren said to Him, John Baptist baptizes for the remission of sins; let us go and be baptized by him. But He said to them, what sin have I committed that I should go and be baptized by him ? Unless, haply, the very words which I have said are only ignorance.? And in the same volume, ?If thy brother sin against thee in word, and make amends to thee, receive him seven times in a day.? day?? The Lord answered and said to him," I say unto thee until seventy times seven."
    There are other shorter excerpts to add to this three, and there are a number of commentaries on the question, and a couple of worthwhile blog studies. For now, I do not include any of these, because it may be best to simply read these comments first. Plus, it is late. Wait, there is a bit in the Vulgate Prologue.

    Jerome, Letter to Pope Damasus: Preface to the Gospels, 383 AD

    If, however, truth is to be a seeking among many, why do we not now return to the Greek originals to correct those mistakes which either through faulty translators were set forth, or through confident but unskilled were wrongly revised, or through sleeping scribes either were added or were changed? ... . I now speak of the New Testament, which is undoubtedly Greek, except the Apostle Matthew, who had first set forth the Gospel of Christ in Hebrew letters in Judea. This (Testament) certainly differs in our language, and is led in the way of different streams; it is necessary to seek the single fountainhead.... Therefore, this present little preface promises only the four Gospels, the order of which is Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, revised in comparison with only old Greek books.

    At any rate, Ron Jones does include five scholars giving their views on the Hebrew Matthew issue, in the section "Evaluations of Jerome’s Comments by Later Scholars". Missing is Johann David Michaelis, who wrote a lot about this c. 1790.

    The Scholarly Speculation of Jerome Concerning Matthew's Original Hebrew Gospel
    Ron Jones

    For the smaller relevant references, and analysis here is one good source:

    The Influence of the Gospel of Saint Matthew on Christian Literature Before Saint Irenaeus:
    Book 2: The later Christian writings (1990)
    Edouard Massaux

    Chapter 4 - The Noncanonical Gospels
    Section 2 - The Gospel of the Hebrews
    Saint Jerome attests to the existence of the Gospel of the Hebrews, whose date of composition is generally given as before the year 150. He states that he translated the original text into Greek and Latin.50 He points out that this gospel was written in Chaldean, namely, Aramaic, but written in Hebrew letters, and that it was used by the Nazareans. Some people, according to Saint Jerome, thought that this gospel was the gospel of Mt.51 Time has not spared the versions any more than it has the original; only a few fragments survive, preserved in later writings. All the authors emphasize its great affinity with the first gospel.

    50 Cf. Jerome, De viris ill. 2: ?Evangelium quod appellatur secundum Hebraeos et a me nuper in graecum sermonem latinumque translatum est..."
    51,Cf. Jerome, Contr. Pelag. 3.2; in Mt. 12:13.
    Here you can see a number of additional sections.

    Above I mentioned the analysis of Johann Michaelis, c. 1790. Could use some extracts here.
    There is also a fine analysis by William Whitaker, in 1588!, who was involved in the battle of the Bible defending the Received Text against the Jesuit opposition.

    William Whitaker (1548-1596)
    A disputation on Holy Scripture against the ...., especially Bellarmine and Stapleton (1588, 1849 edition)

    William Whitaker
    edited by William Fitzgerald

    On the Greek Edition of the New Testament

    We have next, in the second place, to speak of the Greek edition of the new Testament. It is certain that the whole new Testament was written in Greek, unless, perhaps, we are to except the Gospel of Matthew and the Epistle to the Hebrews. Hosius of Esmeland (in his book de Sacro Vernac.) says, that it was only the Gospel of Matthew which was written in Hebrew. Jerome affirms the same thing in these words of his Preface to the four evangelists addressed to Damasus : "The new Testament is undoubtedly Greek, with the exception of the Apostle Matthew, who first published the gospel in Judaea in Hebrew letters 5 ." Nevertheless in the catalogue, under the article Paul, he says that the Epistle to the Hebrews was written in Hebrew. Thus he writes : "He wrote most eloquently as a Hebrew to the Hebrews, in the Hebrew, that is, in his own language 6 ." The translation of this epistle into Greek some ascribe to Barnabas, as Theodorus Lector 7 in his second book of Collectanea, some to Luke 8 , and some to Clemens 9 . But, how ever that may be, the Greek edition both of the Gospel according to Matthew and of the Epistle to the Hebrews is authentic. For the Hebrew originals (if any such there were) are now nowhere extant, and the Greek was published in the life-time of the apostles, received in the church, and approved by the apostles themselves. Jerome in the Catalogue (Article MATTHAEUS), tells us : "He first composed a gospel in the Hebrew character and language, in Judaea, for the sake of those of the circumcision who had believed ; but it is not certainly known who translated it into Greek." He adds, that "the Hebrew text itself was preserved in his time in the library of Caesaraea which was built by the martyr Pamphilus" (continues)

    [ 9 Euseb. H. E. Lib. III. C. 38. (Grk) ]
    [ 8 So Clemens Alex. ap. Euseb. H. Eccl. L. vi. c. 14.]
    [7 I think this is a mistake. At least I can find no such statements in Theodorus.]
    [ 6 Scripserat, ut Hebrseus Hebrseis, Hebraice, id est suo eloquio, disertissime.]
    [ 5 De novo nunc loquor Testamento, quod Graecum esse non dubium est, excepto apostolo Matthaeo, qui primus in Judaea evangelium Christi Hebraicis literis edidit. Opp. T. i. p. 1426.]
    And I include this partly to show that the scholarship and commentary in the times of the Reformation era, even with less internet access was often as good as, or better than, anything today.
    Last edited by Steven Avery; 07-13-2018 at 02:12 AM.

  2. Default

    Some Refs on the web.

    This one I reference above:

    The Scholarly Speculation of Jerome Concerning Matthew's Original Hebrew Gospel
    Ron Jones and the Titus Institute

    For this one the scholarship is fine, but very limited

    The Hebrew gospel of Matthew.
    Ben Smith

    This next one is uneven, I will try to look it over.

    HEBREW MATTHEW - Shem Tob - du Tillet - Munster
    Are we to believe and trust these references by Origen and his student Eusebius?

    Introduction to the New Testament
    Johann Michaelis
    p. 145-194 and more, even DuTillet and Muenster on p. 185

    Nazarene Jewish Christianity by Ray Pritz has a lot of fine material, but he does not seem to have a clear section just on this topic.

    Nazarene Jewish Christianity: From the End of the New Testament Period Until Its Disappearance in the Fourth Century (1988)
    Ray Pritz
    Last edited by Steven Avery; 07-13-2018 at 02:05 AM.

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