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Dating The First Publication of The Gospel According to the Hebrews by Matthew (GATHM)  

(excerpt from Original Gospel of Matthew (2014) by Standord Rives, Vol. 2 pp. 46-47.)

 

The date in which the “Hebrew Gospel of Matthew [was] composed” is given in Blair’s Chronological Tables (1856) as 38 A.D.1 It then says in 62 AD “the Hebrew gospel of Matthew is rendered into Greek by an unknown translator.”2

Subsequently, scholars began to doubt such early dating of Matthew. This arose when the notion that Mark’s Gospel came first began to gain traction. However, in 1995 Jewish scholars brought again to light that the Talmud records a Jewish teacher who lived no later than 72 A.D. who quotes Jesus from a passage that appears only in Matthew—Matthew 5:16-19—which also includes a unique portion we find in the Shem-Tob Hebrew Matthew of the 1300s.3 This has convinced modern scholars that indeed Matthew came very early in church history.

 

In the 1999 book, Passover and Easter: Origin and History to Modern Times (Notre Dame Press), Israel J. Yuval of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University revived attention to this particular Talmudic passage. It states that Gamaliel, a leader of rabbinical scholars who died around 72 AD, parodied the Pauline reading of Jesus’ gospel. Craig Blomberg, a professor of the New Testament at Denver Theological Seminary, comments that if Gamaliel quoted the Gospel of Matthew, then Matthew “had to be before 70 AD.” Nicholson nudges the date so this gospel is no later than 72 AD.4

 

In Gamaliel’s story, a daughter whose father had died offers a golden lamp as a bribe to a Christian judge known for his honesty, seeking a decision that would allow her to share her father’s estate with her brother. When the judge suggests that dividing the estate would be proper on the basis of the “Gospel [being] given in the place” of Torah to supersede it,5 Gamaliel argues that the son should inherit over the daughter, relying upon Numbers 27:8 from the Law given Moses. (Herford:149.)

 

Second, Gamaliel quotes a statement exclusively attributed to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew. It also includes a portion of what we now know belongs to the Shem-Tob Hebrew Matthew at 6:2. Gamaliel says: “Look further in the book [i.e., the Gospel], and it is written in it, ‘I have not come to take away from the Law of Moses nor add to the Law of Moses.....”6 The first part is in both the Greek and Shem-Tob Hebrew Matthew, but "nor add to the Law" is only in the Shem-Tob Hebrew Matthew at 6:2. (See Matt 6:2 OGM Vol. 1.) Based on this argument, Gamaliel wins before the Christian judge.

 

The late English scholar, R. Travers Herford, discussed this Talmud passage in his book Christianity in Talmud and Midrash (Williams & Norgate: 1903) at 148 et seq. He infers from it that Matthew’s text was obviously well-known by 72 A.D.7 And we now know the Hebrew version was being quoted.


 

FOOTNOTES

1. John Blair, J. Willoughby Rosse, Blair’s Chronological Tables, Revised and Enlarged (1856) at 153.

2. Blair, id., at 157.

3. It was quoted in B.L. Visotsky, Fathers of the World: Essays in Rabbinic and st Literatures.  (Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 1995) at 81. It is also quoted in James R. Edwards, The Hebrew Gospel and the Development of the Synoptic Tradition. (Eerdman’s 2009) at 263-64.

4. Nicholson puts the date at about 72 AD because in this story in the Talmud the Christian judge refers to “from the day you were exiled from your land.” Nicholson says this can only refer to the confiscation of Jewish property in 72 AD. See Robert Travers Herford, Christianity in Talmud and Midrash.   (Williams & Norgate, 1903) at 148 (discussing Nicholson). See Nicholson, Gospel according to the Hebrews, supra, at 146 n.

5. Quoted in James R. Edwards, The Hebrew Gospel and the Development of the Synoptic Tradition.  (Eerdman’s 2009) at 264.

6. Robert Travers Herford, Christianity in Talmud and Midrash. (Williams & Norgate, 1903) at 150. The judge then reverses himself, saying “where there is a son, the daughter does not inherit.”

7. See Neil Altman & David Crowder, Jewish Talmud Confirms An Early Matthew http://archive.southcoasttoday.com/daily/04-03/04-19-03/a06op041.htm (accessed 2011). See also R. Travers Herford, Christianity in Talmud and Midrash (Williams & Norgate, 1903) at 146.