Academic journal article Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

Hebrew Gospel of Matthew

Academic journal article Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

Hebrew Gospel of Matthew

Article excerpt

Hebrew Gospel of Matthew. By George Howard. 2d ed. Macon: Mercer University, 1995, xiv + 239 pp., $24.95.

Howard's primary task is to take the Hebrew manuscript of Matthew that appeared in the body of a 14th-century polemical treatise entitled Even Bohan ("The Touchstone") by Jewish scholar Shem-Tob ben-Isaac ben-Shaprut and to demonstrate that this manuscript predates the 14th century. The second edition corrects a number of errors in, and addresses the questions raised by, the first edition of 1987.

From a number of sources in the early Church, the early Church fathers gave testimony to the existence of the gospel of Matthew written in Hebrew, or supposedly Aramaic, and then translated later into Greek. Papias (ca. AD 60-130) first stated that a Hebrew text existed but later fathers-Irenaeus, Origen, Eusebius, Epiphanius and Jerome-also cited a Hebrew text. However, Howard points out that the allusions and citations by these men have very little or no connection with the Church's preserved text of Matthew and Shem-Tob's Hebrew text of Matthew.

The Hebrew text of Matthew in Shem-Tob's possession is a Christian text in Hebrew, preserved by Jewish scholars, and it was used for a polemical purpose of pointing out its errors and in general the mistakes and wrong assumptions by Christendom regarding Jesus as Messiah. …

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