PIUS X 1903-1914

The Author, the Time of Composition, and Historical Truth of the Gospel According to Matthew *


[Response of the Biblical Commission, June 19, 1911]


2148 I. Whether after noting the universal and constant agreement of the Church from the earliest times, which is clearly shown by the eloquent testimonies of the Fathers, the inscriptions of the manuscripts of the Gospels, even the most ancient versions of the Sacred Scriptures, and the catalogues handed down by the Holy Fathers, the ecclesiastical writers, the Highest Pontiffs, and the Councils, and finally the liturgical practice of the Eastern and Western Church, it can and should be affirmed with certainty that Matthew, the Apostle of Christ, is in fact the author of the vulgate Gospel under his name?–Reply: In the affirmative.


2149 II. Whether the opinion should be considered as sufficiently supported by the assent of tradition, which holds that Matthew preceded the other evangelists in his writing, and that he composed the first Gospel in the native language then employed by the Jews of Palestine, to whom that work was directed?–Reply: In the affirmative to both parts.


2150 III. Whether the redaction of this original text can be placed beyond the time of the overthrow of Jerusalem, so that the prophecies which are read there about this same overthrow were written after the event; or whether what is customarily alleged to be the testimony of Irenaeus [Adv. haer., lib. 3, cap. I, n. 2] of uncertain and controversial interpretation, is to be considered of such weight that it forces us to reject the opinion of those who think, more in accord with tradition, that the same redaction was composed even before Paul’s arrival in the City? –Reply: In the negative to both parts.


2151 IV. Whether that opinion of certain moderns can even with some probability be sustained, according to which Matthew did not properly or strictly compose the Gospel such as has been handed down to us, but only some collection of the words or conversations of Christ, which another anonymous author has made use of as sources, whom they make the redactor of the Gospel itself.–Reply: In the negative.


2152 V. Whether from the fact that the Fathers and all ecclesiastical writers, indeed the Church herself from her own incunabula used, as canonical, only the Greek text of the Gospel known under the name of Matthew, not even excepting those who taught expressly that Matthew the Apostle wrote in his native language, it can be proved with certainty that the Greek Gospel is identical as to substance with that Gospel written in his native language by the same Apostle?–Reply: In the affirmative.


2153 VI. Whether from the fact that the author of the first Gospel pursues especially the dogmatic and apologetic aim, namely, of demonstrating to the Jews that Jesus is the Messias foretold by the prophets, and descended from the lineage of David, and from the fact that when arranging the deeds and words which he narrates and sets forth anew, he does not always hold to the chronological order, it may be deduced that these matters are not to be accepted as true; or, also, whether it can be affirmed that the accounts of the accomplishments and discourses of Christ, which are read in the Gospel itself, have undergone a kind of alteration and adaptation under the influence of the prophets of the Old Testament, and the status of the more mature Church, and so are by no means in conformity with historical truth?–Reply: In the negative to both parts.


2154 VII. Whether in particular the opinions of those persons should be rightly considered as devoid of solid foundation, who call into question the historical authenticity of the two first chapters, in which the genealogy and infancy of Christ are related; as also of certain opinions on dogmatic matters of great moment, as are those which have to do with the primacy of Peter [Matt. 16:17-19], the form of baptizing, together with the universal mission of preaching handed over to the apostles [Matt. 28:19-20], the apostles’ profession of faith in the divinity of Christ [Matt. 14:33], and other such matters which occurred in Matthew announced in a special way?–Reply: In the affirmative.

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