Gospel of Matthew
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|New Testament manuscripts|
The Gospel According to Matthew (Greek: κατὰ Ματθαῖον εὐαγγέλιον, kata Matthaion euangelion, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Ματθαῖον, to euangelion kata Matthaion) (Gospel of Matthew or simply Matthew) is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.
It is theorized that Matthew originated in a Jewish-Christian community in Roman Syria towards the end of the first century A.D., with the author drawing on three main sources: the Gospel of Mark, the hypothetical collection of sayings known as the Q source, and material unique to his own community, all of which probably derived ultimately from earlier oral gospel traditions. The narrative tells how Israel's Messiah, having been rejected by Israel (i.e., God's chosen people) passes judgment on those who had rejected him (so that "Israel" becomes the non-believing "Jews"), and finally sends the disciples to preach to the gentiles.
Composition and setting 
Authorship and sources 
The Gospel of Matthew does not name its author. The record of the tradition that the author was the disciple Matthew begins with the early Christian bishop Papias of Hierapolis (about 100–140 AD), who, in a passage with several ambiguous phrases, wrote: "Matthew collected the oracles (logia—sayings of or about Jesus) in the Hebrew language (Hebraïdi dialektōi—may refer to Hebrew or Aramaic) and each one interpreted (hērmēneusen—or "translated") them as best he could." On the surface this implies that Matthew was written in Hebrew or Aramaic and translated into Greek, but Matthew's Greek "reveals none of the telltale marks of a translation." Scholars have put forward several theories to explain Papias: perhaps Matthew wrote two gospels, one, now lost, in Hebrew, the other our Greek version; or perhaps the logia was a collection of sayings rather than the gospel; or by dialektōi Papias may have meant that Matthew wrote in the Jewish style rather than in the Hebrew language.
Possible earlier versions of the Gospel of Matthew 
There are numerous testimonies, starting from Papias and Irenaeus, that Matthew originally wrote in Hebrew letters and in the "Hebrew dialect", which is thought to refer to Aramaic. The sixteenth century Erasmus was the first to express doubts on the subject of an original Aramaic or Hebrew version of the Gospel of Matthew: "It does not seem probable to me that Matthew wrote in Hebrew, since no one testifies that he has seen any trace of such a volume." Here Erasmus distinguishes between a Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew letters and the partly lost Gospel of the Hebrews and Gospel of the Nazoraeans, from which patristic writers do quote, and which appear to have some relationship to Matthew, but are not identical to it. The Gospel of the Ebionites also has a close relationship to the Gospel of the Hebrews and Gospel of the Nazoraeans, and hence some connection to Matthew. The similarly named Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew has almost nothing to do with Matthew, however, and instead is a combination of two earlier infancy Gospels.
Most contemporary scholars, based on analysis of the Greek in the Gospel of Matthew and use of sources such as the Greek Gospel of Mark, conclude that the New Testament Gospel of Matthew was written originally in Greek and is not a translation from Hebrew or Aramaic (Greek primacy). If they are correct, then the Church Fathers such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Jerome possibly referred to a document or documents distinct from the present Gospel of Matthew. A smaller number of scholars, including the Roman Catholic Pontifical Biblical Commission, believe the ancient writings that Matthew was originally in Aramaic, arguing for Aramaic primacy.
A Hebrew text of Matthew was published by the Spanish Jewish polemicist Ibn Shaprut in the 14th century. Although it has usually been considered to be his own translation, there are various signs pointing to the possibility that he was using a pre-existing text based on something older than our present Greek text. There is also a papyrus codex in Coptic containing Matthew from verse 5:38 to the end which also seems to contain hints of an older text. Some passages make more sense, such as the Jews saying to Jesus "Hoshanna in the house of David" ("Save, we pray, in the house of David") rather than "Hoshanna to the son of David" ("Save, we pray, to the son of David") in Matthew 21:9 and 21:15. 
Modern theories 
Papias does not identify his Matthew, but by the end of the 2nd century the tradition of Matthew the tax-collector had become widely accepted, and the line "The Gospel According to Matthew" began to be added to manuscripts. For many reasons scholars today believe otherwise—for example, the gospel seems to be based on Mark, and "it seems unlikely that an eyewitness of Jesus's ministry, such as Matthew, would need to rely on others for information about it"—and believe instead that it was written between about 80–90 AD by a highly educated Jew (an "Israelite", in the language of the gospel itself), intimately familiar with the technical aspects of Jewish law, standing on the boundary between traditional and non-traditional Jewish values. The disciple Matthew was probably honoured within the author's circle, as the name Matthew is more prominent in this gospel than any other.
A widespread theory holds that the author drew on three primary sources, each representing a distinct community: a hypothetical collection, or several collections, of sayings (called "Q", and shared with Luke); the Gospel of Mark; and material unique to Matthew (called "M", some of which may have originated with Matthew himself).
He wrote for a Jewish audience: like "Q" and "M", he stresses the continuing relevance of the Jewish law; unlike Mark he never bothers to explain Jewish customs; and unlike Luke, who traces Jesus's ancestry back to Adam, father of the human race, he traces it only to Abraham, father of the Jews. The content of "M" suggests that this community was stricter than the others in its attitude to keeping the Jewish law, holding that they must exceed the scribes and the Pharisees in "righteousness" (adherence to Jewish law); and of the three only "M" refers to a "church" (ecclesia), an organised group with rules for keeping order.
Setting: the community of the Gospel of Matthew 
A. J. Saldarini summarises the common scholarly view on the origins of Matthew as follows:
"[T]he Gospel of Matthew addresses a deviant group within the Jewish community in greater Syria, a reformist Jewish sect seeking influence and power (relatively unsuccessfully) within the Jewish community as a whole."
According to this view, the community which gave rise to Matthew originated in Palestine, but: "There the community’s mission to Israel failed, and eventually, probably in the period preceding the Jewish War of 66-70, they were forced to leave the land of Israel. They found a new home in Syria and began to missionize among the Gentiles." Antioch, a coastal city in northern Syria and the third largest in the Roman world, is often mentioned as this later home of the Matthean community, but it could have been any large city in the eastern Mediterranean with large Jewish and Christian populations, and recent research points towards a location near Galilee or Judea.
According to an influential hypothesis put forward by W.D. Davies, the gospel of Matthew was written as a direct response to developments within the Jewish community following the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD. The Pharisees of Judea emerged as the new leaders of the Jewish community after the war, and the loss of the Temple and its priests and the ritual of sacrifice faced them with the problem of finding a new Jewish identity. Their answer was to insist on strict observance of the Law (the Torah), isolation from the Gentiles, and minimalization of the expectation of the coming of the Messiah (the expectation which had provoked the war). The Jewish Christians of Antioch responded differently: obedience to law will be done though following Jesus; Jesus was the Messiah; and Jew and gentile were to be brought into the one community.
As noted, it is claimed that Matthew was written after the destruction of Jerusalem. But although Jesus predicts the catastrophic destruction amid great tribulation, he also says that immediately thereafter the stars will fall from heaven, the powers of the heavens will be shaken, and the Son of Man will come (Chapter 24).
If Matthew's prime concern was to preserve the Jewish character of the church, he failed: Christianity became a Gentile religion, and Christianity and Judaism came to view each other as opposites. Matthew's own Christian community may have called themselves Nazoreans, a sect mentioned by Jerome and others: like Matthew, they maintained a "high Christology" (i.e., they stressed Jesus' divine nature over his human-ness), and did not demand that Gentile Christians observe all the Law.
Structure and content 
Most commentators seem to agree that Matthew, alone among the gospels, alternates five blocks of narrative with five of discourse, marking each off with the phrase "When Jesus had finished..." (see Five Discourses of Matthew). Some scholars see in this five-part layout a deliberate plan to create a parallel to the first five books of the Old Testament; others see a three-part structure based around the idea of Jesus as Messiah; or a set of weekly readings spread out over the year; or no plan at all. Davies and Allison draw attention to the use of "triads" (the gospel groups things in threes), and R. T. France notes the geographic movement from Galilee to Jerusalem and back (the post-resurrection appearances in Galilee are the culmination of the whole story).
Prologue: genealogy, nativity and infancy 
The Gospel of Matthew begins with the words "The Book of Genealogy [in Greek, "Genesis"] of Jesus Christ", deliberately echoing the words of Genesis 2:4 in the Old Testament in Greek. The genealogy tells of Jesus' descent from Abraham and King David and the miraculous events surrounding his virgin birth, and the infancy narrative tells of the massacre of the innocents, the flight into Egypt, and eventual journey to Nazareth.
First narrative and discourse 
The first narrative section begins. John baptizes Jesus, and the Holy Spirit descends upon him. Jesus prays and meditates in the wilderness for forty days, and is tempted by Satan. His early ministry by word and deed in Galilee meets with much success, and leads to the Sermon on the Mount, the first of the discourses. The sermon presents the ethics of the kingdom of God, and includes the Beatitudes ("Blessed are...") as its introduction. It concludes with a reminder that the response to the kingdom will have eternal consequences, and the crowd's amazed response leads into the next narrative block.
Second narrative and discourse 
From the authoritative words of Jesus the gospel turns to three sets of three miracles interwoven with two sets of two discipleship stories (the second narrative), followed by a discourse on mission and suffering. Jesus commissions the Twelve Disciples and sends them to preach to the Jews, perform miracles, and prophesy the imminent coming of the Kingdom, commanding them to travel lightly, without staff or sandals, and to be prepared for persecution. Scholars are divided over whether these rules originated with Jesus or with apostolic practice.
Third narrative and discourse 
Opposition to Jesus comes to a head with accusations that his deeds are done through the power of Satan; Jesus in turn accuses his opponents of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. The discourse is a set of parables emphasising the sovereignty of God, and concluding with a challenge to the disciples to understand the teachings as scribes of the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew avoids using the holy word God in the expression "Kingdom of God"; instead he prefers the term "Kingdom of Heaven", reflecting the Jewish tradition of not speaking the name of God).
Fourth narrative and discourse 
The fourth narrative section reveals that the increasing opposition to Jesus will result in his crucifixion in Jerusalem, and that his disciples must therefore prepare for his absence. The instructions for the post-crucifixion church emphasize responsibility and humility. (This section contains Matthew 16:13–19, in which Simon, newly renamed Peter, (πέτρος, petros, meaning "stone"), calls Jesus "the Christ, the son of the living God", and Jesus states that on this "bedrock" (πέτρα, petra) he will build his church—the passage forms the foundation for the papacy's claim of authority).
Fifth narrative and discourse 
Jesus travels toward Jerusalem, and the opposition intensifies: he is tested by Pharisees as soon as he begins to move towards the city, and when he arrives he is soon in conflict with the Temple and other religious leaders. The disciples ask about the future, and in his final discourse (the Olivet discourse) Jesus speaks of the coming end. There will be false Messiahs, earthquakes, and persecutions, the sun, moon, and stars will fail, but "this generation" will not pass away before all the prophecies are fulfilled. The disciples must steel themselves for ministry to all the nations. At the end of the discourse Matthew notes that Jesus has finished all his words, and attention turns to the crucifixion.
Conclusion: Passion, Resurrection and Great Commission 
The events of Jesus' last week occupy a third of the content of all four gospels. Jesus enters Jerusalem in triumph and drives the money changers from the temple, holds a last supper, prays to be spared the coming agony (but concludes "if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done"), and is betrayed. He is tried by the Jewish leaders (the Sanhedrin) and before Pontius Pilate, and Pilate washes his hands to indicate that he does not assume responsibility. Jesus is crucified as king of the Jews, mocked by all. On his death there is an earthquake, and saints rise from their tombs. Mary Magdalene and another Mary discover the empty tomb, guarded by an angel, and Jesus himself tells them to tell the disciples to meet him in Galilee.
After the resurrection the remaining disciples return to Galilee, "to the mountain that Jesus had appointed," where he comes to them and tells them that he has been given "all authority in heaven and on Earth." He gives the Great Commission: "Therefore go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you;" Jesus will be with them "to the very end of the age." The Ascension is not mentioned.
Themes in Matthew 
The title Son of David identifies Jesus as the healing and miracle-working Messiah of Israel (it is used exclusively in relation to miracles, and the Jewish messiah is sent to Israel alone); as Son of Man he will return to judge the world (a fact his disciples recognise but of which his enemies are unaware); and as Son of God he has a unique relationship with God, God revealing himself through his son, and Jesus proving his sonship through his obedience and example. The gospel has been interpreted as reflecting the struggles and conflicts between the evangelist's community and the other Jews, particularly with its sharp criticism of the scribes and Pharisees. Prior to the Crucifixion the Jews are called Israelites, the honorific title of God's chosen people; after it, they are called "Ioudaioi", Jews, a sign that through their rejection of the Christ the "kingdom of Heaven" has been taken away from them and given instead to the church.
The roots of the gospel in the Matthew-community of the late 1st century give rise to another important title bestowed on Jesus by Matthew, Emmanuel, "God is With Us"—meaning that through Jesus, God is with the ecclesia (literally "assembly", but translated as "church"). Theologically, Matthew's prime concern was that the Jewish tradition should not be lost in a church increasingly becoming gentile. This concern lies behind the frequent citations of Jewish scripture, the evocation of Jesus as the new Moses along with other events from Jewish history, and the concern to present Jesus as fulfilling, not destroying, the Law.
The Jewish theme in the Gospel of Matthew is apparent in other ways as well. First, nearly every important person in the Gospel of Matthew is Jewish. For example, Jesus, the twelve apostles, and the crowds are Jewish. They never deny their Jewish faith in the gospel. Next, Israel is a common theme in the Gospel of Matthew. For instance, in Matthew 15:31, after a story of the healings of Jesus, the text reads that the crowds ‘praised the God of Israel.’
Matthew may have been influenced by Jewish Christianity, a movement in the first few centuries CE which saw Jesus as the Messiah, but continued to practice Jewish customs and traditions. The Gospel of the Nazarenes, a Jewish Christian text, possesses similar themes to the Gospel of Matthew. These themes include many Jewish related elements.
Comparison with other writings 
Matthew, like Luke, incorporates nearly the whole of Mark, keeping the outline intact and adding genealogy-birth-infancy stories to the beginning and post-resurrection appearances to the end. Many scholars have argued that Matthew is simply an expanded version of Mark, but it is also a creative reinterpretation of the source, stressing Jesus' teachings as much as his acts, and making subtle changes in order to stress Jesus' divine nature – Mark's "young man" who appears at Jesus' tomb, for example, becomes a radiant angel in Matthew. The miracle stories in Mark do not demonstrate the divinity of Jesus, as this is an idea not found in that gospel, but rather confirm his status as an emissary of God (which was Mark's understanding of the Messiah).
There is a broad disagreement over chronology between Matthew, Mark and Luke on one hand and John on the other: all four agree that Jesus' public ministry began with an encounter with John the Baptist, but Matthew, Mark and Luke follow this with an account of teaching and healing in Galilee, then a trip to Jerusalem where there is an incident in the Temple, climaxing with the crucifixion on the day of the Passover holiday. John, by contrast, puts the Temple incident very early in Jesus' ministry, has several trips to Jerusalem, and puts the crucifixion immediately before the Passover holiday, on the day when the lambs for the Passover meal were being sacrificed in Temple. Matthew, unlike Paul and like Luke, believed that the Law was still in force, which meant that Jews within the church had to keep it.
In art 
In Insular Gospel Books (copies of the Gospels produced in Ireland and Britain under Celtic Christianity), the first verse of Matthew's genealogy of Christ was often treated in a decorative manner, as it began not only a new book of the Bible, but was the first verse in the Gospels.
See also 
- Authorship of the Bible
- Gospel harmony
- Gospel of the Ebionites
- Gospel of the Hebrews
- Gospel of the Nazoraeans
- Great Commission
- Il vangelo secondo Matteo, a film by Pier Paolo Pasolini
- Jewish-Christian Gospels
- List of Gospels
- List of omitted Bible verses
- Matthew 16:2b–3
- Olivet discourse
- Papyrus 64
- Sermon on the Mount
- Joseph Smith—Matthew
- St Matthew Passion – an oratorio by J. S. Bach
- Synoptic gospels
- Talmud Jmmanuel
- Textual variants in the Gospel of Matthew
- Woes of the Pharisees
- Duling, pp.298, 302
- Burkett, p.175–6
- Ehrman 2012, p. 83ff.
- Luz (1995), p.84
- Turner, pp.15–16
- Bromiley, p.281
- Brown 1997, p. 210-211
- "Jewish Versions of the Gospel of Matthew" by Craig A. Evans, Mishkan 38 (2003), pp. 70-9
- Duling, pp. 301–2
- Burkett, p.174
- Duling, p.302
- Burkett, p.175, 177
- Burkett, p.181
- Burkett, p.180
- Saldarini (1994), p.198
- Luz (2005), p.244
- Saldarini (2003), pp.1000-1001
- Senior (2001), pp.8-10
- Senior (2001), p.18
- Turner, p.9
- Davies&Allison, pp.59-61
- Davies&Allison, pp.62 and following
- France, p.2 and following
- France, p.26 note 1, and p.28: "The first two words of Matthew's gospel are literally “book of genesis”
- France, p.28 note 7: "All MSS and versions agree in making it explicit that Joseph was not Jesus' father, with the one exception of sys, which reads “Joseph, to whom was betrothed Mary the virgin, begot Jesus.”
- Funk, Robert W., Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar. The five gospels. HarperSanFrancisco. 1993.
- Turner, p.101
- Turner, p. 226
- Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985.
- Turner, p.285
- Browning, p. 248
- Turner, p.356
- "Matthew, Gospel acc. to St." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
- Turner, p.445
- Turner, p.613
- Turner, pp.687-688
- Luz (1995), pp.86 and 111
- Luz (1995), pp.91, 97
- Luz (1995), p.93
- Burkett, p. 182
- Strecker p.369-370
- Davies&Allison (1997), p.722
- Senior (2001), pp.17-18
- Hare, Douglas (2000). "How Jewish is the Gospel of Matthew?". Catholic Biblical Quarterly. 2 62: 264–277.
- Taylor, John (1990). "The Phenomenon of Early Jewish-Christianity: Reality or Scholarly Invention?". Vigiliae Christianae 44: 313–334.
- Aune (1987), p.19
- Bockmuehl&Hagner, p.117
- Morris, p.114
- Bockmuehl&Hagner, p.123
- Aune (1987), p.59
- Levine, p.373
- Allison, p.xxvi
- Allison, D.C. (2004). Matthew: A Shorter Commentary. T&T Clark. ISBN 978-0-567-08249-7.
- Davies, W.D.; Allison, D.C. (1988). Matthew 1-7. T&T Clark. ISBN 978-0-567-08355-5.
- Davies, W.D.; Allison, D.C. (1991). Matthew 8-18. T&T Clark. ISBN 978-0-567-08365-4.
- Davies, W.D.; Allison, D.C. (1997). Matthew 19-28. T&T Clark. ISBN 978-0-567-08375-3.
- France, R.T (2007). The Gospel of Matthew. Eerdmans. ISBN 978-0-8028-2501-8.
- Keener, Craig S. (1999). A commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. Eerdmans. ISBN 978-0-8028-3821-6.
- Luz, Ulrich (1992). Matthew 1-7: a commentary. Fortress Press. ISBN 978-0-8006-9600-9.
- Luz, Ulrich (2001). Matthew 8-20: a commentary. Fortress Press. ISBN 978-0-8006-6034-5.
- Luz, Ulrich (2005). Matthew 21-28: a commentary. Fortress Press. ISBN 978-0-8006-3770-5.
- Morris, Leon (1992). The Gospel according to Matthew. Eerdmans. ISBN 978-0-85111-338-8.
- Turner, David L. (2008). Matthew. Baker. ISBN 978-0-8010-2684-3.
General works 
- Aune, David E. (ed.) (2001). The Gospel of Matthew in current study. Eerdmans. ISBN 978-0-8028-4673-0.
- Aune, David E. (1987). The New Testament in its literary environment. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 978-0-664-25018-8.
- Bockmuehl, Markus; Hagner, Donald A. (2005). The Written Gospel. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-83285-4.
- Bromiley, Geoffrey W. (1959). The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Eerdmans. ISBN 978-0-8028-3785-1.
- Browning, W.R.F (2004). Oxford Dictionary of the Bible. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-860890-5.
- Burkett, Delbert (2002). An introduction to the New Testament and the origins of Christianity. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-00720-7.
- Clarke, Howard W. (2003). The Gospel of Matthew and Its Readers. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-34235-5.
- Duling, Dennis C. "The Gospel of Matthew"., in Aune, David E. (ed.) (2010). The Blackwell companion to the New Testament. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-4051-0825-6.
- Dunn, James D.G. (2003). Jesus Remembered. Eerdmans. ISBN 978-0-8028-3931-2.
- Ehrman, Bart D. (2012). Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-220460-8.
- Kupp, David D. (1996). Matthew's Emmanuel: Divine Presence and God's People in the First Gospel. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-57007-7.
- Levine, Amy-Jill. "Visions of kingdoms: From Pompey to the first Jewish revolt"., in Coogan, Michael D., ed. (2001). The Oxford History of the Biblical World. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-513937-2.
- Luz, Ulrich (2005). Studies in Matthew. Eerdmans. ISBN 978-0-8028-3964-0.
- Luz, Ulrich ((English) 1995). The Theology of the Gospel of Matthew. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-43576-5.
- Morris, Leon (1986). New Testament Theology. Zondervan. ISBN 978-0-310-45571-4.
- Perkins, Pheme. "The Synoptic Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles: Telling the Christian Story"., in Kee, Howard Clark, ed. (1997). The Cambridge companion to the bible: part 3. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-48593-7.
- Saldarini, Anthony (2003). "Matthew"., in Dunn, James D.G.; Rogerson, John William (2003). Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Eerdmans. ISBN 978-0-8028-3711-0.
- Saldarini, Anthony (1994). Matthew's Christian-Jewish Community. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-73421-7.
- Senior, Donald. "Directions in Matthean Studies"., in Aune, David E. (ed.) (2001). The Gospel of Matthew in current study. Eerdmans. ISBN 978-0-8028-4673-0.
- Senior, Donald (1996). What are they saying about Matthew?. PaulistPress. ISBN 978-0-8091-3624-7.
- Stanton, Graham (1993). A gospel for a new people: studies in Matthew. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 978-0-664-25499-5.
- Strecker, Georg (1996, 2000). Theology of the New Testament. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 978-0-664-22336-6.
- Van de Sandt, H.W.M. "Introduction"., in Van de Sandt, H.W.M, ed. (2005). Matthew and the Didache. Royal Van Gorcum&Fortress Press. ISBN 978-90-232-4077-8.
- Weren, Wim. "The History and Social Setting of the Matthean Community"., in Van de Sandt, H.W.M, ed. (2005). Matthew and the Didache. Royal Van Gorcum&Fortress Press. ISBN 978-90-232-4077-8.
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- A list of online translations of the Gospel of Matthew: Matthew 1–28
- Biblegateway.com (opens at Matt.1:1, NIV)
- A textual commentary on the Gospel of Matthew Detailed text-critical discussion of the 300 most important variants of the Greek text (PDF, 438 pages).
- Early Christian Writings Gospel of Matthew: introductions and e-texts.
- "Gospel of St. Matthew" article in 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia
- Matthew - King James Version
Gospel of Matthew
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