The oldest sources say Matthew was originally written in Hebrew. Why do some ignore what else the sources say?

The sources also say Mark and Luke had already been written, and that Matthew wrote in Hebrew while Paul was in Rome. Here are the details in chronological order.

Please note the following information on what Eusebius says, in context:

1. The oldest source in Eusebius states that Matthew wrote his gospel for "the Hebrews" in his "native language" (literally "father tongue")

But he then goes on to say that the Gospels of Mark and Luke had already been published by that time. --Eusebius III. xxiv. 5-7

2. The second oldest source (quoting Papias) states that Matthew collected his writings in the Hebrew language (literally Hebrew dialect). --Eusebius III, xxxix. 16

3. The third oldest source (citing Irenaeus) says Matthew published his Gospel for the Hebrews in their "native language." He then says that Matthew's did so "while Peter and Paul were establishing the church in Rome." --Eusebius V. vvi. 1-3

4. Eusebius also states that Paul originally wrote Hebrews in Hebrew, and that it was translated into Greek by either Luke or Clement or Rome.

14 Answers

  • Favorite Answer

    It truly amazes me how many people completely misunderstand the question.

    Yes. Matthew was first written in Hebrew.

    Yes. The order likely is Mark Luke Matthew John.

    Yes. I have heard that Hebrews was written in Hebrew, and that it was translated into Greek by Luke.

    This explains why people think Paul didn't write Hebrews.

    Because it is Paul's message in Luke's style..

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 10 years ago

    I see no issue with Matthew being written after Mark and Luke. Mark was probably the first written, with John being the last written --most likely in the 90's when he was in exhile on Patmos.

    It would make sense that Matthew was written in Hebrew, because each gospel was written with a specific purpose and specific audience. Matthew's was written to illustrate how Jesus was the Christ for the Jews. Mark (in all likelyhood accounts taken from Peter and written by Mark), shows Jesus as a strong King. Luke is shows John the Baptist and Jesus as the Fullfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. John is written is a Gospel towards the general world, Jews and Gentiles both.

    Also, it is highly unlikely that Paul wrote Hebrews. In the actual original syntax, Hebrews is completely different that all the other Pauline letters. Also, Hebrews is missing the trademarks that most all other Pauline letters hold "a greeting from Paul, an account from disciples with him, a sentence at the end from him saying 'signed in my own hand,' etc." Church history has always been cloudy on the origin of Hebrews, but there is no doubt of it's Spirit-filled message, so it was included in the canon. Because people like to answer questions, it was assumed along the way that Paul wrote it. However, modern scholars reading the original are for the most part all in agreement that it is written in a completely different style. Google it and read the opinions. There is large knowledge of Hebrew customs in the letter, and it is thought that possible authors could include the Apostles Barnabus or Apollos, both of whom were large-biblical figures and contemporaries of Paul and Peter. When it comes down to it, only God knows who He used to speak through.

    Source(s): Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology, previous studies, in-depth examination of the Apostle Paul
    • Login to reply the answers
  • Jane
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    It's not impossible, but it's not likely. Hebrew wasn't widely used at the time. Although most Jews understood Hebrew to some extent, its use was pretty much limited to reading from the Torah scrolls in the synagogue. Most Judean and Galilean Jews spoke Aramaic as their everyday language, although most had some understanding of Greek, since it was so widely used.. Hellenized Jews, whose native language was Greek, lived mostly in Alexandria. If Matthew was not originally written in Greek, then Aramaic would have been a far more logical choice than Hebrew. After all, the goal of any writing is to be understood, and Aramaic would make that more likely than Hebrew. All this is assuming that the Jews were the primary intended audience of Matthew's Gospel, which I don't think is necessarily the case. If they were not, then Greek would undoubtedly have been the original language, since it was understood throughout most of the Empire.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 10 years ago

    If they became bible scholars it would be the end of so-call Christianity as the denominations proclaim it today. It would not be the end of Christianity from the Bible point of view however.

    If Eusebius is correct and I can see no reason why it would not be so, have you found the gospels written in the Hebrew Language?

    It would be interesting to read it. Not one translated back into Hebrew mind you.

    Private emails accepted


    • Login to reply the answers
  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    Because if you too freely translate idiomatic Greek directly into English you can come up with a misleading translation (Papias). Whether or not Matthew had a Hebrew original is debated amongst scholars, but there is not a great deal hanging upon it, apart from a few reputations; should the debate be definitively settled either way.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • Sara
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    Perhaps the best book I've read on the dating of the gospels is Misquoting Jesus, by Bart D. Ehrman, a Bible scholar who began his career as a Fundamentalist.

    The book was a New York Times Bestseller, but it's only for those who really want to know about the translation and origins of the New Testament; it's not light reading but scholarly stuff.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 10 years ago

    Let's see if I can unravel some of this....Papias's (bishop in Hieropolis) assertion that Matthew wrote in Hebrew is generally dated ca. AD130, in a work entitled "Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord." This writing, however, is known only in fragments quoted by later Christian writers. They report that Matthew, the disciple, complied the *sayings* of Jesus in Hebrew. Those who have quoted Papias seem to have accepted his statement without question as referring to the First Gospel.

    The difficulties with such assumption are generally these:

    a) The Gospel consists of a rather full account of the public ministry of Jesus, not merely a series of *sayings* (such as we believe Q to have been);

    b) Detailed analysis of Matthew shows that the author used Mark (usually dated AD 70) as one of his sources;

    c) Therefore, Mark and therefore Matthew, for whom Mark was a source, were both written in Greek, not Hebrew.

    In view of these difficulties, it's plausible to assume that Papias is referring, not to the Gospel of Matthew as we know it, but perhaps to a now lost collection of sayings of Jesus.

    Because the Gospel of Matthew so clearly uses Mark as a major source of material, (in Greek), and the Gospel of Mark is believed, according to its internal evidence, to have been composed shortly after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70; and because the executions of both Peter and Paul are believed to have occurred in Rome following the burning of the city and the subsequent persecution of Christians in Rome (including Peter and Paul) by Emperor Nero in ca AD 66, which is *prior* to the composition of either Mark or Matthew, scholars reject the idea that Matthew was composed during the lifetimes of Peter and Paul. The belief that the Gospel of Matthew was written in Hebrew, during the period when Peter and Paul were still alive does not withstand scrutiny. The further assertion that Paul wrote the letter to the Hebrews is also demonstrably false. "Detailed study in modern times has led to almost unanimous agreement that the language, style and ideas differ so markedly from those of Paul that it is almost inconceivable that he could have been the author," as one commentary puts it.

    Source(s): Did I get close to what you were asking, Coach? (Jeepers, I'm rustier than I thought.)
    • Login to reply the answers
  • 10 years ago

    No, it was the lost gospel of the Hebrews he was supposed to have written in Hebrew, not the gospel of Matthew. Eusabius is hardly a reliable source, if you read the nonsensical Life of Constantine, you realise this man was just an amateurish apologist. Also it is strongly suspected that it was Eusabius who forge the reference to Jesus in The Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 10 years ago

    Who ignores it?

    This is a generally accepted fact.

    One correction though, while Hebrew was the language of Jewish scripture, the native tongue spoken in Judea at the time would have been (old) Aramaic.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    And yet, since no original source for "Matthew" exists, none of those claims can be verified.

    And since Eusebius was writing around 200 years after the fact, with no originals, how could he possibly have known?

    Finally, since Eusebius himself wrote that, "falsehoods may be a medicine which may be lawful and fitting to use," and freely admitted that in the histories he wrote he only chose to write about things that served his own purpose, and left out or changed other things, his honesty and accuracy are extremely questionable.


    • Login to reply the answers
Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.