The first book in chronological order of the New Testament is the Gospel of Matthew. This book speaks to a King and his Kingdom. It is suspected that the many mentions of the word kingdom is an echo of the people; the Jews’ desire for the coming Messiah, the King of Kings, which was the paramount expectancy of the Jew.
The major cataloguing of the gospel is of four significant headings with the first twelve books declaring the coming king yet this kingdom was undoubtedly precluded; subsequently in chapter 13 to 25 we read of the rejection of the anticipated King’s ministry and teachings, which lead to the transference of divine privilege to the Gentile (Christian) community; the Romans, a prophesy as recorded in Psalm 118: 22, being manifested in chapter 21: 43. The chronicle of the King’s victory over death is written in chapters 26 to 27, and the concluding chapter (28), voices of the great commission of the king to the disciples.
The author makes reference to several prophecies approximately 50 direct quotes and 75 allusions according to Barbeiri and Senior of the coming King and Kingdom, one universally mentioned quoting from Isaiah the prophet who himself prophesied during the reign of four kings of Judah, the fulfillment of this prophesy is recorded in the first chapter of Mathew, which spoke of Emmanuel, as was foretold in Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7 telling of the virgin birth of Immanuel and the son being king, speaking of the establishment of the kingdom forever. The aim of presenting Jesus as the Son of David and not only the Messiah came out in chapter 1 recount of the genealogies. It also believed that Matthew favoured Isaiah quoting several text from the book according to the Belgian scholar Frans Van Segbroeck (15 and 33).
Who is the Author?
It is strongly argued that the first book of the New Testament was written by a Galilean Jew one of the twelve disciples to the Jewish population with expressed purpose of presenting Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God. Yet, extensively scholarly writings dispute the authorship of the first gospel. Inquisitorially commenting, how could a tax collector or publican like Matthew author this book? Would he have sufficient education to write? This question and doubt maybe substantiated with his entry into the writings not until chapter 9 of the book. In determining the authorship we scrutinize suggestions provided outside the book and within the book (external and internal evidences).
The date and time of the writing of this canonized book is hotly disputed as sceptics of prophesy believed it was written around AD 70, others with cited references to the temple being destroyed believe it was prior to AD 70 and that the record of the destruction of the temple was prophetic, relating the incumbent dome to the temple. Ignatius c. 100, the author of the Didache (c. 110) and Clement of Rome (c. 90) quoted sections from the Gospel of Matthew which could put the date closer to AD 70. Early church fathers namely: Pseudo Barnabas, Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and Origen cited Matthew as the author of the first book of the New Testament (Barbieri 13-15).
Also, Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis around AD 120-140, registered that “Matthew composed the texts in the Hebrew dialect [Aramaic] hence anyone else writing or rewriting aspects of the book would have done so by translation of the original Aramaic script. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons concurred that the original Aramaic script was written by the Galilean and tax collector Matthew, who brought the gospel to the Hebrew- Palestinian Jews in the times when Peter and Paul were founding the churches in Rome. These early Aramaic recording nonetheless cannot be found and the Hebrew version of the book seems not to be translated from the Aramaic version. However, no other authors were named except Matthew, all others possible authors mentioned remain nameless, and to date there has been no other assigned name to the book (Barbieri 13-15).
Though the Jews spoke Aramaic they had a literary understanding of Hebrew and therefore Matthew brought them the gospel in their native tongue Barbieri informs that (Eusebius, H.E. 6. 3-4; Carter, 2001).B. Origen (185-254) (as quoted by Eusebius, H.E. 6. 25.3-4) that, “Among the four Gospels, which are the only indisputable ones in the Church of God under heaven, I have learned by tradition that the first was written by Matthew, who was once a tax collector, but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ, and it was prepared for the converts from Judaism, and published in the Hebrew [or Aramaic] language” (Eusebius qtd Barbieri 13-15).
Others thought Matthew was a prolific writer and therefore wrote originally in Aramaic and then in Greek but was skilled in the Semitic language not to allow the current readers to recognize this.
The scripture are inerrant in that they were inspired by God, however, God allowed the writers to use their experience and knowledge in articulating the words for example Paul writing of the epistles was borne out of his prison encounter, he made other valuable references based on his experience at sea, likewise Matthew being knowledgeable with financial matters made several references to this in these scripture verses: (Matthew 17:24-27; 18:23-35, 20:1-16, 26:15, 27:3-10, 28:11-15) (Thompson 2012). He had according to Barbieri , the most reference to coins when compared to the other gospel writers. Three significant mentions not found in other gospels are Matthew 17:24, 27 tribute to be paid by Jesus, and the story of the talents in chapter 18:24 (13-15).
His quotes from the OT could be used as evidence of his knowledge of the Jewish teaching and his ability to have written like he did as it to relates to the typology presented throughout the book.
Opposed to the evidence
With all these evidences various rationalistic critics and scholars categorically reject the apostolic authorship of this gospel among them are Davidson; Julicher and Baljon. Their reasons for rejecting it are the following:
NAME THE REASONS
Conversely, many others are of the belief that he is the author, nonetheless the book was firstly writing in Greek (Aramic), then translated to Hebrew. Many conferring the book was originally written in Hebrew to the Jewish populous and is not a translation.
It is commonly purported that nonetheless that Mark wrote the first book, and that Matthew wrote based on the writings of Mark (Senior 21). The question to the community of writers is this, if Mark being a friend of a disciple is unquestionable accorded the authorship of the gospel of Mark, why then Matthew a disciple, who would have been an eyewitness to Jesus’ miracles and teachings is now undergoing scrutiny as to whether or not he wrote and even to suggest he wrote based on non-eyewitness account, is debatable. The arguments continue to substantiate Matthew not being the original brain of the book, as some scholar suggest he read the writings of Mark the Quelle, or the Q document, then made additions to the book, thereby expanding thoughts not expounded by Mark (Barbieri 13-15 and Keener, 81).
To whom was the Gospel Matthew written
It is purported that Matthew wrote to the Hebrew- Palestinian Jews, though not directly indicated in the text, because the of numerous mentions of Jewish phrases such as ‘the Kingdom of Heaven’ being careful not to say God, as the Jews were not enthused about the use of the word God. Mentioned in the book were discourses about the Sabbath, the laws, temple, and members of different Jewish sects- Sadducees and Pharisees.
The Jews believed and practiced the laws, hence Matthew himself being a Jew could present arguments which would be clearly understood by his audience. The Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5, informs that Jesus was not come to abolish or destroy the law but to fulfil it. However, the several references of the law indicate that the persons to whom Matthew wrote understood the law and were ardent in the practice of the law. In that time the Jews would have been the ones based on their Israelite background to be most knowledgeable of the law. Once should note nonetheless that there were different sects of the Jews present- Scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 5 and 12), Sadducees (Matthew 16) (Senior 21 and Sim 1998)
Sociopolitical economic condition of the Gospel Matthew
The book of Matthew was written towards the closing of the Roman Empire.Julius Caesar the adopted son of Augustus (formerly Actavian). After the birth of Jesus the eastern parts of the Roman Empire flourished economically has was beginning to have great political influence and importance to the Romans. The Matthew community in the east- Palestine was found hid away in the hub of the political and economic expansion. This eastern end has now developed into being the area of military and economic security not just mere cultural and economic backwater. With the Roman rule the Matthean community lived as it were in colonization where they had to pay tax or tribute to the Romans out in the writings of Matthew in chapter 17 verse 24-27 (Overman 1996).
Matthew recounts the reign of Herod and how Joseph and Mary had to flee into Egypt. This depicts the great power that the Romans had at this point, where they ordered all children younger than two years to be killed. Herod may have been fearful to demit office having heard that the Jew looked for a King, to herald a King was born would not sit well will the now reigning King.
Socially those who were of the lower echlon of society had a positive response to Jesus’ miracles and teachings. In the records of Matthew Gentile women were healed, the daughter of the Canaanite woman 15:21-28, the blind men of Jericho 20:29-34, Jesus was friends the taxcollector (Matthew) and the sinners or publicans, the magi and the centurion. This shows inclusivity even though the Jews were not pleased with these action, while those of the higher echlon with greater political power, Herod and Pilate were oppose to Jesus and His teachings (Senior 51)