Strictly speaking, the Gospel of Matthew is anonymous. The titles of the Gospels were not added until the second century. But early church tradition unanimously ascribes this Gospel to Matthew. Matthew was also known as Levi, one of Jesus’ twelve apostles, and a converted tax collector. Although modern scholarship has called this identification into repeated question, there are no persuasive reasons for rejecting this tradition outright.
Early church tradition meshes with the style and content of a Gospel to suggest that Matthew wrote to a Judeo-Christian audience. We have very little way of narrowing down the destination more than that. A few ancient sources favored Palestine, perhaps Jerusalem. Modern scholars often propose Syria, particularly Antioch
The hostility between Jews and Jesus’ followers on the pages of the Gospel has suggested to many that Matthew’s Jewish-Christian church had decisively broken from the non- Christian Jewish synagogue. This often leads to a dating in the mid 80s or later, after the synagogues allegedly introduced a curse on heretics (including Christians) into their liturgy of prayers. Quotations by the Apostolic Fathers suggest an upper limit for the dating of around A.D. 100. References to the destruction of the temple, most notable that in Chapter 22, verse 7, have convinced many that Matthew was writing after that event which occurred in A.D. 70.
“But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth; and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.”
But none of these considerations proves decisive. It is increasingly doubtful whether a formal break between synagogue and church ever occurred at one specific period of time over a wide portion of the Roman Empire. Arguments based on Jesus’ prophesies often rule out the possibility that He genuinely could have foretold the future. How one understands the literary relationship between Matthew, Mark and Luke will also affect the dating. Matthew probably knew and used extensive portions of Mark in his writing. But Mark may be dated from the late 50s to sometime in the early 70s.
Luke apparently also used Mark, and many have date Luke-Acts to A.D. 62, since that is when the final events of Acts took place. Mark would then have to be earlier, allowing for Matthew to be as early as the date 50s or early 60s. But there are other explanations for the end of Luke. Repeated references to Matthew, to Jewish rituals, which could no longer be performed after A.D. 70, may suggest a date in the 60s, which would dovetail with possible Sadducean persecution of Christians between 58 and 65. In light of all the variable factors, we should allow for any date between A.D. 40 and A.D. 100, but perhaps a slight weight of evidence favors a time before the fall of Jerusalem between A.D. 58 and A.D. 69.
Columbia Prayer Chain: Tuesday, February 5
In our prayers: Claudia Strattman, Jennifer Williams, Betty Jo Carson, Gary Davis, Eddie Bolton, Myrna, Esther, Pam James, Doug and Sharon, John Kelchner, Elizabeth Matthews, Nedrick Griffin, Jennifer Handy, Nancy Stuckey, Annemarie Sullivan, Rachel and Randy Wurtzbaugh, Patty Peckham, Denise Byrd, Greg and Lisa Steele, Dean Timothy Jones, Linda Langford, Marty Fritz, Harriet Hancock, Tommy and Robby Palmer, Patty and Ted Mac Laughlin, Janet Long, Bobby Wilson, Debbie and Pat Barry, Betty Jo Sullivan, Patrick and Patricia Barry, Jordan Hill, Doris Clevenger, Charles Sigel, Bob Davis, John Whatley, Nancy Zuckerman, Charles Davis Sr., Bill Carter, Betty Peavy Frick, Joye Cantrell, Fred and Gail, Dale and Norma Sessions, Padge Arrington, Jerry Callahan, Norman Masters
Special prayers for Mary Ellen’s four-year-old grandson, Joseph Patrick, who is fighting cancer
In memoriam: Leona Todd Cole, John Awkward Sr., Virlius Lewis Cornelius, Norma Mary Cousin, Infant Ryan Christopher Lyons, Frances Craft Matthews, Elwood “Woody” Stapleton, Jack Monroe Howard, John Leland Hill, Blanche Whittle Guin, Minnie Shealy Starnes
Our prayers are with: the elderly, the homeless, all currently fighting illness, all beloved pets, our president and congress, our police officers and firefighters, all who serve in the armed forces
Columbia Prayer Chain is open to all residents of greater Columbia who would like to share prayers and receive the prayers of others. Please leave your name in the comment box or email me.