Peter Barnes | Bible Study | Download : Bible Studies – Matthew
The scholarly consensus now – which may not be worth much – is that Mark was the first Gospel written, and that Matthew abridged it but then added his own material to make it longer. The so-called Griesbach Hypothesis is that Mark used Matthew i.e. Matthew came first.
Matthew is the tax collector in 9:9-13, who is called Levi in Mark 2:13-17. It was by no means unusual for a person to have two names e.g. Simon Peter, John Mark. By the second century, Matthew had become the Church’s favourite Gospel.
Dating is not easy. There is precious little reason to contest John Wenham’s view that the three Synoptic Gospels were all written before the year A.D.55., with Matthew being dated perhaps as early as A.D. 40. John A. T. Robinson, hardly a theological conservative, also set out to show that the whole New Testament should be dated much earlier than most liberal critics would allow. In fact, there seems to be little reason why it may not be dated even earlier. Craig Keener dates Matthew in the late 70s. This may well be so, but the epistles assume at least one Gospel, and the epistles were all written by the mid-60s.
Matthew’s Gospel is based on five lengthy discourses (chapters 5-7; 10; 13; 18; 24-25), each of which leads into a transitional saying such as ‘When Jesus had finished saying these things …’ (7:28-29; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1-2). This is often linked with the Pentateuch (i.e. five books), the idea being that Matthew is presenting Jesus as the new Moses. Matthew’s use of the term ‘kingdom of heaven’ may also indicate concern for Jewish avoidance of the name of God.