Standford Rives, as a follow up to his acclaimed book, Did Calvin Murder Servetus?, has released the Original Gospel of Matthew (OGM) including Volume III The Final Reconstruction of the Earliest Matthew. The third volume is for devotions. It is built upon the proofs set forth in Volumes I (all variants) and II (scholarly studies in appendices).
The OGM represents what the early church identified as the original work of Matthew in Hebrew. The Ebionites maintained custody at a library in Caesarea which Jerome was granted access to, and he did a complete translation around 390 AD. While that translation manuscript was lost, over 49 quotes of that OGM were made by the early patristic commentators including over 20 by Jerome. Rives has built his reconstruction of the OGM based upon those 49 quotes along with various Hebrew versions of Matthew that have portions which scholars contend are from the OGM.
Volume III -- The Final Reconstruction to use for Devotions
The third volume is the culmination of the two prior volumes. It is 106 pages of color-coded text to identify the original variant sources in the best reconstruction yet of how Matthew's Gospel originally read. This OGM Vol. 3 is now available as of February 2012 at this AMAZON PURCHASING LINK (or in box below), or from the publisher, at this link.
You can also read OGM Volume III online in latest 2014 edition here, or 2012 edition here, posted on a webpage we host with permission.
Mr. Rives has painstakingly restored the original Matthew, written in Hebrew, by primarily relying upon the 49 quotes of it in the early church. The early church called it the Gospel According to the Hebrews by Matthew, or GATHM for short. Also Rives includes Agrapha, quotations of Jesus from early prominent church commentators who quote it as from Matthew yet such language is lacking in our Greek Matthew. Thus, this "Agrapha" most likely came from the Hebrew Matthew. And Mr. Rives has also extracted variants from three versions of Matthew's Gospel in Hebrew (the Shem-Tob, Tillet & Munster versions) -- dating between the 1300s-1500s -- portions of which scholars regard as containing viable original material from Apostle Matthew. Finally, Mr. Rives also utilized the early section of the Didache which is the oldest sayings collection dating to about 100 AD. Often it overlaps our current Matthew. Yet, the Didache also has unique variants which many believe came from the original Hebrew version of Matthew.
You can listen free to the reconstructed OGM of Volume III online at Podomatic. We link here to the audio version. We have several articles of our own relating to the first gospel written -- the original Hebrew Matthew:
Mr. Rives has written an article on the OGM for Knol by Google. Due to Google discontinuing the Knol project, we have reprinted Rives' article here -- The Original Gospel of Matthew.
On proof Matthew wrote his Gospel first and that Mark was a pro-Paul edit of Matthew, see S. Rives, Appendix F, Revisiting the Marcan Priority Claim, from The Original Gospel of Mattthew Vol. 2.
On the "Historical background on the Original Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew," see Appendix B from Rives' Original Gospel of Matthew Vol. 2 excerpted at that link.
The three volumes of the Original Gospel of Matthew are divided as follow:
I: The Variants From The Earliest Matthew -- This volume collects all viable earliest variants for Matthew overlaid on the framework of the American Standard Version of Matthew from 1901. These variants are color coded for easy identification. The variants are footnoted so the reader can read its source, and weigh its strength and viability. 231 pages, full color. This can be purchased at https://www.createspace.com/3687457 or at this Amazon link.
II: The Appendices To Explain The Earliest Matthew -- This volume collects important scholarly material on the validity of variants, and the significance of the changes to the tradtional text. 225 pages, black & white. This can be purchased at https://www.createspace.com/3760858 or at this Amazon link.
III: The Final Reconstruction of the Earliest Matthew --- This volume represents the best estimate of what the Original Gospel of Matthew contained. There is no commentary. It is simply a smooth flowing text with the best variants reflected in the text using color coding to know the source of each variant. The purpose of volume three is that it can be used for devotional reading. However, to know the actual citation for a variant, the color code is not enough. One must go back to Volume 1. The first and third volumes were separated solely to keep costs down. Mr. Rives permits readers thereby to select whether they wish one or both of these two versions. 110 pages, color. Thus, Volume 3 is now available at this PURCHASING LINK or at this Amazon link.
More Info on Rives' OGM
For information on the OGM project, see the OGM webpage:
Erasmus who died in 1536 was the first reformer to prepare the Bible in English from the best Greek manuscripts. He wrote:
You cry out that it is a crime to correct the gospels. This is a speech worthier of a coachman than of a theologian. You think it is all very well if a clumsy scribe makes a mistake in transcription and then you deem it a crime to put it right. The only way to determine the true text is to examine the early codices. (Erasmus (1466-1536 AD), quoted in Roland H. Bainton, Erasmus of Christendom (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1969) at 135.)
I would only add that if all the codices prior to 340 AD are lost or destroyed, the best recourse is to examine the quotes from the original gospels by early church commentators pre-340 AD to reconstruct an older text. This way we see how the gospels read earlier in time.
Did Matthew Seal Up His Gospel In Hebrew To Protect It?
Jerome perceived Apostle Matthew wrote in Hebrew as a means to protect his gospel:
"A difficult work is enjoined, since this translation has been commanded me by your Felicities, which St. Matthew himself, the Apostle and Evangelist, did not wish to be openly written. For if it had not been Secret, he would have added to the evangel that which he gave forth was his; but he made up this book sealed up in the Hebrew characters, which he put forth even in such a way that the book, written in Hebrew letters and by the hand of himself, might be possessed by the men most religious, who also, in the course of time, received it from those who preceded them. But this very book they never gave to any one to be transcribed, and its text they related some one way and some another." (Jerome to Chromatius and Heliodorus)(Jerome, Works V: 445, quoted in Samuel F. Dunlop, Sod: The Son of Man (1861) at 46.)
In the Epistle of Peter and James, an Ebionite writing, we similarly read:
"Hear me, brethren and fellow-servants. If we should give the books to all indiscriminately, and they should be corrupted by any daring men, or be perverted by interpretations, as you have heard that some have already done, it will remain even for those who really seek the truth, always to wander in error. Wherefore it is better that they should be with us, and that we should communicate them with all the fore-mentioned care to those who wish to live piously, and to save others."
Likewise, Schonfeld in his article said:
"The Gospel according to the Hebrews is a literary outlaw with a price on its head; but in spite of the scholarly hue and cry it still evades capture. Neither monastic libraries nor Egyptian rubbish heaps have so far yielded up a single leaf of this important document.... For behind Hebrews lies the unknown potentialities of the Nazarene tradition, which may confirm or contradict some of the most cherished beliefs of Orthodox Christianity. It is useless for certain theologians to designate Hebrews as "secondary" on the evidence of the present fragmentary remains preserved in quotation.... Judged by ancient testimony alone it is indisputable that Hebrews has the best right of any Gospel to be considered a genuine apostolic production;... Here is obviously a most valuable witness, perhaps the most valuable witness to the truth about [Yahshua]... whom even a jury composed entirely of orthodox Christians could not despise, and who ought to be brought into court. But the witness is missing, and all that we have is a few reported statements of his taken long ago... it may be argued that there has been dependence not of 'Hebrews' on the Synoptics but vice versa -- that 'Hebrews' was one of the sources on which one or more of them drew." (Hugh Schonfield, According to the Hebrews at pages13-18).
The Q Manuscript and the OGM
Arguably, the OGM is the intended goal of recovering what is known as Q. This was the acronymn used by German scholars for what they regarded was the Sayings (Logia) Source (Quellen) of Jesus.
Technically, Q is often defined in a different theoretical way -- as the common quotations in Matthew and Luke that are not present in Mark. ("Q Source," Wikipedia.) This is supposedly the original version of the source for the Greek Matthew and Luke. But there is direct evidence outside of the overlap of Matthew and Luke which supports Q, if viewed as OGM, of more original material. Thus, OGM is broader in concept than Q. Incidentally, Q in German is Logienquelle, i.e., "Source" (Quelle) and Words (Logia).
Study Notes Geore Reber, Christ of Paul(1876) chapter V writes: "So far we have said nothing of the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, because it was cast to one side, for the reason that it was a standing argument against the Alexandrian ideas of the Logos—and was regarded as of no authority in the church until it had been improved by important additions made afterwards, and passed into the present Greek version."
In chapter 11, Reber says -- assuming John the Presbyter, not the apostle, wrote John's Gospel:
From all we know with certainty, this Gospel of Matthew was the only account of Christ in use among the members of the first Christian church, and their only means of information, except what they learned direct from the other Apostles. Everything, then, was just as it fell from the lips of Christ, and had the odor of fresh-gathered flowers. How the Christians at Jerusalem clung to this Gospel of Matthew, their sufferings and persecutions through a period of more than two centuries will bear witness. These Christians, afterwards called by way of aversion Ebionites, were charged with the alteration of the Scriptures. This alteration, according to Epiphanius, consisted in the omission of the first two chapters of Matthew, which contain the account of the miraculous conception of Christ. The statements of Epiphanius are verified by the fact, that at the time these two chapters were added, by the men of the second century, we can trace through the pages of Ignatius, and other early fathers, numerous forgeries and interpolations which are unmistakable, and were intended to sustain the new aspect which Christianity took on in the early part of the second century. The addition of the two chapters, and the forgeries, belong to the period when the religion of Paul had passed off into the Philo-Alexandrian period of Christianity. Eusebius informs us what were the crimes of the Ebionites: "They are properly called Ebionites by the ancients, as those who cherished a low and mean opinion of Christ. For they consider him a plain and common man, and justified in his advances in virtue, and that he was born of the Virgin Mary by natural generation." (Eusebius, Ecc. Hist., book iii. chap. 27.)
The views held by the Ebionites of Christ were derived from the Gospel of Matthew, and what they learned direct from the Apostles. Matthew had been a hearer of Christ—a companion of the Apostles, and had seen and no doubt conversed with Mary. When he wrote his Gospel everything was fresh in his mind, and there could be no object on his part, in writing the life of Jesus, to state falsehoods or omit important truths in order to deceive his countrymen. If what is stated in the two first chapters in regard to Christ is true, Matthew would have known of them; and, knowing them, why should he omit them in giving an account of his life? It was impossible to pass from the first to the second stage of Christianity, as long as the Gospel of Matthew was recognized as authority in the church. It stood as a mountain in the way, and had to be torn down and made way with. The history of the Ebionites, from the time they are charged with altering the Scriptures, to the time when they disappear from history, is one of tyranny and bloody persecution. In the reign of Adrian, what was left of them settled in the little town of Pilla, beyond the Jordan, from whence they spread themselves into villages adjacent to Damascus. Some traces of them can be discovered as late as the fourth century, when they "insensibly melted away; either into the church or synagogue." (Gibbon, ch. xv. vol. I. p. 255.) With them perished the genuine Gospel of Matthew, the only Gospel written by an Apostle.
Much useless labor has been bestowed on the question, whether the genuine Gospel was written in the Hebrew or Greek language. How this may be is of little consequence, since the genuine writing is no longer in existence. It is just as certain that the present version of Matthew was written in Greek, as that the genuine one was published in the Hebrew tongue. To the church of Rome the world is indebted for the destruction of the only genuine Gospel, and with it the only authentic account of Christ. No greater loss could befall the world. It was written in the dawn of Christianity, before corrupt and ambitious men sought to make religion a way to power and distinction. The truths contained in this Gospel stood in the way of a gigantic scheme, conceived by corrupt and arrogant men, who saw in a church established by the authority of God, the road to the highest point of human power and grandeur. They succeeded, but their success,—
"Brought death into the world and all our woe." It was not necessary to reject all of Matthew's Gospel, and it is very evident that much was retained—such as the discourses of Christ and some portions of history.
Early Church Quotes About Original Matthew
“Eusebius in his history (6.25.4) quotes Origen as saying that he had learned that “The first Gospel was written by Matthew, who was once a tax collector, but who afterwards was an Apostle of Jesus Christ, and it was prepared for converts from Judaism, and published n the Hebrew language.”
Augustine in his work on the agreement of the evangelists (1.2.4.) writes: “Of these four it is certain that only Matthew is regarded as having written in the Hebrew language, while the others wrote in Greek” and he says that Mark “followed closely in his footsteps, as his imitator and epitomizer.”
“Matthew also published a book of the Gospel among the Hebrews, in their own dialect, WHILE Peter and Paul were preaching the Gospel in Rome and founding the Church.”
(W.Barclay, Commentary onf the Bible, Vol. 1, at 149; Bar-Hebraeus, at 4; see also Meyer, The Gospel of Matthew, part 1, vol. 1, p. 6 and Brown, The Gospel According to St. Matthew (J.B.C.) Vol. 2, at 65.)
William Barclay (1907-1978, Scottish clergyman) reports:
As we have said, and was we have now seen, the tradition of the early Church is clear, consistent and unanimous. It was believed that Matthew wrote the first Gospel, and he wrote it first of all the gospels and that it was originally written in Hebrew.” (A. Plummer, An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. Matthew, p. VIII.)
Book Reviews at Amazon on Rives' Oroginal Gospel of Matthew