Edward Gibbon wrote of a tradition that preceded the Greek editions of Matthew that form our current English New Testament. Gibbon wrote: "But the secret and authentic history has been recorded in several copies of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, which these sectaries long preserved in the original Hebrew, as the sole evidence of their faith..." (Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1837) at 778.) As of 1837, Gibbon could say the Hebrew Matthew is "most unaccountably lost." Id., at 778 fn. 5. This may no longer be the case, for two reasons.
2. Proof of An Original Version of Matthew in Hebrew / Hebrew Text
The following are the many examples that supports Gibbon's statement about a Hebrew version of Matthew.
Papias [disciple of Apostle John]
"Matthew collected the oracles (ta logia) in the Hebrew language, and each interpreted them as best he could." - Papias (quoted by Eusebius, H.E. 3.39.16). The passage is quoted in Helmut Koester, The Ancient Christian Gospels (1990) at 316.)
Hegesippus (ca. 170 AD)
"[Hegesippus] adduces some things out of the Gospel according to the Hebrews and the Syriac, and particularly out of the Hebrew language." (Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. iv.22, quoted in E.B. Nicholson, The Gospel of the Hebrews (1879) at 6.)
Irenaeus on the Hebrew original of Matthew's Gospel:
"Matthew also issued a written Gospel of the Hebrews in their own language while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome and laying the foundations of the Church." (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.1.1) [Wikipedia] (quoted in Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. 5.8.2. per Helmut Koester, The Ancient Christian Gospels (1990) at 317.)
Pantaenus the Philosopher According to Eusebius on Matthew's Gospel:
Pantaenus was one of those, and is said to have gone to India. It is reported that among the Christians there that he had found the Gospel of Matthew. This had anticipated his own arrival, for Bartholomew, one of the apostles, had preached to them, and left with them the writings of Matthew in Hebrew, which they had preserved till that time. After many good deeds, Pantaenus finally became the head of the School in Alexandria, and expounded the treasures of divine doctrine both orally and in writing. (Eusebius, Church History. 5.10.3) [Wikipedia]. (For Greek parallel, see Text Excavations.)
Hegesippus (Jewish Christian) on Gospel of the Hebrews:
“… And from the Syriac Gospel of the Hebrews he [Hegesippus] quotes some passages in Hebrew…” (Eusebius, Church History. 3.22.6) [Wikipedia]
Origen (b. 184 C.E.) on the Hebrew version of Matthew:The very first account to be written was by Matthew, once a tax collector but later an apostle of Jesus Christ. Matthew published it for the converts from Judaism and composed it in Hebrew letters.[Wikipedia] (quoted in Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. 6.25.4, per Helmut Koester, The Ancient Christian Gospels (1990) at 317.) See similar translation at Text Excavations.
Also, the Christian scholar, Réville said "Eusebius regarded our Greek Matthew as a translation from the Matthew." (Albert Réville, Eduard von Muralt, Etudes critiques sur l'evangile selon St. Matthieu (D. Noothoven van Goor, 1862) at 46.)Origen (ca. 184-200 CE)"As having learnt by tradition concerning the four Gospels, which alone are unquestionable in the Church of God under heaven, that first was written according to Matthew, who was once a tax collector but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ, who published it for those who from Judaism came to believe, composed as it was in the Hebrew language." - Origen (Eusebius, H.E. 6.25.4)Eusebius on the Hebrew Version of Matthew:"They (the Apostles) were led to write only under the pressure of necessity. Matthew, who had first preached the Gospel in Hebrew, when on the point of going to other nations, committed the Gospel to writing in his native language. Therefore he supplied the written word to make up for the lack of his own presence to those from whom he was sent." (Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 3.24.6) [Wikipedia] (also quoted in Helmut Koester, The Ancient Christian Gospels (1990) at 317.)"And he himself used testimonies from the first epistle of John and similarly from that of Peter, and set out also another record about a woman who was charged for many sins before the Lord, which the gospel according to the Hebrews has. And let these things also be necessarily observed by us on top of the things that have been set out." (Eusebius, History of the Church 3.39.17 (de Santos 9; Lagrange 13), quoted in Text Excavations.)Eusebius took very seriously a passage in the Gospel according to the Hebrews where it has the one receiving the five talents being guilty of sinning with harlots etc. Eusebius sees a manner of reading Jesus that allows the primary criticism of Jesus is against that one, and the prison is left for the one who hid the talent. Eusebius wrote:"But since the gospel written in Hebraic characters which has come to us levels the threat, not against the man who hid the talent, but against him who had lived unsafely (for it had three servants, the one eating up the belongings of his master with harlots and flute-girls, another multiplying it by the work of trade, and the other hiding the talent, then made the one to be accepted, another only blamed, and the other to be closed up in prison), I wonder whether in Matthew, after the end of the word against the one who did not work, the threat that follows was said, not about him, but about the first, by epanalepsis,* the one who ate and drank with the drunkards." (Eusebius, Theophany 4.12 (de Santos 11; Lagrange 18) quoted in Text Excavations.)* Epanalepsis is the taking up of a former topic after a latter topic has intervened.Eusebius on the Hebrew version of Matthew in Ecclesiastical History 3.25 speaks of spurious works, and then mentions this gospel: "And nowadays some have reckoned among these The Gospel according to the Hebrews which they of the Hebrews who have received Christ love beyond any other." (Quoted in Edward B. Nicholson, The Gospel of the Hebrews: Its Fragments Translated and Annotated (London: Kegan Paul, 1879), reprinted General Books, 2009) at 14.)
Jerome (400 A.D.) on Hebrew Gospel of Matthew:Epiphanius (b. 309 C.E. - Bishop of Salamis) on the Hebrew version of MatthewThey have the Gospel of Matthew complete in Hebrew, for this gospel was preserved among them as it was first written in Hebrew script. (Epiphanius, Panarion 29.9.4) [Wikipedia]Epiphanius on the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew:They too accept the Gospel of Matthew, and like the followers of Cerinthus and Merinthus, they use it alone. They call it the Gospel of the Hebrews, for in truth Matthew alone in the New Testament expounded and declared the Gospel in Hebrew using Hebrew script. (Epiphanius, Panarion 30.3.7) [Wikipedia]And [the Nazoraeans] have the gospel according to Matthew very complete in Hebrew. For among them this is clearly still preserved, just as it was written from the beginning in Hebraic letters. But I do not know if it has taken away the genealogies from Abraham to Christ. (Epiphanius, Panarion 29.9 (de Santos 14; Lagrange 19), quoted at Text Excavations.)
Albert Réville advised to compare Eusebius's account with that of Jerome who wrote in Illustrious Men 36:“Matthew, who wrote his Gospel in Hebrew speech, put it thus, ‘Osanna barrama.’” (Jerome’s Letter to Damascus 20 on Matthew 21.9)GHeb-14 Pantaenus (ca. 180 AD), church leader of Alexandria, EgyptPantaenus was one of those, and is said to have gone to India. It is reported that among the Christians there that he had found the Gospel of Matthew. This had anticipated his own arrival, for Bartholomew, one of the apostles, had preached to them, and left with them the writings of Matthew in Hebrew, which they had preserved till that time. After many good deeds, Pantaenus finally became the head of the School in Alexandria, and expounded the treasures of divine doctrine both orally and in writing. (Eusebius, Church History. 5.10.3)
He (Pantaenus) discovered in India that Bartholomew among the twelve apostles preached the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ from the Gospel of Matthew which was written in Hebrew letters, and he (Pantaenus) brought it back to Alexandria. (Albert Réville, Eduard von Muralt, Etudes critiques sur l'evangile selon St. Matthieu (D. Noothoven van Goor, 1862) at 47.)
Incidentally, the quote from Eusebius about Pantaenus was highlighted by a recent scholar. In his ground-breaking book, A History of Christianity in Asia (1998), Samuel Moffett mentions that Pantaenus, a church historian and missionary who traveled to India in 180 A.D., discovered the copy of the Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew that Bartholomew had taken with him. After providing the quote from Eusebius, Moffet comments: "There is a shock hidden in that matter-of-fact statement. ...The surprise, of course, is the mention of Bartholomew as the pioneer to the East." Moffett points out that Bartholomew was primarily known only as an apostle in Armenia, Arabia and Persia. See Moffett, id., at 37. In this quote, Eusebius provides proof he also went to India. Jerome does likewise.
Eusebius said some in his day accepted the Hebrew Matthew as canonical:
Jerome probably did view it as truly that of Matthew because he says he translated it in this passage:“… which some reject, but which others class with the accepted books. And among these some have also placed the Gospel of the Hebrews, with which those Hebrews who accept Christ are especially delighted. All these may be reckoned among the disputed books. (Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 3.25.5) [Wikipedia]
Nicholson comments on this that "It is pretty clear that Jerome thinks people ought to believe the Gospel according to the Hebrews." (E.B. Nicholson, The Gospel according to the Hebrews (1879) at 18.)GHeb-46 Jerome [ca. 392 AD]Whoever has read the Song of Songs knows the spouse of the soul to be the Word of God. And whoever accepts the Gospel circulating under the title ‘Gospel of the Hebrews,’ which we most recently translated, in which it is said by the Saviour, “Even now my mother, the Holy Spirit, carried me away by one of my hairs,” will not hesitate to say that the Word of God is sprung from the Spirit, and that the soul, which is the spouse of the Word, has for a mother-in-law the Holy Spirit who among the Hebrews is called by the feminine gender, RUA. (Jerome, Commentary on Micah 7.6 [book ii], quoted and translated in E.B. Nicholson, The Gospel according to the Hebrews (1879) at 17.)Cf. [Wikipedia] (an inferior translation).
Jerome mentions translating it again in another passage:
Jerome repeats once more he translated this work into Greek as well as Latin (both now tragically lost):In the Gospel which the Nazarenes and the Ebionites use which we have recently translated from Hebrew to Greek, and which most people call The Authentic Gospel of Matthew, the man who had the withered hand is described as a mason who begged for help in the following words: “I was a mason, earning a living with my hands. I beg you, Jesus, restore my health to me, so that I need not beg for my food in shame.” (Jerome, Commentary on Matthew 2) [Wikipedia]
Jerome clearly believes Matthew wrote the work in the possession of the Ebionites:Also, the Gospel called of the Hebrews, recently translated by me into Greek and Latin, which Origen often uses, states, after the resurrection of the Saviour: “Now the Lord, after he had given His grave clothes to the servant of the priest, appeared to James, for James had sworn that he would not eat bread from that hour in which he had drunk the Lord’s cup until he should see Him risen from the dead.” And a little further on the Lord says, “‘bring a table and bread.’” And immediately it is added, “He took bread and blessed and broke and gave it to James the Just and said to him, ‘My brother, eat your bread, for the Son of Man is risen from the dead.’” (Jerome, On Illustrious Men, 2) [Wikipedia]
“In this last he bore witness to the Gospel which I have recently translated.” (Jerome, On Illustrious Men 16) [Wikipedia]
Primus omnium Matthaeus est, publicanus cognomento Levi, qui evangelium in Iudaea Hebreo sermone edidit, ob eorum vel maxime causam qui in Iesum crediderunt ex Iudaeis, et nequaquam legis umbra succendente evangelii vertitatem servabat.
First of all is Matthew, a publican with the cognomen of Levi, who published a gospel in Judea in the Hebrew speech, especially on account of those who had believed in Jesus from among the Jews, and with the shadow of the law in no way succeeding he served the truth of the gospel. (Text Excavation)
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. ("St. Jerome," vol. 445; Dunlop, Sod: The Son of Man at 46.)
"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."
In the Gospel of the Hebrews, written in the Chaldee and Syriac language but in Hebrew script, and used by the Nazarenes to this day (I mean the Gospel of the Apostles, or, as it is generally maintained, the Gospel of Matthew, a copy of which is in the library at Caesarea), we find, “Behold the mother of the Lord and his brothers said to him, ‘John the Baptist baptizes for the forgiveness of sins. Let us go and be baptized by him.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘in what way have I sinned that I should go and be baptized by him? Unless perhaps, what I have just said is a sin of ignorance.’” And in the same volume, “ ‘If your brother sins against you in word, and makes amends, receive him seven times a day.’ Simon, His disciple, said to Him, ‘Seven times in a day!’ The Lord answered and said to him, ‘I say unto thee, until seventy times seven.’ ” (Jerome, Against Pelagius 3.2) [Wikipedia].
Matthew, also called Levi, who used to be a tax collector and later an apostle, composed the Gospel of Christ, which was first published in Judea in Hebrew script for the sake of those of the circumcision who believed. This Gospel was afterwards translated into Greek (and the Greek has been lost) though by what author uncertain. The Hebrew original has been preserved to this present day in the library of Caesarea, which the martyr Pamphilus diligently gathered. I have also had the opportunity of having this volume transcribed for me by the Nazarenes of Beroea, Syria, who use it. ALT: I also was allowed by Nazarenes who use this copy in the Syrian city of Beroea to copy it. It should be noted that wherever the Evangelist -- whether on his own account or in the person of our Lord and Saviour -- quotes the testimony of the Old Testament he does not follow the authority of the language of the Septuagint but the Hebrew. Therefore these two forms exist, “Out of Egypt have I called my Son,” and, “For He will be called a Nazarene.” (See also margin of codex 1424 – This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophets, “Out of Egypt have I called my Son.”) (Jerome, On Illustrious Men 3, De Santos 18) [Wikipedia; E.B. Nicholson, The Gospel according to the Hebrews (1879) at 18.] See also Text Excavations for Latin.
[The text added in red is from the Latin text in Ernest C. Richardson's work published in the series ”Texte ind Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur,” Leipzig, 1896, Vol. 14 at pages 8,9. His quote from Jerome's Latin original words reads: "Porro ipsum Hebraicum habetur usque hodie in Cæsariensi bibliotheca, quam Pamphilus martyr studiosissime confecit. Mihi quoque a Nazarenis, qui in Beroea, urbe Syriæ, hoc volumine utuntur, describendi facultas fuit." Literally in material part, "they allowed to me the opportunity to use this volume...."]
The matter in debate, therefore, or I should rather say your opinion regarding it, is summed up in this: that since the preaching of the gospel of Christ, the believing Jews do well in observing the precepts of the law, i.e. in offering sacrifices as Paul did, in circumcising their children, as Paul did in the case of Timothy, and keeping the Jewish Sabbath, as all the Jews have been accustomed to do. If this be true, we fall into the heresy of Cerinthus and Ebion, who, though believing in Christ, were anathematized by the fathers for this one error, that they mixed up the ceremonies of the law with the gospel of Christ, and professed their faith in that which was new, without letting go what was old. Why do I speak of the Ebionites, who make pretensions to the name of Christian? In our own day there exists a sect among the Jews throughout all the synagogues of the East, which is called the sect of the Minei, and is even now condemned by the Pharisees. The adherents to this sect are known commonly as Nasarenes; they believe in Christ the Son of God, born of, the Virgin Mary; and they say that He who suffered under Pontius Pilate and rose again, is the same as the one in whom we believe. But while they desire to be both Jews and Christians, they are neither the one nor the other. I therefore beseech you, who think that you are called upon to heal my slight wound, which is no more, so to speak, than a prick or scratch from a needle, to devote your skill in the healing art to this grievous wound, which has been opened by a spear driven home with the impetus of a javelin. For there is surely no proportion between the culpability of him who exhibits the various opinions held by the fathers in a commentary on Scripture, and the guilt of him who reintroduces within the Church a most pestilential heresy. If, however, there is for us no alternative but to receive the Jews into the Church, along with the usages prescribed by their law; if, in short, it shall be declared lawful for them to continue in the Churches of Christ what they have been accustomed to practice in the synagogues of Satan, I will tell you my opinion of the matter: they will not become Christians, but they will make us Jews. (Jerome, CE 404, Letter 75 - Jerome to Augustin)
Length Differences Recorded By Early Church
The Hebrew Matthew was said to have 300 fewer lines than the Greek Matthew in the original manuscripts. Nicephorus, Patriarch of Constantinople, produced a catalogue of New Testament books, followed by that of the antilegomena (which contains the Revelation of John) and that of the apocrypha. Next to each book is the count of its stichoi (lines). The following is an excerpt.
New Testament (writings) the following are gainsaid: 1. The Revelation of John 1400 lines 2. The Revelation of Peter 300 lines 3. The Epistle of Barnabas 1360 lines 4. The Gospel of the Hebrews 2200 lines Apocrypha of the New Testament: 1. The Circuit of Paul 3600 lines 2. The Circuit of Peter 2750 lines 3. The Circuit of John 2500 lines 4. The Circuit of Thomas 1600 lines 5. The Gospel of Thomas 1300 lines 6. The Didache 200 lines 7. The 32 (books) of Clement 2600 lines It is important to note that the Gospel of the Hebrews is 2200 lines, 300 fewer thanGreek Matthew. (Nicephorus, Patriarch of Constantinople, in his Stichometry). See Stichometry of Nicephorus
Ebionites & The Gospel according to the Hebrews
Epiphanius in the 300s speaks of the Ebionites of his day, and they relied exclusively upon the Gospel according to the Hebrews:
"He goes on to speak of the Ebionites: ' And these too receive the Gospel according to Matthew; for this. they too, as also the Kerinthians and Merinthians, use to the exclusion of the rest. And they call it " according to the Hebrews," to tell the truth because Matthew alone in the New Covenant set both the exposition and preaching of the Gospel in Hebrew speech and Hebrew characters."Presently he goes off at a tangent into a long story of a Jew named Joseph, who found in a library' the Gospel according to John translated from Greek into Hebrew speech, and the Acts of the Apostles—nevertheless after these reading also that according to Matthew, which was an original Hebrew work.' He then observes that he has been led into this digression by the mention of Matthew's Gospel, and comes back to speak of the Ebionites." (E.B. Nicholson, The Gospel According to the Hebrews (1879) at 10, citing Epiphanius, Haer. xxx.3.)
What If We Could Recreate the Original Hebrew Matthew?
" 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 [Yeshua]... 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 a new translation of the Jewish life of Jesus (the Toldoth Jeshu), with an inquiry into the nature of its sources and special relationship to the lost Gospel according to the Hebrews (Duckworth, 1937) at 13-18.)
One of the main arguments against belief in a Hebrew Matthew is that scholars prior to the discovery of the Dead-Sea Scrolls convinced themselves that in Christ's time everyone spoke Aramaic on a daily basis, and hence Matthew would not have written in Hebrew. These scholars believed Hebrew was supposedly a dead language. Thus, they ask how could a gospel be written in Hebrew? For example, Gustaf Dalman in his work The words of Jesus considered in the light of post-Biblical Jewish writings (1902) at 56 summarily dismisses any notion of a Hebrew original of Matthew because everyone supposedly knows no one spoke Hebrew anymore in Christ's time:
The existence of a primary gospel [of Matthew] in the Hebrew language has to be considered antecedently improbable, because no ocassion was discovered for the use of this language.
Dalman goes so far as to preposterously disavow the importance of all of Jerome's positive statements, and then cast a baseless doubt that Jerome held his belief in a Hebrew Matthew to the end: "it may now be regarded as an established fact that Jerome was mistaken, and that he himself latterly perceived his error in believing that the original of Matthew in Hebrew still existed in his day." (Id., at 57.)
"And when he (the chief captain) had given him license, Paul stood on the stairs. ... And there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew tongue. ... And when they heard that he spoke in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence" (Acts 21:39 through Acts 22:2).
New Variants From Hebrew Matthew Mentioned by 'Fathers'There is a variant on 'seek and you will find.'
Also in the Gospel of the Hebrews it is written, the saying, “He that is amazed will prevail, and he that prevails shall rest in peace.” (Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis [Miscellanies] 2.9)
He who seeks will not give up until he finds; and having found he will be amazed; and having been amazed, he shall prevail and having prevailed, he shall rest in peace. (Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis [Miscellanies] 5.14) [Wikipedia]
And Jesus said, “Because of the weak, I was weak, and because of the hungry I was hungry, and because of the thirsty I was thirsty.” (Origen, Commentary on Matthew 13:2) [Wikipedia]
Matthew, also called Levi, who used to be a tax collector and later an apostle, composed the Gospel of Christ, which was first published in Judea in Hebrew script for the sake of those of the circumcision who believed. This Gospel was afterwards translated into Greek (and the Greek has been lost) though by what author uncertain. The Hebrew original has been preserved to this present day in the library of Caesarea, which Pamphilus diligently gathered. I have also had the opportunity of having this volume transcribed for me by the Nazarenes of Beroea, Syria, who use it. It should be noted that wherever the Evangelist -- whether on his own account or in the person of our Lord and Saviour -- quotes the testimony of the Old Testament he does not follow the authority of the language of the Septuagint but the Hebrew. Therefore these two forms exist, “Out of Egypt have I called my Son,” and, “For He will be called a Nazarene.” (See also margin of codex 1424 – This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophets, “Out of Egypt have I called my Son.”) (Jerome, On Illustrious Men 3) [Wikipedia]
It is written in a certain Gospel that is called of the Hebrews: The second rich youth said to him, “Rabbi, what good thing can I do and live?” Jesus replied, “Fulfill the law and the prophets.” “I have,” was the response Jesus said, “Go, sell all that you have and distribute to the poor; and come, follow me.” The youth began to fidget, for it did not please him. And the Lord said, “How can you say, I have fulfilled the law and the prophets, when it is written in the law: You shall love your neighbor as yourself and many of your brothers, sons of Abraham, are covered with filth, dying of hunger, and your house is full of many good things, none of which goes out to them?” And he turned and said to Simon, his disciple, who was sitting by Him, “Simon, son of Jonah, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Origen, Commentary on Matthew 15:14) [Wikipedia]
Jerome ( b. 331 C.E.)
“In the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew it states, ‘Give us this day our bread for tomorrow.” (Jerome, On Psalm 135) [Wikipedia]
Jerome researched this question on the Lord's prayer, and found the Hebrew underlying this was rich:
In the so-called Gospel of the Hebrews, for “bread essential to existence,” I found “mahar”, which means "belonging to tomorrow" [or “of tomorrow”]; so the sense is: "our bread for tomorrow," that is, of the future, "give us today." (Jerome, Commentary on Matthew 1; 6:11) [Wikipedia]; Hans-Josef Klauck, Apocryphal Gospels (2003) at 47.
In the Gospel which the Nazarenes and the Ebionites use which we have recently translated from Hebrew to Greek, and which most people call The Authentic Gospel of Matthew, the man who had the withered hand is described as a mason who begged for help in the following words: “I was a mason, earning a living with my hands. I beg you, Jesus, restore my health to me, so that I need not beg for my food in shame.” (Jerome, Commentary on Matthew 2) [Wikipedia];Hans-Josef Klauck, Apocryphal Gospels (2003) at 47 (citing Matthaeum 12:13.)
JeromeIn Matthew 5:22, many Greek texts read "angry with his brother without a cause...." In Gospel Codex 1422, it has marginal notes of the variants in what it calls the 'Jewish gospel" i.e., To Ioudaikon. For Matthew 5:22, it says "in the Jewish gospel" the word for "without a reason" is missing. (Hans-Josef Klauck, Apocryphal Gospels (2003) at 48.) .
In the Gospel of the Hebrews that the Nazarenes read there is counted among the most serious offences, "He that has grieved the spirit of his brother." (Jerome, Commentary on Ezekiel 6) [Wikipedia]
And he [Pilate] delivered to them armed men that they might sit over against the cave and guard it day and night. (Hans-Josef Klauck, Apocryphal Gospels (2003) at 48.)
Another variant was used by Jerome without attribution to the Jewish gospel, but the codices mention in the margin how the "Jewish gospel" has a reading that matches what Jerome quotes in Adversus Pelagiano 3:2. This is Matthew 18:21f:'
Yes, I say to you up to seventy times seven. For even in the prophets after they were annointed with the Holy Spirit, (the) word of sin was found. (Hans-Josef Klauck, Apocryphal Gospels (2003) at 48.)
The meaning of this, Klauck points out, is that despite having the holy spirit, these men too had to keep repenting of sin. They were not "preserved from the possibility of sin, and hence required forgiveness again and again." Id. This also fits well with the next verse that begins an account about reparations
As it is said in the Gospel of the Nazarenes: "At the word of the Lord many thousands of the Jews who were standing around the cross became believers."(Hans-Josef Klauck, Apocryphal Gospels (2003) at 49.)
And if any accept the Gospel of the Hebrews, in which the Savior says: “Even so did my mother, the Holy Spirit, take me by one of my hairs, and carry me to the great mountain Tabor.” The problem of explaining how it is possible for the “mother” of Christ to be the Holy Spirit, which came into existence through the Logos, must be dealt with. However, this is not difficult to explain, for if “whoever does the will of the Father in Heaven is brother and sister and mother”, and if the name “brother of Christ” applies not only to men, but also to beings of more divine rank, there is nothing wrong in the Holy Spirit being his mother, when anyone who does the will of the Father in Heaven is called “mother of Christ”. (Origen, Commentary on John 2:12) See also Origen’s Homily on Jeremiah 15.4, which says, “If anyone can accept this – ‘Even so did my mother the Holy Spirit take me up to the great mountain, Tabor’ – one can see she is his mother.” [Wikipedia]
Christ himself taught the reason for the separations of souls that take place in houses, as we have found in the Gospel that is spread among those of circumcision in Hebrew script in which He said, “I choose for Myself the most worthy. The most worthy are those My Father in Heaven has given Me.” (Eusebius, Theophania 4.12) [Wikipedia]
Jesus came and announced, as it says in the Gospel, the one called ‘of the Hebrews’, “I have come to destroy sacrifices; and if you do not stop making sacrifices, the wrath of God will not leave you.” (Epiphanius, Panarion 30.16.5) [Wikipedia]
In the Gospel of the Hebrews that the Nazarenes read, it says, “Even now my mother the Holy Spirit carried me away.” This should upset no one because “spirit” in Hebrew is feminine, while in our language it is masculine and in Greek it is neuter. In divinity there is no gender. (Jerome, Commentary on Isaiah 40.9) [Wikipedia]
As we have read in the Hebrew Gospel, the Lord says to his disciples: ”And never be you joyful, save when you behold your brother with love.” (Jerome, Commentary on Ephesians 3)
In the Book of Judges we read “Deborah”, which means “honeybee”. Her prophecies are the sweetest honey and refer to the Holy Spirit, who is called in Hebrew by a feminine noun. In the Gospel of the Hebrews that the Nazarenes read, the Saviour indicates this by saying, “Even now my mother, the Holy Spirit, carried me away.” (Jerome, Commentary on Ezekiel 16.3)
Whoever has read the Song of Songs knows that the Word of God is also the bridegroom of the soul. And whoever accepts the Gospel circulating under the title ‘Gospel of the Hebrews,’ which we most recently translated, in which it is said by the Saviour, “Even now my mother, the Holy Spirit, carried me away by one of my hairs,” will not hesitate to say that the Word of God proceeds from the Spirit, and that the soul, which is the bride of the Word, has the Holy Spirit (which in Hebrew is feminine in gender, RUA). (Jerome, Commentary on Micah 7.6)
Eusebius, (b. 260 C.E.)
But the Gospel written in Hebrew script which has reached our hands turns the threat not against the man who had hid the talent, but against him who has lived dissolutely – for it told of three: one wasted his master’s possessions with harlots and flute-girls, one multiplied his gains, and one hid the talent. Accordingly, one was accepted, one was only rebuked, and one was shut up in prison. (Eusebius, Theophany on Matthew. 22) [Wikipedia]
In the Gospel of the Hebrews, written in the Chaldee and Syriac language but in Hebrew script, and used by the Nazarenes to this day (I mean the Gospel of the Apostles, or, as it is generally maintained, the Gospel of Matthew, a copy of which is in the library at Caesarea), we find...And in the same volume, “ ‘If your brother sins against you in word, and makes amends, receive him seven times a day.’ Simon, His disciple, said to Him, ‘Seven times in a day!’ The Lord answered and said to him, ‘I say unto thee, until seventy times seven.’ ” (Jerome, Against Pelagius 3.2)
After saying many things, this Gospel continues: “After the people were baptized, Jesus also came and was baptized by John. And as Jesus came up from the water, Heaven was opened, and He saw the Holy Spirit descend in the form of a dove and enter into Him. And a voice from Heaven said, ‘You are my beloved Son; with You I am well pleased.’ And again, ‘Today I have begotten You.’ “Immediately a great light shone around the place; and John, seeing it, said to Him, ‘Who are you, Lord? And again a voice from Heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’ Then John, falling down before Him, said, ‘I beseech You, Lord, baptize me!’ But He forbade him saying, ‘Let it be so; for thus it is fitting that all things be fulfilled.’” (Epiphanius, Panarion 30.13.7) [Wikipedia]
In the Gospel written in the Hebrew script that the Nazarenes read, the whole fount of the Holy Spirit descends upon Him, for God is Spirit and where the Spirit resides, there is freedom. Further in the Gospel which we have just mentioned we find the following written: “When the Lord came up out of the water the whole fount of the Holy Spirit descended upon Him and rested on Him saying, ‘My Son, in all the prophets was I waiting for You that You should come and I might rest in You. For You are My rest. You are My first begotten Son that prevails forever.’ ” (Jerome, Commentary on Isaiah 4) [Wikipedia]
In the Gospel of the Hebrews, written in the Chaldee and Syriac language but in Hebrew script, and used by the Nazarenes to this day (I mean the Gospel of the Apostles, or, as it is generally maintained, the Gospel of Matthew, a copy of which is in the library at Caesarea), we find, “Behold the mother of the Lord and his brothers said to him, ‘John the Baptist baptizes for the forgiveness of sins. Let us go and be baptized by him.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘in what way have I sinned that I should go and be baptized by him? Unless perhaps, what I have just said is a sin of ignorance.’” And in the same volume, “ ‘If your brother sins against you in word, and makes amends, receive him seven times a day.’ Simon, His disciple, said to Him, ‘Seven times in a day!’ The Lord answered and said to him, ‘I say unto thee, until seventy times seven.’ ” (Jerome, Against Pelagius 3.2)
In the Gospel that the Nazarenes use, for “son of Barachiah” we find written “son of Johoiada.” (Jerome, Commentary on Matthew 4) See also: And Zechariah the son of Johoiada said, “For he was of two names.” (Peter of Laodicea, Commentary on Matthew, ed. Heinrici, V. 267) [Wikipedia]This correction also appears in Howard's Hebrew Matthew (1985).
Another variant is obviously to the woman caught in adultery that appears in John's Gospel but currently does not appear in the Greek-based Matthew:
GHeb-5 Papias (b. 63 C.E.)
Matthew collected the teachings of Jesus (ta logia) in the Hebrew language and everyone translated them as best he could. also gives another story of a woman accused of many sins before the Lord, in the Gospel of the Hebrews. (Eusebius, Church History. 3.39.16)
In the Gospel of the Hebrews, Barabbas is interpreted as “son of their master”. He was condemned because of insurrection and murder. (Jerome, Commentary on Matthew 4) [Wikipedia]
In the Gospel I so often mention we read, “A lintel of the Temple of immense size was broken.” (Jerome, On Matthew 27) [Wikipedia]
In the Gospel written in Hebrew script we read not that the curtain of the temple was torn, but that the astonishingly large lintel of the temple collapsed. (See also Epist. 20.5) (Jerome, Letter 120 to Hedibia) [Wikipedia]
Also, the Gospel called of the Hebrews, recently translated by me into Greek and Latin, which Origen often uses, states, after the resurrection of the Saviour: “Now the Lord, after he had given His grave clothes to the servant of the priest, appeared to James, for James had sworn that he would not eat bread from that hour in which he had drunk the Lord’s cup until he should see Him risen from the dead.” And a little further on the Lord says, “‘bring a table and bread.’” And immediately it is added, “He took bread and blessed and broke and gave it to James the Just and said to him, ‘My brother, eat your bread, for the Son of Man is risen from the dead.’” (Jerome, On Illustrious Men, 2) [Wikipedia]
EusebiusWikipedia has another article of the variants from the Gospel of the Nazarenes, which is likely just another means of referring to the same gospel discussed above. This article can be found at http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Gospel_of_the_Nazaraeans
They went to all nations, teaching their message in the power of Christ, for He had commanded, saying, “Go and make disciples of all nations in My name.” (Eusebius, Eccl. Hist., 3.5.2.) [Wikipedia]
Variants Noted by Nehemiah GordonNehemiah Gordon wrote a book Hebrew Yeshua vs. Greek Jesus (Jerusalem: 2006). Gordon, a Jewish scholar familiar in Biblical Hebrew, was asked, he explains, by a Christian to help decipher the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew published by Professor Howard. Gordon read the gospel, and became impressed by Jesus as sharing Gordon's own Karaite doctrine which was to reject man-made additions to the Law and Prophets.
1. Taking An Oath Falsely, Matthew 5:33
2. Matthew 23:2-3 - A "He" in Hebrew Was Altered To "They" in Greek, With An Anomolous Result
In this passage, Jesus in the Greek text tradition of Matthew tells His followers to do everything the Pharisees tell them.
(2) Saying "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: (3) All therefore whatsoever theybid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not." (Matt. 23:2-3, KJV)
But Jesus had often said the Pharisees made of "none effect" the Law by their traditions (Matt. 15:6), and they put burdens on the people that are too difficult to bear which are not in the Law.
Thus, Christian scholars concur there is something wrong and implausible in this statement attributed to Jesus. J.C. Fenton says "It is really difficult to believe Jesus commanded obedience to the teaching of the scribes and Pharisees." (J.C. Fenton, Saint Matthew (Pelican: 1963) at 366.)
Of the same opinion are W.D. Davies and Dale C. Allison, Jr. in Matthew (T&T Clarke: 2000) at 270.
Fenton speculates a pro-Pharisaical party made this addition to Matthew's Gospel.
But it turns out if "they" was "he," then the verse makes perfect sense with other statements made by Jesus. Jesus would be saying you are to follow what "he" -- Moses -- says -- but not follow 'them' - the Pharisees. This is the same message in Matthew 5:17-19.
And we find this "he" is what the Hebrew Gospel of Shem Tob that Professor Howard unearthed in 1987, as Nehemiah Gordon read the Hebrew. The Hebrew Shem-Tob Gospel has "he" instead of "they," providing thus obviously the right reading.
Here is how Nehemiah Gordon corrected this passage:
“The Pharisees and sages sit on Moses’ seat. Therefore, all that he* [i.e., Moses] says to you, diligently do, but according to their reforms [i.e., additions] and their precedents [i.e., examples used to justify conduct], do not do because they talk but they do not do [Torah].” Hebrew Matt. 23:2-3 (translation by Nehemiah Gordon).
*In the Greek Matthew, it says ‘all that they say, do.”
Nehemiah Gordon pointed out that this comports with the Christian commentators who find it anomolous that Jesus would instruct Christians to obey the Pharisees:
Most Christian scholars simply admitted that Yeshua could not have meant for his disciples to obey the Pharisees but were unable to offer any plausible explanation of the fact that the book of Matthew attributes these words to him. (Nehemiah Gordon, The Hebrew Yeshua vs The Greek Jesus (Jerusalem: Hilkiah Press, 2006) at 30.
Variants Deduced To Have Come From Hebrew MatthewHere are variants deduced by the 'fathers' ascribing quotes to a gospel that does not survive -- evidently the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew.
GHeb –1 Clement of Rome (b. 31 C.E.)
The words of the Lord Jesus, which He spoke, “The measure you use, it will be measuredagainst you.” (First Clement, 13.12)
GHeb-2 Clement of Rome
Remember the words of our Lord Jesus who said, “Woe to whoever causes my chosen to fall. It would be good for him not to have been born. It would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened about his neck and be cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of my chosento miss the mark.” (First Clement, 46.14)
The Lord commanded in his Gospel to pray like this: “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our bread for tomorrow and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the power and the glory, for ever.” (Didache, 8.2)
GHeb-4 Ignatius (b. 43 C.E.)
When He came to those with Peter, Jesus said to them, “Take hold of me, handle me, and see that I am not a bodiless demon.” (Ignatius, Epistle to the Smyrneans)
GHeb-6 Polycarp (b. 68 C.E.)
The Lord said in His teaching, “The measure you use, it will be measured against you.” (Polycarp to the Philippians, 2.18)
The Lord said in His teaching, “Blessed are the poor and those who are persecuted afterrighteousness sake, for yours is the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Polycarp to the Philippians)
The Lord said, “Behold I make last things as the first.” (Barnabas, 6.13)
GHeb-9 Justin (b. 100 C.E.)
When Jesus went down into the water, fire was kindled in the Jordan, and when he came up from the water, the Holy Spirit came upon Him. The apostles of our Christ wrote this. (Justin, Dialogue, 88)
GHeb-10 JustinGHeb-15 Tertullian (b. 150 C.E.)
The voice spoke to him, saying, “You are My Son, today I have begotten You”. This is recorded in the Gospel of the Apostles. (Justin, Dialogue, 103)
Jesus said, “When you have seen your brother, you have seen the Lord.” (Tertullian, On Prayer 26)
GHeb-17 Clement of Alexandria (b. 150 C.E.)
Jesus said, “When you have seen your brother, you have seen your Lord.” (Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis Miscellanies 1.19)
He who seeks will not give up until he finds; and having found he will be amazed; and having been amazed, he shall prevail and having prevailed, he shall rest in peace. (Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis Miscellanies 5.14)
And Jesus said, “Because of the weak, I was weak, and because of the hungry I was hungry, and because of the thirsty I was thirsty.” (Origen, Commentary on Matthew 13:2)
They went to all nations, teaching their message in the power of Christ, for He had commanded, saying, “Go and make disciples of all nations in My name.” (Eusebius, Eccl. Hist., 3.5.2.)
[This ancient form of the text, reconstructed from the lost MSS. of Origen and Pamphilus, as used by Eusebius, omits the Trinitarian formula. (Conybeare: Hibbert Journal, 1902.) If you search this webpage for Pamphilus' name, you will see Jerome mentions Pamphilus assiduously copied the Hebrew Matthew at Caesarea.]
The disciples said, “Where will You have us prepare for You to eat the Passover?” Jesus replies, “Have I earnestly desired to eat this Passover meat with you?” (Epiphanius, Panarion 30.22.4)
Hint that Woman Caught In Adultery Comes From Hebrew Matthew
"Eusebius informs us that Papias narrated from the Gospel according to the Hebrews a story of a woman accused before the Lord of many sins." E.B. Nicholson, The Gospel of the Hebrews (1879) at 7 citing at 8 Eusebius, Eccl. Hist., iii. 39.)
Ebionite MatthewEhrman suggests that the early Ebionites may have translated Matthew in Aramaic. Ehrman agrees that the Ebionites had a version of Matthew in Hebrew. This version may have been identical to a version by the Nazarenes, which was a name sometimes used for Jewish Christians like the Ebionites were. See Ehrman's discussion at this google.books link. The most likely resolution is that Matthew wrote in Hebrew in Hebrew lettering, and this is the authentic first version. The second, also by Matthew, would be the Aramaic translation in Hebrew lettering. This accounts for both being ascribed to Matthew, the apostle.
Ehrman has the theory that the Ebionites wrote a version of their Gospel in Greek. See this link.
This appears confirmed by Jerome who mentions a Greek translation done by the Ebionites of Matthew's Gospel. This is not the same gospel as the later Greek version that became our common Matthew of today. There is an example of where the Ebionite Greek spoke of "cakes" as the food of John the Baptist, but this was translated into "locusts" in the traditional Greek edition of Matthew by the alteration of a single letter. Thus, this helps identify the Ebionite Greek version as distinct from the traditional Greek edition.
For more on the Ebionites, see the collection of materials at this knol.
Wikipedia ArticleWikipedia has an article entitled the Authentic Gospel of Matthew. See link. It has an important passage on the Original Hebrew Matthew as being accepted by the early church despite a Greek text of the same gospel:
The Hebrew Text
According to the Church Fathers, the Athentic Gospel of Matthew or the Gospel of the Hebrews was authoritative and apostolic in nature. Papias quoted by Irenaeus tells us that the Apostle Matthew wrote it in "Hebrew letters."
Eusebius adds that the reason Matthew wrote his version was that he was about to leave the religious community he established, and therefore put together an account of the life of Jesus for the people he left behind.
St. Jerome is most helpful in understanding the origins of this Gospel. According to Jerome, theGospel of the Hebrews was written in the Syriac language (Aramaic) and used Hebrew letters. Most people of Jerome’s day called it "The Authentic Gospel of Matthew", as they believed the Apostle of Jesus who was the tax collector composed it. The Aramaic original was preserved at the library in Caesarea, but copies existed in the Nazarene community in Beroea, Syria, as well as in the Ebionite community. The Nazarenes supposedly gave Jerome a copy that he translated into Greek.
Jerome believed this gospel was authoritative and wrote about it extensively, thus preserving much of the text.
**** Finally some believe that there was more than one Hebrew Gospel but this goes against Epiphanius who writes that there was only one Hebrew Gospel (the one written by Matthew).
Papias (b. 63 C.E.)
Matthew collected the teachings of Jesus (ta logia) in the Hebrew language and everyone translated them as best he could. [Papius also gives another story of a woman accused of many sins before the Lord, in the Gospel of the Hebrews.] (Eusebius, Church History. 3.39.16)
Ebionites & Paul
Irenaeus, b. 114 C.E.
Those who are called Ebionites accept that God made the world. However their opinions with respect to the Lord are quite similar to those of Cerinthus and Carpocrates. They use theGospel of Matthew only, and repudiate the Apostle Paul, maintaining that he was an apostate from the Law. As to the prophetical writings, they expound them in a singular manner. They practice circumcision, observe of those customs that are enjoined by the Law, and are so very Judaic in their customs, they even adore Jerusalem as if it were the house of God. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.26.2) [Quoted in Wikipedia.]
For the Ebionites, who use only the Gospel of Matthew, are convicted out of that very book as not holding right views about the Lord. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.11.7)
“These men thought that it was necessary to reject all the epistles of the apostle, whom they called an apostate from the Law and they used only the gospel called According to the Hebrews making little account of the others. The Sabbath and the rest of the Law of the Jews they observed just like them, but like us, they celebrated the Lord’s Day as a memorial of the resurrection oft the Savior. Therefore, in consequence of such a course they received the name of Ebionites.” (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 3.27.4.) Text Excavation combined with longer quotation in Wikipedia
Interestingly, while Epiphanius attacks the Ebionites for omitting the virgin birth account, implying they did so to deprecate Jesus as mere human, in another place Epiphanius says that the Ebionites did not view Jesus as a man (divine then?) in this quote:
Moreover, they deny that He was a man, apparently on the basis of the word which the Savior spoke when it was announced to Him, “Behold, your mother and your brothers stand outside.” “Who are My mother and brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward his disciples He continued, “These who do the will of My Father are my brothers and sisters.” (Epiphanius, Panarion 30.14.5)
Is Matthias In Acts 1 Matthew?
There are many people with two names. Scripture calls Matthew “Levi” in the Gospel of Luke, but they are not the same person. Rather Matthias who replaced Judas, and Levi are the same man with a double name. This is obvious in the Gospel of the Hebrews. (Didymus, Commentary on Psalm)
Chapter One Problems of Matthew
Their Gospel commences as follows: “In the days of King Herod of Judea, a certain man named John came baptizing with a baptism of repentance in the river Jordan. He was said to be of the family of Aaron the priest, son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, and all went out to him.” There is no genealogy in their Gospel of Matthew, which commences as already stated: “In the days of King Herod of Judea, during the high-priesthood of Caiaphas.” Their gospel says, “This man named John came baptizing with a baptism of repentance in the Jordan River, et cetera.” (Epiphanius, Panarion 30.13.6) [Quoted in Wikipedia.]
In the Gospel called ‘of Matthew’ which they call the Hebrew Gospel is written the following: “There was a certain man named Jesus, about thirty years old, who chose us. Coming to Capernaum, He entered the house of Simon, who is called Peter, and said, ‘As I passed by the Sea of Galilee, I chose John and James, sons of Zebedee, and Simon, and Andrew, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas Iscariot; and you Matthew, sitting at the tax office, I called and you followed me. You therefore, I want to be the Twelve, to symbolize Israel.’” And “It so happened that John came baptizing, and Pharisees and all Jerusalem came out to him to get baptized. And John wore clothing made of camel hair and had a leather belt about his waist. His food,” it continues, “consisted of wild honey that tasted like manna, like sweet cake cooked in oil.” (Epiphanius, Panarion 30.13.2)
God, then, was made man, and the Lord did Himself save us, giving us the token of the Virgin. But not as some allege, among those now presuming to expound the Scripture, [thus:] "Behold, a young woman shall conceive, and bring forth a son," as Theodotion the Ephesian has interpreted, and Aquila of Pontus, both Jewish proselytes. The Ebionites, following these, assert that He was begotten by Joseph; thus destroying, as far as in them lies, such a marvelous dispensation of God, and setting aside the testimony of the prophets which proceeded from God.(Irenaeus, Adversus haereses (Against Heresies), 180 A.D.)
[The Translator Symmachus] "As to these translators it should be stated that Symmachus was an Ebionite. But the heresy of the Ebionites, as it is called, asserts that Christ was the son of Joseph and Mary, considering him a mere man, and insists strongly on keeping the law in a Jewish manner, as we have seen already in this history. Commentaries of Symmachus are still extant in which he appears to support this heresy by attacking the Gospel of Matthew. Origen states that he obtained these and other commentaries of Symmachus on the Scriptures from a certain Juliana, who, he says, received the books by inheritance from Symmachus himself."(Eusebius, 4th century, Ecclesiastical History)
Why Didn't The Hebrew Matthew Receive Wider Circulation?
Theories to Reconstruct the Original
If the first canonical gospel, as we possess it, is founded on " discourses of Jesus" written by Matthew, is it possible to separate the component parts ? Can we, by a process of analysis, obtain the original work of Matthew? In answer to these questions, it has been already pointed out that there is in the first gospel a series of discourses, which have nothing corresponding to them in the second gospel; and that when we take away these discourses from the first, what is left corresponds nearly entirely with the second, while portions of the discourses are found scattered through the third, gospel. Now the passages thus peculiar to the first gospel have, as I have said, a character of their own; they contain—the phrase "kingdom of heaven," 32 times, while it is never found in the second gospel;—the phrase "Father in heaven," 22 times, while it occurs only once in the second gospel. Besides these and other verbal peculiarities, they have a special reference throughout to the establishment of a coming reign of the Messiah, and are marked by a prevailing Judaism of tone. On these grounds Dr. Seville indicates certain portions of the first gospel, as being translations of the Hebrew "discourses of Jesus," which was the work of Matthew. I have for the most part adopted his conclusions, omitting only a few verses as to which there seemed some doubt, because I desire to include no sections which may not with tolerable certainty be attributed to Matthew. Id., at iv - v.
For a copy in Word of the Shem Tob (Tov) Matthew, go to this website.
For an Islamic view on the Gospel of Matthew, and its pre-Pauline doctrines, see this knol.
All that survives to us from the 'Gospel of the Hebrews' are several quotations made by Clement,Origen, Jerome, and Cyril of Jerusalem. Jerome took a lively interest in this book, an Aramaic copy of which he found in the famous library at Caesarea in Palestine. More than once he tells us (and with great pride) that he made translations of it into Greek and Latin. Unfortunately, these translations have been lost. According to the Stichometry of Nicephorus, it comprised 2200 lines, which is only 300 fewer than the length of the Gospel according to Matthew.
The time and place of origin are disputed, but since Clement used it in the last quarter of the 2nd century, it is usually dated to about the middle of that century. Egypt is indicated as its place of origin by the fact that its principal witnesses are the Alexandrians Clement and Origen, by the religio-historical character of two of the fragments, and by the conception of Jesus as the Son of the Holy Spirit, which is documented for Egypt by the Coptic Epistle of James. The original language of the gospel suggests that it was drawn up for Hebrew and Aramaic-speaking Jewish Christians in Palestine and Syria.
Philip Schaff wrote an article "Apocryphal Traditions" in his History of The Christian Church, vol. 1, section 18, which is hosted at bible.hub at this link.
Here is excerpts:
1. (1) "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Quoted by Paul, Acts 20:35. Comp. Luke 6:30, 31; also Clement of Rome, Ad Cor. c.2, edion didontes e lambanontes, "more gladly giving than receiving." This is unquestionably authentic, pregnant with rich meaning, and shining out like a lone star all the more brilliantly.
2. (2) "And on the same day Jesus saw a man working at his craft on the Sabbath-day, and He said unto him, 'O man, if thou knowest what thou doest, then art thou blessed; but if thou knowest not, then art thou accursed, and art a transgressor of the Law.' " An addition to Luke 6:4, in Codex D. or Bezae (in the University library at Cambridge), which contains several remarkable additions. See Tischendorf's apparatus in ed. VIII. Luc.6:4, and Scrivener, lntrod. to Criticism of the N. T. p.8. epikataratosis used John 7:49 (text. rec.) by the Pharisees of the people who know not the law (also Gal.3:10, 13 in quotations from the O. T.); parabates tou nomouby Paul (Rom.2:25, 27; Gal.2:18) and James (2:9, 11). Plumptre regards the narrative as authentic, and remarks that "it brings out with a marvellous force the distinction between the conscious transgression of a law recognized as still binding, and the assertion of a higher law as superseding the lower. Comp. also the remarks of Hofmann, l.c. p.318.
3. (3) "But ye seek (or, in the imperative, seek ye, zeteite) to increase from little, and (not) from greater to be less." An addition in Codex D. to Matt 20:28. See Tischendorf. Comp. Luke 14:11; John 5:44. Westcott regards this as a genuine fragment. Nicholson inserts "not," with the Curetonian Syriac, D; all other authorities omit it. Juvencus has incorporated the passage in his poetic Hist. Evang. III.613 sqq., quoted by Hofmann, p.319.
(4) "Be ye trustworthy money-changers, or, proved bankers (trapezitai dokimoi); i.e. expert in distinguishing the genuine coin from the counterfeit. Quoted by Clement of Alexandria (several times), Origen (in Joann, xix.), Eusebius, Epiphanius, Cyril of Alexandria, and many others. Comp.1 Thess.5:21: "Prove all things, hold fast the good," and the parable of the talents, Matt.25:27. Delitzsch, who with many others regards this maxim as genuine, gives it the meaning: Exchange the less valuable for the more valuable, esteem sacred coin higher than common coin, and highest of all the one precious pearl of the gospel.(Ein Tag in Capernaum, p.136.) Renan likewise adopts it as historical, but explains it in an Ebionite and monastic sense as an advice of voluntary poverty. "Be ye good bankers (soyez de bons banquiers), that is to say: Make good investments for the kingdom of God, by giving your goods to the poor, according to the ancient proverb (Prov.19:17): 'He that hath pity upon the poor, lendeth to the Lord' " (Vie de Jésus, ch. XI. p.180, 5th Par. ed.).
[(5) "The Son of God says,(?) 'Let us resist all iniquity, and hold it in abhorrence.' " From the Epistle of Barnabas, c.4. This Epistle, though incorporated in the Codex Sinaiticus, is probably not a work of the apostolic Barnabas. Westcott and Plumptre quote the passage from the Latin version, which introduces the sentence with the words: sicut dicit Filius Dei. But this seems to be a mistake for sicut decet filios Dei, "as becometh the sons of God." This is evident from the Greek original (brought to light by the discovery of the Codex Sinaiticus), which reads, hos prepei huiois theou and connects the words with the preceding sentence. See the edition of Barnabae Epistula by Gebhardt and Harnack in Patr. Apost. Op. I.14. For the sense comp.2 Tim.2:19: apostato apo adikiasJames 4:7: anistete to diabolo, Ps.119:163: adikian emisesa.]
(6) "They who wish to see me, and to lay hold on my kingdom, must receive me with affliction and suffering." From the Epistle of Barnabas, c.7, where the words are introduced by "Thus he [Jesus] saith," phesin But it is doubtful whether they are meant as a quotation or rather as a conclusion of the former remarks and a general reminiscence of several passages. Comp. Matt.16:24; 20:3; Acts 14:22: "We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God."
(7) "He that wonders [ho thaumasaswith the wonder of reverential faith] shall reign, and he that reigns shall be made to rest." From the "Gospel of the Hebrews," quoted by Clement of Alexandria (Strom. II.9, § 45). The Alexandrian divine quotes this and the following sentence to show, as Plumptre finely says, "that in the teaching of Christ, as in that of Plato, wonder is at once the beginning and the end of knowledge."
(8) "Look with wonder at the things that are before thee (thaumason ta paronta)." From Clement of Alexandria (Strom. II.9, § 45.).
(9) "I came to abolish sacrifices, and unless ye cease from sacrificing, the wrath [of God] will not cease from you." From the Gospel of the Ebionites (or rather Essaean Judaizers), quoted by Epiphanius (Haer. xxx.16). Comp. Matt.9:13, "I will have mercy and not sacrifice."
(10) "Ask great things, and the small shall be added to you: ask heavenly and there shall be added unto you earthly things." Quoted by Clement of Alexandria (Strom. I.24, § 154; comp. IV.6, § 34) and Origen (de Oratione, c.2), with slight differences. Comp. Matt.6:33, of which it is probably a free quotation from memory. Ambrose also quotes the sentence (Ep. xxxvi.3): "Denique scriptum est: 'Petite magna, et parva adjicientur vobis. Petite coelestia, et terrena adjicientur.'"
(11) "In the things wherein I find you, in them will I judge you." Quoted by Justin Martyr (Dial. c. Tryph. c.47), and Clement of Alexandria (Quis dives, § 40). Somewhat different Nilus: "Such as I find thee, I will judge thee, saith the Lord." The parallel passages in Ezekiel 7:3, 8; 18:30; 24:14; 33:20 are not sufficient to account for this sentence. It is probably taken from an apocryphal Gospel. See Hofmann, p.323.
(12) "He who is nigh unto me is nigh unto the fire: he who is far from me is far from the kingdom. From Origen (Comm. in Jer. III. p.778), and Didymus of Alexandria (in Ps.88:8). Comp, Luke 12:49. Ignatius (Ad Smyrn. c.4) has a similar saying, but not as a quotation, "To be near the sword is to be near God" (engus machairas engus theou).
(13) "If ye kept not that which is little, who will give you that which is great? For I say unto you, he that is faithful in the least is faithful also in much." From the homily of Pseudo-Clement of Rome (ch.8). Comp. Luke 16:10-12 and Matt.25:21, 23. Irenaeus (II.34, 3) quotes similarly, probably from memory: "Si in modico fideles non fuistis, quod magnum est quis dabit nobis?"
(14) "Keep the flesh pure, and the seal [probably baptism] without stain that we (ye) may receive eternal life." From Pseudo-Clement, ch.8. But as this is connected with the former sentence by ara oun touto legei, it seems to be only an explanation ("he means this") not a separate quotation. See Lightfoot, St. Clement of Rome, pp.200 and 201, and his Appendix containing the newly recovered Portions, p.384:. On the sense comp.2 Tim.2:19; Rom.4:11; Eph.1:13; 4:30.
(15) Our Lord, being asked by Salome when His kingdom should come, and the things which he had spoken be accomplished, answered, "When the two shall be one, and the outward as the inward, and the male with the female, neither male nor female." From Clement of Alexandria, as a quotation from "the Gospel according to the Egyptians" (Strom.III.13, § 92), and the homily of Pseudo-Clement of Rome (ch.12). Comp. Matt.22:30; Gal.3:28; 1 Cor.7:29. The sentence has a mystical coloring which is alien to the genuine Gospels, but suited the Gnostic taste.
(16) "For those that are infirm was I infirm, and for those that hunger did I hunger, and for those that thirst did I thirst." From Origen (in Matt. xiii.2). Comp. Matt.25:35, 36; 1 Cor.9:20-22.
(17) "Never be ye joyful, except when ye have seen your brother [dwelling] in love." Quoted from the Hebrew Gospel by Jerome (in Eph. v.3).
(18) "Take hold, handle me, and see that I am not a bodiless demon [i.e. spirit]." From Ignatius (Ad Symrn. c.3), and Jerome, who quotes it from the Nazarene Gospel (De Viris illustr.16). Words said to have been spoken to Peter and the apostles after the resurrection. Comp. Luke 24:39; John 20:27.
(19) "Good must needs come, but blessed is he through whom it cometh; in like manner evil must needs come, but woe to him through whom it cometh." From the "Clementine Homilies," xii.29. For the second clause comp. Matt.18:7; Luke 17:1.
(20) "My mystery is for me, and for the sons of my house." From Clement of Alexandria (Strom. V.10, § 64), the Clementine Homilies (xix.20), and Alexander of Alexandria (Ep. ad Alex. c.5, where the words are ascribed to the Father). Comp. Isa.24:16 (Sept.); Matt.13:11; Mark 4:11.
(21) "If you do not make your low things high and your crooked things straight ye shall not enter into my kingdom." From the Acta Philippi in Tischendorf's Acta Apost. Apocr. p.90, quoted by Ewald, Gesch. Christus, p.288, who calls these words a weak echo of more excellent sayings.
(22) "I will choose these things to myself. Very excellent are those whom my Father that is in heaven hath given to me." From the Hebrew Gospel, quoted by Eusebius (Theophan. iv.13).
(23) "The Lord said, speaking of His kingdom, 'The days will come in which vines will spring up, each having ten thousand stocks, and on each stock ten thousand branches, and on each branch ten thousand shoots, and on each shoot ten thousand bunches, and on each bunch ten thousand grapes, and each grape when pressed shall give five-and-twenty measures of wine. And when any saint shall have laid hold on one bunch, another shall cry, I am a better bunch, take me; through me bless the Lord.' Likewise also [he said], 'that a grain of wheat shall produce ten thousand ears of corn, and each grain ten pounds of fine pure flour; and so all other fruits and seeds and each herb according to its proper nature. And that all animals, using for food what is received from the earth, shall live in peace and concord with one another, subject to men with all subjection.' " To this description Papias adds: "These things are credible to those who believe. And when Judas the traitor believed not and asked, 'How shall such products come from the Lord?' the Lord said, 'They shall see who come to me in these times.' " From the "weak-minded" Papias (quoted by Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. V.33, 3). Comp. Isa.11:6-9.
Schaff then comments:
This is a strongly figurative description of the millennium. Westcott thinks it is based on a real discourse, but to me it sounds fabulous, and borrowed from the Apocalypse of Baruch which has a similar passage (cap.29, first published in Monumenta Sacra et Profana opera collegii Doctorum Bibliothecae Ambrosianae, Tom. I. Fasc. II. Mediol.1866, p.80, and then in Fritzsche's ed. of Libri Apocryphi Veteris Test. Lips.1871, p.666): "Etiam terra dabit fructus suos unum in decem millia, et in vite una erunt Mille palmites, et unus palmes faciet mille botros, et botrus unus faciet mille acinos, et unus acinus faciet corum vini. Et qui esurierunt jucundabuntur, iterum autem videbunt prodigia quotidie .... Et erit in illo tempore, descendet iterum desuper thesaurus manna, et comedent ex eo in istis annis."
Various that Schaff Lumps Together
Westcott quotes eleven other apocryphal sayings which are only loose quotations or perversions of genuine words of Christ, and may therefore be omitted. Nicholson has gathered the probable or possible fragments of the Gospel according to the Hebrews, which correspond more or less to passages in the canonical Gospels.
Mohammedan tradition has preserved in the Koran and in other writings several striking words of Christ, which Hofmann, l.c. pp.327-329, has collected. The following is the best:
"Jesus, the Son of Mary, said, 'He who longs to be rich is like a man who drinks sea-water; the more he drinks the more thirsty he becomes, and never leaves off drinking till he perishes."
Schaff's Bibliography was provided at the outset. I put it here at the end:
They [i.e., these apocrypha] have been collected by Fabricius, in Codex Apocr. N. T., I pp.321-335; Grabe: Spicilegium SS. Patrum, ed. alt. I.12 sqq., 326 sq.; Koerner: De sermonibus Christi agraphois (Lips.1776); Routh, in Reliq. Sacrae, vol. I.9-12, etc.; Rud. Hofmann, in Das Leben Jesu nach den Apokryphen (Leipz.1851, § 75, pp.317-334); Bunsen, in Anal. ante-Nic. I.29 sqq.; Anger, in Synops. Evang. (1852); Westcott: Introd. to the Study of the Gospels, Append. C. (pp.446 sqq. of the Boston ed. by Hackett); Plumptre, in Ellicott's Com. for English Readers, I. p. xxxiii.; J. T. Dodd: Sayings ascribed to our Lord by the Fathers (1874); E. B. Nicholson:The Gospel according to the Hebrews (Lond.1879, pp.143-162). Comp. an essay of Ewald in his "Jahrbücher der Bibl. Wissenschaft," VI.40 and 54 sqq., and Geschichte Christus', p.288. We avail ourselves chiefly of the collections of Hofmann, Westcott, Plumptre, and Nicholson.
Shem-Tob Hebrew Matthew
Original Gospel of Matthew (Restored)
A thorough effort was recently made by S. Rives to reconstruct Matthew prior to the Greek translation.
Volume I contains all reasonable variants to consider, with full citations and quotes for validation of each one. They are color coded for easy identification. This volume is the same as volume 3, except volume 3 strips out all citations and selects the best variants (still color coded) in the view of the editor to create what is hoped to be recognized as the restored Original Gospel of Matthew. This volume I can be purchased at this link: https://www.createspace.com/3687457 It is also available at this Amazon link.
The Devotional Edition (Vol 3 of the series) -- just the smooth flowing text for devotional reading. It has color codes to identify the variant's origins -- has just been released in February 2012. You can acquire at this PURCHASE LINK from CreateSpace. It is also available at this Amazon link.