Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Interesting points from the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew

I finished my second read of the Hebrew gospel of Matthew and the translator, George Howard, offers some interesting justification for why a Hebrew version of Matthew's Gospel is more likely to be the original one than the canonical Greek version that practically all normal Bibles used.

I pointed out in TGYNH how the end of Matthew presents an odd problem. Jesus supposedly tells the apostles in Matthew 28:19-20 that they are to go and make disciples of all nations, but reading the history shown in Acts makes this hard to believe. The apostles do not go out to make disciples of the Gentiles and the Jews at the Jerusalem council are quite shocked to hear that Peter had baptized any gentiles nearly 20 years after Jesus' resurrection.

In the Hebrew version of Matthew Gospel, the gospel ends with Jesus simply saying  "To me has been given all power in heaven and earth. Go and teach them to carry out all the things which I have commanded you forever."

There is no trinitarian baptismal formula and no discussion of other nations. George Howard points out other examples where the Hebrew version differs in ways suggesting that the original text did not foresee the evangelism of the Gentiles. One example is that the Greek text of Matthew 9:13 has Jesus saying "I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." The Hebrew text has "I did not come to restore the righteous, but sinners."

In the Greek version of Matthew 13:38, the field is pictured as "the world" in terms of its physical geography...that is "the entire world." But in the Hebrew version it has instead the emphasis of time "This world" versus "the world to come."

George Howard points out another difficult reading in the Greek versions, one that I had not noticed earlier. In the story of the Canaanite women in Matthew 15:21-28, the canonical versions have the disciples telling Jesus to send the woman away, and Jesus "answers" them by saying he did not come but for Israel. The odd thing about this is that this is not really an "answer" at all. It does not rebuke the disciples nor explain why he is not sending the woman away. It is a strangely middle-ground statement [Jesus ignores the woman but does not send her away, but does not justify why he is not sending her away.]

In the Hebrew version, though, the disciples do not tell Jesus to send her away. Instead, they ask Jesus why he is ignoring her. Against that backdrop, Jesus response makes much more sense because it actually answers the disciples' question.

I recommend this book to all Christians.


Wu Siu Yan said...

Since your are interested in the original Hebrew version of the gospel written by Matthew, I think you would be interested in the Book of Mormon, which can be downloaded at "Guttenberg Project"

Best wishes,
Wu Siu Yan

Russell Benigno said...

The problem is that the book of mormon is a fake book. There is no scholarship involved in it except manipulated scripture and a crazy imagination.
The Hebrew book of Matthew is of a true Hebrew source because it contains Hebrew idioms and puns which cannot be recreated from the Greek in translation. The idioms and puns would disappear from the translation from Greek to Hebrew to English.