The Biblical Commission answers the following questions: On the Author, Date of Composition, and Historical Truth Of the Gospel According to St. Matthew
June 19, 1911.
1. Seeing the universal and constant tradition of the Church dating from the first centuries, which explicit testimonies of the Fathers, the inscriptions of the codices of the Gospels, the oldest version of the sacred books as well as their catalogues transmitted to us by the holy Fathers, ecclesiastical writers, Supreme Pontiff s and the Councils, and finally, the liturgical usages of the Eastern and Western Church clearly record, it may and must be affirmed with certainty that Matthew, an Apostle of Christ, is in truth the author of the Gospel published under his name. Answer: Yes.
2. We need to admit as sufficiently supported by the testimony of tradition, which holds that Matthew wrote before the other Evangelists and that he wrote the first Gospel in the native dialect then in use by the Jews of Palestine, for whom this work was intended. Answer: Yes to both parts.
3. The publication of this original text may be deferred beyond the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, so that the prophecies which are therein recorded concerning that event, were written after the destruction, and whether the frequently quoted testimony of St. Irenaeus,' the interpretation of which is uncertain and controverted, must be considered of such authority as to necessitate the rejection ofthe opinion of those who consider it more in conformity with tradition that the first Gospel was completed even before the arrival of St. Paul at Rome. Answer: No to both parts.
4. We can sustain or retain as probable according to which Matthew is said to have composed the Gospel not exactly as it has been transmitted to us, but only a collection of the sayings and discourses of Christ, which an anonymous author, whom these moderns call the compiler of the Gospel, has used as sources. Answer: No.
5. From the fact that the Fathers, all ecclesiastical writers, and even the Church herself, from the very beginning, have used only the Greek text of the Gospel known under the name of Matthew as canonical, not even excepting those who have explicitly testified that Matthew, the Apostle, wrote in the native dialect, it can be proved with certainty that the Greek Gospel is identical in substance with the Gospel written in the vernacular by the same Apostle. Answer: Yes.
6. From the fact that the purpose of the author is principally dogmatic and apologetic, demonstrating to the Jews that Jesus is the Messias foretold by the prophets and a descendant of the House of David, and that, moreover, the author does not always follow the chronological order in arranging the deeds and sayings which he narrates and records, it is consequently lawful to conclude that they are not to be considered as true; and whether it may also be affirmed that the narration of the deeds and words of Christ, which is contained in the Gospel, has been subjected to changes and adaptations under the influence of the prophecies of the Old Testament and the more developed status of the Church, and that, consequently, this narration is not in conformity with historical truth. Answer: No to both parts.
7. In particular, the opinion of those ought to be considered devoid of solid foundation, who call in question the historical authenticity of the first two chapters, in which the genealogy and the infancy of Christ are narrated, as also certain passages of great importance in dogma, such as those referring to the primacy of Peter (16:17-19), the form of Baptism given to the Apostles together with the universal mission of teaching (29:19-20), the Apostles' profession of faith in the divinity of Christ (14:33), and others of this character, which are expressed in a manner peculiar to Matthew. Answer: Yes.