Saint Matthew, the first Evangelist
All the early Church Fathers and all the Saints have held that the Gospels were written in the order they are listed in the Sacred Scriptures:
Now then, most "experts" today will tell you that Mark's Gospel was written first by the primitive Christian community. They say this because Mark's Gospel is short, lacks the teaching episodes of Christ, and appears to be missing an extensive resurrection account.
Then, the "experts" introduced an unnamed and lost document sourced denoted as "Q" (short for the German Quelle, meaning Source). This Q document was a collection of sayings of Christ. Next, Matthew and Luke took Mark and then took Q and combined them to form their Gospels which share much of Mark but differ some from one another. Hence, these "experts" believe in Markan priority - or that Mark was written first.
This is incorrect for at least four reasons:
- Every early Christian document that discusses Gospels assumes St Matthew's Gospel is first. These authors were more proximate witnesses to the Apostolic Tradition than we are.
- Every early Christian document that discusses this topic assumes that the original Gospel of St Matthew was written in Aramaic, the language of Jews - and not in Greek, the language of Gentiles. Why then would a Gospel be written in Aramaic late in the game after a Greek Gospel? Why would Gentiles even care about an Aramaic Gospel. Rather, Matthew was written in Aramaic because it was the first Gospel written by a Jew for Jews.
- Of the four Gospels, St Matthew's Gospel has the most Aramaisms. That is, Matthew has Jewish grammar arrangement and even Aramaic references. Matthew 16:18 (the "You are Peter") section is perhaps the most obvious.
- Who was Saint Matthew? He was the tax collector. What do tax collectors specialize in? Tax collectors specialize in employing pens, ink, and parchment to keep records. So if Christ had twelve apostles consisting of fishermen and one tax collector, who might keep the records or notes for the group. Is it even reasonable that not one of his Apostles never wrote anything down during the three years that he followed Christ who was performing miracles?
I believe that Saint Matthew the first Gospel because he had already begun it during the ministry of Christ our Lord. When the Apostles spread out into the world about AD 38, no doubt they wanted a little booklet that they could share and from which they could preach. St Epiphanius records that St Matthew wrote his "Hebrew Gospel" in about AD 38 (Haeres, 51).
Matthew probably prepared this document for them in their native tongue...Aramaic. Later, when the Catholic Church grew more expansive, there was a need for Greek version. St Peter commissioned St Mark's Gospel. St Athanasius says that Matthew wrote the Hebrew Gospel in Jerusalem and that it was translated by St James of Jerusalem into Greek: “Matthew’s Gospel was written by Matthew in the Hebrew dialect, published at Jerusalem, and a translation made by James, the Lord’s brother” (Synopsis of the Gospel).
By the way, Saint Jerome had access to the Hebrew Matthew and he noted to Pope Damasus that the Hebrew Matthew differed from the Greek Matthew in that the Hebrew quoted the Hebrew OT and the Greek quoted the LXX.
The exciting thing about the Gospels isn't Mark and Q. Rather it's Aramaic Matthew and Greek Matthew. Maybe one day we'll discover a version of Aramaic Matthew.
ad Jesum per Mariam,