26 Feb 2013 
#58 Why is the gospel according to Matthew dated from the first century?

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gMatthew was written when the Pharisees (and teachers of the Law) had become well respected among Jews & Jewish Christians:

Mt 5:20a "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven."

Mt 23:2-3a "Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. [however "Matthew" added:] But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach."

Because the emerging Rabbis were seen as enemies by Jewish Christians ("Leave them; they are blind guides" Mt 15:14), "Matthew" made up virulent diatribes against them, such as:

Mt 23:6-7 "they love the place of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them `Rabbi.' But you are not to be called `Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers."

Mt 23:13 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to."

Note: Pharisees are "second fiddle" to the teachers of the law in gMark but become predominant in GMatthew, written latter.
"Pharisees"/"teachers of the law": gMark = 12/20, gMatthew = 28/19

gMatthew describes a time when Pharisees had already become righteous & respected leaders of the Jews, and also having a lot of influence on those.

And this is exactly how Josephus described them in 'Antiquities of the Jews' (published 93), XVIII, I, 3:
"... on account of which doctrines, they [the Pharisees] are able greatly to persuade the body of the people; and whatsoever they do about divine worship, prayers, and sacrifices, they perform them according to their direction; insomuch the cities gave great attestations to them on account to their entire virtuous conduct, both in the actions of their lives and their discourses also..."

Note: In 'Wars', written some fifteen years earlier than 'Antiquities', the corresponding section in II, VIII, 14 does not describe the Pharisees as either teachers, or leaders, or having any appeal on other Jews.

The passage from 'Antiquities' indicates also that in 93 (or years before) the time of distress of the Jews (following the destruction of Jerusalem & its temple) was over with. And this is exactly what "Matthew" alluded to in his gospel, when he was writing it:
24:21a "For then [after Jerusalem destruction] there will be great distress ..."
24:29a "Immediately after the distress of those days [advent of the kingdom]..."

This is a sure sign the gospel was written before 93.

A first century date is also justified by:
Mt 16:28 "Verily I say unto you, There be some [among Jesus' disciples] standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom."
Mt 24:34 "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things [which include the advent of the Kingdom (24:30-31)] be fulfilled."

Cordially, Bernard

Tags: {dating} {Matthew's gospel}
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