Bible Review 2:4, Winter 1986

Was The Gospel of Matthew Originally Written In Hebrew?

By George Howard

New evidence indicates that the Gospel of Matthew was an original Hebrew composition. Indeed, it is now possible to recover much of this original Hebrew composition from an extant manuscript. But before explaining how this can be done, let me set the stage with a little background. Until now, the four canonical Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—have come down to us only in Greek. The Gospels we use today—in English or in other languages—are translations from old Greek manuscripts. By contrast, what Christians call the Old Testament—the Hebrew Bible—was written in Hebrew, with a few short sections in a sister language called Aramaic.

Were the canonical Gospels originally written in Greek? Over the centuries, scholars have argued various positions. Some indeed have suggested that one or more of the Gospels were originally written in Hebrew and then translated into Greek. Others have argued that one or more of the Gospels were written in Aramaic and then translated into Greek. Still others have contended that the Gospels were written in Greek, but that their authors used collections of Aramaic or Hebrew sayings or traditions then extant but now lost. But no original Hebrew or Aramaic manuscripts of the Gospels have ever been recovered.

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