Bible Review 4:3, June 1988

Bible Books

The Gospel of Matthew according to a Primitive Hebrew Text

George Howard (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1987) 12 228 pp., $49.95

In an article in BR in 1986, Professor George Howard of the University of Georgia presented in capsule form the results of his research on a medieval Hebrew version of the Gospel of Matthew (see “Was the Gospel of Matthew Originally Written in Hebrew?” BR 02:04).1 As Howard related, in medieval Europe Christian and Jewish scholars attacked each others’ religion in written polemics and oral disputations. One of the longest and most detailed of the Jewish polemics is the Even Bohan (“The Touchstone”) written in Spain about 1385 by Shem-Tob ben Isaac ben Shaprut. The Bible, that is, the Tanakh of the Jews and the New Testament of the Christians, figured prominently in all these polemics. The Christians used the Bible to prove the truth of Christianity and the falsehood of Judaism, and the Jews used the Bible to prove the opposite. As part of this enterprise, Shem-Tob incorporated in his polemic a Hebrew version of the entire Gospel of Matthew, inserting at various junctures his own critical comments. This Hebrew version is the object of Howard’s study.

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