Keith Hunt - Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew?   Restitution of All Things
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Gospel of Matthew ... in Hebrew? #2

An original Hebrew but ....


Continued from previous page:

     There is another reason to believe the oldest layer of the
Hebrew Matthew in Shem-Tob is an original composition, not a
translation. Shem Tob's Hebrew Matthew contains a number of
variances from the Greek text that have theological implications.
These variances would never have been introduced by a medieval
Jewish translator, especially someone who was engaged in
polemical disputation with Christians, because they either
portray Christianity more, not less, attractively or fail to
enhance the Jewish polemic against Christianity. Instead, these
variances appear to belong to a more primitive form of the
Matthean tradition than the Greek Matthew. This is a powerful
argument that Shem-Tob's Hebrew Matthew is not a late medieval
     I have said these theological variances in Hebrew appear to
belong to a more primitive form of the Matthew tradition - one
that antedates the tradition preserved in the Greek Matthew. We
know that during the early Christian centuries the disparity
between Judaism and Christianity gradually increased. But the
theological variances in Shem Tob's Hebrew text often reflect
less disparity between the two religions than does the Greek
text. For example, let's look at Jesus' attitude toward the Law
the law, a subject treated in Matthew 5. In Matthew 5:17-19 we
read Jesus' famous statement about the perdurability of the law:

"Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets;
I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I
say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a
dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever
then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches
men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he
who-does them and teaches them shall be called great in the
kingdom of heaven."

In Matthew 5:21-48 the so-called antitheses follow. Each
antithesis (except the last one) first quotes from the law and
then gives Jesus' extension or comment on the law. The form is
basically the same in each antithesis: "You have heard that it
was said .... But I say to you ...... The subjects are killing,
adultery, divorce, false swearing, the lex talionis (an eye for
an eye and a tooth for a tooth) and hating your enemies.
     In the Greek text of Matthew, Jesus' comment on some of the
antitheses - like killing and adultery - seems to radicalize and
internalize the law without, however, revoking it. In other
antitheses - divorce and false swearing Jesus' comment seems to
revoke and annul the letter of the law. At least this is true in
the Greek Matthew.
     But in Shem-Tob's Hebrew Matthew that is not the case with
respect to divorce and false swearing. Instead, in these
instances, Jesus' comment on the antitheses suggests he is
radicalizing and internalizing the law but not revoking it. It
may well be that the Greek Matthew represents a later corrective
to the more ancient statements in the Hebrew, made only after the
disparity between Church and Synagogue grew.

(Cannot be! God would not allow something so different in what
Jesus was inspired to say and teach. Hundreds of Greek MSS out-
weigh some single Hebrew text, on the back-shelf of a few
Libraries - Keith Hunt)

     Compare the Greek Matthew and Shem-Tob's Hebrew Matthew on
divorce and false swearing:



(Matthew 5:31-32)
"It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a
certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that every one who
divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her
an adulteress .... " (RSV)


(Matthew 5:31-32) 
"Again Jesus said to his disciples: 'You have heard what was said
to those of long ago that everyone who leaves his wife and
divorces [her] is to give her a bill of divorce ... And I say to
you that everyone who leaves his wife is to give her a bill of
divorce. Except [however] for the cause of adultery he commits

(The difference is hardly a difference. It just uses different
phrases, put in slightly different ways to say the same thing. I
think the author is seeing things in the two texts that are not
there - both say the same basic truth - Keith Hunt)


(Matthew 5:33-37)
"Again you have heard that it was said to the men of old, 'You
shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you
have sworn.' But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by
heaven, for it is the throne of God ... (RSV)

(Matthew 5:33-37)
"Again you have heard what was said to those of long ago: You
shall not swear by my name falsely, but you shall return to the
Lord your oath. But I say to you not to swear in vain by
anything, either by heaven because it is the throne of God ...

(There is no difference as to the basic truth of what Jesus was
now teaching, between the Greek or Hebrew - Keith Hunt)

     The differences between the Greek and the Hebrew are
striking. In the Greek Jesus seems to revoke the law. In the 
Hebrew, he internalizes and radicalizes it, but does not revoke

(The author you will notice says "seems to revoke" - he sees
something I do not see at all. I see the same truth taught in
both the Greek and the Hebrew, but put in slightly different
ways. Read the last sentance again from the Greek and the Hebrew:
"not to swear at all" and "not to swear in vain by anything" - to
me says the same thing. There is more than one way to say the
same thing in different languages - Keith Hunt)

John the Baptist

     Another difference between the Greek and Hebrew Matthew is
in the character of John the Baptist. We know from extra-biblical
sources there was a John the Baptist sect that existed from early
times and continued perhaps for centuries. 22  In Shem-Tob's
Hebrew Matthew John the Baptist emerges as a much more important
figure than in the Greek Matthew. The Greek Matthew may well
represent a later corrective to the more primitive statements
made about John the Baptist in the Hebrew Matthew before the
followers of John the Baptist were seen as a threat to trunkline

(No need to correct anything. We have hundreds of Greek MSS and
this author gives one Hebrew text from a back-shelf in a Library
in London - Keith Hunt)

     Look at some of the differences between the Hebrew and Greek
texts in the portrayal of John the Baptist.


(Matthew 11:11) 
"Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen
no one greater than John the Baptist: yet he who is least in the
kingdom of heaven is greater than he." (RSV)


(Matthew 11:11) 
"Truly I say to you, among all those born of woman none has
arisen greater than John the Baptizer." (The last phrase in Greek
is lacking in ShemTob's Hebrew text)

(Again, I see no difference. It is two ways of saying the same
thing - Keith Hunt)


(Matthew 11:13)
For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John." (RSV)

(Matthew 11:13) "For all the prophets and the law spoke
concerning John."

(Ah, now a difference! But both are true! - Keith Hunt)


(Matthew 17:11) 
"Elijah does come, and he is to restore all things." (RSV) [17:13
tells us that "the disciples understood that [Jesus] was speaking
to them of John the Baptist." (RSV)


Matthew 17:11) 
"Indeed Elijah will come and will save all the world."

(Ah, another difference. And when you study Jewish theology
evolution you will find the Jews, indeed did have and do have, a
teaching that Elijah will come and save the world, to usher in
the Messiah's coming to rule the world. The Hebrew MSS teaches
exactly what Jewish theology taught - which is incorrect - Keith

     In Matthew 21:32 Jesus speaks some harsh words to those who
failed to heed the warnings of John the Baptist: "For John came
to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him,
but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him; and even
when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him."
     In the Greek Matthew these harsh words are said to the chief
priests and the elders of the people (verse 23), but in Shem-
Tob's Hebrew Matthew these harsh words are spoken to Jesus' own
disciples (verse 28) and the following comment, omitted from the
Greek text is added, "He who has ears to hear let him hear in

(And the Hebrew would be incorrect. Based on the number of MSS we
have in Greek, the Hebrew from the Jewish mind-set would not want
Jesus to have said these words to the chief priests and elders.
Certainly chapter 23 of Matthew the Jews would not desire that
Jesus would have said all that to the scribes and Pharisees and
religious leaders of Judah - Keith Hunt)

     This series of readings can hardly be taken lightly. They
point to an ancient tradition in which John the Baptist was even
more important than the portrayal of him given in the Greek text
of Matthew.

(Exactly so, for the Hebrew Jews had and still do have a
portrayal of Elijah, ah, not John the Baptist as the author puts
into your mind. Do you see how he goes from John the Baptist to
Elijah and back to John the Baptist. You talk to authordox Jewish
leaders, or read their history of certain Festivals of the Lord,
and you will see the important teaching they have on Elijah
coming as the old ancient Elijah, in the last days, to save them
and the world, before the Messiah comes - Keith Hunt)

Divine Name of God

     Another characteristic of Shem-Tob's Matthew indicates it is
not a translation, but an original Hebrew composition. This is
its use of the divine name. In Hebrew the ineffable,
unpronounceable name of the Israelite God is written with four
Hebrew consonants, YHWH, known as the tetragrammaton. Modern
scholars pronounce and write it Yahweh. In ancient times it was
pronounced only once a year - on the Day of Atonement - by the
high priest in the Holy of Holies in the Temple.
     In prayer, ancient Jews - and modern ones as well - read (or
pronounced) these four consonants "adonai;" that is, even though
the text contains the letters YHWH, the reader reads "adonai."
Adonai is a more generic word for lord.

     In Shem-Tob's Hebrew Matthew a common abbreviation for the
divine name of the Israelite God YHWH appears some 15 times. The
abbreviation is H (Hebrew is given - which I cannot reproduce on
this PC - Keith Hunt) which stands for ha-shem, "the name," a
circumlocution for the tetragrammaton.
     If this were a Hebrew translation of a Greek Christian
document, we would surely expect to find "adonai" in the text,
not an abbreviation for the ineffable divine name YHVVH. For
Shem-Tob the Gospel of Matthew was an object of attack, a
heretical writing that needed to be exposed for its fallacies.
For him to have added the ineffable name would be inexplicable.
The repeated appearance of an abbreviation for the divine name
strongly suggests that Shem-Tob received his Matthew with the
divine name already in the text; he probably preserved it rather
than run the risk of being guilty of removing it. 23

     I do not mean to suggest that the Hebrew in Shem-Tob's text
is pure first-century A.D. Hebrew, for it clearly is not. The
first-century text must be linguistically excavated, so to speak.
Shem-Tob's Matthew is written in biblical Hebrew with a healthy
mixture of mishnaic Hebrew and later rabbinic vocabulary and
idiom. It also reflects changes by medieval Jewish scribes who,
among other things, attempted to make it read more like the

(Ah, now the author starts to admit things that if he does not,
another scholar would blaim him for DELIBERATELY just "proof
texting" as he wants, to prove his point. It is the trick of
quoting only what favors your opinion, to influence your reader
to your "belief" - just as much of Christianity does with only
quoting certain verses, or reading only certain verses in the
Bible, while other verses would contradict your teaching - Keith

     Moreover, the most primitive layer of Shem-Tob's Matthew is
written in an unpolished style and is filled with ungrammatical
constructions and Aramaicized forms and idioms. In these
characteristics it resembles many of the Dead Sea Scroll
fragments and gives the appearance of belonging to the same time
frame. Reading Shem-Tob's Matthew is often like reading one of
the Dead Sea Scrolls.

(Yes, and they were NOT inspired writings coming from God, to be
handed down, to all mankind as inspired, "cannot be broken"
Scriptures to live by - Keith Hunt)

     Despite the numerous medieval revisions, Shem- Hebrew Tob's
Matthew basically consists of the kind of Style biblical and
mishnaic Hebrew that one would expect to find in a first-century

(Which were not inspired, or given to us as to be a part of the
canon of Bible Scripture - Keith Hunt)

     The linguistic layers in Shem-Tob's Matthew are similar to
those found in another medieval text for which an earlier
first-century B.C. manuscript was subsequently found. In the late
19th century, fragments of a Hebrew text were discovered that a
Cambridge University scholar named Solomon Schechter identified
as coming from the Book of Ben Sira, a Jewish writing of the
second century B.C. Also known as Ecclesiasticus, the Book of Ben
Sira is considered part of the Bible by Catholics, but as an
apocryphal writing by Protestants and Jews. These fragments were
traced to the genizah* of an old Cairo synagogue and were

(* A genizah is a synagogue repository for worn-out copies of
sacred writings).

(The Roman Catholic apocryphal writings making up their Bible,
are not inspired, were never meant to be part of the Holy
Scriptures. That truth and proof is given in other studies on
this Website. Hence this Shem-Tob's Hebrew is in the same boat as
all the other apocryphal writings - not inspired, not "God
breathed" as is the Greek NT - Keith Hunt)

dated to sometime before the 12th century AD. Until the discovery
of these Hebrew fragments, however, Ben Sira had been known
primarily in its Greek form, just as was true of the Gospel of
Matthew until my examination of Shem-Tob's Hebrew Matthew.
When the Hebrew fragments of Ben Sira were found in 1896, some
scholars contended they represented a medieval Hebrew translation
from the Greek. Others, using the kind of analysis I have used
here, argued that they reflected an original Hebrew composition.
Then in 1964 Yigael Yadin, excavating at Masada, unearthed
fragments of Ben Sira in Hebrew from the first century B.C.,
which clearly demonstrated that the medieval copies were
descended from an original Hebrew composition. 24  This was true
even though there were clear differences between the
first-century B.C. fragments from Masada and the medieval
fragments that came from the Cairo Genizah. On the original
biblical and mishnaic Hebrew base medieval scribes had made
numerous changes to bring the text into a more contemporary form
in regard to spelling, vocabulary and other linguistic phenomena.

     The same thing happened in the case of the Hebrew Matthew
preserved in the Shem-Tob manuscript. Shem-Tob's Hebrew Matthew
does not preserve the original Hebrew in a pure form. It was
edited and emended by Jewish scribes in the Middle Ages.
Nevertheless, enough of the original text is left intact to
reveal its original character. Even though it often reflects a
later style, it is clear that its base is biblical and mishnaic

(So what? Many Hebrew writings have come down to us through the
ages. I mean, the Jews have known how to write for thousands of
years. So nothing unusual about having Hebrew writings. But they
were not inspired to be a part of the holy writ of God to
mankind, as to how to worship God in spirit and in truth - Keith

     I have also compared Shem-Tob's Matthew with Hebrew
quotations from Matthew preserved in earlier Christian and Jewish
documents. In the work of Irenaeus, Origen, Eusebius, Epiphanius
and especially Jerome we find a number of quotations from the
so-called Hebrew/Aramaic Matthew and from apocryphal
Hebrew/Aramaic gospels. A comparison of these texts with
Shem-Tob's Matthew shows little or no relationship between them.
     But the situation was quite different when I compared
Shem-Tob's Hebrew Matthew with quotations from or allusions to
Matthew in a series of early Jewish writings beginning with the
Talmud 26  and extending through the late 13th century AD. 27
     This comparison revealed a number of unique textual links
between Shem-Tob's Hebrew Matthew and the Hebrew Matthew
preserved or alluded to in these Jewish sources. The conclusion
seems inescapable that the Hebrew Matthew preserved by Shem-Tob
was known to Jews and perhaps Jewish Christians in the early
medieval period, but not to gentile Christians.

(Big deal! Or what is the big deal I should say! So Jews knew how
to write Hebrew, woopi-doo. I think the author is saying nothing
we don't already know - the Jews wrote things in this or that
form of Hebrew, and did so down through the centuries - Keith

     When I arranged the Hebrew quotations of Matthew from early
Jewish writings in chronological sequence, it became clear that a
gradual evolution in the Hebrew tradition had taken place
beginning with the earliest quotations, and continuing through
Shem-Tob's Matthew. The evolution involves two kinds of changes:

(1) stylistic modifications consisting primarily of improvements
in grammar and the substitution of synonymous words and phrases,
and (2) revisions designed to bring the Hebrew into closer
harmony with the Greek. Perhaps these latter revisions were for
the purpose of establishing a common textual base for discussion
and debate between Jews and Christians in the Middle Ages.

(Well, that is very nice. All languages evolve over time -
changes take place etc. If we were to look at an English writing
of say one thousand years ago, we would not be able to read it.
That's how much the Englidh language has changed since 1,000 AD.
- Keith Hunt)

     Once the course of this textual development is understood,,
the task of the linguistic excavator is to recapture as much of
the unrevised text as possible. Those Hebrew readings that are
furthest from the Greek Matthew and least polished stylistically
are considered as belonging to the oldest form of the text. Those
that are closest to the Greek and are in polished style,
especially when these elements reflect a later rabbinic hand, are
rejected as later revisions. The task is aided by the fact that
we have numerous manuscripts of Shem-Tob's text that themselves
contain variations.

(Ah, ah, variations we now have of this Hebrew text. It is a fact
that 99 percent of Greek MSS agree with each other on the NT
writings. And the very small amount of differences make NO
difference with truth and the doctrines of God - Keith Hunt)

     Although stylistic and literary criticism is more easily
said than done, by exercising caution we are able to get a fair
picture of the original Hebrew text of Matthew preserved by

     The final question we must ask is whether the Greek Matthew
is a translation from the Hebrew. This does not appear to be the
case. Although the Greek and the Hebrew are accounts of the same
events, basically in the same order, careful analysis of their
lexical and grammatical features - and their lack of
correspondence - indicates the Greek is not a translation. All
efforts to prove that the Greek Matthew is a translation (and
that the other canonical Gospels are as well) have utterly failed
to convince. Although the canonical Gospels reflect a Semitic
background, they are nonetheless Greek compositions, not

(Well, after all is said and done, did you just get what the
author admits?? Read that last pharagraph again! - Keith Hunt)

     It appears that both the Hebrew and the Greek Matthew
represent compositions in their own original language. The two
texts appear to be two editions in different languages of the
same traditional material; neither is a translation of the other.

(Note what the author just stated - Keith Hunt)

     The existence of two basically identical compositions in
different languages is not a unique occurrence. The first-century
Jewish historian Josephus tells us that his Jewish War was first
written in Aramaic or Hebrew and then translated into Greek. 28
     An examination of the Greek text, however, reveals that
Josephus did not actually translate the Semitic original in a
literal sense, but basically rewrote the whole account. 29 
     The Aramaic/ Hebrew apparently served only as a model for
the Greek version to follow. The same thing appears to have
occurred with regard to the Gospel of Matthew.

     The similarities in arrangement and wording of the Hebrew
and Greek texts of Matthew clearly suggest that one text served
as a model for the other. 

     Which came first, however, we do not know. But whether Greek
or Hebrew, the second was written as an original composition, not
as a translation.

(So, we have an original. Big deal! We have originals of many
Jewish writings. What we do know is that Greek was the chosen
language that God inspired the NT to be preserved in. Should be
no surprise per se, as the Greek language was understood by all
nations of the Roman Empire. See all the other studies on this
Website concerning how the Bible came to be, and the canonization
of the Bible - Keith Hunt)

Notes from:

1 Papias is quoted in Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, 3.39.16.
2 Ireneus, Adversus Haereses, 3.1.1.
3 Origen, quoted by Eusebius, Htstoria Ecclesiastica, 6.25.4.  
4 Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, 3.24.6.
5 Epiphanius, Panarion, 30.13.1-30.22.4.
6 Jerome, Epistulae, 20.5. Jerome also makes reference to a
Gospel According to the Hebrews sometimes in such a way as to be
unclear whether it is a Hebrew Matthew or some apocryphal Hebrew
gospel (Epistulae, 120.8; in Mattheum, 12,13). In at least one
instance he says the Gospel According to the Hebrews was written
in the Chaldaic and Syriac (i.e., Aramaic) language but with
Hebrew letters (Adversus Pelagianos, 3.2). Whatever this gospel
was, it was written in Aramaic, not Hebrew.
7 For a discussion see Joseph A Fitzmyer, "The Languages of
Palestine in the First Century AD." in A Wandering Aramaean.
Collected Aramaic Essays (Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1979), p.
8 Johann Albert Widmanstadt, Liber Sacrosancti Evangelii De Jesu
Christo Domino & Deo Nostro ... characteribus & linqua Syra, Jesu
Christo vernacula, Divino ipsius ore consecrata & a Joh.
Evangelista Hebraica dicta, Scriporio Prelo diligenter Expressa
(Vienna: M. Cymbermann, 1555). This reference was taken from Jean
Carmignac, "Hebrew Translation of the Lord's Prayer. An
Historical Survey," in Biblical and Near Eastern Studies. Essays
in Honor of William Sanford LaSor, ed. Gary A Tuttle (Grand
Rapids, Ml: Eerdmans, 1978), p.71, note 5.
9 Harris Birkeland, The Language of Jesus (Oslo; 1. Kommisjon Hos
Jacob Dybwad, 1954).
10 These studies include Jehoshua M. Grintz, "Hebrew as the
Spoken and Written Language in the Last Days of the Second
Temple," Journal of Biblical Literature JBL) 79 (1960), pp.
32-47; John A Emerton, "Did Jesus Speak Hebrew?" Journal of
Theological Studies JTS) 12 (1961), pp. 189-202; Emerton, "The
Problem of vernacular Hebrew in the First Century AD. and the
Language of Jesus," JTS 24 (1973), pp.1-23; Jean Carmignac,
"Studies in the Hebrew Background of the Synoptic Gospels,"
Annual of the Swedish Theological Institute 7 (1970), pp. 64-93;
Pinchas Lapide, "Insights from Qumran into the Language of
Jesus," Revue de Qumran 32 (1975), pp. 483-501; William Chomsky,
"What Was the Jewish Vernacular During the Second Commonwealth?"
Jewish Quarterly Review 42 (1951-52), pp. 193-212. See further
James Barr, "Which Language Did Jesus Speak?-Some Remarks of a
Semitist," Bulletin of John Rylands University Library,
Manchester, England, 53 (1970), pp.9-29.
11 Fitzmyer, "The Languages of Palestine," p.46.
12 Julius Wellhausen, Einleitung in die drei ersten Evangelien
(Berlin: Georg Reimer, 1905; 2nd ed. used here, 1911), p.27.
13 1 have used Matthew Black, An Aramaic Approach to the Gospels
and Acts (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 3rd ed., 1967).
14 Charles C. Torrey, "The Translations Made from the Original
Aramaic Gospels," in Studies in the History of Religions
Presented to Crawford Howell Toy, ed. David G. Lyon and George F.
Moore (New York: Macmillan, 1912), pp.269-317; The Composition
and Date of the Acts (Cambridge, MA Harvard University Press,
1916); "Fact and Fancy in the Theories Concerning Acts," American
Journal of Theology (AJT) 23 (1919), pp.61-86, 189-212; "The
Aramaic Origin of the Gospel of John," Harvard Theological Review
16 (1923), pp. 305-344; The Four Gospels. A New Translation (New
York: Harper, 1933); Our Translated Gospels. Some of the Evidence
(New York: Harper, 1936); Documents of the Primitive Church (New
York: Harper, 1941); "The Aramaic of the Gospels," JBL 61 (1942),
15 Frank Zimmermann, The Aramaic Origin of the Four Gospels (New
York: KTAV, 1979).
16 Henry J. Cadbury, "Luke-Translator or Author?" AJT 24 (1920),
17 Edgar J. Goodspeed, "The Origin of Acts;" JBL 39 (1920), pp. 
New Chapters in New Testament Study (New York: Macmillan, 1937);
"The Possible Aramaic Gospel," Journal of Near Eastern Studies 1
(1942), pp.315-340.
18 Ernest Cadman Colwell, The Greek of the Fourth Gospel. A Study
of Its Aramaisms in the Light of the Hellenistic Greek (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1931).
19 For more information on du Tillet's text, see George Howard,
"The Textual Nature of an Old Hebrew Version of Matthew," JBL,
20 The fact that Shem-Tob's Matthew does not equal du Tiller's
was proven in 1929 by Alexander Marx, "The Polemical Manuscripts
in the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America" in
Studies in Jewish Bibliography and Related subjects in Memory of
Abraham Solomon Freidus (1867-1923), no ed. (New York: The
Alexander Kohut Memorial Foundation, 1929), pp.270-273.
Unfortunately, few apparently read Marx's article. Also cf.
Lapide, Hebrew in the Church, transl. Erroll F. Rhodes (Grand
Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1984), p.55: "And yet with even the most
superficial comparison of the two works the radical differences
between their vocabulary, style, and diction would have
demonstrated the impossibility of a common origin."
21 See August Dell, "Matthaus 16, 17-19;" Zeitschrift fur die
Neutestamentliche Wisserachaft (ZNW) 15 (1914), pp.1-49; "Zur
Erklarung von Matthaiis 16, 17-19," ZNW 17 (1916), pp.27-32. See
KIijn's objections in A F. J. Klijn, "Die Worner 'Stein' and
'Felsen' in tier syrischen Uberseizung ties Neuen Testaments,"
ZNW 50 (1959), pp.99-105.
22 Cf. Acts 18:5-19:7; Justin, Trypho, 80; Pseudo-Clementine
Recognitions, 1.54,60. Many believe the Gospel of John was
written, at least partially, as a refutation of certain claims
disciples of John the Baptist made about him. See Charles K.
Barrett, The Gospel According to St. John (London: SPCK, 1962) p.
142; Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John, Anchor Bible
(Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1966), pp.lxvii-Ixx.
23 Cf. the famous rabbinic passage, Tosefta Shabbath, 13.5: "The
margins and books of the minim do not save." The debate that
follows about what is to be done with heretical books concerns
the issue of the divine names in them. Rabbi Jose suggests the
divine name should be cut out and the rest of the document
burned. Rabbi Tarphon and Rabbi Ishmael say the books in their
entirety including the divine name should be destroyed. See R
Travers Herford, Christianity in Talmud and Midrash (Clifton, M:
Reference Book Publishers, 1966), pp.155-157. By incorporating
the Hebrew Matthew into his Even Bohan, Shem-Tob apparently felt
compelled to preserve the divine name along with the rest of the
The evidence from Shem-Tob's Matthew coincides with my earlier
conclusions about the use of the tetragrammaton in the Greek New
Testament (Howard, "The Tetragram and the New Testament," JBL 96
[1977], pp.63-83; "The Name of God in the New Testament,"
Biblical Archaeology Review March 1978, pp.12-14,56).
24 See Raphael Levy, "First 'Dead Sea Scroll' Found in Egypt
Fifty Years Before Qumran Discoveries," Biblical Archaeology
Review, Sept./Oct. 1982; Yigael Yadin, The Ben Sira Scroll from
Masada (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1965); Israel
Levi, The Hebrew Text of the Book of Ecclesiasticus (Leiden:
Brill, 1904). See also Alexander A di Lella, The Hebrew Text of
Sirach (The Hague, 1966).
25 Edward Y. Kutscher, A History of the Hebrew Language, ed.
Raphael Kutscher (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1982), pp.87-93. See
also the cautious remarks of Isaac Rabinowitz, "The Qumran Hebrew
Original of Ben Sira's Concluding Acrostic on Wisdom," Hebrew
Union College Annual 42 (1971), pp.173-174.
26 Babylonian Talmud Shabbath 116.
27 These include the Book of Nestor Hakomer (perhaps between the
sixth and ninth centuries [this is according to Lapide, Hebrew in
the Church, p.23-the text may be found in Judah D. Eisenstein, A
Collection of Polemics and Disputations [Israel, 19691, pp.
310-315 (in Hebrew], the editor there dates it in the ninth
century, p.310); the Milhamot Hashem by Jacob ben Reuben (1170)
(see Judah Rosenthal, Jacob ben Reuben, Milhamot Hashem [Israel,
1963], p.viii [in Hebrew]; see also Judah Rosenthal, "Translation
of the Gospel according to Matthew by Jacob ben Reuben, "Tarbiz
32 [1962], pp. 48-66 [in Hebrew]); Sepher Joseph Hamekane by
Rabbi Joseph ben Nathan Official (13th century) (see Rosenthal,
Sepher Joseph Hamekane [Jerusalem, 1970] 17 [in Hebrew]. A
manuscript of the Biblioteca Nationale Centrale in Rome [- Ms.
Or. #53] includes material quite close to the Paris manuscript of
Sepher Joseph Hamekane; see Efraim E. Urbach, "Etudes sur la
litterature polemique au moyenage," Revue ties etudes juives C
(1935), pp 49-77; Rosenthal published the material on the gospels
in Ms. Or., Rome, #53 in 'Jewish Investigation into the New
Testament from the Twelfth Century" [in Hebrew], in Studies in
Jewish Bibliography, History and Literature in Honor of 1. Edward
Kiev, ed. Charles Berlin [New York: KTAV, 19711, pp.123-139) and
the Nizzahon Vetus (latter part of the 13th century, see David
Berger, The Jewish-Christian Debate in the High Middle Ages
[Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1979],
28 Josephus, The Jewish War, 1.3.
29 See Henry St John Thackeray, The Jewish War 1-111, Loeb
Classical Library (Cambridge University Press, 1961), pp.ix-xi.


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