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Matthew


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(1st century),

apostle and evangelist. Called Levi by Mark and Luke, Matthew was a publican, i.e. a tax collector of Jewish race who worked for the Romans, before he left all at the call of Christ (Matt. 9: 9). From very early times he has been regarded as the author of the first of the four Gospels, to which both Irenaeus and Papias are witnesses. Written in the second half of the 1st century and commonly, though not universally, believed to be dependent on Mark, Matthew's Gospel is in correct, concise style, suitable for public reading. His usual emblem as an evangelist is a man, because his genealogy emphasized the family ties of Christ.

Christian traditions differ about the mode and place of his martyrdom: some with the Roman Martyrology place it in Ethiopia, others with the Martyrology of Jerome at Tarrium in Persia, others at Tarsuana, east of the Persian Gulf. His supposed relics were translated to Salerno by Robert Guiscard from Finistère (Brittany), to which they were reputed to have come from Ethiopia. In art, Matthew is represented as either an evangelist or as an apostle. In the first case he sits at his desk, writing his gospel with an angel either guiding his hand or holding the inkwell; in the second he holds the emblem of his martyrdom (a spear, a sword, or a halberd) or else a money-bag, or, a money-box sometimes with a slot in the top, in memory of his former profession. In the later Middle Ages he is sometimes depicted with spectacles, presumably to help him read his account-books. Feast: in the West, 21 September; in the East, 16 November.

AA.SS. Sept. VI (1757), 194–227;B. de Gaiffier, ‘Hagiographie salernitaine: la translation de S. Matthieu’, Anal. Boll., lxxx (1962), 82–110;Patristic commentary by Jerome, modern ones by M. J. Lagrange (1948), F. W. Filson (1960), J. C. Fenton (1963), J. D. Kingsbury (1986), and G. Stanton (1992).

Subjects: Christianity.


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