Traditionally held to be the oldest of the four Gospels, it stands first in the NT Canon. It was probably written c.ad 80–90. Though since the 2nd cent. it has been attributed to St Matthew the Apostle, it is unlikely that it is the work of an eye-witness. Most scholars hold that the author drew on Mk., which he expanded with other sources, especially ‘Q’. He begins with a Genealogy of Christ and ‘Infancy Narrative’. He interpolates long sections of ‘discourse’ in the Marcan framework and rearranges the narrative to bring together similar material which is in parallel passages dispersed in Lk. Christ is presented as the fulfilment of prophecy and the true interpreter of the Jewish law. The special commission given to St Peter (16: 17–20) has proved highly influential. Of the Synoptic Gospels it is the most suitable for public reading.
Subjects: Biblical Studies.