Matthew, Gospel according to, 1st book of the New Testament. Scholars conjecture that it was written for the church at Antioch toward the end of the 1st cent. Traditonally regarded as the earliest Gospel, it is now generally accepted that it postdates the Gospel of St. Mark and drew considerable material from it (see Synoptic Gospels). However, Matthew differs from the other Gospels in its narration of Jesus' birth, in the arrangement of the Sermon on the Mount, and in the length of the discourse on the end of the world. There are more allusions to the Old Testament in this Gospel than in the others; it was clearly written for Jewish Christians, the purpose being to prove that Jesus was the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament. Much of the book is devoted to his teaching. The Gospel can be divided into five sections: the origins of Jesus the Messiah; the first two years of his ministry in Galilee; his third year of ministry, including his rejection by religious opponents and his journey and stay in Jerusalem; the passion and resurrection; the instruction to the disciples to evangelize. The traditional ascription of the Gospel to St. Matthew, which dates from the 2d cent., is questioned by most scholars. See J. D. Kingsbury, Matthew (1975); G. Stanton, ed., The Interpretation of Matthew (1983).
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