Nehemiah Gordon has written an interesting book The Hebrew Yeshua vs. the Greek Jesus
I have read it and throughout the book I constantly said to myself “sure, but…” and found Gordon to be treating a portion of the evidence fairly, but missing the majority of the facts.
Needless to say, I remain thoroughly unconvinced of his claim that Matthew was originally written in Hebrew. It just doesn’t add up.
There is verbal agreement, that is, word for word, and letter for letter, in Greek, agreement between matthew and Mark as well as Luke and Mark. Whenever only two (synoptic) gospels agree, it is almost always Mark and either Luke or Matthew. Without going into the whole synoptic problem here, it is very easy to see how Matthew and Luke expand upon Mark throughout.
In other words, Mark came first, and Matthew has a literary dependance on Mark, and that literary dependance is in Greek. There are thousands of ways to write the same phrases in Greek. To suggest that Matthew and Mark just happen to agree to the extent that they do is utterly ridiculous.
My friend (at least on Facebook, twitter, and via email back and forth) Derek Leman has begun a review of Gordon’s book and based on Part 1, I think Derek’s critique will be a helpful one.
Gordon’s claim that the medieval Hebrew manuscript of Matthew known as the Shem Tov manuscript gives evidence that Matthew’s Gospel was originally written in Hebrew. This idea is a non-starter. It is impossible. Gordon is clearly wrong about it. Ask a hundred New Testament scholars and you’d be hard-pressed to find one who agrees. Is this because New Testament scholars are Hellenists? Is it a conspiracy in our universities to deny the Jewishness of Yeshua?
Far from it. The Jewishness of Yeshua is assumed and is considered the correct historical approach by all but a a few New Testament scholars today (there are some like Crossan who see Yeshua as more comparable to a Greek Cynic philosopher). So, how can Gordon claim otherwise? The truth is, he makes a compelling case if you don’t know what is missing from his explanation. Given that his case is compelling, how can I say he is wrong?