Matthew is named as one of the original disciples (Matt. 9.9; 10.3; Mark 3.18; Luke 6.15; Acts 1.13), and he has traditionally been identified as the author of the first (but not the oldest) Gospel in the New Testament (see next entry). In the other Gospels and Acts, the name Matthew simply appears in a list of followers of Jesus, but in the Gospel that bears his name, Matthew is mentioned twice as a tax collector. This association has stuck through subsequent Christian history, although in the parallels to Matthew 9.9 in both Mark 2.14 and Luke 5.27, the tax collector is called Levi, not Matthew.

According to Papias (ca. 130 CE), “Matthew made an ordered arrangement of the sayings in the Hebrew dialect, and each one translated it as he was able” (quoted by Eusebius, the fourth‐century bishop of Caesarea, Hist. Eccl. 3.39.16; see also 5.8.2). This leads to the view that Matthew first wrote his Gospel in Hebrew, a view today rejected by almost all scholars. But Papias also gives us the earliest association of Matthew with the first canonical Gospel, an association that probably originated in his being mentioned twice within that Gospel, and continued in the manuscript traditions that add the superscript “according to Matthew.”

J. Andrew Overman