Intro: This is part I of a two-part project to recover the original Judean Gospel from our present extant Gospel of Matthew (viz. Catholic Matthew). There are two parts because the Judean Gospel has two conflicting themes: in one Jesus speaks of a kingdom and the arrival of a Messianic figure other than himself. In the other theme Jesus has become identified with that Messianic figure. Accordingly part I, the “Jewish Prophet”, will begin with a selected passage (a fragment) from Catholic Matthew 10:2-23. Here Jesus speaks of the Messiah or “Son of man” as a figure other than himself; and there is no mention of a crucifixion. This is the first and earliest layer of the Messianic tradition of Jesus. It is a prophecy of a kingdom to come, the arrival of which is impending, and the disciples will not have completed their ministry when the “Son of man” arrives. This is accompanied by a command to preach to Hebrews only; and that before this ministry is complete, the kingdom will have arrived.
Four other passages have been included from Catholic Matthew chapters 24 & 25 (omitting CM. 24:1-4a, 14 & 25:14-30) which may have been spoken by the historical Jesus. Here Jesus specifically denies being the “Christ” (Messiah) and he utters prophecies regarding the destruction of Jerusalem as well as prophecies, illustrations and parables predicting the advent of the Son of man. These passages could be the basis for Jesus’s historical and legendary ethical teaching. And again, there is no reference to the crucifixion as being one of the signs of the end times.
A note regarding the second project: part II, the “Jewish Messiah”, will be a presentation of all those passages in which Jesus has become identified with the Messiah or “Son of man”. This is the second layer of the Messianic tradition and marks the evolution of Jesus from prophet to Jewish Messiah. And then in a separate project, to be called the “Catholic Gospel” it will be shown how Jesus evolved from prophet, to Jewish Messiah, to a universal Savior, and how all these conflicting themes remain preserved in our present Catholic Gospel of Matthew.
Read the Judean Matthew part II: the Jewish Messiah text.
JUDEAN MATTHEW I: THE JEWISH PROPHET
I. JESUS SENDS HIS APOSTLES TO PREACH THE GOSPEL: THAT THE KINGDOM IS AT HAND. [CM. 10:2-7, 9-16a, 17-21, 22b-23]
The names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom is at hand. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.
And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Truly I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: beware of men, for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for truly I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.
II. JESUS DENIES HE IS THE CHRIST-MESSIAH AND PREDICTS THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM AND THE ADVENT OF THE SON OF MAN. [CM. 24:4b-13, 15-44]
Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. (Note: I left in the phrase “for my name’s sake” as I believe it could be an expression of Jesus’s exaggerated view of himself and his prophetic message.)
And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. (Note: in Hellenistic Judea all these things were already happening even before Jesus was born. These words reflect the sectarian and political strife that simmered in Judea under the Greeks and Romans.)
When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place… (“let him that readeth understand” omitted)
Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Behold, I have told you before.
Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens (dunameis ton ouranon) shall be shaken:
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
Truly I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
III. THE ILLUSTRATION OF THE TWO SERVANTS; THE PARABLE OF THE TEN VIRGINS. [CM. 24:45-25:13]
Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Truly I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Truly I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
IV. THE RIGHTEOUS REIGN AND JUDGMENT OF THE SON OF MAN. [CM. 25:31-46]
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Truly I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
Then shall he answer them, saying, Truly I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
Comments: Four verses or parts thereof have been omitted from CM. 10:2-23, viz. verses 7b, 8, 16b and 22a. Verse 7 has the term “kingdom of heaven”. The words “of heaven” have been deemed a later interpolation and have been omitted. Verse 8, which refers to healing and miracle-working, was omitted because the emphasis in the overall passage is on the kingdom and the “Son of man”. The theme of Jesus and his apostles as miracle workers is a later addition and is part of the Messianic theme; in which Jesus and his apostles are embellished and they become miracle workers and healers similar to the legend of Apollonius of Tyana (Eusebius, Against Heirocles). Verse 16b was omitted as it probably originated from a proto-Gnostic source who wanted to add an esoteric element to this passage to try to harmonize it with proto-Gnostic thought. Verse 22b was omitted because it belongs to the Messianic theme and is clearly an attempt to identify Jesus with the “Son of man” when the overall passage makes the two out to be separate figures. Jesus does not say ‘hold fast till I come’; he says “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.” (Cf. Rev. 2:25b)
In Matthew 24 the first verses 1-4a have been removed as a later device to set the context of Jesus’s words in the proceeding prophecy. In this device the apostles speak to Jesus as if he is the Christ and Son of man (cf. CM. 16:13-17). But immediately following in 24:5 Jesus denies that he is the Christ, which I believe is in the context of his original message as a Messianic prophet. If this is correct then Jesus already had unruly followers who were proclaiming him as the Messiah when he never said that or thought of himself that way. Verse 14 has been omitted as it is a later stall-tactic meant to explain why the original prophecy remained unfulfilled as stated, e.g., in CM. 10:23 or 24:34. Again, the original Gospel was to be preached to Hebrews only and the kingdom would arrive before the apostles reached all the cities of Israel, or in other words, before the end of their generation.
The parable of talents, CM. 25:14-30, was omitted because it is unlikely that Jesus would have used a metaphor from the ancient financial markets (controlled by the Romans) to communicate his end-time message to the masses. This passage belongs to a later stage of Christian theology.
Catholic Matthew 25:31-46 represents the beginning of what became the legendary humanitarian and ethical teaching that came to be associated with Jesus. But in its original context this passage represents the kind of justice that is dealt out by any regime that comes to power. Those who were friends to the cause and the party are rewarded, and those who didn’t help the cause and the party are deemed enemies to be punished. Make no mistake, this passage does not refer to some universal humanitarian altruism. Note these words: “Then shall the righteous answer him (the King), saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King (Basileus) shall answer and say unto them, Truly I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (CM. 25:37-40) This is about how the King’s brethren were treated. This does not refer to all the poor or hungry or imprisoned people of the world. And this is consistent with Jesus’s gospel message that is addressed to the Israelites only (CM. 10:5-6). And to conclude these comments I will point out once again that Jesus never refers to himself in these passages. He refers to another who is the “Christ” and “Son of man” and “King”.
By Jim West. Copyright © 2013; revised April 1, 2014.
All Rights Reserved.