Catholic Teaching and Wikipedia


#1

I am currently taking an online Catholic Bible study course, and one of the first books I chose to study is the Gospel According to Matthew. According to traditional Catholic teaching, we are to believe St. Matthews Gospel was in fact written by the Apostle Matthew, that it was genuinely the first Gospel written, that it was unique to the others (not derived from St. Mark), and inspired by the Holy Spirit. We have multiple Church Fathers who can attest to this.

Has anybody read Wikipedia's entry on the Gospel of Matthew? If you actually check the sources it gives, it seems from what I saw, to be all German Protestant revisionism and textual criticism. Why are Catholics not getting out there and debating these things and disputing the sources?

I understand that from a scholastic point of view, Wikipedia is a joke. On the other hand, plenty of souls who may want to know about scripture will get mislead, no?

Thoughts?


#2

Wikipedia is a secular information source; as such, it is slanted towards the secular, naturalistic and deconstructionist points of view. :slight_smile:

There are plenty of good Catholic Bible resources. Off the top of my head, I’d recommend:

  1. The Ignatius Study Bible (the New Testament is now available in a single volume)
  2. Dom. Bernard Orchard’s Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture (you can get the New Testament text from the “E-Sword” website)
  3. The Catholic Encyclopedia (newadvent.org) has helpful articles on almost everything in the Bible.

(And for what it’s worth, Wikipedia isn’t a very good source of information even on non-religious matters; I once had to penalize a student because she used Wikipedia as her primary source for a medical condition, and Wikipedia got it all wrong.) :smiley:


#3

Because Catholics don’t get their theology from Wikipedia, I guess? :shrug:


#4

Yep I have the Ignatius NT Study Bible, it’s excellent.

I agree though as to Wikipedia’s scholastic credentials, and I don’t think it should be used for research as such. It was just unfortunate to see such crass and imho blasphemous revisionism. :shrug:


#5

I guess that my initial impression would be to ask you whether the assertions you give here are out of line with what orthodox Catholic Scripture scholars are saying these days?

we are to believe St. Matthews Gospel was in fact written by the Apostle Matthew

Which cannot be proven, per se, but was widely believed…

that it was genuinely the first Gospel written

Hmm… there are a number of arguments out there that are reasonable, some of which assert Marcan priority and others Matthean. Unless you’re only making the assertion that ‘traditionally it was believed…’, we can’t make the claim that we know for sure, right?

that it was unique to the others (not derived from St. Mark)

Again, if Marcan priority is considered to have potential merit, there are reasons to believe that Matthew had access to it.

If you actually check the sources it gives, it seems from what I saw, to be all German Protestant revisionism and textual criticism.

I have to admit, I only browsed through the article. Was there anything there that seemed egregiously in error?


#6

Honestly, I don’t know why it matters which Gospel was written first! The three synoptic gospels were all written in the same general time period, anyway, and were all attributed to either one of the apostles (Matthew) or a disciple of an apostle (Mark, Luke). It’s quite possible that the gospel writers got their information directly from the apostles. Why is it thought that Newton and Liebnitz discovered calculus completely independently at around the same time, yet insisted that the synoptic gospels were plagarized from each other? Quite honestly, even though information spread easily at the time, literature did not, because every copy had to be handwritten! Matthew was written in Aramaic, a language that Mark and Luke probably didn’t know very well. This would actually make sense if the apostle Matthew (or one of his disciples) had written the Gospel. At the same time, Mark had become Peter’s scribe in Rome - Peter could speak Greek, but he probably couldn’t write in Greek very well. Because of Mark’s shortness, it was probably the earliest Gospel to be widespread, regardless of order of writing or publishing. Luke, of course, was a Greek traveling companion of Paul. Paul had probably taught him everything that Paul had learned from the Church at that point. At the same time, Luke seems to have spotty knowledge of the history of Judaea, especially dealing with the time period of Jesus’s birth.

Besides, there are enough differences in the Gospels (primarily dealing with the order of the miracles; where and when Jesus gave a teaching, etc.) to make it apparent that some stories just got changed in the grapevine. The teachings and miracles themselves were what were considered important - not the timeline or place, necessarily.

What is more apparent than the order the Gospels were written really is that the Gospels were written with different audiences in mind. Matthew, of course, was written to a Jewish audience - he shows Jesus as the fulfillment of the Mosaic Law, and actually almost as a new Moses. Mark was written to a Roman audience. Like Americans, Romans got bored quite easily, and were obsessed with power. He shows Jesus commanding divine power constantly and immediately, and he is short enough to keep a person’s attention. Luke was written to a Greek audience concerned with equality and the cardinal virtues. Luke’s Gospel emphasizes the role of women and children, treating them as equal (or nearly equal) to men. For every male that Jesus heals in Luke’s Gospel, he heals a female as well.


#7

Hi Gorgias,

According to the course notes I am currently jotting down and from the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, yes indeed; the assertions that I am making are in line with both traditional Catholic Biblical scholarship and current authoritative Catholic Biblical Scholarship.

For the traditional view I point you in the direction of the Church Fathers who unanimously point to Matthew’s Gospel as being written by the Apostle St. Matthew. Dr. Scott Hahn I would point to as an authoritative modern Catholic scholar who is in line with these beliefs.

I also take it on faith that St. Irenaeus (A.D. 180), Origen (A.D. 250) St. John Chrysostom (A.D. 390), St Jerome (A.D. 398), and St. Augustine (A.D. 400) were not arbitrarily testifying to St. Matthews authorship; but were in fact testifying to the truth.

You also realize that Marcan priority came about as a reaction to Rome’s declaration of papal infallibility? (Which I adhere to)

Do you realize that to take away from the authenticity of Christ’s Promises to St. Peter, German Protestant scholars (I will give names if needed) had to attack Matthean priority?

I am only just beginning my journey into Truth, something I have always had a nose for, and that Truth is Christ’s Catholic Church. The Church Fathers were not in error on this.


#8

[quote="powerofk, post:6, topic:345701"]
Honestly, I don't know why it matters which Gospel was written first! The three synoptic gospels were all written in the same general time period, anyway, and were all attributed to either one of the apostles (Matthew) or a disciple of an apostle (Mark, Luke). It's quite possible that the gospel writers got their information directly from the apostles. Why is it thought that Newton and Liebnitz discovered calculus completely independently at around the same time, yet insisted that the synoptic gospels were plagarized from each other? Quite honestly, even though information spread easily at the time, literature did not, because every copy had to be handwritten! Matthew was written in Aramaic, a language that Mark and Luke probably didn't know very well. This would actually make sense if the apostle Matthew (or one of his disciples) had written the Gospel. At the same time, Mark had become Peter's scribe in Rome - Peter could speak Greek, but he probably couldn't write in Greek very well. Because of Mark's shortness, it was probably the earliest Gospel to be widespread, regardless of order of writing or publishing. Luke, of course, was a Greek traveling companion of Paul. Paul had probably taught him everything that Paul had learned from the Church at that point. At the same time, Luke seems to have spotty knowledge of the history of Judaea, especially dealing with the time period of Jesus's birth.

Besides, there are enough differences in the Gospels (primarily dealing with the order of the miracles; where and when Jesus gave a teaching, etc.) to make it apparent that some stories just got changed in the grapevine. The teachings and miracles themselves were what were considered important - not the timeline or place, necessarily.

What is more apparent than the order the Gospels were written really is that the Gospels were written with different audiences in mind. Matthew, of course, was written to a Jewish audience - he shows Jesus as the fulfillment of the Mosaic Law, and actually almost as a new Moses. Mark was written to a Roman audience. Like Americans, Romans got bored quite easily, and were obsessed with power. He shows Jesus commanding divine power constantly and immediately, and he is short enough to keep a person's attention. Luke was written to a Greek audience concerned with equality and the cardinal virtues. Luke's Gospel emphasizes the role of women and children, treating them as equal (or nearly equal) to men. For every male that Jesus heals in Luke's Gospel, he heals a female as well.

[/quote]

It is important because the Church decided it was important, and ergo it should be important to us my brother!

I have to go to bed, I look forward to seeing some replies tomorrow.


#9

And why did the Church decide it was important? I love our Church, but this is one of those debates that we’ve had in the past where the answer doesn’t really matter. What matters more is the teachings of Jesus and the faith of the Church.


#10

[quote="James82, post:1, topic:345701"]
..According to traditional Catholic teaching, we are to believe St. Matthews Gospel was in fact written by the Apostle Matthew, that it was genuinely the first Gospel written, that it was unique to the others (not derived from St. Mark), and inspired by the Holy Spirit. We have multiple Church Fathers who can attest to this.
Has anybody read Wikipedia's entry on the Gospel of Matthew? If you actually check the sources it gives, it seems from what I saw, to be all German Protestant revisionism and textual criticism. Why are Catholics not getting out there and debating these things and disputing the sources?

[/quote]

Are you sure Catholic teaching is that the Matthew gospel was written first? I am thinking it is pretty much agreed upon by biblical experts and scholars that the Mark gospel was written first.
But this is not a "Protestant" view, it is an analysis of the events and details mentioned in the gospels that help to date when they've been written.
From what I understand, there are certain details written about that date the Mark gospel to at least 20 years before the Matthew one.

As for who wrote the gospels, that's a whole other debate for sure...

.


#11

[quote="James82, post:7, topic:345701"]
Hi Gorgias,

According to the course notes I am currently jotting down and from the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, yes indeed; the assertions that I am making are in line with both traditional Catholic Biblical scholarship and current authoritative Catholic Biblical Scholarship.

[/quote]

That's odd; looking at the introductions to both Matthew and Mark in the ICSB, I see only that they assert that there is sufficient reason to believe that both were written in a pre-70AD timeframe. Further, only the introduction to Mark mentions assertions of authorship in the 60's AD.

For the traditional view I point you in the direction of the Church Fathers who unanimously point to Matthew's Gospel as being written by the Apostle St. Matthew. Dr. Scott Hahn I would point to as an authoritative modern Catholic scholar who is in line with these beliefs.

Again, from the introduction:

"As with Mark, Luke, and John, the first Gospel nowhere mentions its author... the title 'According to Matthew' is thus not part of the original Gospel but was added at an early date to distinguish it from the other three Gospels. It bears witness to the unanimous consensus of the early church that Matthew the Apostle, an eyewitness of Jesus, is its author. It was not until the eighteenth century that the traditional of Matthean authorship was questioned."

So... while it points in the direction you mention, I think that its phrasing is quite lukewarm. It affirms the fact that this had been the unanimous teaching of the Church, but that's all.

You also realize that Marcan priority came about as a reaction to Rome's declaration of papal infallibility? (Which I adhere to)

That's an interesting assertion, especially considering that Lachmann, Wilke, Weisse, and Holtzmann all argued for Marcan priority... and all of them did so prior to Vatican I. ;)

Do you realize that to take away from the authenticity of Christ's Promises to St. Peter, German Protestant scholars (I will give names if needed) had to attack Matthean priority?

How so? Are you asserting that Marcan priority infers that Matthew's Gospel is in some way not legitimate? Otherwise, I can't see how your argument proceeds...

I am only just beginning my journey into Truth, something I have always had a nose for, and that Truth is Christ's Catholic Church. The Church Fathers were not in error on this.

And if the Church stated, dogmatically, that Matthean priority were fact, then I'd agree with you. She hasn't, though. Thus, the opinions of the Church Fathers, while valuable, can't be taken, a priori, as inspired truth... ;)


#12

People are tossing around words like teaching, faith, blasphemy, and I have to remind you that Biblical scholarship is not always a matter of faith and morals or infallibility. The Catholic Church does not "teach" about authorship of the Bible. It is not a matter of faith and morals which Gospel was written first or where they derived from.

Manifestly there is no question here of a meaning which is not in Scripture and which the magisterium reads into it by imposing it as the Biblical meaning. This individual writers may do and have sometimes done, for they are not infallible as individuals, but not the authentic magisterium. There is question only of the advantage which the living magisterium draws from Scripture whether to attain a clearer consciousness of its own thought, to formulate it in hieratic terms, or to triumphantly reject an opinion favourable to error or heresy. As regards Biblical interpretation properly so called the Church is infallible in the sense that, whether by authentic decision of pope or council, or by its current teaching that a given passage of Scripture has a certain meaning, this meaning must be regarded as the true sense of the passage in question. It claims this power of infallible interpretation only in matters of faith and morals, that is where religious or moral truth is in danger, directly, if the text or passage belongs to the moral and religious order; indirectly, if in assigning a meaning to a text or book the veracity of the Bible, its moral value, or the dogma of its inspiration or inerrancy is imperilled. Without going further into the manifold services which the Bible renders to the living magisterium mention must nevertheless be made as particularly important of its services in the apologetic order. In fact Scripture by its historic value, which is indisputable and undisputed on many points, furnishes the apologist with irrefragable arguments in support of supernatural religion. It contains for example miracles whose reality is impressed on the historian with the same certainty as the most acknowledged facts. This is true and perhaps more strikingly so of the argument from the prophecies, for the Scriptures, the Old as well as the New Testament, contain manifest prophecies, the fulfilment of which we behold either in Christ and His Apostles or in the later development of the Christian religion.

That being said, Wikipedia's religion articles are often chosen as battleground sites for three sides of the religion debate. Atheists and ideologues from two different churches regularly rip these articles to shreds and put them back again in a scope of weeks or months. High-profile articles get it the most. The winner is usually the person who can most effectively use Wikipedia policies as a blunt instrument to club the other opinions into line and the loser is the one who gets sanctioned or just frustrated enough to leave the scene altogether. Wikipedia's Neutral Point of View policy means that all major documented viewpoints should have weight equal to their prevalence, in practice this means that anyone who can produce a mountain of sources wins. Those mountains are more likely to be modern scholarship and that which is readily accessible in a library or on the Internet, so you can see why a Protestant slant might occur.


#13

True. The Church has generally refrained from being too rigid on this issue. There are a few issues on which the Pontifical Biblical Commission has pronounced judgments in the 1910s:

  1. On Isaiah: they condemned the opinion that it’s a compilation of two books, and affirmed its unity.

  2. On the Pentateuch: they condemned the opinion that it was compiled much later (the “JEDP theory”) but conceded that some portions could have been written by later inspired authors in the light of tradition.

  3. On the Epistle to the Hebrews: they affirmed that it was Pauline, but accepted that it might have been written out by someone other than him.

Following Pope Pius XII’s Divine Afflanto Spiritu and Vatican II’s Dei Verbum, modern scholars have not taken the above suggestions too seriously, but they’re still valid opinions by respected Church scholars.

The New Jerusalem Bible’s notes, by Fr Henry Wansbrough, have a very interesting suggestion about the Mark / Matthew debate: Matthew’s Aramaic Gospel was the first, but Mark’s was the first to come out in Greek (probably using the Aramaic Matthew plus other sources). The Greek Matthew was then compiled by him (or his disciples) using his text as a core, plus additional material.


#14

Like it or not, the OP's viewpoint really does not match up with where Catholic scriptural exegesis is today. Historical/higher criticism is considered a legitimate means of interpretation if it is used in bounds. Pope Benedict's books on Jesus of Nazareth are a good start for getting the general feel of the status of modern catholic exegesis.


#15

Where exactly did the OP go wrong? He is 100 per cent right. The internet is highly slanted towards attacking the Catholic faith. And Wikipedia? Please, its as anti-catholic, anti-christian as you can get.

Can you itemize the OP mistakes?


#16

TRH,

Unfortunately it is not my viewpoint, I would not try and mislead people with my own interpretation of the facts. If you feel my ‘viewpoint’ is off, I suggest you write to Ignatius Press and Dr. Scott Hahn as regards current orthodox Catholic teaching on synoptic priority and express your concern.

As regards the Church Fathers,

Can we not all agree that the Church Fathers I mentioned in a previous post testify to Matthean priority? Or do you dispute that?

Can we not all agree that St. Irenaeus testifies to hearing St. Polycarp speak, who in turn heard St. John himself speak? Or do you dispute this?

My point is that these great men, who should be revered, and indeed are, as Saints…we should not question their testimony. As far as I’m concerned what they say stands.

I will re-iterate as well that it is both current and traditional Catholic teaching that what I say is not of my own authority.

Sleep well gentlemen, I hope our conversation continues to bear fruit and illuminate.


#17

Are you saying Pope Benedict believes in Markian Priority and has stated so in his book Jesus of Nazareth? This sounds highly suspicious. Please elaborate on your most cryptic forum post.

I haven’t read the book, can anyone confirm if he does?


#18

Hi again Gorgias,

Not attempting to evade or ignore your post, just VERY busy at the moment. Only had time for a quick reply last night to another poster. When I get some free time on my hands I will consult some bibliography and put it down as reference and address some of the names you mentioned regarding Marcan priority. God Bless.


#19

No, I’m saying that he believes in the historical critical method of exegesis which he spends a good amount of time defending and then putting in it’s proper place, in his book series on Jesus of Nazareth.


#20

I see. Thanks for clearing that up.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.