The Gospel according to the Hebrews and Hebrew/ Aramaic Matthew
James Scott Trimm
The work of the Scripture Restoration Project involves not only restoring the original Hebrew and Aramaic of the books of the “New Testament”, but restoring the original Jewish Gospel used by the original Jewish followers of Yeshua, known as the Gospel according to the Hebrews.
As I have said many time, our Gospel of Matthew is actually an abridgement of the lost Gospel according to the Hebrews. And the so-called “Church Fathers” referred to the Gospel according to the Hebrews and the original Hebrew of Matthew interchangeably. See my blog The Lost Jewish Gospel and Matthew
One of the greatest confirmations that we are on the right track, is that there are so many correlations between the surviving quotations from the Gospel according to the Hebrews and the Shem Tob and Du Tillet Hebrew versions of Matthew and the Old Syraic Aramaic version of Matthew.
For example the Gospel according to the Hebrews refers to the Magi as “soothsayers” (Latin: augures) in a quotation preserved in the writings of Sedulius Scotus (see my recent blog The Nativity Account in the Gospel according to the Hebrews.) The Shem Tob Hebrew version of Matthew refers to the Magi as קוסמים which is the word that the Latin Vulgate renders augures “soothsayers” in Deut 18:14.
In the account of Yeshua’s immersion the Gospel according to the Hebrews says that the Ruach came “in the form of a dove” and “rested” upon Yeshua. This material has many important parallels with our Hebrew and Aramaic versions of Matthew. For example, the DuTillet Hebrew version of Matthew says not “like a dove” but agrees with GH having כדמות יונה “in the form of a dove”. While the Shem Tob Hebrew Matthew says that the Ruach would “abode upon him” ושרתה עליו. And the Old Syriac Aramaic has that the Ruach would “in the form of a dove, rest upon him” בדמותא דיונא וקוית עלוהי . (See my recent blog Restoring the Original Hebrew Gospel Account of Yeshua’s Immersion).
In another example, the Gospel according to the Hebrews omitted the phrase “without cause” from it’s parallel to Matthew 5:22, and this phrase is also absent from both the DuTillet and Shem Tob Hebrew versions of Matthew.
In another example in Matthew 11:12 the Gospel according to the Hebrews has, according to a marginal note to some Greek manuscripts of Matthew, a word meaning διαρπαςεται (ravished/plundered) appears here, and the DuTillet Hebrew Matthew has גוזלין with that same meaning, in this verse.
In another example in Matthew 11:25 the Gospel according to the Hebrews has, according to a marginal note to some Greek manuscripts of Matthew, instead of λογουμαι (confess) a word meaning ευχαριστω σοι. Du Tillet & Munster have “thank you” (אודך) Shem Tob “praise” (שתבח); Old Syriac and Peshitta have “thank” (מודא).
We read in Matthew 12:42:
The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.
According to a citation from the Gospel according to the Hebrews found in an 8th to 9th century commentary on Matthew:
“the queen”, namely Meroe, “of the South” that is Ethiopia.
(Commentary on Matthew 12:42; MS: Wurzburg, M. p. th. Fol. 61,
8th-9th Century; cited by Bischoff in Sacris Erudiri VI, 1954, 252)
And we read in the Historical Commentary on Luke:
“the queen of the south” whose name is Meruae.
(Historical Commentary on Luke 11:31; MS: Clem. 6235 fol. 57v, cited by Bischoff op.cit., 262)
In fact there was an ancient city of Meroe which was the capital of the Kingdom of Kush Following the severing of ties with Egypt, the Kushite imperial capital was located at Meroe, during which time it was known by the Greeks as Aethiopia (Ethiopia).
One of the grandsons of Kush was named “Sheba” (Gen. 10:7 & 1Chron. 1:9) and in 1Kings 10:1-10 and 2Chron. 9:1-12 the Queen of Sheba visited Solomon.
According to Josephus the queen of Sheba was the queen of Egypt and Ethiopia (Ant. 8:6:5).
This means there is a correlation between this reading of the Gospel according to the Hebrews, and the Shem Tob Hebrew version of Matthew, which has “Queen of Sheba” rather than “Queen of the South” in Matthew 12:42.
In Matthew 15:5 the Gospel according to the Hebrews has, according to a marginal note to some Greek manuscripts of Matthew, instead of a word meaning a gift (δωρον), have “corban” (korban = קרבן) in agreement with Aramaic of the Old Syriac and Peshitta Versions of Matthew.
In Matthew 16:2-3 were we read:
2: He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.
3: And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?
A marginal note in some Greek manuscripts of Matthew, indicates that the material in bold face above, was lacking from the Gospel according to the Hebrews. This material is also lacking in the Old Syriac Aramaic version of Matthew.
In his Letter to Damascus, the Fourth Century Latin Church Father Jerome Jerome writes:
Matthew, who wrote his Gospel in the Hebrew speech,
Put it thus: “Osanna barrama,” i.e. Osanna in the highest.
(Jerome; Letter to Damascus 20)
And in fact, the Old Syriac and Peshitta Aramaic of Matthew have here (Matthew 21:9) אושענא במרומא Ushana B’m’rauma.
In Matthew 26:74 where we read:
Then began he to curse and to swear, “I know not the man,” and right away the rooster crowed.
Marginal notes in some Greek manuscripts of Matthew indicate that the Gospel according to the Hebrews had “and he denied and swore and cursed.” (και ηρνησατο και ωμοσεν και κατηρασατο) The Shem Tob Hebrew version of Matthew has “then he began to deny (לכפור) and to swear that at no time had he known him…”
In the Commentary to Matthew by the Fourth Century Church Father Jerome, he makes an interesting comment, speaking about Barabbas in his commentary to Matthew 27:16 he writes “… is interpreted in the so-called Gospel according to the Hebrews as ‘son of their teacher’ (Latin: filius magistri eorum). (Jerome on Matthew 27:16)
It has been proposed by some authors that Jerome is saying that Barabbas (Bar Abba) was not really named “Bar Abba” (son of a father) but “Bar Rabbon” (Son of their master”). The problem is that when Jerome says “their” here, is is almost certainly doing so to distinguish himself from the Jews. It is very unlikely that anyone would be given the name or title “son of their master”. It is much more likely that the word “their” is Jerome’s, and that the term that appeared in the original Hebrew Gospel source was “Son of the Master” or “Son of a Master” not “Son of their Master.” Thus we would expect the original Hebrew to read Bar Rabbah (בר רבה) rather than Bar Abba (בר אבא) exactly as we find in the Du Tillet and Munster Hebrew versions of Matthew.
We read in the Goodnews according to Matthew that at the death of Yeshua:
And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
The fourth century “Church Father” Jerome writes concerning The Gospel according to the Hebrews:
“But in the Gospel which is written in Hebrew characters we read not that the veil of the Temple was rent, but that superliminare templi infinitae magnitudinis
fractum esse atque diuisum. (the lintel of the Temple of wondrous size was broken and even forced asunder.)”
(Jerome; Letter 120 to Hedibia; Jerome on Mat. 27:51)
Also in the 14th to 15th Century Historia passionis Domini we read likewise:
“Also in the Gospel of the Nazarenes we read that at the time of Messiah’s death the lintel of the Temple, of immense size, had split (Josephus says the same and adds that overhead awful voices were heard which said: ‘Let us depart from this abode’.”
(Historia passionis Domini; MS: Theolog. Sammelhandschrift 14th-15th Century, foll. 65r)
This variant reading could be traced back to the reading of the Aramaic of the Old Syriac and Peshitta versions of these Gospels, which uses the phrase אפי תרעא literally “the face of the door” where the Greek reads καταπέτασμα “veil” in these verses. This may be the original Aramaic reading, or it may be a literal Aramaic translation of an original Hebrew reading פני הדלת. This word פני is used in the Torah to describe the place where the curtain was (Ex. 26:9).
A translator could have interpreted this original Hebrew/Aramaic phrase to refer either to the superliminare (lintel) or to the καταπέτασμα (veil).
This is just a sample of the important work of the Scripture Restoration Project.
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