Matthew the evangelist/ Matthew the apostle

So my NAB Bible, study edition, says these are two different people. Matthew the evangelist wrote the gospel of Matthew and he lived at the end of the first century. Is this the “official” position of the Catholic Church? By the way, this Bible has gigantic letters on the front that say “The Catholic Bible.”

No, it is not the official position of the Catholic Church, because the Catholic Church doesn’t have an “official position” about this point.

There was a trend in Scripture scholarship from the 1700’s into the late 1900’s to push the dates of authorship later and later. While there has been some significant “bucking” against that trend in recent years, most of the current generation of scholars still continue with the theories they have built up and shored up over their careers.

But these theories are that: attempts to model, or figure out, what happened in the formation of the text and canon of the Scriptures. These attempts are, in an of themselves, good things, but they are not magisterial, and they are certainly not dogmatic.

A Catholic may hold to later dating. A Catholic may hold to earlier dating. Each must look at the evidence, and decide for himself which is more persuasive. Or not decide, since it is not of first importance in living the life of a Christian.

Regarding the large letters on the title page: that is a typographic and stylistic choice of a publisher, not a claim of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church


Thanks for the reply. I have had some people giving me a hard time about not deciding and since all I had was the info from the NAB bible, I felt a bit trapped. I agree with you and feel quite comfortable in not deciding. Thanks again!

Laudetur Iesus Christus.

With due respect, I must beg to differ with Deacon Joe, at least in emphasis.

The attack on the Apostolic authority of the Gospel of Matthew (and indeed on all of the Gospels) is pernicious. One cannot safely embrace “not knowing,” which is an aspect and seed of “that most disastrous doctrine of agnosticism. By it every avenue that leads the intellect to God is barred . . .” (St. Pius X, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, (1907), 39).

The Holy Spirit and the Conciliar Fathers of Vatican II taught:

This commission was faithfully fulfilled by the Apostles who, by their oral preaching, by example, and by observances handed on what they had received from the lips of Christ, from living with Him, and from what He did, or what they had learned through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The commission was fulfilled, too, by those Apostles and apostolic men who under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit committed the message of salvation to writing. (Vatican II, Dei Verbum, (1965), 7.) [It is significant to note that in the Latin original, this text is a single sentence; only in the translation is the main verb repeated. JRH]

One must ask how an “unknown” Matthew of the late first Century could be an “Apostle or apostolic [man].”

It might be helpful to read Dennis Barton’s The Authors of the Gospels, as well as some of the other accounts of the history of the “scholarly” attack on the Church and biblical authority which are available from his website,

Uncertainty about the authorship of the text of the four Gospels is corrosive to faith and ultimately disastrous to its practice. Much better than taking an agnostic or “neutral” position on the question, the faithful should begin by firmly holding the traditional position of the Church, that the four Gospels were committed to writing by the Apostles St. Matthew and St. John, and by St. Peter’s aide, St. Mark, and St. Paul’s aide, St. Luke. This should be one’s initial position and confident assumption; then let anyone prove the alternative if they can. As St. Pope Pius X warned, agnosticism is a disastrous place to start one’s thinking; ultimately it is a trick and a denial of the Faith.

Pax Christi nobiscum.

John Hiner

Gosh, I really hadn’t thought about it in that way but I have to admit, what you say makes sense. I guess I have some more reading to do. I do have to wonder though, in view of what you just said, why a “Catholic” Bible would want to sow the seeds of doubt?

I often doubt whether the commentators of the NAB are Catholic at all.

When in doubt, go with the Early Church Fathers (who hold that Matthew the Apostle is the evangelist) and forego modern “scholars.”



Wasn’t St. Ireneaus the first to give Matthew credit for writing this Gospel.

Like you, unless someone comes up with more solid evidence to the contrary, I’m going to hold to what “Irey” says!

Papias, 130 a.d.
Irenaeus, 180(?) a.d.
Clement, Tertullian, Origen…