Gibbs, Jeffrey A. Matthew 1:1-11:1. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2006.
“Matthew’s Location” pp. 59-67.
The issue of Matthew’s authorship and the time and place of composition is challenging. Gibbs grants that certainty is elusive, but that until relatively recently, the consensus was that Matthew, the tax collector, was the author. Opposition to this view grew after the Enlightenment until, by the 20th Century, the consensus no longer existed (Gibbs 2006, 59). Gibbs reviews the arguments against the consensus to show that the original opinion is a reasonable one.
The early church Fathers understood the gospel to be written by Matthew (Gibbs 2006, 60). Papias is reported by Eusebius as saying that the gospels bearing their names were written by Matthew and Mark (Gibbs 2006, 61). No other likely author was ever suggested. Gibbs therefore sees the burden of proof on those who would overturn the idea.
Others argue that the Gospels were anonymous, with names attached much later. However, we have no evidence that any of the Gospels were published anonymously. All the manuscripts which include the beginning are ascribed to Matthew (Gibbs 2006, 62).
Scholars who ascribe to Markan priority assume that Matthew the apostle would not have depended on a writing of a non-apostle such as Mark (Gibbs 2006, 62). Gibbs notes that this view requires the other Synoptic Gospel to depend on Mark. It also assumes that Matthew would hesitate to use something he considered divinely inspired. These are assumptions which don’t have any evidence.
A final objection is based on the well developed theology found in Matthew. Gibbs observes that the view of development of theology has been widely discredited (Gibbs 2006, 63). Therefore, there is no compelling reason to assume Matthew needed a late composition.
Gibbs concludes that the most reasonable view is that Matthew’s Gospel was written by the apostle Matthew, the tax collector (Gibbs 2006, 63). There is no compelling reason to overturn this historical view.
The dating of Matthew’s Gospel also presents challenges. While some suggest a late first century date, the evidence for Matthew’s dependence on Mark is not conclusive, so a date in the 50s is certainly plausible (Gibbs 2006, 64). Further, while some suggest a late date due to internal evidence, such as a suggestion that the parables of destruction indicate a situation after the A.D. 70 fall of Jerusalem, the argument assumes that Jesus could not have known what was yet to come, or that Matthew created the words of Jesus (Gibbs 2006, 65).
Gibbs concludes that Matthew’s Gospel was very likely written by Matthew the apostle, probably around A.D. 55 (Gibbs 2006, 66). Early tradition places Matthew in Jerusalem at this time, though there are some reasonable suggestions that he may have been in Antioch or some other location (Gibbs 2006, 67).