Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew (once more)

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at
Mon Feb 5 13:23:57 EST 2001

Thank you. I would only add that at least more conservative scholarship
usually assumes that the author of Matthew was a Jew writing for Jews. One
reason is the Jewish name Matthew and the traditional, but unprovable, link
with the Jewish tax collector Matthew. (The ascription to Matthew is not in
the text and so is traditional only.) Another good reason is the subject
matter and interest in Jewish perspectives. But I agree that this is

As for the use of LXX quotations, it could well be that the author, or his
translator into Greek, deliberately (at least sometimes) used a copy LXX for
the final editing of his MS, rather than rely on his own translations or
perhaps because he didn't remember the Hebrew passage precisely enough. Just
as in postings to b-hebrew I might quote some passages from memory and look
up others in a printed Bible. But that doesn't mean that Matthew's basic
thinking was not based on the Hebrew.

For Ian: The relevant question for this list is not racial origin of the
Matthew but whether the author, whoever he or she might be, knew enough
Hebrew to understand Isaiah 7:14 properly, or rather had to rely on the
perhaps misleading LXX translation. I suggested the former. I have yet to
see evidence for the author not being Jewish, but I accept that the evidence
for Jewishness is also rather thin.

Peter Kirk

-----Original Message-----
From: Raymond de Hoop [mailto:rdehoop at]
Sent: 03 February 2001 12:57
To: Peter Kirk
Subject: Re: Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew (once more)

Peter Kirk <Peter_Kirk at> wrote on 02-02-2001 01:52:

> On the contrary, it is highly probable that Matthew did read Isaiah in
> Hebrew. He would also have listened to it read in the synagogue in
> or wherever. Ausra's assumption, not mine, that the book of Matthew was
> written by Matthew; but then my argument doesn't rely on a particular
> authorship, rather that the book of Matthew was written by a Jew living in
> the land of Israel in the 1st century CE. As Randall Buth for one has
> cogently argued, many of these people were trilingual in Hebrew, Aramaic
> Greek, but Hebrew would have been the language of choice for reading the
> Scriptures.


Since you did not mail this message to the list -- I did not receive it at
least -- I react to it offline, I hope you appreciate.

I think there is a serious problem whether "Matthew" was a Jew or gentile.
In case he was a Jew, the trilingualism is a probability, including his
reading of the Hebrew scriptures as preference. However, in case he was a
gentile, or strongly related to a community consisting of gentiles, the
matter is more complicated and a reading and quoting of LXX is more likely.
However, the quotations are sometimes more MT, sometimes more LXX. So for me
this matter is still not decided.
Yet I think you were right to point out that the matter is more complicated
than the simple "he read Greek", which I followed at first.

I checked the entry "Matthew, Gospel of" in ABD, vol. IV, pp.622-641, on
this because I am a Semitics/OT-scholar.





Dr Raymond de Hoop          Tel.: ++31 50 553 0115
Boeiersingel 11
NL-9745 CA Groningen
The Netherlands                 E-mail: rdehoop at


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