Did Matthew Actually Write The Gospel Claimed To Him Even Though It Is In The Third Person?
One of the objections that is usually made against the gospel writers is the one that is made by a famous skeptic: “Matthew’s Gospel is written completely in the third person, . . . Even when this Gospel narrates the event of Matthew being called to become a disciple, it talks about ‘him,’ not about ‘me.’
The skeptic is making the charge that Matthew should have written in the first person - “me” - instead of the third person - “him”. To give an example the skeptic states that Matthew 9:9 should have been changed as follows with the changes in parentheses: “As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him (me), “Follow me.” And he (I) rose and followed him.”
If we were to reconstruct the skeptic’s argument, then it would look something like this:
Major Premise: If a writer refers to himself in the third person, then it is the case that the author did not write the book.
Minor Premise: Matthew refers to himself in the third person (Matthew 9:9).
Conclusion: Therefore, it is the case that Matthew did not write the gospel of Matthew.
The major premise is not sound. If we were to look to other non-biblical ancient literature like Xenophon (Xenophon, Anabasis 1.8.15; 2.5.40; 3.1.10, 47), then a person would discover that Xenophon wrote also in the third person as a historian. There are several other historians who did the same thing. Is the skeptic willing to state that these ancient historians did not write the books they claimed to have written even though they put themselves in it in the third person? To ask is to answer.
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