Article Index


In his attempt to promote numerous Christian creeds amongst the Jews, Matthew was faced with a serious quandary. How would he prove that Jesus was the messiah from the Jewish Scriptures when there is no relationship between the Jesus of Nazareth of the New Testament and the messianic prophecies of the Jewish Scriptures? How was he going to merge newly inculcated pagan myths, such as the virgin birth, into Christianity with a Hebrew Bible in which a belief in a virgin birth was unknown?

In order to accomplish this daunting task, verses in the Hebrew Scriptures were altered, misquoted, taken out of context, and mistranslated by the author of the Book of Matthew in order to make Jesus’ life fit traditional Jewish messianic parameters, and to make traditional Jewish messianic parameters fit the life of Jesus. In essence, he felt compelled to claim that the Hebrew prophets themselves foretold that Jesus was the messiah. It is therefore no coincidence that, with the exception of Paul, no writer of the New Testament mistranslated the Jewish Scriptures to the extent that Matthew does throughout his Gospel. Paul’s famed misquotations from the Jewish Scriptures, on the other hand, went largely unnoticed because his audiences were, for the most part, unlettered gentiles.

Ironically, the widespread Bible tampering found in the first Gospel was sparked by Matthew’s desire to convince Jews that Jesus was their promised messiah. Yet strangely, if the Book of Matthew had never been written, the Church, no doubt, would have been far more successful in its effort to evangelize the Jews. In essence, had promoters of Christianity avoided the wild Scripture tampering that clutters almost every chapter in the Book of Matthew, the Church might have enjoyed far more success among the Jews as did previous religions that targeted the Jewish people for conversion.

For example, the priests of Baal did not attempt to bolster the validity of their idol worship by misquoting the texts of the Hebrew Bible, as Matthew did. As a result, the Bible reports that the idol Baal gained enormous popularity among the Jewish people. In contrast, once the nation of Israel was confronted with a corruption of their sacred Scriptures by authors and apologists of the New Testament, their apostasy to Christianity for the most part became untenable. Therefore, throughout history the Jewish people remained the most difficult nation for the Church to sway. Consequently, whereas the Gospels of Mark, Luke, and John enjoyed overwhelming success among their gentile audiences, the Gospel of Matthew played an enormous role in the ultimate failure of the Church to effectively convert the Jews to Christianity, at least the knowledgeable ones.  Jerome repeats this statement in his Apology Against Rufinus ii, 27 (Migne, P.L. 23, 471). 

  1. Josephus, preface to Antiquities of the Jews, section 3. For Josephus’ detailed description of events surrounding the original authorship of the Septuagint, see Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, XII, ii, 1-4. 
  2. St. Jerome, preface to The Book of Hebrew Questions, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume 6. Pg. 487. Hendrickson. 
  3. The Anchor Bible Dictionary. Excerpt from “Septuagint,” New York: Vol. 5, pg. 1093. 
  4. F.F. Bruce, The Books and the Parchments, p.150. 
  5. The seventh chapter of the Book of Isaiah begins by describing the unfolding Syro-Ephraimite War, a military crisis that was confronting King Ahaz of the Kingdom Judah. In about the year 732 B.C.E. the House of David was facing imminent destruction at the hands of two warring kingdoms: the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Syrian Kingdom. These two armies had laid siege to Jerusalem. The Bible relates that the House of David and King Ahaz were gripped with fear. In response these two warring armies, God sent the prophet Isaiah to reassure King Ahaz that divine protection was at hand — the Almighty would protect him, their deliverance was assured, and these two hostile armies would fail in their attempt to subjugate Jerusalem.

It is clear from this chapter that Isaiah’s declaration was a prophecy of the unsuccessful siege of Jerusalem by the two armies of the Kingdoms of Israel and Syria, not a virgin birth more than 700 years later. If we interpret this chapter as referring to Jesus’ birth, what possible comfort and assurance would Ahaz, who was surrounded by two overwhelming military forces, have found in the birth of a child seven centuries later? Both he and his people would be long dead and buried. Such a sign would make little sense.