On my podcast this past week (Misquoting Jesus with Bart Ehrman) someone asked me if I thought any of the Gospels of the NT were influenced by Paul. It’s an interesting question that I should post on (my view: Mark, maybe; Luke, unexpectedly and oddly not; John, I doubt it; Matthew?)
Ah, Matthew. As it turns out, I think Matthew shows a rather obvious and ironic connection with Paul. Did he know Paul’s writings? I have no idea. Did he know about Paul? Same, no idea. Did he oppose a major feature of Paul’s gospel message? Sure looks like it!! (I’m trying to say that he could be opposed to Paul’s views without necessarily knowing Paul’s writings; the views may have been more widely spread than just by Paul. In fact, they almost certainly were.
Here’s how I’ve discussed the matter once when I was reflecting at greater length in the issue:
Paul certainly had opponents in his lifetime: “Judaizers,” as scholars call them — that is, Christian teachers who maintained that followers of Jesus had to follow the Jewish Law: Men were to be circumcised to join the people of God; men and women were, evidently, to adopt a Jewish lifestyle. Presumably that meant keeping kosher, observing the Sabbath, and so on. Anyone who didn’t do this was not really a member of the people of God, since to be one of God’s people meant following the law that God had given.
In Paul’s letter to the Galatians in particular he shows that he was thoroughly incensed at this interpretation of the faith and insisted with extraordinary vehemence that it was completely wrong. The gentile followers of Jesus were not, *absolutely* not, supposed to become Jewish. Anyone who thought so rendered the death of Jesus worthless. It was only that death, and the resurrection, that made a person right with God. Nothing else. Certainly not following the Torah.
I really don’t see how Paul and the author of the Gospel of Matthew could have gotten along.
Some background: Matthew’s Gospel was