New American Bible: Is It Good for Catholics?

By Ben Douglass


My copy of the Saint Joseph Edition of the New American Bible (hereafter NAB) is, quite frankly, gorgeous. It is bound in leather, with gold lettering, and contains several beautiful paintings of biblical events. Between pages 276 and 277, Elijah ascends into heaven on a chariot of fire, Job is counseled by his friends, an angel touches the lips of the prophet Isaiah with a burning coal, and a hand writes a mysterious message on the wall of the palace of King Belshazzar. Also of note are the illustrations of the fourteen Stations of the Cross and the original fifteen mysteries of the rosary which are placed between the Testaments. Finally, there is even a quite amusing depiction of the Holy Trinity near the back.

This Bible also has an air of authority. A quick glance inside the cover reveals three imprimaturs, two nihil obstats, and an Apostolic Blessing from Pope Paul VI. In addition, although this fact is not announced in this particular copy, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has decreed that the NAB is the only translation which may be used in the lectionaries of Roman Catholic Churches in America. In short, a significant portion of the weight of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church (though not the whole thing, for it is metaphysically impossible for the ordinary and universal Magisterium to contradict either itself or the extraordinary Magisterium) is behind this Bible. This is the Bible that our bishops want us to read.

These circumstances greatly compounded my shock, horror, and dismay at encountering within the pages of this Bible, and I do not make this charge lightly, sustained, formal heterodoxy. I will state this as bluntly and forcibly as possible. The commentary in the NAB is spiritually dangerous to read. It is a near occasion for sin. Like Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code, the only Catholics who should read the footnotes of the NAB are apologists who need something against which to polemicize. Like the Cathar’s French translation, the NAB deserves to be on the Index of Forbidden books. But it is not. Rather, it lines the shelves of Catholic bookstores across the country. God help us all. St. Paul, pray for us. St. Jerome, pray for us. St. Pius X, pray for us. St. Joseph, pray for us.

For my fellow Catholics, who might be led by the NAB to deny the perennial teaching of the Catholic Church, for Protestants, who might read the footnotes out of curiosity as to how the Catholic Church interprets the Bible and subsequently walk away in disgust, and for inquiring Atheists, who might, after reading the NAB, ask the entirely logical question, “If the Bible is so full of contradictions and errors about history and morality, why should I trust it about anything? Why should I believe that certain parts of it qualify as revelation from a righteous and omniscient God”? I offer this study. Though it would be well nigh impossible to catalogue every error contained in the commentary, and even in the text, of the NAB (I would have to write a book almost as big as the Bible), I will endeavor herein to catalogue a significant portion. I will focus on the most egregious, scandalous, and jaw-dropping errors; the kind with the potential to destroy one’s faith. But let it be known that for every error which is mentioned in this study, there are ten more which are not.

The Teaching of the Church of Ages

I would like to begin by giving the reader some background on the Catholic Church’s perennial teaching on inspiration and inerrancy. I will let the Popes and Councils speak for themselves.

Pope Leo XIII, Providentissimus Deus: “It is absolutely wrong and forbidden either to narrow inspiration to certain parts only of Sacred Scripture or to admit that the sacred writer has erred... For all the books which the Church receives as Sacred and Canonical are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Ghost; and so far is it from being possible that any error can coexist with inspiration, that inspiration not only is essentially incompatible with error, but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God Himself, the Supreme Truth, can utter that which is not True. This is the ancient and unchanging Faith of the Church.”

Pope Pius X, Lamentabili Sani, Condemned proposition: “Divine inspiration does not extend to all of Sacred Scriptures so that it renders its parts, each and every one, free from every error.”

Pope Benedict XV, Spiritus Paraclitus: “He also teaches that the divine inspiration extends to all parts of Scripture without distinction, and that no error could occur in the inspired text.”

Pope Pius XII, Divino Afflante Spiritu: “It is absolutely wrong and forbidden either to narrow inspiration to certain parts only of Sacred Scripture or to admit that the sacred writer has erred.”

Pius XII, Humani Generis, Condemned proposition: “[I]mmunity from error extends only to those parts of the Bible that treat of God or of moral and religious matters.”

Vatican Council I, Sess. III, cap. ii, DE REV: “The Books of the Old and New Testament, whole and entire, with all their parts, as enumerated in the Decree of the same Council (Trent) and in the ancient Latin Vulgate, are to be received as Sacred and Canonical. And the Church holds them as Sacred and Canonical not because, having been composed by human industry, they were afterwards approved by her Authority; nor only because they contain revelation without errors, but because, having been written under the Inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they have God for their Author.”

So we see that the Catholic Church teaches that the Bible is completely immune from error. Now, some Catholics use the statement in Vatican II’s Dei Verbum that the Bible “teaches without error that truth which God wanted put into the sacred writings for the sake of our salvation” as support for the position that the Bible is only immune from error within a certain limited domain. However, this phrase admits of two possible interpretations: (1) the Bible is immune from error in everything it says, and everything it says God wanted there for the sake of our salvation, and (2) The Bible is immune from error in so far as it teaches about salvation, but can err when it treats of other topics. Obviously, the former interpretation harmonizes Vatican II with the larger body of Catholic Tradition, whereas the latter sets the two in opposition. Thus all faithful Catholics should adopt the former. Finally, if even that is not enough to convince the die-hard fans of Fr. Raymond Brown, the Council Fathers let it be known how they intended this phrase to be interpreted by referencing in its footnote various writings of St. Augustine, all of which endorse the total inerrancy of Scripture.

This is the position which all Catholics are bound by the Magisterium to expound and defend. In its original manuscripts the Bible is free from error in absolutely every respect. It contains no contradictions, no historical inaccuracies, and no scientific errors. (Of course, the Bible is not a science textbook, and thus it quite often employs scientifically imprecise, phenomenological language (i.e. sunrise, sunset), however this is not tantamount to error. Even modern theoretical physicists speak of sunrise and sunset, and not too many of them are Tychonians; still fewer are Platonists.) In sum, to use the words of St. Irenaeus, the Scriptures are ceratinly perfect. [1]

How Not to Read Your Bible

I am not sure how many editions of the NAB contain this section, but right after Vatican II’s Dei Verbum the St. Joseph edition has guide entitled, “How to Read your Bible.” It is poison. In an effort to smooth over the alleged “atrocities” commanded by God in the Old Testament, it actually paints a picture of a God who is not worthy of worship.

4. Inspiration and Revelation

God Himself guided (inspired) the Hebrew genius in its searching out of the mysteries of the human condition... When this restless searching for truth and meaning culminates in unfolding one of God’s mysteries, we speak of divine revelation... Sometimes inspired searching for meaning leads to conclusions which cannot be qualified as revelation from God. Think of the “holy wars” of total destruction, fought by the Hebrews when they invaded Palestine. The search for meaning in those wars centuries later was inspired, but the conclusions which attributed all those atrocities to the command of God were imperfect and provisional. See Judges 1, 1-8. [2]

It is a sad day in the Church when bishops grant Imprimaturs to blatant modernism such as this. The commentators would have us believe that the wars which the Bible plainly states were commanded by God were not in fact commanded by God, but rather were crimes against humanity perpetrated by Hebrew murderers. Then, centuries later, their descendents attempted to justify the crimes of their forefathers by ascribing the wars to the command of a deity. “Oh, it was ok for our ancestors to kill all those people because God told them so.” I’m sorry, but justifying murder by ascribing it to the command of a deity is a moral abomination, and I refuse to worship the god of these commentators, a god who apparently has no problem with inspiring people to write the moral equivalent of Nazi apologetics. No, God did not inspire people to ascribe unjust wars to His command. Logic and conscience leave us with only two options; (1) God exercised his prerogative as the just judge and giver and taker of life and actually commanded these wars, or (2) the Bible is a lie, a fabrication of the apologists for Hebrew war crimes. Either Leo XIII is right or the atheists are right; the position of these commentators is absolutely untenable.

Also disturbing, the commentators seem to define inspiration as divine dabbling. Supposedly God guided the writers, let them make atrocious mistakes along the way, and revealed a bit of the truth to them every once in a while. This definition has absolutely no basis in Scripture or Tradition! The word that St. Paul used which is translated as inspired in English Bibles is theopnuestos, literally, God-breathed. God may have used human instruments in writing Scripture, and may have worked with their individual styles and used their own thoughts, but He was always the primary author. This is how the Catholic Church has understood inspiration for the past 2,000 years.

As always, the Catholic teaching is rock solid truth; it safeguards the totality of revelation from those who would like to do away with its less than popular teachings. Contrariwise, the extraordinarily limited view of Biblical inspiration which these commentators espouse inevitably leads to the shopping-cart mentality, for if only parts of the Bible are the Word of God, and other parts are immoral human inventions, one is free to pick and choose, based on one’s own personal preference, which parts to believe and which to discard. Hence, one may accept the part of the Bible where it says that God is love and the story where Jesus forgives the woman at the well, but reject the biblical teachings that sodomy and fornication are sins and that wives must be obedient to their husbands. I cannot begin to fathom the number of souls who have been lost because they have done exactly that.

The Book of Genesis

One need not read deeply into the NAB to discover teachings which are contrary to the Tradition of the Church, for in the introduction to the first book of the Bible, Genesis, the translators unequivocally endorse the documentary hypothesis. This is the theory of Julius Wellhausen, a 19th century liberal German Protestant, which holds that the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, are the product of redaction and editing and did not take their final form until the sixth century B.C. As opposed to the traditional teaching that Moses wrote the Pentateuch (save his obituary which is tacked on to the end), the documentary hypothesis maintains that four principal sources (Yahwist, Elohist, Priestly, and Deuteronomic), the earliest of which was composed around the time of King David, were weaved together to produce the document which has come down to us today. According to those who hold this theory, the various sources (termed J, E, D, and P (Yahweh starts with a J in German)) are contradictory, and the redactor left many of these contradictions in the text. Thus, the Biblical scholar has no need to treat the Bible with the reverence of St. Augustine; [3] if something looks like a contradiction at first glance that is because it is a contradiction. Moreover, when the Bible narrates that “the LORD says to Moses,” it does not actually mean that the LORD said to Moses whatever follows.

This theory, so inimical to Christian Orthodoxy, is the main guiding force behind the hermeneutic and methodology of the scholars who created the NAB. Time after time they charge the text with error and contradiction, ascribing this to discrepancies between the various sources. Time after time they claim that bits and pieces of text have been moved around, and that verse 20 really belongs after verse 24, etc. In fact, these scholars have so little reverence for the Sacred Scriptures, they even go so far as to reverse what they believe to be the machinations of their sixth century redactor, inserting contradictions into the text which they believe the redactor to have edited out. That this book which directly contradicts defined Catholic dogma boasts imprimaturs and nihil obstats is truly sad. It is a testament to the massive apostasy which characterizes a goodly portion of the Church’s hierarchy today.

Well, I’ve made a great deal of extraordinary claims; it is about time to get down to the nitty gritty and substantiate my assertions. I will now document how the translators’ embrace of the documentary hypothesis plays itself out in their translation and in their commentary, leading them to promote ideas contrary to the Catholic faith.

Due to the copyright protections on the footnotes of the NAB I am unable to reproduce them here. However, they are online on the USCCB website, so I will provide links throughout this study in order that readers who do not own their own copies of the NAB may be able to follow along.

footnote Genesis 1:26

footnote 2:4b-25

As you can see, the bad fruits of the documentary hypothesis show themselves with striking rapidity. The translators cannot even get through the first two chapters of Genesis without charging the Holy Scriptures with error. Allow me to explain why.

According to the JEDP theory, Genesis 1:1-2:4a belongs to the priestly source, and was created by Jews around the time of the Babylonian exile in attempts to convince themselves of the greatness of their God. Genesis 2:4b-25 is an entirely unrelated story, from a different tradition and a different age, which represents a different perspective in the Hebrew’s quest for truth. Thus, the documentarians have no problem in charging the two narratives with a contradiction, namely that they present opposite orders of creation. In Gen 1, man is the last creature to be created, and in Gen 2 he is the first.

However, the two narratives are actually quite easy to reconcile. Regarding the allegation that the “second” story has the creation of plants after the creation of man: the context of the statement “no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted” makes it clear that it is referring not to all plants, but solely to cultivated plants i.e. crops. Look what it says immediately afterward: “for there was no man to cultivate the ground.” If the “shrubs and plants of the field” of verse 5 referred to all plants (grass, bushes, trees, etc) this would make absolutely no sense. Such plants do not need men to cultivate them! Thus the two accounts are harmonized. As Genesis 1 records, plants existed before man; as Genesis 2 records, cultivated plants did not.

Regarding the allegation that the “second” story has the creation of animals and birds after the creation of man: again, the solution is fairly simple. It is not too hard to imagine that God simply created more animals and birds on the sixth day (the day of the creation of man, to which Genesis 2:19 refers) over and above those which He created on the fourth and fifth, and that the “every” in v. 2:19 means that He created one of every type of beast and bird on that day, not that He created every beast and bird which had ever existed. As Genesis 1 records, that had already been accomplished. So the image which is presented is that of God creating one of every type of animal and bird, running each of them past Adam in turn so that he could give them names.

Modern readers like to see everything in chronological order, and thus are tempted to see 2 different stories in narratives such as Genesis 1-2, which do not fit into our literary paradigm. However, this type of writing is fairly common in ancient near-eastern literature. Quite often such narratives start out with a broad overview of events (Genesis 1) and then take a step chronologically backward, and fill in the details (Genesis 2). The two chapters stand as a unified whole.

footnote 3:15

So, in essence, they are telling us that Genesis 3:15 is not really a messianic prophecy, and that Christians read messianic themes into the text that simply are not there. Genesis 3:15 was not originally about mankind’s redemption. Moreover, it was only later theology which regarded the serpent as the devil. This footnote is disturbing for several reasons. Obviously, it is an extraordinary and unwarranted concession to Atheists and Jews. Also, this footnote seemingly embraces postmodern relativism, for it claims that there is validity and truth to perceptions which do not correspond to ontological reality. According to the commentators, because Christians see redemption in this passage, it can properly be understood as such, even though in reality (in their opinion) it is not. Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas are turning over in their graves.

But let us get back to the issue of translation. The pronoun in question is the Hebrew hu, a singular pronoun which is quite ambiguous and can mean either he, she, or it. So, in order to determine the correct rendering we must examine the preceding sentence or clause to find the antecedent to which the pronoun refers. In this particular context, there are only two nouns that might be the antecedent to hu, namely the woman (ha-isha) and the offspring (zar’ah). Incidentally, the NAB translators make a good point in noting that the pronoun “he” would have no antecedent in the passage, as zar’ah is a collective noun which is implicitly plural (cf. Gen 16:10, 22:17, 24:60). Thus “he” is most definitely not an appropriate rendering. However, instead of opting to translate it as “they” instead, why do they not translate it as she? Hebrew does not normally have collective nouns perform as antecedents for singular pronouns, so zar’ah cannot be the antecedent to hu either. “They” is excluded as an appropriate translation for hu by the very fact that it is a plural pronoun whereas hu is singular! So we see that the antecedent can only be the woman, and thus that the only appropriate translation for Genesis 3:15 is “she.” Our Lady, defeater of heresies, Who crushes the serpent’s head, pray for us and for the translators of the NAB.

footnote 4:17-22

Once again the documentary hypothesis bears its rotten fruit. The translators charge Scripture with another contradiction. In one tradition, Cain is a nomad, and in another, a man of civilization. Presumably they do so due to v 17’s statement that Cain became the founder of a city. But is it really so hard to imagine a nomad founding a city and then moving on? Has this not happened many times in recorded history? Blessed Junipero Serra anyone? The scholars who created this Bible are simply never willing to give Scripture the benefit of the doubt.

footnote 4:25f

They do the exact same thing here. The alleged contradiction could easily be harmonized by simply positing that the name YHWH fell out of use between the time of Enosh and Moses, and that it was at the burning bush that the use of God’s personal Name was restored. Sadly, in the NAB historical criticism trumps faith every time.

footnote 6:1-4

The Fathers and Doctors of the Church are unanimous in reading Genesis as history yet to these scholars it is nothing more than myth. Their understanding of Scripture is nearly divorced from the Tradition of the Church (orthodox Catholic scholars have theorized that the sons of God mentioned here were either descendents of Seth or fallen angels).

footnote 9:18-27

Or maybe, just maybe, this is one story, and Noah punished Ham vicariously by cursing his son Canaan. This would make perfect sense in the context. Ham, the youngest son, had dishonored his father Noah, so Noah decreed that Ham’s youngest son would dishonor him.

Also note that the commentators accuse Scripture of a moral error in this footnote. They claim that Hebrew apologists made up this story to justify enslaving the Canaanite people.

footnote 10:1-32

The documentary hypothesis rears its ugly head once again. The translators see two names repeated within a few chapters, and they immediately think contradiction. According to the Priestly source, Sheba and Havilah are descendents of Ham, but according to the Yahwist, they are descendents of Shem. But is it really that unlikely that there were two people named Sheba and two people named Havilah? For Christ’s sake, there’s another Ben in the architectural engineering program here at Penn State. If someone were to write a genealogy of the class of 2007 would any reasonable person think that it was two conflicting genealogies which were shoddily combined together at a later date? The NAB is second only to the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible in its relentless search for contradictions which are simply not there.

footnote 11:10-26

The incredulity of these commentators at the Biblical genealogies is odd, to say the least. They believe that God became incarnate in the womb of an Immaculate Virgin but they will not entertain the notion that a man could live 500 years. They are not being logically consistent. If one is willing to grant that miracles are possible, and that there is a transcendent God with the power to work them, one has no logical basis for discounting anything of this sort as simply too extraordinary to believe.

footnote 12:3

Well, biblical scholarship really has advanced in recent years. In fact, so confident are these scholars that they believe they understand Scripture better than Scripture! I would expect as much from someone who did not recognize the Bible as the word of God, but from these scholars, who are ostensibly believing Christians, it is simply arrogance of gargantuan proportions.

footnote 12:16

The NAB has once again come under the condemnation of every pre-Vatican II Pope; they have accused Holy Scripture of error.

footnote 14:13

It is interesting to note how these scholars understand the terms sacred and profane history. Profane history is what actually happened, and sacred history is myth. This is opposed, of course, to how Catholic Tradition understands the term sacred history, namely that part of actual history which is recorded by the Bible.

footnote 14:22

This is quite simply amazing. According to these commentators Melchizedek worshipped a false God. Recall that this is the man whose most excellent priesthood, according to the book of Hebrews, prefigured the priesthood of Christ, and whose sacrifice of bread and wine prefigured the sacrifice of the Mass! [4] Yet apparently he offered this sacrifice to a god named el-elyon, who is to be distinguished from the true God YHWH. This is blasphemy. The only interpretation available to one who accepts the book of Hebrews as canonical is that Melchizedek worshipped the one true God but simply called Him by a different name.

footnote 21:14

So, in other words, the translators changed the meaning of the text in order to reinforce their perceived contradiction. They see two conflicting stories here, one in which Ishmael is a baby and one in which he is a teenager, and they are willing to rewrite Scripture to make sure we that see it too. Is there any rational justification for doing so? Any textual variants among the different manuscripts? Any discrepancies between the Hebrew and the Greek or Syraic traditions? No, absolutely none. Their editing here is pure conjecture. This has to be one of the more incredible things I have seen in my young life. Bear in mind that the NAB is the U.S. Catholic Church’s official translation of the Bible, and that it is the only translation which Roman Catholics may use in their lectionaries (thank God for the Byzantine Rite and for Fr. Oravetz who made me a member). In effect, our bishops are forcing this translation upon us. That our bishops have so little reverence for Scripture that they would force a translation which inserts contradictions into the biblical narratives upon the faithful is a testament to the massive apostasy which characterizes the hierarchy of today. Not since the Arian heresy has the Catholic Church been in this sad of shape.

footnote 26:6-11

It seems to be an entrenched dogma of those who adhere to the JEDP theory that whenever the Bible contains two similar stories, they must really be two different versions of the same story, written by different authors and combined together at a later date. They claim the same thing about the two stories of the wells at Beer-Sheba. Does history never repeat itself?

footnote 34:1-31

It is my medical opinion that the NAB commentators have been infected with chronic nonprimafaciosis, a vehement and absolute refusal to accept anything Scripture says at face value.

footnote 36:31

Not necessarily. Pharaoh ruled over the sons of Israel many years before Saul ever came to power, and he was a king. There is nothing about this passage which is inconsistent with Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch.

footnote 37:21-36

footnote 37:28

Once again the scholars who created this Bible have changed the text of Scripture in order to reinforce their perceived contradiction. This time, however, they are a little more subtle and do not announce that they are doing so. This will take a while to explain. Essentially, they see two conflicting stories weaved together in Genesis 39. In the Yahwist story, Judah convinces his brothers to sell Joseph to some Ishmaelite traders instead of killing him. In the Elohist story, Reuben convinces his brothers to simply throw Joseph into a cistern. Reuben intends to return to the cistern at a later time and rescue him, however before he can do so he is kidnapped by Midianites.

The first part of the allegation of contradiction, namely that in the “two” stories it is a different one of Joseph’s brothers who tries to save his life, is so inane that it hardly merits a response. Both could very well have tried to do so. There could very well have been two good apples in the bunch.

The second part, namely that in one story Joseph is sold to the Ishmaelites whereas in the other he is kidnapped by Midianites, is a bit more difficult, especially if one relies solely on the NAB. This is where the translators change the Scripture to reinforce their views. They rearrange the verse into two neat, contradictory parts. The first part says that Joseph’s brothers sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. The second says that some Midianite traders passed by, pulled Joseph out of the cistern, and took him to Egypt. However, the NASB translates the verse literally: “Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they [Joseph’s brothers] pulled him up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. Thus they brought Joseph into Egypt.” Obviously this is quite a different statement! There is absolutely nothing in the original Hebrew which would imply that the Midianites kidnapped Joseph while no one was there. Rather, the Midianites’ presence is merely parenthetical.

There is only one problem left. How are we to interpret the phrase, “Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they [Joseph’s brothers] pulled him up and lifted Joseph out of the pit”? Why would the presence of the Midianites cause Joseph’s brothers to pull him out? Here is my theory. Joseph’s brothers were bartering with the Ishmaelites. They were trying to get the best price possible. When the Midianites passed by, the brothers’ hand suddenly got quite a bit stronger, since the Ishmaelites would then have had to deal with another party bidding for the same slave. So, when the Midianites passed by, the Ishmaelites closed the deal as quickly as possible, thus causing Joseph’s brothers to pull him out of the pit. The Hebrew Scriptures make perfect sense as they are.

footnote 42:27-28

Indeed they are two different Hebrew words. Perhaps they found part of their money in their bags while they were in camp, and part of it in their sacks when they got home.

footnote 45:9-15

Or maybe, just maybe, Pharaoh coincidentally told Jacob to do what he had just done. This is not all that uncommon an occurrence; something similar has happened to me many times. Again, the translators are all too quick to accuse Holy Scripture of error and contradiction when there are any number of ways with which to reconcile the supposedly conflicting statements.

The Gospel According to Matthew

Sadly, the New Testament does not fare much better than the Old under the historical critical knife of the New American Bible; just as the translators enthusiastically embrace Julius Wellhausen’s four source theory for the composition of the Pentateuch, so too do they embrace a German multi-source theory for the composition of the Gospel of Matthew. This time the sources are only three (Q, Mk, and M), but nevertheless the substance of the two theories are essentially the same: Scripture was not written by eyewitnesses and is not at all accurate as history.

To wit, the introduction to Matthew teaches that the ancient patristic tradition which ascribes the authorship of this Gospel to St. Matthew the apostle is false (one would think that it would be prudent in this case to defer to the judgment of men like Papias, Irenaeus, and Hippolytus, men who lived far nearer than the NAB scholars to the date of the Gospel’s composition and thus would be in a far better position to know, but I digress). Rather it was composed by an anonymous Syrian Christian around 80 A.D. who used for his sources the Gospel of Mark, a hypothesized collection of the sayings of Christ known as Q which was also used by the author of Luke, and certain oral and written traditions known only to him. Certain parts are also said to be fabrications. [5] In any case, the work which has come down to us is not apostolic in origin, but is the product of the synthesis of numerous oral and written traditions with a few flights of fancy thrown into the mix.

The commentators cite as support for this theory the fact that the Gospel of Matthew contains a great deal of the same material as the Gospel of Mark. Allegedly, the author of Matthew used Mark as his primary source. And as an apostle, writing from memory, would not have had to rely for his material on Mark, who was not an eyewitness to Christ’s earthly ministry, the NAB concludes that the author of Matthew was not an apostle. The fallacy of this argument is obvious. It presupposes that Matthew was indeed written after Mark, which is anything but a proven fact. In fact, a recent discovery proves quite the opposite: papyri fragments of Matthew 26 known as the Oxford Papyri have been demonstrated by papyrologist Casten Peter Theide to have been written before the temple of Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. Here is how: the Oxford Papyri were found in the same place, Egypt, as other Papyri which are currently stored in Paris, France. These papyri all use the same style of lettering in Greek, which means that they are from the same time period, since Greek writing styles were all specific to certain periods of time. The Paris papyri contains the date “the year 12 of Nero the lord, Epeieph 30” which in the Gregorian calendar is July 24, 65/66 A.D. Hence, since the scraps of Matthew are from the same time period as these, likewise they were written in the 60s A.D. [6] Subtract from this the time that it would have taken for Matthew’s Gospel to be disseminated all the way into Egypt, and we are left with a very early date for its composition indeed.

Another piece of historical evidence which attests to the early date of composition of Matthew comes from an ironic source: a Jewish parody which treats the Gospel of Matthew with derision. Obviously the original work must be older than the parody, so since this story has been dated at about 70 A.D., the Gospel According to Matthew must of course be even older. You can read about this story at South Coast Today. Rabban Gamaliel must be turning over in his grave.

The postulate of the Q source is quite simply a fantasy. It is no more credible than the Muslim theory of the Injil, for there is no hard evidence of it ever having existed. The only justification for this postulate is that Matthew and Luke contain a number of sayings of Jesus which are not contained in either Mark or John. But this could simply be due to the two authors having similar views of which of the sayings of Christ it would be most prudent to record. Mark focused on Jesus’s actions and John focused on Jesus’s claims to divinity; is it any wonder that two of the evangelists might focus on Christ’s teachings about the cost of discipleship?

Lastly, the commentators cite Matthew 22:7 as evidence for the post-A.D. 70 date of composition, in which Jesus alludes to the impending destruction of the Jerusalem temple (a better example would have been 24:2). Apparently they deny that Jesus Christ had the power to predict the future, because to one who acknowledges Him as a prophet this conclusion simply does not follow. On the contrary, the orthodox Catholic uses his historical critical abilities to prove that Matthew was written prior to 70 A.D., and then cites 24:2 as proof of Christ’s divinity. But when the NAB translators read 24:2, they immediately conclude that it must have been written after. There is no way that Christ could have known that, they say. Obviously Christians must have put these words into Jesus’s mouth after the fact in order to bolster their claims about his divinity. Well, Trypho could not have said it better himself. [7] It is a sad day for the Catholic Church when our own Bibles espouse the claims of anti-Christian Jewish polemicists.

footnote Matthew 1:7

footnote 1:10

In both of these cases, Bibles which presuppose the inerrancy of Scripture (DRV, NASB, etc.), as Catholic exegetes are bound by the Magisterium to do, choose to follow the manuscripts which contain the historically correct names. Not so with the NAB.

footnote 2:1-12

This is what happens when one abandons the traditional Catholic teaching that the Gospels were written by the people whose names they bear. Suddenly one no longer has to read them as history, and one can believe and teach that events which they record did not actually happen.

footnote 4:12-17

After the notes on Genesis 37, this is most intellectually dishonest footnote which I have come across so far; once again these “scholars” have mistranslated Scripture for the sole purpose of making it appear to be in error. I am simply dumbfounded by the sheer audacity of these people.

This footnote claims that Matthew was mistaken in identifying the sea of the prophecy of Isaiah as Galilee. According to the NAB, it is actually the Mediterranean. Well, the original Hebrew and the Septuagint both explicitly identify it as Galilee! The NAB translation of Isaiah 8:23 as “district of the Gentiles” is, quite frankly, a lie concocted to support their audacious claim, for the original manuscripts most definitely say “Galilee of the Gentiles!”

As to the more technical aspects of rebutting the claims of this footnote, I will defer to the President of CAI:

As for the NAB’s footnote that says it was the “Mediterranean” as opposed to the sea of Galilee, there is absolutely no evidence for this. Matthew’s reference to “hodon thalasses” (the way of the sea) is not the road that leads to the Mediterranean but the stretch of country to which the great ancient road, Via Maris, led. The accusative “hodon” is adverbial, and when connected to the genitival “thalasses” acts like a nominative, and is thus an independent expression denoting extent, that is the extent of the region in view, not the Mediterranean. The same is true regarding the phrase “peran tou Iordainou” (beyond the Jordan), that is, it is referring to Perea, which is at the extreme east. This only makes sense, since “the way of the sea” would refer to the extreme west. [8]

Finally, the borders between Zebulon and Naphtali had long since been erased by the time of St. Matthew, so he made no error by combining them as one territory in which Capernaum was situated.

footnote 4:20

There in absolutely no need to charge Scripture with a contradiction solely because one Gospel omits an element of a narrative which another Gospel contains. In fact, The story in the Gospel of Luke about Jesus going out into the water with Simon fits nicely between vv. 18 and 19 of Matthew. One need only do a little work to find amongst the Gospels a satisfactory if not superlative harmony. All I can say is that these scholars would do well to listen to St. Augustine’s advice to Faustus. [9]

footnote 5:1-7:29

footnote 5:1-2

Since I dealt with the three-source theory in detail above, I will here confine myself solely to answering these footnotes’ two charges of contradiction, namely that in Matthew this sermon takes place on a mountain whereas in Luke it is delivered on a plain, and that in Matthew Jesus addresses the crowds whereas in Luke He speaks solely to His disciples.

As to the former, the Greek words tópou pedinoú which the NAB translators here interpret as “plain” does not have the same semantic range as that English word. It could better be interpreted simply as a stretch of level ground. The NAB translators know this; just look at how they translate it in Luke 6:17. So we see once again that the alleged contradiction vanishes as soon as one decides to be faithful to the original text. There is absolutely nothing contradictory about the statements “He gave a speech on a mountain” and “He gave a speech on a stretch of level ground.” Mountains quite often contain stretches of level ground! And certainly if I were hiking down a mountain, and wanted to stop somewhere to give a sermon, this is exactly the kind of spot which I would choose!

As to the latter, a quick look at the two verses preceding Luke 6:20 obliterates the claim that Jesus is there depicted as speaking only to His disciples, and not to the crowds. We learn that “there was a great throng of people... who had come to hear Him... and all the people were trying to touch Him.” Indeed, verse 20 does say that Jesus looked at His disciples when He began His sermon, but the preceding verses make it absolutely obvious that there were many, many other people in attendance.

footnote 5:3-12

His own composition my foot. There is nothing fraudulent in Holy Scripture.

footnote 5:31-32

Contrary to this footnote, Matt 5:31-32 is not a modified form of Jesus’s true teachings; it is just as absolute in its prohibition of divorce as the rest of Scripture. All the “exception clause” means is that if a man divorces his wife because she has been fornicating with another man then he is not strictly guilty of causing her to commit fornication. Obviously, she has already done so.

footnote 8:14-15

An omission is not tantamount to a contradiction. It is completely nonsensical to charge the Gospels with error simply because one evangelist includes details which another evangelist does not.

footnote 9:8

I think this is exactly the kind of notion that St. Irenaeus was combating in Adversus Haereses, Book IV, 33:8, the idea that the authors of the Gospels put words into Jesus’s mouth in order to justify their religious claims. I have heard similar arguments from atheists.

footnote 9:9

Yet another reason for the change may be that Jesus gave Levi the new name of Matthew, much like He gave Simon the new name of Peter (Matt 16:18), and that the Bible just does not record it. The Gospels most certainly imply that Levi and Matthew were the same person. Why not just take them at face value?

footnote 10:22

This is quite extraordinary; the commentators are implicitly attacking Christ’s omniscience. If, as they claim, the original meaning of Christ’s words to His disciples was “until the parousia,” this would mean that Christ mistakenly believed that the end of the world would come within the lifetime of His disciples. As He is God, this is quite impossible. But not so, according to the commentary of the NAB.

footnote 13:1-53

Q, Q, Q, Q, Q. Enough of Q already. Practically every other footnote mentions Q. Q simply gets an inordinate amount of attention for a hypothesized document which none have ever seen or heard. This footnote is indicative of the kind of circus which results when one abandons belief in apostolic authorship of the Gospels.

footnote 14:1-12

Here we find yet another allegation of contradiction. These scholars have completely forgotten the kind of humility exemplified by St. Justin Martyr, [10] and charge the Bible with egregious errors ad nauseum. Suffice to say, there is no contradiction here, just as there have not been contradictions in every other verse whereupon the NAB has accused the Bible of error. In neither account does Herod revere St. John the Baptist. Rather, the motivation behind Herod’s unwillingness to execute him is fear (Matt 14:5, Mark 6:20). Herod is worried about saving his own skin. In both accounts Herod is distressed at the prospect of having to kill St. John but grudgingly does so because he is bound by his oath and his public credibility is at stake (Matt 14:9, Mark 6:26).

footnote 16:14

This is what is so pernicious about the three source theory for the composition of Matthew. No longer is this Gospel an independent witness to the life and deeds of Jesus Christ. No longer is it the testimony of a holy Apostle. No, it is only a slightly edited version of Mark. It is, in the eyes of these scholars, essentially a work of plagiarism.

footnote 16:21-23

Cannot be taken as sayings that go back to Jesus Himself? Exactly why not? Again, they seem to be denying not only that the Gospels accurately record what Jesus actually did and taught, [11] but even that Jesus could predict the future!

footnote 17:24

This is yet another perfidious attempt to suggest that Matthew was composed after 70 A.D. and that it contains fabricated material. Jesus died on the Cross long before 70 A.D. so of course this narrative is dealing with the second temple period! The following verses make this even more obvious. Jesus explains that He is not obligated to pay the temple tax because kings do not collect taxes from their sons, but from strangers (the NAB obscures the meaning by replacing “sons” with “subjects”). Clearly, Jesus is the son and God the Father is the king. Hence the temple tax of two drachmas is being collected on behalf of God. Now, I find it hard to believe that God would collect taxes in order to maintain an abominable pagan shrine.

footnote 20:20-21

Ooh, ooh, I know the answer! Because the mother actually asked Jesus this and St. Matthew the Apostle faithfully recorded what he remembered happening when he wrote his Gospel, the historicity of which the Church unhesitatingly asserts. [12]

footnote 21:4-5

footnote 21:7

These statements are, according to several Popes of the not too distant past, “absolutely wrong and forbidden.” One would think that these scholars would have the humility to admit that if Scripture understands a passage of Scripture differently than they, it is probably Scripture which is right. In any case, one could easily interpret the “them” of verse seven as referring to the cloaks and not to the donkey and the colt. Jesus sat only on the colt. Verse five’s statement that Zion’s king comes meek and riding on a donkey and a colt would then be interpreted loosely as referring to how the donkey carried some of His baggage.

footnote 22:23-33

Well, this is quite a claim. Since these scholars believe that Daniel was written between 167 and 164 B.C., they are actually claiming that the Jews did not believe in a bodily resurrection until a few hundred years before Christ! Luckily, this contention is contradicted by Isaiah 26:19 and Job 19:26. However, the NAB attempts to explain away and obsurce these passages, respectively. The commentary claims that Isaiah 26:19 is solely a metaphor, and the NAB translation of Job 19:26 is so absolutely jumbled that it is almost impossible to make any sense out of it. [13] These wolves are willing to go to any length to convince their readers to accept their heretical religion. They are dead wrong. As Jesus here explains, the resurrection was implicit even in the Pentateuch.

footnote 23:8-12

If there is anyone out there who still has not come to the conclusion that these scholars are Protestants, this footnote should convince even them. This is just flabbergasting. The NAB, the official translation of the USCCB, actually thinks that Jesus is here literally forbidding the use of the titles father, master, and teacher. Matthew 23:9 is the verse used by “fundamentalist” [14] Protestants against the Catholic practice of addressing priests as father, and a great deal of apologetic ink has been spilt refuting this interpretation. Why are our own Bibles espousing it? The NAB’s commentary seems to be by turns Jewish, Atheist, and Protestant. It is anything but Catholic. Finally, the phrase “the Matthean Jesus” is just repulsive. I am reminded of the speech given at the botched modernist takeover of the Penn State Newman club which took place this past year: “I give you a new Jesus, a Jesus who smiles!”

footnote 24:34

Once again the NAB espouses an argument which the enemies of Christianity use against the credibility of the Bible: supposedly the authors of the Bible mistakenly believed and taught in their writings that the world would end within their lifetimes. There are two possible solutions. One is that Matthew 24 refers primarily to God’s judgment of Israel in 70 A.D., and hence actually was fulfilled within the lifetime of the generation which witnessed the life of Christ and wrote the New Testament. This view is known as preterism, and the only real argument that can be made against it is that it requires a somewhat metaphorical interpretation of Matt 24:30 (cf. Matt 26:64). The other possible explanation, which this footnote dismisses all too quickly, is that tautai genetai (= this generation) refers to a specific kind of generation (cf. Acts 4:40, Phillippians 2:15), an evil one, and thus the meaning of this passage is that there will be evil people until the end of time.

footnote 26:27-28

One wonders why they choose to translate a present participle, following a present tense verb (esti, is) as a future tense sentence. They seem to be trying to downplay the sacrificial character of the Mass. [15]

footnote 27:5-8

The traditional explanation for this alleged contradiction is that Judas hanged himself on a tree near a cliff. The branch subsequently broke, and Judas fell down the cliff and “burst open in the middle.” The statement of Acts 1:18 that Judas “bought a parcel of land with the wages of his iniquity” could easily be given a metaphorical interpretation.

footnote 28:8

It is on this sad note that I will end my study of the Gospel According to Matthew According to the New American Bible. Why would they do this? This footnote essentially serves no purpose but to cast doubt on the reliability of the Gospels, and there are more than enough Atheists in the world to do that. A Bible created by Christians should reconcile prima facie contradictions, not point them out. For this reason and many others, the NAB simply does not qualify as Christian.

The Book of Daniel

Daniel is the kind of book upon which martyrs are weaned. Its heroes are men of exemplary courage and piety, preferring to be cast into a raging furnace or a den of lions rather than commit the sin of idolatry. They endure persecution with humility and contrition, all the while thanking the Lord for sending them such just chastisements for their sins. And they triumph, and for their fidelity they receive from God their just reward.

Moreover, Daniel is the kind of book with which souls are won. Its historical prophecies are exquisite in their precision, predicting hundreds of years of history in great detail. In fact, Daniel is probably the best book in the entire Bible for proving divine inspiration to the nonbeliever, for it even identifies by name the nations to which its prophecies refer. Yet more extraordinary, in places the book of Daniel even provides the time frames in which the events it describes will transpire. It is truly an awe inspiring work. The Holy Spirit Who wrote it could not have possibly done a better job.

Suffice to say, the NAB ruins it. Yet again it espouses the claims of the enemies of Christianity; [16] it teaches that Daniel was written after the events which it allegedly predicted had already transpired. Needless to say, this view devastates the moral and prophetic force of this book. Suddenly the fingerprints of divine foreknowledge and inspiration which are the visions of statues, animals, and horns are no more than creative summaries of past history. Suddenly this book of amazing foresight has none at all and even its hindsight is in question. Suddenly the proof of the existence of God is no proof at all.

Thankfully, the preponderance of the internal and external evidence is not on the NAB’s side. For example, the author explicitly and repeatedly identifies himself as Daniel, the Daniel who lived in Babylon in the sixth century B.C. and who experienced the events narrated in this book (vv. 8:1,15,27, 9:2, 12:4-5). This is in direct contradiction to the first sentence of the NAB’s introduction, which states that the “book takes its name, not from the author, who is actually unknown, but from its hero.” [17] Apparently they think the author was lying.

Since the NAB makes no attempt in its introduction to justify its claim that Daniel was written during the Maccabean Rebellion, I will here explain and refute the various arguments which have historically been advanced in favor of this position. The first is that the prophecies are too accurate, and hence could not possibly have been composed until after the events they describe had already occurred. This is of course a circular argument; it presupposes that Daniel is not divinely inspired. The second argument is that a Jewish author in sixth century B.C. Babylon would not have known various Persian and Greek words which are used in this book. However, Daniel lived for a few years after the Persian conquest of Babylon and thus would have known a few Persian words. Also, Greek mercenaries served in the Babylonian army under Nebuchadnezzar. [18] In sum, the Greek and Persian words found in Daniel are no anachronism for a sixth century B.C. Babylonian Jew.

The third argument that is advanced in favor the Maccabean date of Daniel is that the Aramaic used in 2:4-7:28 belongs to a later date than the sixth century B.C. However, “recent discoveries of fifth century B.C. Aramaic documents have shown that Daniel was written in a form of Imperial Aramaic, an official dialect known in all parts of the Near East at that time.” [19]

Finally, it is alleged that Daniel contains historical mistakes which an eyewitness to these events would not have made. But yet again, recent discoveries have vindicated this divinely inspired work. For example, the Babylonian king Belshazzar who is mentioned throughout the book was until recently otherwise unknown to history. None of the great historians of antiquity such as Xenophon and Herodotus were aware of him; Nabonidus was the last king of Babylon according to all of them. In the past this led many to question the historical reliability of Daniel. However, the recently discovered Nabonidus Chronicle reports that Nabonidus entrusted his kingship to his son Bel-shar-usus (Belshazzar) while he retired to Arabia. Belshazzar was actually in power when Babylon fell. Now, as the great historians of antiquity are completely unaware of this king, it is abundantly evident that his memory faded into obscurity soon after his kingdom was destroyed. Hence it would be completely impossible that this information would have been known to an obscure Maccabean Jew who was about three hundred years even further removed from these events than the aforementioned historians. Second century B.C. soldiers do not know more about sixth century B.C. history than a fifth century B.C. historians. No, the only possible explanation is that Daniel was there. He was an eyewitness to these events, and he wrote down what he saw.

The other main charge of historical inaccuracy centers on the character of Darius the Mede, who, according to Daniel, succeeded to the kingdom of Babylon at the age of 62. It is an established fact of history that Cyrus, King of Persia, was the man who conquered Babylon. Moreover, Cyrus had already conquered the Median kingdom a few years before. So it is problematic that Daniel describes a man named Darius the Mede, who is unknown to secular history, as becoming king over Babylon immediately after the Persian conquest. However, the Nabonidus Chronicle records that Cyrus appointed a man named Gubaru as sub-governor of Babylon immediately after it fell under his power. It is quite possible that Darius the Mede was simply another name for him. [20] Yet another possible explanation: “Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, in his Antiquities, 10, 245-49 (xi. 4) does report that there was a Darius the Mede, a kinsman, who would have ruled for Cyrus for a time while Cyrus was occupied with other things.” [21]

footnote 2:1-49

Supposedly vv. 1:5 and 1:18 put the first meeting between Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel during the third year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, whereas 2:1 puts it in the second. However, according to the Babylonian reckoning, “the year in which a king was crowned was the year of accession, whereas the next full year was the first year of his reign.” [22] This alleged contradiction melts away as soon as one learns that historical fact. Nebuchadnezzar took Daniel to Babylon during the year of his accession, and three years later, when Daniel’s training was complete, it was the second year of his reign. So we see that the two chronologies can be harmonized quite easily. Moreover, far from being evidence of historical inaccuracy, this is actually evidence that Daniel was written by a Babylonian, not a Maccabean, Jew, for a Maccabean Jew would not have used Babylonian dates. This is especially true with regards to Daniel 1:1, where the use of the Babylonian reckoning puts him in prima facie contradiction to Jeremiah (Jer 25:1, 9; 46:2).

footnote 2:2

This is another of the many arguments put forth in favor of the proposition that Daniel was written by a Maccabean Jew; Daniel’s use of the term “Chaldean” as referring specifically to astrologers is an anachronism in the sixth century B.C. But this is essentially an argument from silence. Other than Daniel, the first known instance of such a usage of the word is in the writings of Herodotus circa 450 B.C. It is not altogether improbable that “Chaldean” could have been used in this way 87 years before.

footnote 2:36-45

The New American Bible’s exegesis of this prophecy is quite novel; historically the four kingdoms have been understood as Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. The NAB commentators seem to be trying to strip their Maccabean Daniel of the last vestiges of his prophetic foresight, not even allowing him to predict the events of the next few years!

There are several problems with this reading. First, the Median Empire did not succeed the Babylonian Empire; the Persians conquered the Medes some years before the Euphrates was ever diverted and mighty Babylon fell. Second, the Book of Daniel, in v. 8:20, treats the Medo-Persian kingdom as a whole, depicting it as a goat with two horns, one large and one small. One would think that Daniel would be consistent, and treat it as a whole here as well. Finally, Daniel 2:44-45 states that within the lifetimes of the kings of the fourth empire of this prophecy God would establish His messianic kingdom on earth. Christ Himself interpreted this passage as a reference to His person and mission. Yet at the time Our God and King became Incarnate in virginal and immaculate womb of our Mother Mary the Greek empire had long since been conquered by Rome. This interpretation simply does not line up with the facts.

footnote 4:24

I would like to give credit where credit is due. This is Catholic commentary. Like Ruth after Judges, this is quite refreshing.

footnote 7:5

The bear could much better be interpreted as Medo-Persia than Media. If it is interpreted as Media one is left with absolutely no clue as to the meaning of the statement that “[the bear] was raised up on one side.” However, if one interprets it as Medo-Persia then it makes perfect sense as a parallel to vv. 8:3, 20; it signifies the superiority of the Persians in the kingdom. In addition, the “three tusks... in its mouth” could better be translated as three ribs between its teeth. Thus it would signify the three main conquests of the Medo-Persian Empire, namely Lydia, Babylon, and Egypt. [23]

footnote 7:6

The leopard could also symbolize the swiftness with which Alexander the Great established his kingdom, in which case the four heads would correspond to the four smaller kingdoms which Alexander’s generals carved out for themselves after his death. This is by far the more natural interpretation, as Daniel soon goes into great detail about these events (8:8f; 8:20f; 11).

footnote 7:7f

footnote 7:25

If one accepts this erroneous interpretation, one is forced to conclude that Daniel believed that God would establish His Messianic kingdom immediately after the overthrow of Antiochus Epiphanes (cf. Daniel 7:25-27). Obviously, this did not happen.

Also, Rome and only Rome could properly be described as “devouring the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it” (Dan 7:23). The Seleucid Empire simply does not fit the bill.

footnote 11:5-45

Indeed, this prophecy is incredibly precise. Yet if it were written after the events it describes had already transpired it would simply be nothing more than a fraud.

Well, this is all I have done so far. If you would like to contribute to this study, email me at, tell me what book(s) you would like to do, and I will let you know if anyone is already doing it/them.


[1] Adversus Haereses, Book II, 28:2

[2] The Saint Joseph Edition of the New American Bible. (New York, NY: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 1992) p. [18]

[3] “For I confess to your Charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the manuscript is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it.” (St. Augustine, Letter 82, 3)

[4] Compare the prayer of offering which is said after the consecration during the Tridentine Mass: “And this do Thou deign to regard with gracious and kindly attention and hold acceptable, as Thou didst deign to accept the offerings of Abel, Thy just servant, and the sacrifice of Abraham our patriarch, and that which Thy chief Priest Melchisedech offered unto Thee, a holy sacrifice of thanks, and a spotless Victim.” The Catholic Missal, (Chicago, Illinois: The Catholic Press, Inc., 1954) p. 31

[5] “In large measure the material of these discourses came to “Matthew” from his tradition, but his work in modifying and adding to what he had received is abundantly evident.” The Saint Joseph Edition of the New American Bible. (New York, NY: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 1992) p. 7 of the Revised New Testament, quotation marks mine.

cf. Pope St. Clement, Epistle to the Corinthians, 45: “You have studied the Holy Scriptures, which are true and of the Holy Spirit. You know well that nothing unjust or fraudulent is written in them.”

St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Adversus Haereses, Book IV, 33:8: “[T]he Scriptures... have come down to us by being guarded against falsification, and are received without addition or deletion.”

[6] Robert A. Sungenis, The Catholic Apologetics Study Bible, Vol. I, The Gospel According to St. Matthew. (Goleta, CA: Queenship Publishing, 2003) pp. 166,167

[7] Trypho was one of St. Justin Martyr’s opponents in debate.

[8] Robert Sungenis, e-mail dated July 6, 2004.

[9] “But Faustus finds contradictions in the Gospels. Say, rather, that Faustus reads the Gospels in a wrong spirit, that he is too foolish to understand, and too blind to see. If you were animated with piety instead of being misled by party spirit, you might easily, by examining these passages, discover a wonderful and most instructive harmony among the writers. Who, in reading two narratives of the same event, would think of charging one or both of the authors with error or falsehood, because one omits what the other mentions, or one tells concisely, but with substantial agreement, what the other relates in detail, so as to indicate not only what was done, but also how it was done? This is what Faustus does in his attempt to impeach the truth of the Gospels; as if Luke’s omitting some saying of Christ recorded in Matthew implied a denial on the part of Luke of Matthew’s statement. There is no real difficulty in the case; and to make a difficulty shows want of thought, or of the ability to think.” (St. Augustine, Contra Faustum Manichaeum, 33:7)

[10] But I shall not venture to suppose or to say such a thing [that Scripture contradicts itself]; and if a Scripture which appears to be of such a kind be brought forward, and if there be a pretext[for saying] that it is contrary[to some other], since I am entirely convinced that no Scripture contradicts another, I shall admit rather that I do not understand what is recorded, and shall strive to persuade those who imagine that the Scriptures are contradictory, to be rather of the same opinion as myself. (St. Justin martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 65)

[11] cf. Vatican II, Dei Verbum, 5:19

[12] Ibid.

[13] Cf. Job 19:26, NAS: “Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God.” NAB: “And from my flesh I shall see God; my inmost being is consumed with longing.” Also, if as the NAB commentary alleges, the Hebrew text has been corrupted, one would think that it would be best to follow St. Jerome’s translation, since obviously he had access to manuscripts far older than we. Of course, this would lead us to the conclusion that the Jews believed in the bodily resurrection throughout their history as a people, which is unacceptable to the proponents of “higher” Biblical criticism.

[14] I put the word “fundamentalist” in quotation marks because, as they do not believe in the fundamentals of the Christian faith (transubstantiation, the sacrifice of the Mass, the perpetual virginity of Mary, etc.), the term is not an apt description.

[15] The NIV, NASB, KJV, and ESV, all Protestant translations, have “is poured out” or “is shed.” Since Catholic theology recognizes the Last Supper as the first Mass, and since Christ’s blood is poured out at every Mass, Catholic theology requires Christ’s blood to have been poured out at the Last Supper.

[16] A vigorous third century opponent of Christianity named Porphyry was the first to advance the claim that Daniel was written during the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. Secularists have since taken up the cause.

[17] St. Joseph NAB, p. 1021

[18] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Ryrie Study Bible. (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1995) p. 1343

[19] ibid.

[20] J. C. Whitcomb, Darius the Mede, The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Vol. 2, p. 29

[21] Fr. Most, “Commentary on Daniel,” (from the Most theological collection at 2004

[22] Dr. Barry D. Smith, “The Book of Daniel and the Second-Temple Period,” (paper for Atlantic Baptist University at 7/12/04

[23] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Ryrie Study Bible. (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1995) p. 1361

Jewish Talmud confirms an early Gospel of Matthew

By Neil Altman and David Crowder, 4/19/03

An ancient Jewish parody that quotes the New Testament’s Gospel of Matthew may refute a major argument by biblical scholars who challenge the credibility of the Bible.

For more than a century, liberal scholars have contended that the Christian gospels are unreliable, secondhand accounts of Jesus’ ministry that weren’t put on paper until 70 to 135 AD or later -- generations after those who witnessed the events of Jesus’ ministry were dead.

Today’s more liberal scholars say the Gospel of Matthew may have been aimed at Jews, but it was written in Greek, not Hebrew. They also believe that the Book of Mark, written in Greek, was the original gospel, despite the traditional order of the gospels in the Bible, putting Matthew first.

But a literary tale dated by some scholars at 72 AD or earlier, which comes from an ancient collection of Jewish writings known as the Talmud, quotes brief passages that appear only in the Gospel of Matthew.

In his 1999 book, “Passover and Easter: Origin and History to Modern Times,” Israel J. Yuval of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University states that Rabban Gamaliel, a leader of rabbinical scholars in about 70 AD, is “considered to have authored a sophisticated parody of the Gospel according to Matthew.”

The Talmud, a text not often touched by New Testament scholars, also contains a number of obvious references to Jesus and his family.

Jesus is called a Nazarene as one of the names given him. Another dubs him Yeshua Ben Pandira, which means Jesus born-of-a-virgin in a combination of Hebrew and Greek. His father was a carpenter, his mother was a hairdresser and Jesus, the Talmud says, was a magician who “led astray Israel.”

And, it says, he was “hung” on the eve of Passover.

Gamaliel’s tale, which happens to portray a Christian judge as corrupt, may be less valuable for its instruction than for casting doubt on the long-held theory that Matthew’s gospel, though longer than Mark’s, was written years later by someone after the apostle Matthew had died.

When Matthew’s gospel to the Hebrews was written is important to biblical conservatives because an early Matthew would strengthen its credibility by making it possible, if not probable, that the tax collector whom Jesus recruited was the first to write and distribute his account of Jesus’ birth, ministry and death.

Most liberal scholars would say Matthew’s gospel didn’t come along until 90 AD or later and was in Greek, separating the apostle from the Jews as well as book that bears his name.

But if Gamaliel quoted the Gospel of Matthew, then Matthew “had to be before 70 AD,” said Craig Blomberg, distinguished professor of New Testament at Denver Theological Seminary.

In Rabbi Gamaliel’s story, a daughter whose father had died offers a golden lamp as a bribe to a Christian judge known for his honesty, seeking a decision that would allow her to share her father’s estate with her brother.

When the judge suggests that dividing the estate would be proper on the basis of a new law that had superseded the ancient Law of Moses, Gamaliel argues that the judge is wrong and loosely quotes a statement attributed to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew.

“Look further in the book, and it is written in it, ‘I have not come to take away from the Law of Moses nor add to the Law of Moses ... .’ ” Gamaliel replies, and wins the case on the basis of that argument or the bribe he gave the judge -- a “Libyan ass.”

The Libyan ass itself is a reference to Jesus and the mount he rode into Jerusalem.

The late English scholar, R. Travers Herford, called Gamaliel’s story a “brutal parody of Christian belief.” In his book, “Christianity in Talmud and Midrash,” he points to a second reference to Matthew, in the reaction of the woman who lost the case, despite the golden lamp she gave as a bribe.

“Let your light shine as a lamp!” she says, throwing a sarcastic barb at the judge.

At Matthew 5:16, just before Jesus said he came to fulfill the law, he tells his followers that the lamp of their belief should not be hidden but “let your light shine before men.”

Neil Altman is a Philadelphia-based writer who specializes in the Dead Sea Scrolls and religion. He has done graduate work at Dropsie College for Hebrew and Cognate Learning, Conwell School of Theology, and Temple University. He has a master’s degree in Old Testament from Wheaton Graduate School in Wheaton, Ill., and was an American Studies Fellow at Eastern College. David Crowder is an investigative reporter for the El Paso Times in Texas.