Matthew at the Toll Gate: Part 8

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There are 32 verses in the Gospels which mention the word ‘tax’ or taxes. Fourteen of these verses are in the Gospel of Matthew.  The following is a list of each of these verses.  In comparison, the Gospel of Mark contains only five such verses and the Gospel of Luke has 13 such verses.

Matthew 5:46

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

Matthew 9:9

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

Matthew 9:10

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.

Matthew 9:11

When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

Matthew 10:3

Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;

Matthew 11:19

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

Matthew 17:24

After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”

Matthew 17:25

“Yes, he does,” he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”

Matthew 17:27

“But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”

Matthew 18:12

If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Matthew 21:31

“Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.

Matthew 21:32

For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

Matthew 22:17

Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”

Matthew 22:19

Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius,

 

One could argue that the frequent mention of the words tax and taxes in the Gospel of Matthew bolsters the argument that the author of the Gospel of Matthew was a tax collector. However, given the relatively high number of mentions of the same words in the Gospel of Luke, I do not believe that this argument is very strong.  Of course, if one believes the chronology of the dates of authorship of the two Gospels, that is Luke being written after Matthew, the high frequency of the use of these words in the Gospel of Luke may be a solely the result of the author of Luke copying the Gospel of Matthew.

 

A comparison of the verses mentioning these words in both Gospels does not show as great an overlap as one might imagine would be the case.  Thus, I do not believe that it is the case that the words were a result of copying.

 

Matthew 9:9 is almost the same as Luke 5:27.  Likewise, Matthew 9:10 is paralleled by Luke 5:29, as is Matthew 9:11 to Luke 5:30. Matthew11:19 has an analog in Luke at 7:34.  Finally, Matthew 22:17 is virtually identical to Luke 20:22.  Thus, 5 of the 14 verses in Matthew and 5 of the 13 verses in Luke are alike.  This means that Matthew contains nine verses which are not found in Luke and Luke contains eight verses not found in Matthew.  The latter point is emphasized by the fact that Luke contains the story of the tax collector Zacchaeus of Jericho, who does not even appear in Matthew.

Next week, we will continue to analyze the Gospel of Matthew by beginning a discussion of the themes of the Gospel.

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