Many biblical scholars believe that the Gospel of Matthew was written after those of Mark and Luke. In this controversial book, an eminent politician who is also a distinguished classical scholar refutes this idea, using textual and literary criticism to assert that the Gospel of Matthew preceded the other gospels. Translating and analyzing the original Greek source, Powell proceeds to concentrate upon the text of Matthew, as being the earliest form of the gospel that we possess, and to demonstrate how its peculiar characteristics can best be accounted for as being the result of insertions and manipulations, often theologically motivated.
Powell argues that the Gospel of Matthew represents an attempted compromise between a pro-gentile book and a critical revision of that book produced for the judaizing wing of the early Church, and that material intended to appeal to the followers of John the Baptist was also introduced. The Gospel of Matthew, though given the form of consecutive narrative, is, says Powell, essentially a theological debate carried on by means of allegory: was Jesus the Son of God or a Davidic king?
This provocative and highly stimulating book offers a searching scrutiny of textual and literary questions and their historical implications, and is an original and valuable contribution to the study of the sources and chronology of the synoptic gospels.