Responsive image
Nederlands/Vlaams Deutsch Francais English language Spanish language Portuguese language Catalan Chinese Czech Malayalam Finnish Igbo
Japanese Korean Romanian Malay language Norwegian Swedish Polish Swahili Chichewa Tagalog Urdu
Sources of Matthew's Gospel

Sources of Matthew's Gospel

Jesus Christ
Oral and written tradition
The Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel of Mark
The Gospel of Luke
The Gospel of John
The meaning for today

From ‘Notes on the Formation of the Gospels’, by John Wijngaards;
published in Background to the Gospels (Bangalore & Ann Arbor 1981)
and Together in My Name (London 1991).

It is crucial to understand that a Gospel like Matthew’s was not written from first to last by some author in his or her own style, as books are written in our own time. Rather, Matthew’s Gospel is a sequence of traditional texts strung together according to the plan of the evangelist.

Where did these traditional texts come from? What sources were used for writing the Gospel?

Though the final author moulded the material much more thoroughly than Mark, like Mark Matthew relied heavily on the traditions available to himself and, by and large, passed them on virtually untouched. Matthew relied mainly on two traditional sources which have been reconstructed by scholars:

  1. Ur-Mark. A collection of traditions focussing on what Jesus did: his miracles, disputes with Pharisees, his journeys, and-so-on.
  2. Quelle (German for Source). A collection of Jesus’ sayings, known to both Matthew and Luke.

Matthew’s dependence on the two main sources of tradition can be seen best in these comparative tables.

  • Matthew’s Gospel in the original Greek has a total of 18.513 words.

    Of these words, 7.678 words ( 40% ) are in passages common to Matthew, Mark and Luke together. That is: they are from passages that derive from Urmark.

    Further: 4.923 words (25%) are in passages which Matthew and Luke have in parallel. They go back to Quelle. The passages proper to Matthew count 5.917 words (35%).

  • To put the same in a different way: Matthew’s Gospel has (roughly calculated) a total of 196 distinct passages.

    Parallel passages which Matthew shares with both Mark and Luke amount to, give and take, 100 passages. These derive from Urmark.

    Parallel passages Matthew shares with Luke number 49 passages. They come from Quelle.

    Proper to Matthew: about 47 passages.

John Wijngaards

Return to Matthew overview?   Return to Gospel Formation overview?

Wijngaards Institute for Catholic ResearchThis website is maintained by the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.

The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church. These have included scholars' declarations on the need of collegiality in the exercise of church authority, on the ethics of using contraceptives in marriage and the urgency of re-instating the sacramental diaconate of women.

Visit also our websites:Women Deacons, The Body is Sacred and Mystery and Beyond.

You are welcome to use our material. However: maintaining this site costs money. We are a Charity and work mainly with volunteers, but we find it difficult to pay our overheads.

Visitors to our website since January 2014.
Pop-up names are online now.

The number is indicative, but incomplete. For full details click on cross icon at bottom right.

Join our Women Priests' Mailing List
for occasional newsletters:
An email will be immediately sent to you
requesting your confirmation.