Glossary of Terms

Matthew / Levi (?)


Harper’s Bible Dictionary

edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)

Matthew, one of the original twelve disciples called by Jesus. Matthew appears in all four of the apostolic lists (Matt. 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13). The tradition of the ‘call’ of Matthew is found in Matt. 9:9, where his occupation at the time of the call is identified as that of tax collector (cf. Matt. 10:3). In the parallel accounts (Mark 2:13-14; Luke 5:27-28), however, the name of the tax collector called is Levi (the son or brother of Alphaeus according to Mark). The use of different names in these parallel passages has given rise to long-standing debate as to whether ‘Matthew’ and ‘Levi’ refer to the same person. The absence of ‘Levi’ in the apostolic lists of Mark and Luke-Acts (as well as in Matthew) causes some to argue for two persons. Most, however, have maintained that ‘Matthew’ and ‘Levi’ constitute a double name (as, for example, ‘Simon’ and ‘Peter,’ ‘Saul’ and ‘Paul’) and thus have argued that the reference is to the same person. If Matthew and Levi are the same person, then Matthew is ‘the son (or brother) of Alphaeus’ (Mark 2:14) and thus perhaps the brother of James (not James the brother of John and son of Zebedee), also one of the Twelve (Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13). Tradition credits Matthew with having composed the Gospel bearing that name, but this is questionable.


Topical index of terms
Edited for by Robert Nguyen Cramer
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