Friday, September 23, 2016

How Did The Apostles Die? (2)

From Alt.Bible.Errancy discussion group, 6-5-99:

The Apostle Matthew 

So Goodguy knows that Matthew died by the sword? That's interesting, because of all the traditions about the deaths of the apostles, Matthew's are so varied and contradictory that even staunch Bible believers admit that there is no way to determine which legend is true. Clement of Alexandria indicated that Matthew died a natural death (*Miscellanies, 4.9). If this is true, then it couldn't very well be said that Matthew died for what he knew to be truth. If that were the case, then all people who die of natural causes would be martyrs for what they know to be true. 

In *A Traveler's Guide to Saints in Europe* (Trinity Press: London, 1964), Mary Sharp said that Matthew traveled to Ethiopia after the ascension, "where he was entertained by the eunuch whom St. Philip had baptised." He allegedly performed various miracles, "including the healing of the King of Egypt's daughter of leprosy." Sharp noted that "accounts differ" regarding the death of Matthew. "Some say that he was beheaded, others that he died a peaceful death" (p. 152). In *Sacred and Legendary Art* (Houghton Mifflin, 1957, third edition), Anna Jameson also put Matthew in Ethiopia in the company of the eunuch, but in addition to the legend about the daughter of the king of Egypt, her account had Matthew also resurrecting the king's son from the dead. After her cure, Matthew made the princess the head of a company of virgins, who were, dedicated to the service of God. When a "wicked heathen king" threatened to take the princess from her asylum, he was struck with leprosy and his palace destroyed by fire. Jameson noted that this legend had Matthew spending 23 years in Egypt, where he died in is 90th year under the reign of Domitian, but the legend did not state the manner of his death. Jameson then added the details of a Greek legend about Matthew, which claimed that he "died in peace," but a conflicting "tradition of the Western Church" claimed that "he suffered Martyrdom either by the sword or the spear" (pp. 142-143). 

So what do we do here? Do we take our pick between dying in peace at the age of 90 in either Ethiopia or Egypt or dying as a martyr either by the sword or by the spear? If neither of these fit your fancy, then you can choose an alternative legend that claims Matthew ascended into heaven. McBirnie cites this legend, which is recorded in the apocryphal work *Acts of Andrew and Matthew." According to this version of Matthew's "ministry," he was sent to evangelize a cannibalistic people known as "Anthropophagi," who took him prisoner and tried unsuccessfully to put his eyes out. They then imprisoned him with the intention of keeping him for 30 days before they ate him. Perhaps,this explains why cannibals didn't eat Matthias before Andrew rescued him. They were cannibals like these who kept their potential meals alive for 30 days before eating them. In this legend Andrew also came to the rescue (on the 27th day), riding out a storm from which he was miraculously saved. At any rate, Andrew was a busy little bee, always on the go to rescue other apostles from cannibals. 

And what happened next? After his rescue, Matthew returned to preach to the Anthropophagi, this time with more success, probably because of miracles that he performed among them. The miracles, however, made the king jealous. He had Matthew bound and covered with papyrus that had been soaked in dolphin oil, and then brimstone, asphalt, and pitch were heaped upon him. Matthew was then laid on a pile of wood and surrounded with the images of the 12 gods of these people, but the fire turned to dew, and the flames flew out and melted the images. The fire then took the shape of a dragon and chased the king into his palace and curled around him. Matthew, however, rebuked the fire, and "gave up the ghost," after which two angels descended and took Matthew to heaven. The king afterwards became a priest (*The Search for the Twelve Apostles,* pp.

I rather like this legend about Matthew, so if Goodguy doesn't mind, I will say that he is wrong about Matthew's having died by the sword. He ascended into heaven in the manner claimed in *Acts of Andrew and Matthew.* How could anyone doubt a story like this? Until Goodguy can show me disinterested testimony to his version of Matthew's death by the sword, I'm going to believe
this one.

Farrell Till 

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