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Matthew, Saint

jesus gospel matthias medieval

One of the *Four Evangelists, the *apostle Matthew was working as a tax collector in Capernaum when he was summoned by Jesus   and although he is mentioned by name (or as “Levi”) several more times in the New Testament, little additional information about him is conveyed. Traditionally the *author of the Gospel of Matthew (c.60–90) as well as associated with the apocryphal Gospel of the Pseudo-Matthew , he features frequently throughout medieval art as an author and may be accompanied or represented by his symbol, a man (or *angel) because of the fact that his Gospel opens with a detailed account of the genealogy of Jesus. The image of the calling of Matthew, where Jesus, sometimes accompanied by other disciples, approached him at his table in the accounting house, is also found in later medieval art.


Additional scenes involving Matthew derive from apocryphal sources such as the Acts of Andrew and Matthias , which (apart from confusing Matthew with Matthias, who was selected to replace *Judas) recount their adventures in strange countries inhabited by cannibals, their defeating dragons, and their inspiring mass conversions (in Egypt, or Ethiopia). These stories (further elaborated in the * Golden Legend ) also describe Matthew’s *martyrdom: he was stabbed from behind, at the orders of King Hirtacus, while he was praying before an altar, or, alternately, he was beheaded. Scenes of Matthew’s martyrdom are found in hagiographic manuscript illustrations and in cycles (in various media) concerning the lives and deeds of the apostles.

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