Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew

Pseudo-Matthaei evangelium

Standard abbreviation: Ps.-Mt.

Other titles: none

Clavis numbers: CANT 51; BHL 5334–5342

Category: Infancy Gospels

Related literature: Book about the Birth of the Savior, Infancy Gospel of Thomas, Nativity of Mary, Protevangelium of James

Compiled by: Brandon W. Hawk, Rhode Island College (bhawk@ric.edu).

Citing this resource (using Chicago Manual of Style): Hawk, Brandon W. “Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew.” e-Clavis: Christian Apocrypha. Accessed DAY MONTH YEAR.  http://www.nasscal.com/e-clavis-christian-apocrypha/gospel-of-pseudo-matthew/.

Posted March 2017.


Despite the designation of an “infancy gospel,” the majority of this text does not feature Jesus directly. Much of the narrative revolves around the parents of Mary, Anna and Joachim, as well as the birth and life of Mary; it then relates Mary’s marriage to Joseph, the birth of Jesus and visits by the shepherds and wise men, as well as the flight into Egypt and a series of Jesus’ childhood miracles. Most of Ps.-Mt. is based on the Protevangelium of James, but it is heavily adapted and expanded. The narrative begins by introducing Joachim and Anna, who live according to Israelite law but have no children after twenty years of marriage. When Joachim goes to the temple to offer a sacrifice, it is rejected because of the couple’s infertility, and Joachim leaves civilization for the mountains. When Anna laments to God about her infertility and lost husband, both she and Joachim encounter a series of angelic visits that bring them back together and promise them a child. The child, Mary, is born and dedicated to the temple, where she is taken at the age of three to live with a community of virgins. When she reaches the age of fourteen, Mary is no longer allowed to live in the temple and the priests consult God about a plan to choose a proper husband for Mary. Through a test, Joseph is revealed to be the divine choice for Mary’s husband. The text then relates Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem, where Mary gives birth to Jesus in a cave. Joseph brings to the cave a midwife, who inspects Mary and proclaims that she is a virgin even after childbirth. Another midwife overhears this and doubts, until she is also allowed to inspect Mary; her hand withers for her unbelief, until she touches the cloths in which baby Jesus has been swaddled, and she is healed. The visits of the shepherds and the Magi (as well as their encounter with Herod) follow, in line with the canonical accounts. The last several chapters concern the flight into Egypt and some of Jesus’ childhood miracles, including: Jesus subduing a group of dragons, the veneration of Jesus by wild animals along the road, a palm tree bending to allow Mary to eat its fruit at Jesus’ command, Jesus creating a shortcut to shorten a thirty-day journey to one day, as well as the veneration of Jesus by the idols of pagan gods and the governor in the Egyptian temple. In some later manuscripts, the childhood miracles are extended with the inclusion of other episodes from an early Latin version of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, often called the pars altera. In some even later manuscripts, further episodes are added from another (later) Latin translation of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas.

Named historical figures and characters: Abiathar (high priest), Afrodisius (Egyptian governor), Anna (mother of Mary), Joachim (father of Mary), Jesus Christ, Joseph (of Nazareth), Mary (Virgin), Reuben (priest), Salome (midwife), Zahel (midwife).

Geographical locations: Bethlehem, Egypt, Jerusalem, Nazareth, Sohennen, temple (Jerusalem).


2.1 Art and Iconography

Klosterneuburger Evangelienwerk (Schaffhausen, Stadtbibliothek, Gen. 8). The oldest copy of a German synthesis of biblical and apocryphal stories about Jesus (many from Ps.-Mt. and its later additions) and the apostles, with over 400 drawings to illustrate the text, created in Austria around 1340. The manuscript is available online at e-codices.

Cartlidge, David R., and J. Keith Elliott, Art and the Christian Apocrypha. London: Routledge, 2001, 88–116.

Della Croce, A. Canonical Histories and Apocryphal Legends Relating to the New Testament, Represented in Drawings with a Latin Text. A Photo-Lith Reproduction from an Ambrosian MS. Executed for James Gibson-Craig, Esq. Milan: J. B. Pogliani, 1873. Facsimile of Milan, Ambrosian Library, SP II 64 (olim L. 58 sup), which features a series of canonical and apocryphal stories about Jesus (many drawn from Infancy Thomas), each accompanied by a drawing of the scene.

Lafontaine-Dosogne, Jacqueline. Iconographie de l’enfance de la Vierge dans l’Empire byzantin et en Occident. 2 vols. 1964–1965; 2nd ed. Brussels: Academie royale de Belgique 1992.

Sheingorn, Pamela. “Reshapings of the Childhood Miracles of Jesus.” Pages 254–92 in The Christ Child in Medieval Culture: Alpha es et O! Edited by Mary Dzon and Theresa M. Kenney. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012. A study of two illustrated Ps.-Mt. related manuscripts: Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, lat. 2688 and Milan, Ambrosian Library, SP II 64 (olim L. 58 sup).

2.2 Web Sites

“Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew.” Wikipedia.


3.1 Manuscripts and Editions

3.1.1 Latin

Gijsel lists 290 manuscripts in his critical edition (CCSA 9), plus another 7 in “Nouveaux témoins.” For each textual family, I list the earliest witnesses with Gijsel’s sigla.


A2a1  London, British Library, Add. 11880 (ca.820, Regensburg)

A3a1  Budapest, Széchényi Bibl. Nat., Clmae 316 (9th cent., Salzburg)

A1c1  Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, lat. 5327, fols. 61v–73r and fols. 191v–197v and 202v (10th cent., Saint-Amand-les-Eaux)

A1a2  Rheims, Bibliothèque municipale 1395 (ca.850, Rheims)

A1a1  Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, 550, fols. 85r–93v (9th cent., Northern France)

A3a3  Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek 289 (10th cent., Salzburg)


P1y1  Karlsruhe, Badische Landesbibliothek, Fragmentum 94 (Aug. 248) (ca.850, Reichenau)

P1b3  Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, nouv. acq. lat. 1605 (9th cent., Orleans)

P1c1  Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Pal. lat. 430 (ca.840, South-Western Germany)


Q1a1  Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Reg. lat. 648 (12th cent., Rheims)

Q4a1  Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, 288, fols. 65v–78v (12/13th cent., Cambridge)


R1b4  Berlin, Staatsbibliothek, Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Theol. lat. qu. 369 (13th cent., Northern France)

R2c1  Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, lat. 5560 (13th/14th cent.)

Also significant is the earliest witness to the “J Compilation” (Book about the Birth of the Savior, which includes Ps.-Mt. interwoven with a Latin version of Prot. Jas.):

Ja1 (M1) Montpellier, Bibliothèque de la Faculté de médicine 55 (ca.800, likely Metz or Worms), including synthesis of Latin translation of Prot. Jas. 1:1–7:3 and Ps.-Mt. 1–4. This is the earliest witness to the text of Ps.-Mt.

Additional Manuscripts:

A1f5  Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 28189, fols. 260r–261r; (12/13th cent.), chs. 1–5 only

A2b1  Einsiedeln, Stiftsbibliothek, 250 (382), pp. 332–62 (ca. 1150)

A3b1  Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 19105, fols. 1–32r (ca. 1000)

A4a1  Engelberg, Stiftsbibliothek, 2, fols. 94v–99v (12th cent.)

A1f2  Graz, Universitätsbibliothek, 65, fols. 194r–195v (ca. 1200; additions 14/15th cent.)

A1f3  Graz, Universitätsbibliothek, 83, fols. 3r–5r (12th cent., additions from 14th cent.)

P1c2  Karlsruhe, Badische Landesbibliothek, K 506, fols. 1r–11v (12th-13th cent.)

P2bx3/Ja6  Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Cod. 13707, fols. 203r–207r (1472)

P1y1  Karlsruhe, Badische Landesbibliothek, Fragment 94 (ca. 850)

Q1b1  Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Cod. 4753, fols. 116r–117r (1315–1329, France)

Q3a7  Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica, Vat. Lat. 6300, fols. 87r–127v (15th cent.)

Q3a5  London, British Library, Harley 3199, fols. 95v–109v (14th cent.)

Q6b2  Vatican, Biblioteca apostolica, Vat. lat. 348 fols. 442r–450r (1449)

Q8a1  Karlsruhe, Badische Landesbibliothek, Aug. 63, fols. 25r–31r (1385)

Dimier-Paupert, Catherine. Livre de l’Enfance du Sauveur: Une version médiévale de l’Évangile de l’Enfance du Pseudo-Matthieu (XIIIe siècle). Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 2006. Edition of an expanded Q-text, including the pars altera and added episodes from a later Latin translation of Inf. Gos. Thom.

Gijsel, Jan, ed. Libri de nativitate Mariae: Pseudo-Matthaei Evangelium, textus et commentarius, Libellus de nativitate sanctae Mariae, textux et commentarius. CCSA 9. Turnhout: Brepols, 1997.

Jones, Jeremiah. A New and Full Method of Settling the Canonical Authority of the New Testament. 3 vols. 1726. Repr., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1827, 2:101–27.

Schade, Oscar. Liber de Infantia Mariae et Christi Salvatoris, ex codice Stuttgartensi Descripsit. Halle an der Saale: Libraria Orphanotrophei, 1869.

Schneider, Gerhard. Apokryphe Kindheitsevangelien. New York: Herder, 1995, 213–55.

Thilo, Johann Karl. Codex apocryphus Novi Testamenti. Leipzig: Vogel, 1832, 337–400.

Tischendorf, Constantin von, ed. Evangelia Apocrypha. Leipzig: Hermann Mendelsohn, 1853; 2nd ed., 1876, 52–112.

3.2. Concordances and Synopses

Elliott, J. K. A Synopsis of the Apocryphal Nativity and Infancy Narratives. NTTS 34. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2006; 2nd ed. 2016.

3.3 Modern Translations

3.3.1 Dutch

Tukker, C. A. Enige Nieuwtestamentische apocriefe geschriften. Utrecht: De Banier, 1984 (pp. 26–48).

3.3.2 English

Cowper, B. Harris. The Apocryphal Gospels and Other Documents Relating to the History of Christ. 7th ed. London: David Nutt, 1910 (translation of Tischendorf’s text, pp. 27–83).

Ehrman, Bart D., and Zlatko Pleše. The Apocryphal Gospels: Texts and Translations. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011 (translation of A-text with notes for biblical sources, pp. 73–113).

Elliott, J. K. The Apocryphal New Testament: A Collection of Apocryphal Christian Literature in an English Translation. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1993; rev. repr. 1999 (translation of the spurious prefatory letters, Ps.-Mt. 13–14, 18–25, and pars altera 35–36, 40, and 42, pp. 84–99).

Giles, J. A. The Uncanonical Gospels and Other Writings, Referring to the First Ages of Christianity. 2 vols. London: D. Nutt, 1852 (translation of Thilo’s text, vol. 1 pp. 66–89).

Hone, William. The Apocryphal New Testament. 4th ed. 1820. Repr., Philadelphia, Gebbie & Co., 1890 (reprinting of Jeremiah Jones’s translation, pp. 17–24).

James, M. R. The Apocryphal New Testament. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1924 (translation of the spurious prefatory letters and summary of Ps.-Mt. including the pars altera, pp. 70–80).

Walker, Alexander, trans. Apocryphal Gospels, Acts and Revelations. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1870 (translation of Tischendorf’s text including the pars altera, pp. 16–52).

3.3.3 French

Gijsel, Jan. “Évangile de l’Enfance du Pseudo–Matthieu.” Pages 105–40 in volume 1 of Écrits apocryphes chrétiens. Edited by François Bovon and Pierre Geoltrain. Paris: Gallimard, 1997 (translation of the A-text).

Michel, Charles. Évangiles apocryphes, 2nd ed. Paris: Librairie Alphonse Picard & Fils, 1924 (pp. 54–158).

Migne, Jacques-Paul. Dictionnaire des Apocryphes. 2 vols. 1856. Repr., Turnhout: Brepols, 1989 (vol. 1, col. 1059–88).

3.3.4 German

Bock, Emil. Die Kindheit Jesu: Zwei apocryphe Evangelien. Munich, 1924.

Cullman, Oscar. “Kindheistevangelien.” Pages 330–72 in Neutestamentliche Apokryphen in deutscher Übersetzung, Bd. 1. Evangelien und Verwandtes. Edited by Wilhelm Schneemelcher. 6th ed. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1990 (extracts translated pp. 363–69). English translation: “Infancy Gospels: Later Infancy Gospels.” Pages 456–65 of New Testament Apocrypha, vol. 1, Gospels and Related Writings. Edited by Wilhelm Schneemelcher. Translated by R. McL. Wilson. Rev. ed. 2 vols. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1991 (extracts translated pp. 462–65).

Ehlen, Oliver. “Das Pseudo-Matthäusevangelium.” Pages 983–1002 in vol. 1.2 of Antike christliche Apokryphen in deutscher Übersetzung. Edited by Christoph Markschies and Jens Schröter. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2012.

Schneider, Gerhard. Apokryphe Kindheitsevangelien. New York: Herder, 1995 (pp. 213–55).

3.3.5 Italian

Erbetta, Mario. Gli Apocrifi del Nuovo Testamento. 3 vols. Turin: Casale Monferrato, 1981 (vol. 1.2, pp. 44–70).

3.3.6 Spanish

De Santos Otero, Aurelio. Los Evangelios apócrifos. 6th ed. Madrid: Editorial Católica, 1988 (pp. 171–216).


3.4 General Works

Amann, Émile. Le Protévangile de Jacques et ses remaniements latins: Introduction, textes, traduction et commentaire. Les apocryphes du Nouveau Testament. Paris: Letouzey et Ané, 1910 (pp. 272–339).

Berthold, Michael. “Zur Datierung des Pseudo-Matthäus-Evangeliums.” Wiener Studien 102 (1989): 247–49.

Beyers, Rita. “La règle de Marie: caractère littéraire et inspiration monastique.” Apocrypha 22 (2011): 49–86.

__________. “The Transmission of Marian Apocrypha in the Latin Middle Ages.” Apocrypha 23 (2012): 117–40.

Boulton, M. B. M. The Old French Évangile de l’Enfance. Studies and Texts 70. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1984.

Burke, Tony. De infantia Iesu euangelium Thomae graece. CCSA 17. Turnhout: Brepols, 2010.

Canal, José M. “Antiguas Versiones Latinas del Protoevangelio de Santiago.” Ephemerides Mariologicae 18 (1968): 431–73.

__________. “En torno al Evangelio del Pseudo–Mateo.” Marianum 60 (1998): 197–237.

Clayton, Mary. The Apocryphal Gospels of Mary in Anglo-Saxon England. Cambridge Studies in Anglo-Saxon England 2. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998.

Duriez, Georges. Les Apocryphes dans la drame religieux en Allemagne au Moyen Age. Lille: J. Tallandier, 1914 (pp. 69–111).

Dzon, Mary. The Quest for the Christ Child in the Later Middle Ages. The Middle Ages. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017.

Elliott, J. K. “Christian Apocrypha and the Developing Role of Mary.” Pages 269–88 in The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Apocrypha. Edited by Andrew Gregory and Christopher Tuckett. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2015.

Gijsel, Jan. Die unmittelbare Textüberlieferung des sogenannten Pseudo–Matthäus. Verhandelingen van de Koninklijke Academie voor Wetenschappen, Letteren en Schone Kunsten van België, Klasse der Letteren 96. Brussels: Paleis der Academiën, 1981.

__________. “Nouveaux témoins du pseudo–Matthieu.” Sacris Erudiri 41 (2002): 273–300.

Hawk, Brandon W. “Preaching the Gospel of Pseudo–Matthew in Anglo–Saxon England.” Fakes, Forgeries, and Fictions: Writing Ancient and Modern Christian Apocrypha, Proceedings from the 2015 York University Christian Apocrypha Symposium. Edited by Tony Burke. Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2017.

Jastrzebowska, Elisabeth. Bild und Wort: Mareienleben und die Kindheit Jesu in der christlichen Kunst vom 4. bis 8. Jh und ihre apocryphen Quellen. Vorabdruck der Habilitationsschrift. Varsovie, 1992.

Kaestli, Jean-Daniel. “Le Protévangile de Jacques en latin. État de la question et perspectives nouvelles.” Revue de l’Histoire des Textes 26 (1996): 41–102.

Philippart, Guy. “le Pseudo-Matthieu au risque de la critique textuelle.” Scriptorium 38 (1984): 121–31.

Reinsch, Robert. Die Pseudo-Evangelien von Jesu und Maria’s Kindheit in der romanischen und germanischen Literatur. Halle: Max Niemeyer, 1879.

Voicu, Sever J. “La tadition latine des Paidika.” Bulletin de l’AELAC 14 (2004): 13–21.