"Jerome" complied and translated the work, taking care to "render it word for word, exactly as it is in the Hebrew, since it is asserted that it was composed by the holy Evangelist Matthew, and written at the head of his Gospel," though he expressed doubt as to their authenticity.
The first half of the narrative tells the story of St. Joachim and St. Anne, the parents of Mary; Joachim's sorrow and persecution on account of their lack of progeny, his exile and return to Anna with child, and the birth of Mary; her entering service as a temple virgin, her prayerful life and vow of chastity, and the choosing of Joseph as her husband and guardian upon her becoming too old to continue as a temple virgin; the Annunciation; Joseph's distress at finding her pregnant, and his eventual acceptance of her honesty; his and Mary's being tested in the temple, and the acceptance of the people in the temple of Mary's and Joseph's innocence.
The content of the text is primarily an edited reproduction of the Protevangelium of James, followed by an account of the Flight into Egypt (it is not known on what this is based), and subsequently an edited reproduction of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. Essentially, it is a (fairly successful) attempt to redact these texts into a single work. To its sources, the Gospel adds the first known mention of an ox and ass being present at the nativity of Jesus.
It had a strong influence in mediaeval thought, partly due to its inclusion in the Golden Legend. One of the consequences of this is the creation of derivative works, such as the Libellus de Nativitate Sanctae Mariae, which consists of just the early part of the text concerning the birth of Mary. Another text to be based on Pseudo Matthew is the Arabic Infancy Gospel, which includes many supernatural embellishments.
Events described in the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew inspired The Cherry-Tree Carol.