Gospel according to Matthew

Gospel according to Matthew

Matthew, Gospel according to, 1st book of the New Testament. Scholars conjecture that it was written for the church at Antioch toward the end of the 1st cent. Traditonally regarded as the earliest Gospel, it is now generally accepted that it postdates the Gospel of St. Mark and drew considerable material from it (see Synoptic Gospels). However, Matthew differs from the other Gospels in its narration of Jesus' birth, in the arrangement of the Sermon on the Mount, and in the length of the discourse on the end of the world. There are more allusions to the Old Testament in this Gospel than in the others; it was clearly written for Jewish Christians, the purpose being to prove that Jesus was the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament. Much of the book is devoted to his teaching. The Gospel can be divided into five sections: the origins of Jesus the Messiah; the first two years of his ministry in Galilee; his third year of ministry, including his rejection by religious opponents and his journey and stay in Jerusalem; the passion and resurrection; the instruction to the disciples to evangelize. The traditional ascription of the Gospel to St. Matthew, which dates from the 2d cent., is questioned by most scholars. See J. D. Kingsbury, Matthew (1975); G. Stanton, ed., The Interpretation of Matthew (1983).
The Gospel According to St. Matthew is a 1964 Italian film directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Its original Italian release title is Il Vangelo secondo Matteo, literally "The Gospel of Matthew", as the atheist Pasolini was uncomfortable with calling Matthew a saint. The dialogue is primarily taken directly from the gospel, as Pasolini felt that "images could never reach the poetic heights of the text." He reportedly chose the Gospel of Matthew over the others because he had decided that "John was too mystical, Mark too vulgar, and Luke too sentimental."


Pasolini had previously been sentenced to jail for the allegedly blasphemous and obscene content of his contribution to the anthology film RoGoPaG. As a reputed atheist and Communist, the reverential nature of his film was surprising, but Pasolini himself said "If you know that I am an unbeliever, then you know me better than I do myself. I may be an unbeliever, but I am an unbeliever who has a nostalgia for a belief."


Pasolini used some of the techniques of Italian neorealism. All of the actors are amateurs: Enrique Irazoqui (Jesus) was a 19 year old student from Spain, and the rest of the cast was mainly locals from Barile, Matera and Massafra (Italy), where the film was shot (Pasolini visited the Holy Land but found the locations unsuitable and "commercialized").

The score of the film is eclectic, ranging from Johann Sebastian Bach (e.g Mass in B Minor and St Matthew Passion) to Odetta (Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child).


The film was widely touted in Italy, and proved one of Pasolini's most popular, both with critics and the public. Roger Ebert said in his movie review, "Pasolini's is one of the most effective films on a religious theme I have ever seen, perhaps because it was made by a nonbeliever who did not preach, glorify, underline, sentimentalize or romanticize his famous story, but tried his best to simply record it."

On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 92% certified "fresh" rating.


At the 1964 Venice Film Festival, The Gospel According to St. Matthew was nominated for 3 awards, including the Golden Lion, and won 2, the OCIC Award and the Special Jury Prize.

The Gospel According to St. Matthew was released in the United States in and was nominated for three Academy Awards: Art Direction, Costume Design, and Score.




  • Bart Testa, "To Film a Gospel ... and Advent of the Theoretical Stranger," in Patrick Rumble and Bart Testa (eds.), Pier Paolo Pasolini: Contemporary Perspectives. University of Toronto Press, Inc., 1994, pp. 180-209. ISBN 0-8020-7737-4.

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