Most of this back-and-forth is unnecessary since you aren’t understanding my argument. I’ll refocus it back to my main point since I was being unclear.
You say: With practically all historical texts, the author's name is not within the first few lines of the text, or anywhere within the text, in any way which clarifies that he is the author. It was rarely, if ever, done outside of letters. Tacitus didn't do it. Josephus didn't do it. Caesar didn't do it. I can't, offhand, think of any ancient historical texts where the author did so.
Problem: And I AGREE. Historical documents never included authorship, which is why the Gospels were anonymous! My point was that, if the Gospels authors had wanted to include authorship, they would’ve done so in the first verse, not the title. Regardless of the kind of document we’re talking about, there are hundreds of examples of putting authorship into the actual text and NO examples of putting authorship into the title. You believe that 1) The authors of historical documents wanted to include authorship and 2) They wanted to do so by putting their name into the title of their text. Both of these things are highly uncharacteristic of the way things were written back then.
You say: John is believed to have died in Ephesus around 100 A.D. Believe it or not, some people do live longer than the average life expectancy. About half of them do.
Problem: You don’t get a longer life expectancy from being a wandering, homeless disciple, you get a shorter one. So you believe John lived to be, what, 90 years old? Right. And who’s this according to, a bunch of Christian fathers living decades/centuries after the fact, listening to rumors from random people? The only reason he’s assumed to live that long by the orthodox church is because they knew the Gospel titled after him was written about that time. They were fitting the death date to the timing of the Gospel, which means that information is totally unreliable for when he actually died.
You say: The other three Gospels were written prior to, or around the same time as, the fall of Jerusalem. John's was written after. So of course John is going to focus less on the foretelling of events that had already come to pass. At that point, they were yesterday's news.
Problem: Apparently you didn’t even bother to read my direct comparison between Matt and John. About 500 things are different other than the “fall of Jerusalem” such as, oh I don’t know, Jesus’ direct divinity? And Jesus’ reason for doing miracles? And I’m not going to continue on, since you’re ignoring large chunks of my argument, and I’m not going to repeat myself. Go back and reread my comparison, and try that response again.
You say: Greek Matthew wasn't based only on Greek sources. But we know he used some Greek sources, such as the Septuagint, and he probably would have also used Greek Mark. Again, I believe that Q was probably Matthew's notes. He probably used Mark's Greek Gospel as a guide in his Greek phrasing.
Problem: All the evidence points to purely Greek sources. Give me internal Gospel evidence that implies it was based on any type of Hebrew document. 55% is line-for-line a copy of Mark. It wasn’t just for “Greek phrasing,” – it was line for line, and in many cases word for exact word copying. And then 25% of Matt is line-for-line identicle to Luke, copied from Q. So Matthew’s “original” account of Jesus is a whopping 20% of the Gospel we have – the rest is from Mark, not an eyewitness, and from Q, an anonymous Greek source. Your idea that “Q” is Matthew’s notes is rediculous as well. Papias says Matthew’s notes were in Hebrew, and Q was written in Greek.
You say: There's no evidence any version of any of the Gospels was ever circulated as anonymous. It's an irrational theory, considering the difficulties that would have been caused by having large texts spread around the empire without any sort of titles, and has no evidence to support it.
Problem: As even you admit, historical documents had anonymous authorship. And had the disciples wanted to include authorship, they would’ve done so within the first few verses instead of the title, just like every other early Christian document ever written.
The orthodox church was a fairly well connected and organized group in comparison to Gnostics, so anonymous Gospels were fine. Problems only began to arise when individuals like Ireneaeus abhored heretics much more than past orthodox church fathers. Irenaeus wrote entire volumes on the heretics, and was the first church father to take it upon himself to stamp them out personally. He was also the first church father to claim there were only four Gospels and that these Gospels were specifically Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It is likely that he was the church father who titled the Gospels in order to solidify their authority. He traced authorship by way of third and fourth hand accounts of a supposed group of jewish “elders”, as I’ve already documented. This was hardly a good way to determine true authorship of the documents they were using.
Feel free to continue to disagree with Gospel anonymity, but even the freakin’ Catholic church believes this to be true. (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06655b.htm) Your beliefs are truly on the fringe as far as Gospel authorship is concerned. Next thing I know you’ll be claiming the moon landing was a hoax ;)
You say: (Hallucinations/lies/delusions) Of the size, scale and nature of what we would have if the Jesus stories are one of those, they haven't been proven to happen. No, I'm not saying that any of these three things are impossible in this case, but one going where the evidence points, without automatically rejecting miracles, wouldn't be drawn to those theories.
Problem: I believe David Koresh and the Iraq war are on even more complex levels of misinformation, size, and scale, than Jesus was on. Today we live in the age of information, where things are easily scientifically disproven and disputed and information is easily leaked worldwide. The fact that the most powerful nation in the world, organized by thousands of people, can go to war with another country on false pretenses without leaking that fact for years, is more complex by a factor of a hundred compared to a few groups of Jews claiming they saw a Resurrection during an age where claims of miracles were commonplace. Had David Koresh lived back in Jesus’ day, his story might’ve well snowballed into a huge deal just like Jesus’ story did.
You say: Sure, but starting one of that size/scale/nature would be very difficult, and I doubt that we'd end up believing in our own hallucination/lie/delusion so strongly that we'd end up willingly facing persecution rather than denying it.
Problem: There’s no independent evidence that says early Christians could be let go if they denied the Resurrection or Jesus. It’s highly possible that, once accused, they would be killed no matter if they denied it or not. Take a look at witch trials for examples of mass persection despite adament denials from the accused. Thus, there’s no reason to think that early Christians’ belief in Jesus was more “genuine” due to their persecution – especially when said persecution gets you into heaven immediately anyway.
You say: Look, let's just be honest here. The reason you don't believe in Jesus' resurrection is simply that you believe resurrection is impossible, right? If so, why don't you just say so instead of trying to argue about authorship/dating/etc.? I see so many skeptics make arguments around peripheral issues, when these issues have nothing to do with the reason they disbelieve in the first place. Just say "I don't believe resurrection is possible, so I don't believe that Jesus was resurrected", and we can agree to disagree on that point and stop dealing with issues that have nothing to do with your core reason for disbelief, okay?
Problem: I want to make it clear that the vast majority of scholars who study this subject for a living agree with Ehrman, not you. Therefore, my beliefs on authorship/dating have to do to my trust in the mass of modern critical Bible scholars and historians and Universities and Professors that say so, not on my belief in a God. Just like my belief in evolution is due to my trust in the mass of modern scienctists that say so, not due to my belief or disbelief in a God.
Secondly, my point on the Resurrection being impossible had nothing to do with my personal atheism, it has to do with with the purpose of historians. You said that, historically, a miracle can be proven to be true. Any historian would find that statement ridiculous, and I would know since I’m dating one. So not only are you contradicting most modern critical Bible scholars, you contradict historians. Which group do you think I’ll pick as having more intellectual integrity and more rigorous standards for proof, you or them?
In fact, I find it insulting that you think I let my personal belief in God dictate my interpretation of evidence. I used to be Christian. How did I lose the faith? By reading books and reading about evidence from others who disagreed, something that you refuse to do yourself. It’s no surprise to me that you remain Christian. You prefer to have people who don’t study this for a living try to convince you online, rather than letting the multitude of books, written by people who do study this for a living, do the convincing. You are lazy, and you are selfserving in your “persuit” for truth. This much is true.
You say: That's an opinion you have. You didn't prove it. The reason I didn't respond much to it is that you're interpreting the evidence in a certain way, and it's impossible to prove that someone's interpretation of the evidence is "wrong". Especially when, if there are passages that conflict with your theory, you can just say "well, those must have been later additions to the story". It's a waste of time on my part. Feel free to accept or reject whatever evidence you want in order to sustain your theory in your mind.
Problem: I’m simply using the method that all historians use to figure out the true stories behind any historical record. Multiple sources, independent sources, cutting against the grain, and contextual accuracy. If you want to disagree with these methods that’s fine, but don’t act as if my interpretation is an opinion I just made up. I’m quoting Ehrman, and Ehrman learned this method and interpretation from Princeton theological seminary. These are the methods that all modern historians and scholars and universities use to determine the accuracy and reliability of historical records, including the Bible.
You say: Sorry, but you're clearly missing the point of this passage (on doing good works). The people Jesus is talking about here are characters in a work of fiction, a pseudo-parable, and are being used to make a point. Those in the story who refuse to help out Jesus and the poor are examples of people who are unrighteous and unsympathetic.
Problem: John the Baptist taught this same exact message in Luke 3:1-18 while speaking directly to those he was trying to convert, answering their direct questions with his direct answers. This was no pseudo-parable, this was literally explaining how one could escape the wrath of the coming Kingdom of God by doing good works:
John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire." "What should we do then?" the crowd asked. John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same."
You say: Let me ask you this, per your understanding of this passage and what you think Jesus was trying to say, what would happen if I fed one poor person one day, but did nothing kind for anyone else ever again in my life? Would I then be saved? The characters in this parable are exaggerated, either doing *all* of the things Jesus asked, or doing *none* of them. Let's face it, most Christians, myself included, fall in between. Interpreting the passage the way you do, it becomes essentially meaningless to practically every Christian who ever lived. Most, if not all, Christians have done some of what Jesus has asked, but haven't been able to do everything Jesus asked of them, so they're like neither of the two groups in this story. Understanding this as a request for me to assist my fellow man, to the same extent that I would assist Jesus, makes much more sense.
Problem: You are still viewing this passage from a completely Christian point of view instead of an apocalyptic Jewish point of view. This is sloppy, devotional interpretation on your part. You are taking these verses out of their original context. This lecture by Jesus was not meant for Christians, it was meant for apocalyptic Jews! And apparently your only reason for interpreting this passage the way you do is by saying “aww but nobody can be that perfect!” Well guess what?
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14
Going to start claiming that this is also figurative? This is another apocalyptic statement by Jesus, which is obviously contradictory to Christian doctrine, just like how doing good works for salvation is contradictory to the Christian doctrine. This is because Jesus was not a Christian teaching Christians, he was an apocalyptic Jew teaching an audience of apocalyptic Jews! Of course it’s going to be contradictory to later-evolved Christian doctrine.
John taught this apocalyptic message before he met Jesus (Luke 3:1-18). Jesus taught this apocalyptic message after he met John (Mark 8:38-9:1, Mark 13:24-27, 30, Luke 17:24, 26-27, Matthew 24:27, 37-39, Matthew 13:40-43, Mark 8:38). How soon would the Kingdom of God return? “Some of you standing here will not taste death before they see that the Kingdom of God has come in power" (Mark 9:1); "this generation will not pass away before all these things take place" (Mark 13:30). How did one enter the Kingdom? By doing good works, according to both John and Jesus. Even after Jesus' death, his followers still thought the Kingdom was going to come to earth in their lifetime (Thess 4:15-18).
The Kingdom of God obviously never came to earth. The prophecies never happened, and Christians began losing faith. Thus, Paul thought he had discovered the “true” meaning of Jesus. Suddenly the gates to “life” are thrown wide open, contradictory to Jesus’ actual teaching. Suddenly good works aren’t even necessary, contradictory to Jesus’ actual teaching. Paul was the main propenent of this modernized Christian message, and guess where he learned this doctrine from? A Disciple? Some texts or stories from eyewitnesses of Jesus? Nope!
I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:11-12
So, Paul just invented the doctrine of universal salvation and absolution of the law, in other words. Mkay. What do Jesus’ own disciples think of that?
When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.... When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? Galatians 2:11-14
So Paul, a man who never met Jesus, who formed his doctrine on Jesus out of thin air, who argues with Jesus’ own disciples about salvation and the law, is the one who’s correct about the purpose of Jesus’ life? Is that what you’re telling me?
You say: No, they never really understood what Jesus was talking about in the first place. If you read the passages, you see things like Mark 9:31, Luke 18:33, John 20:9.
Problem: Some accounts say they never understood. Some imply they simply forgot (Luke 24:8). All are equally preposterous. The authors try to insist that 1) Jesus clearly and repeatedly taught this would happen and 2) the Disciples never understood any of it. This is obvious fiction trying to cover up the real reason why the disciples doubted the Resurrection: Jesus never taught it or expected it to happen to begin with. This is documented and provable when we use the historical critical method of interpretation. Look at my section on “Suffering Messiah” in my last email, since that section proves my exact point.
The Gospels say Jesus clearly taught this to his disciples, and that for whatever reason, his disciples forgot or didn't understand. I keep claiming this is preposterous, historically speaking, since they were his closest friends and the Bible claims he was clearly, and repeatedly, teaching this - meaning it wasn't a tricky once-in-a-lifetime parable of some sort. I have an even stronger argument now. Guess who clearly did know and understand that Jesus was teaching he'd be Resurrected in three days?
The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. "Sir," they said, "we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again.' So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first."
"Take a guard," Pilate answered. "Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how." So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. Matthew 27:62:66
So Jesus taught his Resurrection message clearly enough for some random Jewish leaders to understand it perfectly, but not clearly enough for his close companions to expect any such thing at all? The stone in front of the tomb was specifically put there by his enemies to prevent a fake-resurrection, but his disciples were clueless the whole time anyway? His enemies think that the Disciples know he made Resurrection prophecies, and this makes sense since Jesus repeatedly teaches it. But then the Disciples are actually apparently clueless the whole time. Why? This story makes no sense when viewed historically, which is why we need to use the critical historical method when interpreting the Bible, not a devotional method.
What part of this narrative cuts against the grain? That Jesus' own disciples didn't expect a Resurrection whatsoever - that much is likely true. Early Christians wouldn't want to invent such a story since it's not helpful in proving the Resurrection story. However, the accounts of Jesus plainly preaching his Resurrection, and his enemies putting up safeguards to prevent a "fake" Resurrection, are all very directly supportive of the Resurrection story. So once again we have my historical interpretation verse your devotional interpretation:
1) The Disciples didn't expect a Resurrection because Jesus never taught or expected one. However, the rest of this narrative was likely developed by early Christians.
2) The Disciples didn't expect a Resurrection because it's message was somehow hidden from them, despite the message clearly getting through to random Jewish Pharisees who assumed the Disciples were going to try to fake the Resurrection.
You say: They were, at this point, filled with grief, despair and disillusionment. Their faith in Jesus was shaken. They had serious doubts that Jesus had anything more to offer them.
Problem: I completely agree, and this is what the critical historical method says. The Disciples, and Jesus himself, didn’t expect this to happen. There was no such thing as a “suffering Messiah.” Later, after Christians invented the suffering Messiah doctrine, they invented the prophecy concerning the suffering Messiah. This is documentable using the historical citical method.
You say: What's your evidence that it was "certainly invented"? Once again, it seems like you're just rejecting anything that conflicts with your theory in order to sustain it. If that's what you want to do, I'll leave you to it.
Problem: I reject things that do not pass the historical ciritical method, and I defined that method in my very first email detailing these arguments. Don’t start coming up with straw men to attack me: I’ve always said that this method of interpretation was the critical historical method. It’s the method that all historians use to determine the accuracy and reliability of every historical document ever written.
You say: And perhaps most telling, how could Mark have known what the woman saw, if (as suggested by the abrupt ending) the women never told anyone what they saw? Obviously, the women ended up telling someone, for Peter (and, through him, Mark) to have heard about it. Their silence was clearly temporary, and not the end of the story. For Mark to have intentionally ended at 16:8 is irrational, uncharacteristic and awkward.
Problem: I agree: there could’ve been more to Mark. But this is irrelevant to my provable point: the Resurrection story gets more dramatic and exaggerated in the Gospels by chronological order.
You say: Since Matthew's Hebrew Gospel is probably the earliest, that doesn't seem to be the case. But besides that, the earliest NT writing is probably First Corinthians (written about 50-55 AD), which does record people seeing Jesus' post-resurrection appearances.
Problem: We don’t know what Matthew’s Hebrew Gospel said, so we can’t use it when determining the reliability of historical events using the critical historical method. As for first Corinthians: my point wasn’t to prove that the original story was that Jesus never Resurrected. My point was to show that the way the Resurrection story is transmitted to his Disicples is continually exaggerated over time. The events in 1 Corinthians are of no concern to my point.
You say: Obviously they believed the women, since Mark, writing what he heard from Peter, is recording what they saw. If Peter didn't believe the women, then why would he be testifying to what the woman saw?
Problem: I agree some disciples believed the women, which primed them for having hallucinations and delusions. And the women were told this, according to our earliest source Mark, by some dude in a white robe. What a reliable source for such vital information.
You say: Hardly. The earliest NT manuscript, 1 Corinthians, records over 500 people seeing the resurrection. That's far more dramatic than any of the Gospels.
Problem: 1 Corinthians simply states that Jesus “appeared” to the group – a simple mass hallucination, just like how catholics today have mass visions of Virgin Mary. This is nothing as dramatic as actual disciples reportedly sticking their hands into the holes of Jesus’ crucified hands and feet, and then going fishing with him, like in John. Also, when I say “Resurrection story” I specifically mean the events the led the disciples themselves to believe in the Resurrection, not some periphery group of people claiming to have a random vision after the fact.
You say: No, the writing that is closest to the event (1 Corinthians) says that over 500 people saw the resurrected Jesus. And the earliest story was Matthew's Hebrew Gospel, which is unlikely to have "barely implied" a resurrection. As for Mark's Gospel, which is later than 1 Corinthians and Hebrew Matthew, we don't know what it originally said, but the theory that it purposely ended at 16:8 is very unlikely.
Problem: First Corinthians says 500 people had a collective “vision” – AFTER they had been told Jesus was giving visions to people. This isn’t in any way related to how the Disciples came to believe in the Resurrection in the first place, so it has nothing to do with my point about the Resurrection account becoming provably exaggerated.
Another example: Mark says the women were told by a man in a white robe. Then comes Matt, which turns the single normal man into an angel who’s clothes were white as snow, and was preceeded by an earthquake! Then there’s Luke that says TWO men in lightning-gleaming clothing suddenly appeared to the women, wow! And John leaves this part completely out, I guess these events never even took place according to this “Disciple’s” account. Such obvious inflation and contradiction of the story cannot be ignored no matter how hard you try. I won’t repeat the obvious inflation of the Disciples’ literal contact with Resurrected Jesus, since I already documented it in my last email.
You say: Which would be VERY unlikely if He wasn't resurrected. People were writing too soon after the events for this kind of fiction to have sprung up, and the ideas that they were lying or hallucinating don't explain the evidence.
Problem: I already told you exactly how the Gospels demonstrate that hallucination and delusion were likely: Luke says Jesus was disappearing randomly and Matt says disciples were unconvinced Jesus was the actual person preaching on the mount. I see you managed to ignore these two major points of mine, but yet you give me this response as if I had never made the points to begin with. Are you deliberately ignoring sections of my argument? There is plenty of evidence to show a likely non-miracle scenario. A few women are told by a dude in a white robe that Jesus resurrected. Women tell disciples, disciples start having hallucinations (with Jesus disappearing randomly) and some become delusional about him preaching on the mount. These stories get more elaborate over time. You say people were writing “too soon” after the events for them to become elaborate – the Gospels were written 30+ years after the events! Are you kidding me, too soon? Exaggerated stories can happen a week after the actual event, let alone thirty years.
You say: As for the rest of your letter, you go back into your theories about "what really happened". And again, you're interpreting the evidence to fit your theory, and I'm not interested in untangling your interpretation. If you want to hold to it, feel free. The main problem here is that your interpretation requires you to accept some parts of the Gospels as being what happened, and reject other parts of the Gospels as being not what happened, but later additions to the story. Once you start engaging in that, you can pretty much interpret the Gospels (or any historical text for that matter) any way you want to. If it fits with your theory, accept it. If it conflicts with your theory, find a reason to reject it. It's the kind of thing that conspiracy theorists do, and I have no more interest in addressing and untangling their theories than I do with yours.
Problem: This speaks volumes about your ignorance concerning how historians figure out what happened in the past. The fact that you consider the results of the critical historical method a “conspiracy theory” is remarkable, considering it’s used for every historical document ever written. I detailed how the theory works in a previous email - 1) multiple sources 2) independent sources 3) cutting against the grain 4) contextually accurate. This is the method historians use to interpret documents, and all the verses and explanations I have provided fit all four of these criteria at all times. The explanations you use to prove “your side” would not fulfill all four of these criteria, especially since you complete reject the historical context of Jesus’ life as a Jew. Your interpretation is much less probable than mine, historically speaking. If you want to reject this method as a good way of interpreting the Bible, feel free, but don’t act as if you have a reasonable alternative. The only thing you do is mash the entire New Testament together into a single Giganto-Gospel while simultaeously believing every single word out of every orthodox church fathers mouth.
Your beliefs, and your evidence, are all products of a devotional approach to interpretation, invented by the church. My beliefs, and my evidence, are all products of a critical-historical approach to interpretation, invented by historians. Guess which method I think has more intellectual integrity and honesty? This is likely why my evidence will never satisfy you, and your evidence will never satisfy me: they are products of two very different trains of thought.
The following is generally on why Matthew wasn't written by Matthew and how early church fathers formed doctrines. We have to look at both internal and external evidence of authorship, and we must look at these two things separately from each other in order to determine which is more reliable. That means, do not interpret the internal evidence of Matthew within the context of what external evidence may claim. Interpret the internal of evidence of Matthew on it's own merits first, then consider external evidence, and then consider the reliability of each. This is what a historian does.
I already went over the fact that the Gospel of Matthew speaks about Matthew in the third person, and that this is support for anonymous authorship. You claim that historical authors did this kind of thing, but this is provably not true. First of all, the Gospels are more accurately considered part of a "Greco-Roman biography genre", commonly used by Plutarch, Suetonius and Tacitus. This isn't the important point though. What is important is that all three of these biographers used first-person when talking about themselves, not third person. Plutarch gives a very personal introduction to his biography of Alexander, feeling compelled to explain the method he uses for the biography in order to give it authority. Suetonius does some personal reflection in the Life of Vespasian in 1:4. Most importantly, Tacitus gives a lengthy four paragraph introduction to "Histories" detailing his position in Roman society, what emperors he worked for and how he's going to set up his biography . All of these Biographers used the first-person "I," and as far as I can tell there's no record of them ever resorting to the third person. For example, Plutarch has not a single verse saying "And then Plutarch went and...." Tacitus never has a verse saying "Tacitus decided to talk with...." - when they talk about themselves, or events directly related to their life, they use "I" every time. Thus, my argument that Matthew should be using "I" when talking about himself is supported by the evidence.
Another important difference is that these other Pagan authors were not writing biographies of close friends, which is why their biographies include no uses of "we" or "us.". Had they been writing a biography of a close friend and of detailed events they participated in, the evidence supports the idea that they would've used personal pronouns for naming themselves and their group, since is no evidence that they ever spoke of themselves in the third person. Matthew should especially be using "I" for something like his own adoption into Jesus' ministry in 9:9-13, just as Tacitus uses "I" when describing the emperors he has worked under.
A second argument: You claim that the real reason Matthew used Mark's Gospel was to help him with Greek phrasing. This is hardly true when we consider the fact that the author of Matthew frequently uses more sophisticated Greek language and structure than the author of Mark. This is one of the ways historians can tell Mark was written first. Mark uses simplistic and sometimes awkward Greek phrases, while Matthew and Luke, when telling the same story again, "clean up" Mark's Greek. This implies the motivation for Matthew to copy Mark had nothing to do with Greek phrasing, since the author of Matthew was more proficient than the author of Mark in writing Greek. The only other option is to assume that the author used Mark because he needed a source of information for his biography.
When you continue to assert that Matthew was written by the apostle it becomes increasingly difficult to fathom a reason why a disciple would copy Mark line-for-line and in many cases word-for-word. Consider that Matthew had already written a Hebrew Gospel according to the earliest sources. Why would Matthew choose to use Mark as his primary source of information over his own Hebrew Gospel? It makes little sense. Even your purely hypothetical claim, that Mark used Matthew notes, does very little to resolve this issue. Why would Matthew choose to use a sloppy Greek translation of his notes as a source, when he was able to use his own Hebrew Gospel/notes/memories as a source? Papias makes it clear that Mark used Peter as his source, which makes your purely hypothetical claim even more unlikely.
The author of Matthew does the same exact thing as Luke, using both Q and Mark as a source of information. The only difference is that Luke claims he's a collector of stories from the beginning, while Matthew felt no need to make mention of it. Historically speaking, it's much more likely that the author of Matthew was a collector of stories, just like Luke. It resolves many of these internal issues in clear, logical ways.
Conclusion: Internal evidence strongly implies that Matthew wasn't written by the disciple Matthew, but rather by a collector of oral/written traditions like Luke.
The church fathers' Gospel traditions support the notion that Matthew wrote Matthew. So it my place to show why these traditions are inaccurate, within the context of external evidence itself.
The church father's position on Matthew, and the rest of the Gospels, are dependent upon Papias as an authority figure on the subject. Papias was their source of information when claiming Matthew wrote Matthew. But Papias never met the disciples. Papias' Gospel tradition goes back to a group of "elders." And finally, that group of elders supposedly goes back to the disciples themselves. We find evidence that this group of "elders," as well as Papias, are both dubious sources of information. As we can see, Papias has an affinity for oral traditions rather than written ones:
"If, then, any one who had attended on the elders came, I asked minutely after their sayings,--what Andrew or Peter said, or what was said by Philip, or by Thomas, or by James, or by John, or by Matthew, or by any other of the Lord's disciples: which things Aristion and the presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, say. For I imagined that what was to be got from books was not so profitable to me as what came from the living and abiding voice." from Fragment 1
It's possible to draw two conclusions:
1) Anonymous authorship of Gospels would be of no real concern to Papias or church fathers prior to Iraeneus, since the contents of their message could be independently confirmed by the oral traditions of the elders
2) It is likely that a Gospels gained it's "authority" by comparing it with the elders' oral tradition. rather from any title indicating authorship and certainly not from analyzing internal evidence. If the Gospel was harmonious with the oral tradition, it was considered authentic.
Thus, the authority of the Gospel was primarily based upon the ability of the Gospel to harmonize with the elder's oral traditions. The question then becomes, how well can we trust the elders? Let's look at an account of one of their teachings. The elders claim that this following passage came out of Jesus' own mouth, according to John.
"[As the elders who saw John the disciple of the Lord remembered that they had heard from him how the Lord taught in regard to those times, and said]: "The days will come in which vines shall grow, having each ten thousand branches, and in each branch ten thousand twigs, and in each true twig ten thousand shoots, and in every one of the shoots ten thousand clusters, and on every one of the clusters ten thousand grapes, and every grape when pressed will give five-and-twenty metretes of wine. And when any one of the saints shall lay hold of a cluster, another shall cry out, 'I am a better cluster, take me; bless the Lord through me.' In like manner, [He said] that a grain of wheat would produce ten thousand ears, and that every ear would have ten thousand grains, and every grain would yield ten pounds of clear, pure, fine flour; and that apples, and seeds, and grass would produce in similar proportions; and that all animals, feeding then only on the productions of the earth, would become peaceable and harmonious, and be in perfect subjection to man." [Testimony is borne to these things in writing by Papias, an ancient man, who was a hearer of John and a friend of Polycarp, in the fourth of his books; for five books were composed by him. And he added, saying, "Now these things are credible to believers. And Judas the traitor," says he, not believing, and asking, 'How shall such growths be accomplished by the Lord.' the Lord said, 'They shall see who shall come to them.'" The Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord, Fragment IV
This story is not regarded as a legitimate saying of Jesus. No scholars think Jesus actually taught this. Jesus knew nothing of "saints" and the repetition of numbers upon numbers is overused to an impressive, and almost comical, degree. This story is not found in any Gospel or any early Christian writings, and, if anything, shows a tremendous inflation of the "mustard seed" oral tradition. Yet Papias, depending upon the elders, claims this this teaching goes back to Jesus himself. Why does Papias believe this story is true? Not because he can corroborate it with textual accounts, but because his group of "elders" say so.
Conclusion: External evidence demonstrates that the authority of the Gospels rests upon the oral traditions of anonymous "elders," and these elders have been shown to fabricate stories about Jesus. Their actual connection to the disciples remains unanswerable and unprovable.