The traditions of Matthias.

Also known as the gospel of Matthias?

Attributed author(s).

Text(s) available.
On site (present page in Greek or Latin, English).
Andrew Bernhard: Traditions of Matthias (English only).

Useful links.
Traditions of Matthias at Early Christian Writings.
Gospels and apocrypha in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

One of our many sources for primitive Christianity.

The traditions of Matthias are known by that title only from the works of Clement of Alexandria. But there is also a gospel according to Matthias which many suspect as the same work.

Clement of Alexandria.

From Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 2.9:

Η δε αρχη το θαυμασαι τα πραγματα, ως Πλατων εν Θεαιτητω λεγει, και Ματθιας εν ταις παραδοσεσι παραινων· Θαυμασον τα παροντα· βαθμον τουτον πρωτον της επεκεινα γνωσεως υποτιθεμενος. η καν τω καθ Εβραιους ευαγγελιω· Ο θαυμασας βασιλευσει, γεγραπται, και ο βασιλευσας αναπαυθησεται.

But the beginning is to marvel at matters, as Plato says in the Theaetetus and Matthias in the traditions, exhorting: Marvel at things present, placing this down as the first degree of the knowledge of the beyond. Which also is written in the gospel according to the Hebrews: He who marveled shall reign, and he who reigned shall rest.

Clement actually quotes this saying from the gospel according to the Hebrews twice. It also finds a parallel in the apocryphal oracle that Eusebius attributes to the cult of Simon Magus. From Eusebius, History of the Church 2.13.7, writing of his followers:

Τα δε τουτων αυτοις απορρητοτερα, ων φασι τον πρωτον επακουσαντα εκπλαγησεσθαι, και κατα τι παρ αυτοις λογιον εγγραφον θαμβωθησεσθαι, θαμβους ως αληθως και φρενων εκστασεως και μανιας εμπλεα τυγχανει....

And the most unspoken of these [rites] of theirs, of which they say that the one hearing them for the first time will be astonished, and according to a certain written oracle among them will be made to marvel, happen of a truth to be full of marvel and ecstatic thoughts and mania....

A similar saying may be found in the gospel of Thomas.

From Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 3.4, writing of the gnostics:

Λεγουσι γουν και τον Ματθιαν ουτω διδαξαι· Σαρκι μεν μαχεσθαι και παραχρησθαι, μηθεν αυτη προς ηδονην ακολαστον ενδιδοντα· ψυχην δε αυξειν δια πιστεως και γνωσεως.

They say that Matthias also taught thus: To fight against the flesh and misuse it, in no way giving in to it for unchastised pleasure, and to increase the soul through faith and knowledge.

From Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 4.6:

Ζαχαιον τοινυν, οι δε Ματθιαν φασιν, αρχιτελωνην, ακηκοοτα του κυριου καταξιωσαντος προς αυτον γενεσθαι· Ιδου, τα ημιση των υπαρχοντων μου διδωμι ελεημοσυνην, φαναι, κυριε, και ει τινος τι εσυκοφαντησα τετραπλουν αποδιδωμι. εφ ου και ο σωτηρ ειπεν· Ο υιος του ανθρωπου ελθων σημερον το απολωλος ευρεν.

So Zaccheus, but they say that it was Matthias, the chief tax-collector, having heard that the Lord had deemed him worthy to be with him, says: Behold, half of my present possessions I give as a mercy-gift, Lord, and if I ever extorted anything from anyone, I give it back fourfold. At which also the savior said: When the son of man came today, he found that which was lost.

From Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 7.13:

Λεγουσι δε εν ταις παραδοσεσι Ματθιαν τον αποστολον παρ εκαστα ειρηκεναι οτι, Εαν εκλεκτου γειτων αμαρτηση, ημαρτεν ο εκλεκτος· ει γαρ ουτως εαυτον ηγεν ως ο λογος υπαγορευει, κατηδεσθη αν αυτου τον βιον και ο γειτων εις το μη αμαρτειν.

And they say that Matthias the apostle in the traditions says at every time: If the neighbor of an elect one sins, the elect one sins. For, if he had led himself as the word dictates, the neighbor would have been ashamed of his life so as not to sin.

From Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 7.17:

Των δε αιρεσεων αι μεν απο ονοματος προσαγορευονται, ως η απο Ουαλεντινου και Μαρκιωνος και Βασιλειδου, καν την Ματθιου αυχωσι προσαγεσθαι δοξαν· μια γαρ η παντων γεγονε των αποστολων ωσπερ διδασκαλια, ουτως δε και η παραδοσις.

But some of the heresies are addressed by the name [of the founder], as that of Valentinus and that of Marcion and that of Basilides, and they boast that the glory of Matthias is attached to them. For, just as the teaching of all the apostles is one, so also the tradition.


Early century III.

From Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 7.8:

Βασιλειδης τοινυν και Ισιδωρος ο Βασιλειδου παις γνησιος και μαθητης φασιν ειρηκεναι Ματθιαν αυτοις λογους αποκρυφους ους ηκουσε παρα του σωτηρος κατ ιδιαν διδαχθεις. ιδωμεν ουν πως καταφανως Βασιλειδης ομου και Ισιδωρος και πας ο τουτων χορος ουχ απλως καταψευδεται μονου Ματθιου, αλλα γαρ και του σωτηρος αυτου.

Basilides, then, and Isidore the legitimate child and disciple of Basilides say that Matthias spoke to them apocryphal words which he had heard from the savior, having been taught in private. We see, therefore, how said Basilides together with Isidore and their entire chorus make a liar, not simply of Matthias alone, but even also of his savior.


Early century III.

From Origen, Homily on Luke 1.1:

Ecclesia quator habet evangelia, haeresis plurima, e quibus quoddam scribitur secundum Aegyptios, aliud iuxta duodecim apostolos. ausus fuit et Basilides scribere evangelium et suo illud nomine titulare.... scio quoddam evangelium quod apellatur secundum Thomam et iuxta Matthiam: et alia plurima legimus.

The church has four gospels, heresy many, from among which a certain one is written according to the Egyptians, another according to the twelve apostles. Even Basilides dared to write a gospel and to entitle it by his own name.... I know a certain gospel whose appellation is according to Thomas, and [another] according to Matthias. And many others have we read.

Innocence I.

From Innocence I, epistle to the bishop Tolosanus, dated February 20, 405:

Cetera autem quae vel sub nomine Matthiae sive Iacobi minoris, vel sub nomine Petri et Ioannis, quae a quodam Leucio scripta sunt, vel sub nomine Andreae, quae a Xenocaride et Leonida philosophis, vel sub nomine Thomae, et si qua sunt alia, non solum repudianda, verum etiam noveris esse damnanda.

But may you know that there are others which go under the name of Matthias or of James the lesser, or under the name of Peter and John, which were written by a certain Leucius, or under the name of Andrew, which were by Xenocaridus and Leonidas the philosophers, or under the name of Thomas, and there may be others, which must not only be repudiated but truly even damned.

The Gelasian Decree.

The Gelasian Decree, probably century V, lists among the apocryphal works the evangelium nomine Matthiae apocryphum, or the apocryphal gospel by the name of Matthias.

The Sixty Books.

The list of the Sixty Books, century VII, lists the gospel of Matthias in the margin as the twenty-fifth apocryphal book.