The apostle and evangelist Matthew (Matt 9:9) is occasionally identified with the tax collector Levi, son of Alphaeus (Mark 2:13-15).
He counts as the author of the gospel typically attributed to him. The first gospel actually never mentions any author, but rather remains anonymous. The custom to attribute it to Matthew is very ancient (2nd) century, but the consistent us of the preposition according (gospel according to Matthew and not gospel of Matthew) warrants caution. Rather than claiming an immediate authorship by Matthew, it is safer to say that the gospel captures teaching and proclamation of the gospel according to Matthew.
Matthew himself later worked in Ethiopia and Persia. His relicts were transferred from Ethiopia to Salerno (south of Naples, Italy) and Pope Gregory VII consecrated a church over his grave in 1084.
From exegetical perspective, three figures are to be distinguished (although they often overlap in popular devotions and artistic representations):
- tax-collector Levi (often represented with coins)
- apostle Matthew
- author of the Matthew’s gospel (with the symbol of angel, or man – Matthew’s gospel starts with genealogy of Jesus)