Matthew's gospel was written somewhere between 80 and 90 AD by a Jewish Greek-speaking Christian who knew Aramaic or Hebrew or both. After the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple by the Romans in 70 AD, the centre of Jewish worship, tensions emerged among Jewish groups about the continuation and identity of Judaism. Matthew's gospel set out to define the Christian community's identity, situating it within the Jewish tradition, and helping its members see that Christian faith was consistent with their Jewish heritage and a continuation of it. The gospel of Mathew soon became the church's gospel par excellence, and served as its foundational document, rooted in the teaching of Jesus. The dominant influence it has had suggests that it was composed for a major Christian community in an important city such as Antioch in Syria, and was addressed in all probability to a Christian community that was once strongly Jewish but had become increasingly Gentile in composition. These pages should not replace reading and meditating on the gospel itself.While it is important to understand what the evangelist means, the reader is also invited to let the gospel speak to the heart as well as the head. There is an age-old tradition of contemplating the gospels, and so the reader is invited to undertake an imaginative journey, looking at the people, places and actions of the various actors in the gospel stories, identifying with them imaginatively in the hope of better understanding the gospel's message.