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Gospel originally meant the Christian message ("the gospel"), but in the 2nd century it came to be used also for the books in which the message was reported.In this sense a gospel can be defined as a loose-knit, episodic narrative of the words and deeds of Jesus, culminating in his trial and death and concluding with various reports of his post-resurrection appearances. Modern biblical scholars are cautious of relying on the gospels uncritically, but nevertheless, they provide a good idea of the public career of Jesus, and critical study can attempt to distinguish the original ideas of Jesus from those of the later Christian authors.
The canonical gospels are the four which appear in the New Testament of the Bible. They were probably written between AD 66 and 110.All four were anonymous (with the modern names of the "Four Evangelists" added in the 2nd century), almost certainly none were by eyewitnesses, and all are the end-products of long oral and written transmission. According to the majority of scholars, Mark was the first to be written, using a variety of sources, followed by Matthew and Luke, which both independently used Mark for their narrative of Jesus's career, supplementing it with a collection of sayings called "the Q source", and additional material unique to each. There is near-consensus that John had its origins as the hypothetical Signs Gospel thought to have been circulated within a Johannine community.
Many non-canonical gospels were also written, all later than the four canonical gospels, and like them advocating the particular theological views of their various authors.Important examples include the gospels of Thomas, Peter, Judas, and Mary; infancy gospels such as that of James (the first to introduce the perpetual virginity of Mary); and gospel harmonies such as the Diatessaron.
Gospel is the Old English translation of the Hellenistic Greek term εὐαγγέλιον, meaning "good news"; this may be seen from analysis of ευαγγέλιον (εὖ "good" + ἄγγελος "messenger" + -ιον diminutive suffix). The Greek term was Latinized as evangelium in the Vulgate, and translated into Latin as bona annuntiatio. In Old English, it was translated as gōdspel (gōd "good" + spel "news"). The Old English term was retained as gospel in Middle English Bible translations and hence remains in use also in Modern English.
The four canonical gospels share the same basic outline of the life of Jesus: he begins his public ministry in conjunction with that of John the Baptist, calls disciples, teaches and heals and confronts the Pharisees, dies on the cross and is raised from the dead.Each has its own distinctive understanding of him and his divine role and scholars recognize that the differences of detail between the gospels are irreconcilable, and any attempt to harmonize them would only disrupt their distinct theological messages.
Matthew, Mark and Luke are termed the synoptic gospels because they present very similar accounts of the life of Jesus.Mark begins with the baptism of the adult Jesus and the heavenly declaration that he is the son of God; he gathers followers and begins his ministry, and tells his disciples that he must die in Jerusalem but that he will rise; in Jerusalem, he is at first acclaimed but then rejected, betrayed, and crucified, and when the women who have followed him come to his tomb they find it empty. Mark never calls Jesus "God" or claims that he existed prior to his earthly life, apparently believes that he had a normal human parentage and birth, and makes no attempt to trace his ancestry back to King David or Adam; it originally ended at Mark 16:8 and had no post-resurrection appearances, although Mark 16:7, in which the young man discovered in the tomb instructs the women to tell "the disciples and Peter" that Jesus will see them again in Galilee, hints that the author knew of the tradition.
The authors of Matthew and Luke added infancy and resurrection narratives to the story they found in Mark, although the two differ markedly.Each also makes subtle theological changes to Mark: the Markan miracle stories, for example, confirm Jesus' status as an emissary of God (which was Mark's understanding of the Messiah), but in Matthew they demonstrate his divinity, and the "young man" who appears at Jesus' tomb in Mark becomes a radiant angel in Matthew. Luke, while following Mark's plot more faithfully than Matthew, has expanded on the source, corrected Mark's grammar and syntax, and eliminated some passages entirely, notably most of chapters 6 and 7.
John, the most overtly theological, is the first to make Christological judgements outside the context of the narrative of Jesus's life.He presents a significantly different picture of Jesus's career, omitting any mention of his ancestry, birth and childhood, his baptism, temptation and transfiguration; his chronology and arrangement of incidents is also distinctly different, clearly describing the passage of three years in Jesus's ministry in contrast to the single year of the synoptics, placing the cleansing of the Temple at the beginning rather than at the end, and the Last Supper on the day before Passover instead of being a Passover meal. The Gospel of John is the only gospel to call Jesus God, and in contrast to Mark, where Jesus hides his identity as messiah, in John he openly proclaims it.
Like the rest of the New Testament, the four gospels were written in Greek.The Gospel of Mark probably dates from c. AD 66–70, Matthew and Luke around AD 85–90, and John AD 90–110. Despite the traditional ascriptions, all four are anonymous and most scholars agree that none were written by eyewitnesses. A few conservative scholars defend the traditional ascriptions or attributions, but for a variety of reasons the majority of scholars have abandoned this view or hold it only tenuously.
In the immediate aftermath of Jesus' death his followers expected him to return at any moment, certainly within their own lifetimes, and in consequence there was little motivation to write anything down for future generations, but as eyewitnesses began to die, and as the missionary needs of the church grew, there was an increasing demand and need for written versions of the founder's life and teachings.The stages of this process can be summarised as follows:
Mark is generally agreed to be the first gospel; source and additional material unique to each called the M source (Matthew) and the L source (Luke). Mark, Matthew and Luke are called the synoptic gospels because of the close similarities between them in terms of content, arrangement, and language. The authors and editors of John may have known the synoptics, but did not use them in the way that Matthew and Luke used Mark. There is a near-consensus that this gospel had its origins as a "signs" source (or gospel) that circulated within the Johannine community (which produced John and the three epistles associated with the name) and later expanded with a Passion narrative as well as a series of discourses.it uses a variety of sources, including conflict stories (Mark 2:1–3:6), apocalyptic discourse (4:1–35), and collections of sayings, although not the sayings gospel known as the Gospel of Thomas and probably not the hypothesized Q source used by Matthew and Luke. The authors of Matthew and Luke, acting independently, used Mark for their narrative of Jesus's career, supplementing it with the hypothesized collection of sayings called the Q
All four also use the Jewish scriptures, by quoting or referencing passages, interpreting texts, or alluding to or echoing biblical themes.Such use can be extensive: Mark's description of the Parousia (second coming) is made up almost entirely of quotations from scripture. Matthew is full of quotations and allusions, and although John uses scripture in a far less explicit manner, its influence is still pervasive. Their source was the Greek version of the scriptures, called the Septuagint; they do not seem familiar with the original Hebrew.
The consensus among modern scholars is that the gospels are a subset of the ancient genre of bios, or ancient biography.Ancient biographies were concerned with providing examples for readers to emulate while preserving and promoting the subject's reputation and memory; the gospels were never simply biographical, they were propaganda and kerygma (preaching). As such, they present the Christian message of the second half of the first century AD, and as Luke's attempt to link the birth of Jesus to the census of Quirinius demonstrates, there is no guarantee that the gospels are historically accurate.
The majority view among critical scholars is that the authors of Matthew and Luke have based their narratives on Mark's gospel, editing him to suit their own ends, and the contradictions and discrepancies between these three and John make it impossible to accept both traditions as equally reliable with regard to the historical Jesus.In addition, the gospels we read today have been edited and corrupted over time, leading Origen to complain in the 3rd century that "the differences among manuscripts have become great, ... [because copyists] either neglect to check over what they have transcribed, or, in the process of checking, they make additions or deletions as they please". Most of these are insignificant, but many are significant, an example being Matthew 1:18, altered to imply the pre-existence of Jesus. For these reasons modern scholars are cautious of relying on the gospels uncritically, but nevertheless, they do provide a good idea of the public career of Jesus, and critical study can attempt to distinguish the original ideas of Jesus from those of the later authors.
Scholars usually agree that John is not without historical value: certain of its sayings are as old or older than their synoptic counterparts, and its representation of the topography around Jerusalem is often superior to that of the synoptics. Its testimony that Jesus was executed before, rather than on, Passover, might well be more accurate, and its presentation of Jesus in the garden and the prior meeting held by the Jewish authorities are possibly more historically plausible than their synoptic parallels.Nevertheless, it is highly unlikely that the author had direct knowledge of events, or that his mentions of the Beloved Disciple as his source should be taken as a guarantee of his reliability.
The oldest gospel text known is 𝔓52 , a fragment of John dating from the first half of the 2nd century. The creation of a Christian canon was probably a response to the career of the heretic Marcion (c. 85–160), who established a canon of his own with just one gospel, the Gospel of Marcion, similar to the Gospel of Luke. The Muratorian canon, the earliest surviving list of books considered (by its own author at least) to form Christian scripture, included Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Irenaeus of Lyons went further, stating that there must be four gospels and only four because there were four corners of the Earth and thus the Church should have four pillars. He referred to the four collectively as the "fourfold gospel" (euangelion tetramorphon).
The many apocryphal gospels arose from the 1st century onward, frequently under assumed names to enhance their credibility and authority, and often from within branches of Christianity that were eventually branded heretical.They can be broadly organised into the following categories:
The apocryphal gospels can also be seen in terms of the communities which produced them:
|Epistle of the Apostles||Mid 2nd c.||Anti-gnostic dialogue between Jesus and the disciples after the resurrection, emphasising the reality of the flesh and of Jesus' fleshly resurrection|
|Gospel According to the Hebrews||Early 2nd c.||Events in the life of Jesus; Jewish-Christian, with possible gnostic overtones|
|Gospel of the Ebionites||Early 2nd c.||Jewish-Christian, embodying anti-sacrificial concerns|
|Gospel of the Egyptians||Early 2nd c.||"Salome" figures prominently; Jewish-Christian stressing asceticism|
|Gospel of Mary||2nd c.||Dialogue of Mary Magdalene with the apostles, and her vision of Jesus' secret teachings.|
|Gospel of the Nazareans||Early 2nd c.||Aramaic version of Matthew, possibly lacking the first two chapters; Jewish-Christian|
|Gospel of Nicodemus||5th c.||Jesus' trial, crucifixion and descent into Hell|
|Gospel of Peter||Early 2nd c.||Fragmentary narrative of Jesus' trial, death and emergence from the tomb. It seems to be hostile toward Jews and includes docetic elements. It is a narrative gospel and is notable for asserting that Herod, not Pontius Pilate, ordered the crucifixion of Jesus. It had been lost but was rediscovered in the 19th century.|
|Gospel of Philip||3rd c.||Mystical reflections of the disciple Philip|
|Gospel of the Saviour||Late 2nd c.||Fragmentary account of Jesus' last hours|
|Coptic Gospel of Thomas||Early 2nd c.||The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church says that the original may date from c. 150. Some scholars believe that it may represent a tradition independent from the canonical gospels, but that developed over a long time and was influenced by Matthew and Luke; other scholars believe it is a later text, dependent from the canonical gospels. While it can be understood in Gnostic terms, it lacks the characteristic features of Gnostic doctrine. It includes two unique parables, the parable of the empty jar and the parable of the assassin. It had been lost but was discovered, in a Coptic version dating from c. 350, at Nag Hammadi in 1945–46, and three papyri, dated to c. 200, which contain fragments of a Greek text similar to but not identical with that in the Coptic language, have also been found.|
|Infancy Gospel of Thomas||Early 2nd c.||Miraculous deeds of Jesus between the ages of five and twelve|
|Gospel of Truth||Mid 2nd c.||Joys of Salvation|
|Papyrus Egerton 2||Early 2nd c.||Fragmentary, four episodes from the life of Jesus|
|Diatessaron||Late 2nd c.||Gospel harmony (and the first such gospel harmony) composed by Tatian; may have been intended to replace the separate gospels as an authoritative text. It was accepted for liturgical purposes for as much as two centuries in Syria, but was eventually suppressed.|
|Protoevangelium of James||Mid 2nd c.||Birth and early life of Mary, and birth of Jesus|
|Gospel of Marcion||Mid 2nd c.||Marcion of Sinope, c. 150, had a much shorter version of the gospel of Luke, differing substantially from what has now become the standard text of the gospel and far less oriented towards the Jewish scriptures. Marcion's critics said that he had edited out the portions of Luke he did not like, though Marcion argued that his was the more genuinely original text. He is said to have rejected all other gospels, including those of Matthew, Mark and especially John, which he alleged had been forged by Irenaeus.|
|Secret Gospel of Mark||Uncertain||Allegedly a longer version of Mark written for an elect audience|
|Gospel of Judas||Late 2nd c.||Purports to tell the story of the gospel from the perspective of Judas, the disciple who is usually said to have betrayed Jesus. It paints an unusual picture of the relationship between Jesus and Judas, in that it appears to interpret Judas's act not as betrayal, but rather as an act of obedience to the instructions of Jesus. The text was recovered from a cave in Egypt by a thief and thereafter sold on the black market until it was finally discovered by a collector who, with the help of academics from Yale and Princeton, was able to verify its authenticity. The document itself does not claim to have been authored by Judas (it is, rather, a gospel about Judas), and is known to date to at least 180 AD.|
|Gospel of Barnabas||14th–16th c.||Contradicts the ministry of Jesus in canonical New Testament and strongly denies Pauline doctrine, but has clear parallels with Islam, mentioning Muhammad as Messenger of God. Jesus identifies himself as a prophet, not the son of God.|
The Gospel of Mark is the second of the four canonical gospels and one of the three synoptic Gospels. It tells of the ministry of Jesus from his baptism by John the Baptist to his death, burial of his body, and the discovery of his empty tomb. It portrays Jesus as a teacher, an exorcist, a healer, and a miracle worker, though it does not mention a miraculous birth or divine pre-existence. He refers to himself as the Son of Man. He is called the Son of God but keeps his messianic nature secret; even his disciples fail to understand him. All this is in keeping with Christian interpretation of prophecy, which is believed to foretell the fate of the messiah as suffering servant.
The Gospel of Luke tells of the origins, birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. Together with the Acts of the Apostles, it makes up a two-volume work which scholars call Luke–Acts, accounting for 27.5% of the New Testament. The combined work divides the history of first-century Christianity into three stages, with the gospel making up the first two of these – the life of Jesus the Messiah from his birth to the beginning of his mission in the meeting with John the Baptist, followed by his ministry with events such as the Sermon on the Plain and its Beatitudes, and his Passion, death, and resurrection.
The Gospel of Matthew is the first book of the New Testament of the Bible and one of the three synoptic Gospels. It tells how Israel's Messiah, Jesus, comes to his people but is rejected by them and how, after his resurrection, he sends the disciples to the gentiles instead. Matthew wishes to emphasize that the Jewish tradition should not be lost in a church that was increasingly becoming gentile. The gospel reflects the struggles and conflicts between the evangelist's community and the other Jews, particularly with its sharp criticism of the scribes and Pharisees with the position that through their rejection of Christ, the Kingdom of God has been taken away from them and given instead to the church.
The Gospel of John is the fourth of the four canonical gospels. It contains a highly schematic account of the ministry of Jesus, with seven "signs" culminating in the raising of Lazarus and seven "I am" discourses culminating in Thomas' proclamation of the risen Jesus as "my Lord and my God". The gospel's concluding verses set out its purpose, "that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name."
Matthew the Apostle is named in the New Testament as one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. According to Christian traditions, he was also one of the four Evangelists as author of the Gospel of Matthew, and thus is also known as Matthew the Evangelist.
The New Testament (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus, as well as events in first-century Christianity. The New Testament's background, the first division of the Christian Bible, is called the Old Testament, which is based primarily upon the Hebrew Bible; together they are regarded as sacred scripture by Christians.
Mark the Evangelist also known as John Mark or Saint Mark, is the person who is traditionally ascribed to be the author of the Gospel of Mark. Modern Bible scholars have concluded that the Gospel of Mark was written by an anonymous author rather than by Mark. According to Church tradition, Mark founded the episcopal see of Alexandria, which was one of the five most important sees of early Christianity. His feast day is celebrated on April 25, and his symbol is the winged lion.
The empty tomb is the Christian tradition that the tomb of Jesus was found empty after his crucifixion. The canonical gospels are consistent on the incident, with variations, of the visit of women to Jesus' tomb. Although Jesus' body had been laid out in the tomb after crucifixion and death, the tomb is found to be empty, the body gone, and the women are told by angels that he has risen. The gospel accounts are based on earlier oral traditions.
The nativity of Jesus, nativity of Christ, birth of Jesus or birth of Christ is described in the biblical gospels of Luke and Matthew. The two accounts agree that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judaea, that his mother, Mary, was engaged to a man named Joseph, who was descended from King David and was not his biological father, and that his birth was caused by divine intervention. Many modern scholars consider the birth narratives unhistorical because they are laced with theology and present two different accounts which cannot be harmonised into a single coherent narrative. However, many others view the discussion of historicity as secondary, given that gospels were primarily written as theological documents rather than chronological timelines.
The sayings of Jesus on the cross are seven expressions biblically attributed to Jesus during his crucifixion. Traditionally, the brief sayings have been called "words".
Jesus, also referred to as Jesus Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, and many other names and titles, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity, the world's largest religion. Most Christians believe Jesus to be the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited Jewish messiah, the Christ that is prophesied in the Hebrew Bible.
M source, which is sometimes referred to as M document, or simply M, comes from the M in "Matthean material". It is a hypothetical textual source for the Gospel of Matthew. M Source is defined as that 'special material' of the Gospel of Matthew that is neither Q source nor Mark.
The Gospel of the Nazarenes is the traditional but hypothetical name given by some scholars to distinguish some of the references to, or citations of, non-canonical Jewish-Christian Gospels extant in patristic writings from other citations believed to derive from different Gospels.
Disputes regarding the internal consistency and textual integrity of the Bible have a long history.
There is much disagreement within biblical scholarship today over the authorship of the Bible. The majority of scholars believe that most of the books of the Bible are the work of multiple authors and that all have been edited to produce the works known today. The following article outlines the conclusions of the majority of contemporary scholars, along with the traditional views, both Jewish and Christian.
The Jewish–Christian Gospels were gospels of a Jewish Christian character quoted by Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius, Epiphanius, Jerome and probably Didymus the Blind. All five call the gospel they know the "Gospel of the Hebrews", but most modern scholars have concluded that the five early church historians are not quoting the same work. As none of the works survive to this day attempts have been made to reconstruct them from the references in the Church Fathers. The majority of scholars believe that there existed one gospel in Aramaic/Hebrew and at least two in Greek, although a minority argue that there were only two, in Aramaic/Hebrew and in Greek.
Christianity in the 1st century covers the formative history of Christianity from the start of the ministry of Jesus to the death of the last of the Twelve Apostles and is thus also known as the Apostolic Age. Early Christianity developed out of the eschatological ministry of Jesus. Subsequent to Jesus' death, his earliest followers formed an apocalyptic messianic Jewish sect during the late Second Temple period of the 1st century. Initially believing that Jesus' resurrection was the start of the end time, their beliefs soon changed in the expected Second Coming of Jesus and the start of God's Kingdom at a later point in time.
The historical reliability of the Gospels is evaluated by experts who have not found a complete consensus. While all four canonical gospels contain some sayings and events which may meet one or more of the five criteria for historical reliability used in biblical studies, the assessment and evaluation of these elements is a matter of ongoing debate. Virtually all scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus of Nazareth existed in 1st century Palestine, but scholars differ on the historicity of specific episodes described in the biblical accounts of Jesus, and the only two events subject to "almost universal assent" are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate. There is no scholarly consensus concerning other elements of Jesus's life including the two accounts of the Nativity of Jesus, the miraculous events including the resurrection, and certain details about the crucifixion.
The Q source (also called The Sayings Gospel, Q Gospel, Q document(s), or Q; from German: Quelle, meaning "source") is a hypothetical written collection of primarily Jesus' sayings (λόγια : logia). Q is part of the common material found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke but not in the Gospel of Mark. According to this hypothesis, this material was drawn from the early Church's oral gospel traditions.
Oral gospel traditions is the hypothetical first stage in the formation of the written gospels as information was passed by word of mouth. These oral traditions included different types of stories about Jesus. For example, people told anecdotes about Jesus healing the sick and debating with his opponents. The traditions also included sayings attributed to Jesus, such as parables and teachings on various subjects which, along with other sayings, formed the oral gospel tradition. The supposition of such traditions have been the focus of scholars such as Bart Ehrman, James Dunn, and Richard Bauckham, although each scholar varies widely in his conclusions, with Ehrman and Bauckham publicly debating on the subject.