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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 set out.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 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 authors.
The four canonical gospels were probably written between AD 66 and 110.All four were anonymous (with the modern names added in the 2nd century), almost certainly none were by eyewitnesses, and all are the end-products of long oral and written transmission. Mark was the first to be written, using a variety of sources. The authors of Matthew and Luke 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. The contradictions and discrepancies between the first three and John make it impossible to accept both traditions as equally reliable.
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 Greek 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 are those of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They 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 roleand 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.
The Gospel of Mark never refers to Jesus as "God" or claims that he existed prior to his earthly life, does not describe his birth, makes no attempt to trace his ancestry back to King David or Adam, and originally had no post-resurrection appearances,although Mark 16:7, in which a 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.
Matthew and Luke base their narratives of the life of Jesus on that in Mark, but each makes subtle changes, Matthew stressing Jesus's divine nature – for example, the "young man" who appears at Jesus's tomb in Mark becomes a radiant angel in Matthew.Similarly, the miracle stories in Mark confirm Jesus's status as an emissary of God (which was Mark's understanding of the Messiah), but in Matthew they demonstrate divinity.
Luke, while following Mark's gospel more faithfully than does 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.
Matthew, Mark and Luke are termed the synoptic gospels because they present very similar accounts of the life of Jesus, while John presents a significantly different picture of Jesus's life and ministry,omitting any mention of his ancestry, birth and childhood, his baptism, temptation and transfiguration. John's 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. In contrast to Mark, where Jesus hides his identity as the Messiah, in John he openly proclaims it.
Like the rest of the New Testament, the four canonical 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. Minor changes and redactions may have continued as late as the 3rd century. The gospels appear to be anonymous; the modern titles ("Gospel according to Matthew", etc.) do not appear to have been part of the earliest forms of the work. They were eventually ascribed to Matthew the Apostle, Mark the Evangelist, Luke the Evangelist, and John the Apostle. A few conservative scholars defend the traditional ascriptions, but for a variety of reasons the majority of scholars have abandoned this view or hold it only tenuously. Notably, there is a gap of decades before there is clear written evidence of the ascriptions to the gospels, suggesting they were made in the mid-to-late 2nd century and are not original to the text; traditionalists suggest these ascriptions were made earlier, however. Most scholars instead suggest that the gospels were written by unknown erudite Greek-speaking Christians recording received traditions of Jesus, and in the case of Matthew and Luke, using Mark as a basis to build upon. Despite their anonymity, the author of Luke–Acts seems to hint to be a traveling companion of Paul the Apostle, and the author of John seems to hint he is the "beloved disciple" of Jesus. As a dissenting view, Richard Bauckham defends the authenticity of the traditional ascription of John, believing it to be written by the apostle at a very old age with the expressed goal of adding information that was missing in the synoptic gospels, and suggests that the synoptic gospels were at least compiled using interviews with still-living eyewitnesses.
In the immediate aftermath of Jesus's death, his followers apparently expected him to return at any moment, likely within their own lifetimes, and consequently there was little motivation to write anything down for future generations. However, 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 to be written; 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. Most form critics 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 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 collection of sayings called the Q
All four also use the Jewish scriptures, by quoting or referencing passages, or by interpreting texts, or by 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.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, 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 Luke, which he edited to fit his own theology. 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.
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's 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's 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's trial, crucifixion and descent into Hell|
|Gospel of Peter||Early 2nd c.||Fragmentary narrative of Jesus's 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's 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 of the three synoptic Gospels. It tells of the ministry of Jesus from his baptism by John the Baptist to his death, burial, and the discovery of his empty tomb. There is no miraculous birth or doctrine of divine pre-existence, nor, in the original ending, any post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. It portrays Jesus as a teacher, an exorcist, a healer, and a miracle worker. 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 ends, in its original version, with the discovery of the empty tomb, a promise to meet again in Galilee, and an unheeded instruction to spread the good news of the Resurrection of Jesus.
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 and forms a community of disciples, of how he taught the people through such events as the Sermon on the Mount and its Beatitudes, and how Israel becomes divided and how Jesus condemns this hostile Israel. This culminates in his departure from the Temple and his execution. At this point many people reject Jesus, and on his resurrection he sends the disciples to the gentiles.
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, also known as Saint Matthew and possibly as Levi, was, according to the New Testament, 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, a claim rejected by most biblical scholars, though the "traditional authorship still has its defenders."
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.
John the Apostle or Saint John the Beloved was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus according to the New Testament. Generally listed as the youngest apostle, he was the son of Zebedee and Salome. His brother was James, who was another of the Twelve Apostles. The Church Fathers identify him as John the Evangelist, John of Patmos, John the Elder, and the Beloved Disciple, and testify that he outlived the remaining apostles and was the only one to die of natural causes, although modern scholars are divided on the veracity of these claims.
The empty tomb is the Christian tradition that the women coming to the tomb of Jesus on the third day after his crucifixion found it empty. All four canonical gospels relay the story, but beyond a basic outline, they agree on little. However, the death, burial, and resurrection narratives predate the gospels and Paul's letters via oral traditions and the gospel authors' usage of standard literary, historical, and biographical compositional practices of their day along with their use of multiple sources could account for some of the differences in their accounts of the empty tomb.
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, his mother Mary was betrothed 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, but also many view the discussion of historicity as secondary, given that gospels were primarily written as theological documents rather than chronological timelines.
Jesus, also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity, the world's largest religion. Most Christians believe he is the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited messiah, 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.
Table I gives an overview of the periods and dates ascribed to the various books of the Bible. Tables II, III and IV outline the conclusions of the majority of contemporary scholars on the composition of the Hebrew Bible and the Protestant Old Testament, the deuterocanonical works, and the New Testament. Some books are considered pseudepigrapha - the person traditionally cited as the author is not the person who actually wrote the text; for some books there appear to have been multiple authors.
The gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles make up a two-volume work which scholars call Luke–Acts. The author is not named in either volume. According to a Church tradition, first attested by Irenaeus, he was the Luke named as a companion of Paul in three of the Pauline letters, but "a critical consensus emphasizes the countless contradictions between the account in Acts and the authentic Pauline letters." The eclipse of the traditional attribution to Luke the companion of Paul has meant that an early date for the gospel is now rarely put forward. Most scholars date the composition of the combined work to around 80–90 AD, although some others suggest 90–110, and there is textual evidence that Luke–Acts was still being substantially revised well into the 2nd century.
The historical reliability of the Gospels is the reliability and historic character of the four New Testament gospels as historical documents. 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. Almost all scholars of antiquity agree that a human Jesus existed, 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. Elements whose historical authenticity is disputed include the two accounts of the Nativity of Jesus, the miraculous events including the resurrection, and certain details about the crucifixion.
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 scholars vary widely on their conclusions, with Ehrman and Bauckham publicly debating on the subject.
In Christian theology and ecclesiology, the apostles, particularly the Twelve Apostles, were the primary disciples of Jesus according to the New Testament. During the life and ministry of Jesus in the 1st century AD, the apostles were his closest followers and became the primary teachers of the gospel message of Jesus. There is also an Eastern Christian tradition derived from the Gospel of Luke of there having been as many as seventy apostles during the time of Jesus' ministry.
The historicity and origin of the resurrection of Jesus has been the subject of historical research and debate, as well as a topic of discussion among theologians. The accounts of the Gospels, including the empty tomb and the appearances of the risen Jesus to his followers, have been interpreted and analyzed in diverse ways, and have been seen variously as historical accounts of a literal event, as accurate accounts of visionary experiences, as non-literal eschatological parables, and as fabrications of early Christian writers, among various other interpretations. It has been suggested, for example, that Jesus did not die on the cross, that the empty tomb was the result of Jesus' body having been stolen, or, as was common with Roman crucifixions, that Jesus was never entombed.
Christian sources, such as the New Testament books in the Christian Bible, include detailed stories about Jesus, but scholars differ on the historicity of specific episodes described in the biblical accounts of Jesus. 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.
Quotations related to Gospel at Wikiquote