- When was it decided there should be four gospels?
- Were gospels removed from the Bible?
- What makes the 4 Gospels Different?
- Is there any evidence for the reliability of the four gospels?
- Are the 'other' gospels historical?
- Early Witnesses to the Four-Gospel Collection
- Primary source materials on Gospels
Early Witnesses to the Four-Gospel Collection
1. Papias (c. 70/75-c. 163) may have known the four biblical Gospels. He certainly knew the Gospels of Matthew and Mark (Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History, 3,39,15). Further, in arguing that "[t]here should be no doubt that Papias knew the Fourth Gospel," Bauckham cites 1) Papias' list of six disciples are in the distinctively Johannine order; 2) the quotation from John 14:2; and 3) the reference to Papias' comment on John 19:39. Bauckham cites Papias' quotation of Luke 10:18 as possible evidence that he knew Luke (The Testimony of the Beloved Disciple, 51).
2. The origins of the "Long Ending" of Mark (i.e., the extended narrative of resurrection appearances in Mark 16:9-20 which many scholars think is not original to Mark's Gospel but nonetheless found in many manuscripts) are very early and may have been dependent on the resurrection accounts found in the other three canonical Gospels. See the discussion in James A. Kelhoffer, Miracle and Mission, 137-150.
3. Justin probably had a four-gospel collection. See the discussion in Charles E. Hill, The Johannnine Corpus in the Early Church and "Was John's Gospel among Justin's Apostolic Memoirs" in Justin Martyr and His Worlds, 88-94. Hill writes, "It is generally agreed that these [Memoirs of the Apostles] included the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke;" but Hill also writes that "we may now affirm that when Justin designated a number of Gospels as Memoirs of the Apostles, one of those he had in mind was indeed John's" (88). Cf. also, Oskar Skarsaune, "Justin and His Bible" in Justin Martyr and His Worlds, 53-76.
4. Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-211/216) certainly knew of the four-gospel collection (Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History, 6,14,5-7).
5. Tertullian (c. 160-c. 220) knew the four-gospel collection (Against Marcion, 4,2).
Jesus and the Eyewitnesses
By Richard Bauckham
This new book argues that the four Gospels are closely based on eyewitness testimony of those who knew Jesus.
The Gospel of Judas
by Simon Gathercole
`Judas' is synonymous with `traitor'. But a newly-discovered ancient text of the Gospel of Judas offers a picture of Judas Iscariot radically different from the Church's traditional understanding of him, and maintains that far from being the infamous betrayer, Judas was actually Jesus' trusted friend and the recipient of secret revelation. Simon Gathercole's new book includes a translation of the ancient Egyptian text of the Gospel of Judas and a running commentary, and offers new translations of all the ancient evidence about Judas Iscariot and the Gospel attributed to him... more
The Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ
by Martin Hengel
How could the word, 'gospel', be used both by Paul for a proclamation which seems to include no narrative about the earthly Jesus, and by the author of the Gospel according to Mark and his successors, as a title works, which adopt an essentially narrative form? Why did the church, in forming its canon of scripture, choose to include four different and sometimes contradictory accounts of the life of Jesus, when others, like Tatian and Marcion, opted for a harmony, for one account? more