3 General Outline Early Gospel Sources The Writing of the New Testament The Dissemination of the New TestamentThe New Testament Canon
4 Questions We HaveIn what form did the gospel exist before the written Gospel accounts?Did the Gospel writers use their own memories?Did the Gospel writers have sources?Did the Gospel writers use each other?When were the Gospels written?Are the Gospels reliable witnesses?
5 Remembering Jesus’ Teaching The authority that Jesus spoke with commanded respect, Matthew 7:28-29Jesus identified himself as Messiah, John 4:25-26, 28-30If the disciples viewed Jesus merely as a rabbi, they stilled would have passed down his teachings.Over 80% of Jesus teaching is in the form of memorable comparisons and proverbs.
6 Remembering Jesus’ Teaching Elementary education for boys through age twelve was typical in Israel.The disciples learned, discussed, and taught Jesus’ teachings, Luke 11:1, etc.The early church was aware of Jesus’ teachings outside of the Gospels, Acts 20:35
7 Oral Tradition of the Gospel Story How did Paul learn the Gospel?The Lord through Ananias, Acts 9:10-18Received of the Lord, 1 Corinthians 11:23Received of witnesses, 1 Corinthians 15:3-8God revealed it, Galatians 1:11-17Paul met Peter & James, Galatians 1:18-24While we do not exclude the work of the Spirit, direct revelation is not the only vehicle for the early gospel teachings.
8 Rehearsing the GospelHow did Aquila and Priscilla “explain” to Apollos the way of God (Acts 18:26)?Date: After 49 AD? (Acts 18:1-2)The term is used of a “rehearsal” of events in Acts 11:4 and of a retelling of the gospel in Acts 28:23.The same term is even used of written documents (decrees) in the LXX: Esther 3:14; 4:3,8; 8:13,14,17; 9:14; Daniel 3:29; 6:8; Zechariah 1:16.
9 Did Gospels Use Each Other? Luke 1:1-4 admits that his material is at least partially “compiled” (from ανατάσσομαι, meaning “to put together in order, arrange, compose”) and is based also on eyewitness testimony that was available.One common belief is that Luke and Matthew drew a large portion of their material from Mark.The relationship between Matthew, Mark, and Luke is called the Synoptic Problem.
10 Did Luke Use Sources? Blomberg on Luke 1:1-4 “Certainly, Luke admits familiarity with previous presumably written accounts of the events of Jesus’ life (Luke 1:1), but it is impossible to know if he had in mind any of the other three Gospels in finished form.”“The Greek word for ‘narrative’ in this context (diegesis) most naturally refers to a written account.”
11 Did Gospels Use Each Other? Only 10% of Mark’s brief Gospel is not also found in either Luke or Matthew.What about the other stuff?Material in Matthew and Luke that is not found in Mark has been attributed to another document, called Q (from the German “Quelle” meaning “source”).However, there is no end to theories on how this might have worked out.
15 What About Q?First, there is precisely zero manuscript evidence that such a document ever existed.As Blomberg admits, “we have no external evidence to demonstrate that Q even existed, much less to tell us anything else about it.”
16 What About Q?Second, Q cannot be rightly called a “lost gospel,” since as we have already discussed, Q by definition is just the material that we have in Matthew and Luke.There is definitely no evidence that it contains additional information than is contained in the Gospels that we have.
17 What About Q?Third, we should also acknowledge that there is no shortage of doubt about the Q document.Klyne Snodgrass, Professor of New Testament Studies, North Park Theological Seminary: “I am not convinced of the existence of Q, but even if it did exist in some form, the procedure used in reconstructing or determining original forms is not trustworthy. Hypotheses on these matters cannot be demonstrated and often show more about the scholar’s assumptions than anything about the tradition history.”
18 What About Q?N.T. Wright, Bishop of Durham, writes that he remains “skeptical about how much we can know of the ways in which traditions developed prior to their first appearance in our sources, and between then and subsequent appearances,” and he writes, “I am not even sure whether to believe in Q or not, and if so in what version of it.”Wright mentions the populated “ranks” in the scholarly community, “if not of ‘Q skeptics’, at least doubters or questioners.”
19 Final Thoughts On Sources John’s Explanation of the Source of Gospels:The Holy Spirit was promised as a “teacher” (John 14:26).He would also make use of the memory of the apostles (John 14:26).As the Spirit was a witness to the apostles, so they would be to others (John 15:26-27).The Holy Spirit would provide additional material beyond even what Jesus taught (John 16:12-13).
20 Dating the Gospels: Mark Papias (early 100’s AD) taught that Mark worked with Peter “and wrote accurately all that he remembered, not indeed, in order, of the things said or done by the Lord.”Irenaeus (late 100’s AD) wrote that “Mark the disciple and interpreter of Peter also transmitted to us what he had written about what Peter had preached.”
21 Dating the Gospels: Mark Clement of Alexandria adds that this took place during Peter’s lifetime.Compare 1 Peter 5:13.Tradition says that Peter died from AD and that Mark died in Alexandria in 62 AD.Marks gospel would be written some time before that.
22 Dating the Gospels: Matthew Irenaeus writes that Matthew produced his work “while Peter and Paul were preaching the gospel and founding the church in Rome” (60’s AD).Papias agrees and claims that Matthew originally wrote the “sayings” of Jesus in a Hebrew dialect.That would put Matthew as early as the 50’s or some would say 40’s.
23 Dating the Gospels: Luke Luke and Acts are part of one narrative (Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-3).Acts ends abruptly and inconclusively before the results of Paul’s appeal to Caesar are known (Acts 28:30-31).This would place the text’s authorship around 62 AD.
24 Dating the Gospels: John John is usually considered the last of the Gospels.Many place his gospel in the 90’s, though a minority put it as early as the 60’s.John A.T. Robinson: “I believe John represents in date, as in theology, not only the omega but also the alpha of the New Testament development.”
25 Dating the Gospels: John Irenaeus: “We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of Antichrist; for if it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in this present time, it would have been announced by him who beheld the apocalyptic vision.“For [it or he] was seen not very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian's reign.”
26 Dating the Gospels: John Option #1: For it, that is the vision, was seen not very long ago, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian's reign.Option #2: For it, that is the written book, was seen not very long ago, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian's reign.Option #3: For he, that is the Apostle John, was seen no very long ago, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian's reign.
27 Dating the Gospels & More Clement of Alexandria ( AD):“For the teaching of our Lord at His advent, beginning with Augustus and Tiberius, was completed in the middle of the times of Tiberius. And that of the apostles, embracing the ministry of Paul, ends with Nero.”
28 Reliability of the Gospels Comparison to PlutarchLived from 46–120 ADWrote about Julius Caesar (100 year gap)Wrote about Alexander (400 year gap)His works are the definitive ancient history of these two figures.How does this compare to the “biographers” of Jesus of Nazareth?
29 Reliability of the Gospels Blomberg: “Still, given that Jesus was crucified no later than AD 30, we are still speaking of only one or two generations between the events narrated in the four canonical Gospels and the time of their being recorded (a point that remains true even if we accept the modern, more ‘liberal’ consensus that Mark should be located in the 70s and Matthew and Luke in the 80s). …
30 Reliability of the Gospels Blomberg: “… Compared to the centuries that typically elapsed between other people and events of antiquity and the time of their first biographers or historians, this is a remarkably short period of time that should inspire confidence in the Gospels’ trustworthiness.”Only 30 years separate Jesus from Gospels: Could you believe a book written in 2013 about the Carter Administration ( )? What if the author was in it?
31 Reliability of the Gospels Things to Keep in Mind:The Gospels are largely topical and not chronological.Example: Mark vs. LukeJohn the Baptist’s imprisonment: Early in Luke 3:1-20; Late in Mark 6:14-29The call of Peter, John, & James: Early in Mark 1:16-20; Late in Luke 5:1-11
32 Reliability of the Gospels Things to Keep in Mind:Quotations marks do not even exist in ancient languages.Example: Is it “you” or “him”?Mark 1:11Luke 3:22Matthew 3:17
33 Reliability of the Gospels Things to Keep in Mind:Details in a story are selected to reinforce the teller’s emphasis.Example: Matthew Tells More About PeterMatthew includes Peter stepping out of the boat (Matthew 14:28-32) but not Mark or John (Mark 6:45-52; John 6:15-21).Matthew includes promises to Peter (Matthew 16:17-19) but not Mark or Luke (Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21).
34 Reliability of the Gospels Things to Keep in Mind:Differing details are not the same as contradictory details.Example: Sermon on Mount or Plain?Matthew says Mount (Matthew 5:1).Luke says Plain (Luke 6:17).Luke admits the plain was near the mountain (Luke 6:12), and Matthew probably doesn’t imagine the crowd up on a peak!
35 Reliability of the Gospels Example: What women were at the tomb?Matthew 27:61; 28:1Mark 15:40, 47; 16:1Luke 23:49, 55; 24:1, 10John 20:1-2
36 Mary, mother of James & Joses MatthewMarkLukeMary MagdaleneOther MaryMary, mother of James & JosesMary, mother of JamesSalomeOther womenJoanaJohn 20:1-2 (ESV) Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, … she ran and went to [Peter & John], and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”
37 Reliability of the Gospels N.T. Wright on the Resurrection: “The stories exhibit … exactly that surface tension which we associate, not with tales artfully told by people eager to sustain a fiction and therefore anxious to make everything look right, but with the hurried, puzzled accounts of those who have seen with their eyes something which took them horribly by surprise and with which they have not yet fully come to terms.”
38 Conclusions Oral teaching predate the Gospels. The Gospels made use of various sources, including their own memories and the memories of others.The Gospels are reliable, especially if we know what to expect from them.The Gospels probably date to the years between AD, with the possibility of John’s being later near 90 AD.