Gospels

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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

I. The First Three Gospels

1. Date .-( a ) The central factor here is the date of the Second Gospel . The conspectus of dates given in Moffatt ( Introd. to Literature of the New Testament (Moffatt). , p. 213) will show that this Gospel is dated by modern writers between a.d. 44 and 130, and that recent opinion narrows these limits to 64-85. Moffatt himself decides on a date soon after 70 on the following grounds; (1) Irenaeus, adv. Haer . iii. i. 1, dates the Gospel after the death of St. Peter and St. Paul. This is doubtful (see below). (2) ‘The small apocalypse’ (ch. 13) suggests a date soon after 70. This is based on the very precarious inference that Mark 13 could not have been substantially spoken by Christ. He need not have had more than the prophetic insight of a Jeremiah to have spoken everything contained in this chapter.

Since the publication of Moffatt’s book Harnack has re-opened the whole question of the date of the first three Gospels by arguing that Acts was written at the end of St. Paul’s imprisonment in Rome.*[Note: Beiträge zur Einleitung in das Neue Testament, iv., Leipzig 1911.]It would follow, of course, that the Third Gospel must be earlier, and the Second, since it is one of the sources of the Third, earlier still. The fundamental question here is the evidence of Irenaeus The whole passage should be read carefully. One clause in it has generally been taken to mean that St. Mark wrote his Gospel after the death of St. Peter and St. Paul. But J. Chapman,†[Note: JThSt vi. [1905] 563 ff.] and now Harnack, argue that the words ‘after the death of’ do not date the writing of the Gospel, but, taken in the light of the whole context, mean that the apostolic preaching did not come to an end with the death of the apostles, but was handed down after their death, in written books, about the date of the composition of which nothing is said.

Harnack is thus left free to place the Second Gospel before St. Paul’s imprisonment. He thinks that the late evidence of Clement of Alexandria,‡[Note: Eus. HE vi. 14.]which connects the Gospel with Rome, may perhaps mean that Mark edited there his previously written Gospel. Harnack does not attempt to date the Second Gospel more narrowly.

But we may carry the argument farther. If the writing of Acts at the end of St. Paul’s imprisonment affords a limit after which the Second Gospel could not have been written, the relationship between the Second Gospel and the First, which presupposes it, may furnish another.

(b) The First Gospel is assigned by most modern writers to the period 65-90 (see Moffatt). Harnack thinks that it must have been written neat the Fall of Jerusalem, but not necessarily before it. Moffatt is clear that it must have been written after that event.

Apart from its relationship to St. Mark, the inclination to date the First Gospel relatively late is due to a belief that it reflects the atmosphere of a period in which the Church has become organized and developed. It is, it is argued, ‘Catholic’ in tone. This method of argument seems wholly due to the fact that modern critics read the Gospel through ‘Catholic’ spectacles. Read it from the standpoint of a Jewish Christian of Antioch about the period of the controversy as to the admission of Gentiles into the Church, and everything is in place. In particular, two lines of thought in the Gospel point to this period: (1) the writer’s belief in the permanent validity of the Mosaic Law, (2) his eschatology. On the first see St. Matthew 3 ( International Critical Commentary , 1912), p. 326, and Expository Times xxi. [1909-10] 441. As to the second point, a few words may here be added in addition to what is written in St. Matthew 3 , p. lxix, and Expository Times xxi. 440.

The First Gospel is, as is well known, the most apocalyptically coloured of the Synoptic Gospels. But there are many who do not realize how deeply the apocalyptic element penetrates the book. It is, e.g. , urged by E. Buckley*[Note: Introduction to the Synoptic Problem, p. 278.]that the presence of passages like  Matthew 24:29;  Matthew 24:34 does not presuppose an early date for the Gospel, because the Evangelist, writing comparatively late, might have preserved such sayings if he found them in his sources. He might of course have done so, but the question is not one of a few isolated passages; it affects the whole Gospel, V. H. Stanton†[Note: The Gospels as Historical Documents, ii. 367.]also says that the language of ch. 24 need not make for an early date, because the writer could quite well have left unaltered expressions of his source. This misses the whole point. Not only does the editor leave unaltered expressions of his sources, but he also alters St. Mark in order to bring that Gospel into fine with the idea of the nearness of the Parousia which was so prominent in his own mind (cf., e.g. ,  Matthew 16:28 with  Mark 9:1,  Matthew 24:29 with  Mark 13:24). It is not only one or two isolated passages in one of his sources, it is the Evangelist himself giving preference to one eschatologically coloured source (Q) and revising another source (St. Mark) in accordance with its ideas. There are many who think that the prominence of the apocalyptic element in the First Gospel is due to the Evangelist forcing it in upon the tradition of Christ’s sayings. The truth is rather that the Evangelist had one source full of this element, and that he was so heartily in sympathy with it that he not only preserved large sections of it, but also allowed himself to transfer sayings of an apocalyptic nature from it into appropriate sections of St. Mark’s Gospel.

That the apocalyptic colouring of the First Gospel, in so far as it is peculiar to that book, is due to the Evangelist himself and not to one of his sources seems wholly incredible. Allow that the Gospel was written about the year a.d. 50 by a Jewish Christian of the party who wished to enforce the keeping of the Law upon the Gentiles, and the writer, as one who was anxious to preserve all those sayings of Christ which represented Him as One who taught that He was the Messiah of the Jews who would shortly inaugurate the Kingdom, is in his natural place in the development of the Church. He is contemporaneous with the apocalyptic period of St. Paul’s teaching. Would the Church ever have received a book into which the writer had thrust his own conception of Christ as an utterer of apocalyptic fantasies at a later period when they had a Gospel of St. Luke? Its reception by the Church seems explicable only on the ground that it was a book written early in the history of the Church, received at first in the district where it was written by a community which was in agreement with its apocalyptic teaching, and that it thus held a place in the Church from which it could not be deposed.

B. H. Streeter*[Note: Interpreter, viii. [1911] 37 ff.] argues that the Apocalypse, written towards the close of the century, proves that there wore at that period circles with a strong liking for apocalyptic literature, and seems to think that the First Gospel may therefore have been written comparatively late. But the two cases are not in the least parallel. The Gospel was read in the Church at an early date and everywhere received. The use of the Apocalypse was long contested. Moreover, it was one thing for the Church to value an Apocalypse placed in the mouth of the Ascended Christ; it would have been quite another matter for it at a date when, as the Third and Fourth Gospels show, the tendency was rather to diminish than to enhance the apocalyptic element in the Lord’s words, to accept a Gospel in which (according to the theory) there were placed wholesale in His month during His earthly life sayings couched in technical apocalyptic language which He never used. A Gospel so judaized, as would be the First Gospel on this theory, in idea and in language, would have been recognized as alien to the true tradition of Christ’s life, and would have stood little chance of being received as an apostolic writing.

Notice may be taken here of a few passages which are supposed to suggest a late date.

Chs. 1 and 2 are certainly early. Harnack now recognizes that nothing in them need have been written later than a.d. 70. The sayings about the Church (16:17ff.; 18:15ff.) are certainly early, for they are couched in language in which the Jewish colouring is very remarkable. The word ‘Church’ is supposed to betray a late date, but why? About a.d. 52 St. Paul was using it of the Church at Thessalonica. When the Evangelist wanted a Greek word to represent the Aramaic word used by Christ, whatever that may have been, what other word would he be likely to choose than the ἐκκλησία of sacred usage?

‘As to the last point [the use or ‘Church’] it is enough to note that the word occurs nearly a hundred times in the Septuagint. Not only is the rest of the vocabulary essentially Jewish, but it must come from a quarter in which the Jewish origin and relations of Christianity mere strongly marked, i.e. from a source near the fountain head.’†[Note: Sanday, in Minutes of Evidence before Royal Com. on Divorce, iii. 241.]

The trinitarian formula in 28:19 need not be late. St. Paul, says Harnack, did not create it ( op. cit. p. 108; cf. also The Constitution and Law of the Church , Eng. translation, London, 1910, p. 259ff.).

The narratives peculiar to St. Matthew are, as Harnack recognizes, of a very archaic character.

If then we are right in dating the First Gospel about a.d. 50, we have a further limit for St. Mark. His Gospel must be prior to that date, and fall between 30 and 50. Now it is clear from the early chapters of Acts that St. Peter was prominent in Jerusalem as leader of the little society of disciples of Jesus the Messiah (the First Gospel reflects this rightly). There about the year 39 St. Paul stayed with him for a fortnight. But in 44 St. Peter was obliged to leave Jerusalem ( Acts 12:17), and we do not find him there again until the Council some five years later (Acts 15). During this interval the Second Gospel may well have been written. The absence of Peter from Jerusalem would, suggest the writing down of his teachings to compensate for the loss of his personal presence, and no one was so fitted for this work as John Mark. If written at Jerusalem, the Gospel would naturally have been composed in Aramaic, and there is much in its style and language to suggest this. But St. Mark did not stay long in Jerusalem. He left with his cousin Barnabas for Antioch, and there (circa, about44-47) it may have been found desirable to translate the Gospel into Greek. When the controversy between the Churches of Antioch and Jerusalem broke out a little later, the writer of the First Gospel took St. Mark’s work as his basis, and wrote a longer Gospel, inserting from another source much of the Lord’s teaching as preserved at Jerusalem. The Second Gospel may quite well have been re-edited at Rome; but if so, the changes made in it cannot have been many, for it is clear that the editor of the First Gospel had St. Mark before him much as we have it.

( c ) The Third Gospel is generally dated c. [Note: . circa, about.]a.d. 80 (see Moffatt). But if Harnack is right about the date of the Acts, the Gospel must of course be earlier, i.e. it must have been written somewhere between a.d. 47 and 60.*[Note: For a refutation of the argument that the Gospel presupposes the Fall of Jerusalem see Harnack, Beiträge, iv. 81 ff.]

2. Authorship .-( a ) The tradition which assigns the Second Gospel to St. Mark is so strong that it requires some boldness to set it aside. It goes back as early as Papias (circa, abouta.d. 140), who gives it on the authority of ‘the Elder’ (Eus. HE [Note: E Historia Ecclesiastica (Eusebius, etc.).]iii. 39), and it is now very widely accepted (cf., e.g. , Peake, [ Critical Introd. to NT , p. 121], Harnack, Moffatt, Bacon [ The Making of the NT , p. 159]).

( b ) The majority of modern writers are also agreed in referring the First Gospel to an unknown writer. The reasons for this are the following. (1) The earliest witness, Papias or the Elder quoted by him, speaks of a work of St. Matthew which he describes as τὰ λόγια. This term does not describe aptly such a book as our First Gospel, but would more naturally apply to a collection of utterances or sayings (see Moffatt, p. 189). (2) Moreover, this work is said by the same witness to have been written in the Hebrew dialect (=Aramaic?). Now our First Gospel is certainly not a translation of an Aramaic or Hebrew work. It was written in Greek by a writer who used at least one Greek source, the Second Gospel, and who used also the Greek OT (see St. Matthew 3 [ International Critical Commentary ], pp. xiii ff. lxii).

But the inference is a natural one that the name of St. Matthew was given to the book because it largely embodies the work of that Apostle referred to by Papias. Modern criticism has therefore been largely absorbed in an endeavour to reconstruct this Matthaean work. Foreign scholars for the most part refuse in any way to identify the discourse source which has been used in the First Gospel with Papias’ Matthaean Logia (Harnack, however, admits that it may well have been an apostolic work). They prefer to give it a name which will beg no questions as to its authorship, and call it simply Q (= Quelle , ‘source’). Three main views as to its contents exist: (1) that of Bernhard Weiss,†[Note: Die Quellen der synoptischen Überlieferung, Leipzig, 1908.]who assigns to it not only material found in both Mt. and Lk., or in one of them, but also a good deal that is common to all three Gospels, because he believes that St. Mark borrowed from Q,‡[Note: The question whether St. Mark used Q has been much discussed recently. F. Nicolardot (Les Procédés de rédaction des trois premiers Évangélistes, Paris, 1908) thinks that he did so largely. B. H. Streeter (in Sanday, Oxford Studies in the Synoptic Problem) argues that he did so only to a limited extent. Harnack thinks that ‘this assumption is nowhere demanded’ (Sayings of Jesus, p. 226; so Moffatt, LNT, p. 204 ff.).]which therefore lay before Mt. and Lk. in a double form-(i.) its original form, (ii.) as reproduced in Mk. (2) Harnack,*[Note: The Sayings of Jesus.]again, assigns to it only material found both in Mt. and Lk. arid not in Mk. (cf. also Hawkins and Streeter in Sanday, Oxford Studies in the Synoptic Problem ). One serious objection to this theory is that, since it is almost incredible that Mt. and Lk. should either have both embodied the whole of Q or both have selected the same sections from it, a reconstruction an these lines must give us on incomplete Q, and possibly one so incomplete that no sure inferences can be drawn from it as to the nature and character of the whole work, (3) Finally, Allen ( Oxford Studies , p. 236ff.) believes that Q is best represented in the First Gospel. He thinks that if most of the sayings and discourses peculiar to Mt., and those common to Mt. and Lk., are grouped together, the result forms a collection of discourses of a very primitive character which may well be the Matthaean work referred to by Papias. He thinks that this work was not used directly by Lk., but that many sayings drawn from it passed through intermediate stages into St. Luke’s Gospel, one of these intermediate stages being possibly the First Gospel.

( c ) The authorship of the Third Gospel is bound up with the question of the authorship of Acts. Critics, like Jülicher, who date Gospel and Acts about a.d. 100 and deny that the writer of the ‘we’ sections in Acts can be identified with the writer of the whole book of Acts, cannot of course accept the tradition that St. Luke, a companion of St. Paul, wrote both Acts and Gospel. But recent criticism has moved decisively in the direction of affirming the truth of the tradition, Harnack, following on the lines of W. K. Hobart,†[Note: The Medical Language of St. Luke, Dublin and London, 1882.]argues that the style and language of Gospel and Acts, including the ‘we’ sections, decisively prove that both works were written by one person and that he was a physician.‡[Note: See also J. C. Hawkins, Horae Synopticae,2 Oxford, 1909.]Moffatt says that the supposition that both works did not come from a single pen may nowadays be ‘decently interred’ ( Introd. to Literature of the New Testament (Moffatt). , p. 298). It is probable that criticism, after long wandering in a labyrinth of speculation upon this point, will return to the traditional belief in the Lucan authorship of both books. It is accepted in such recent works as that of Peake. For a summary of the linguistic argument, see Harnack, Luke the Physician , or Moffatt, Introd. to Literature of the New Testament (Moffatt). , p. 297f.

Some of those who reject the Lucan authorship of the two books are inclined to think that Luke may have written the ‘we’ sections (so Bacon, Introduction to NT , p. 211).

3. Characteristics

( a ) The Second Gospel is neither a history nor a biography. It contains no dates, and the writer is at no pains to give any details of time or place which would help to make the narrative intelligible to a reader previously unacquainted with it. The central figure of the book is introduced under the description ‘Jesus Messiah, Son of God’ ( Mark 1:1), but nothing is said of His human parentage. His early life, or the period in which He lived. If we set aside the last five chapters, which describe in detail, disproportionate to the rest of the book, the last few days of the Messiah’s life, the account of His doings in MK  Mark 1:14 to  Mark 10:52 is strangely disconnected and without sequence. No hint of the length of time occupied by the narrative is given, long periods are passed over without comment, whilst the events of a single day are recorded in detail.

This incompleteness and fragmentariness suggest the writer’s intention. He wished to put into permanent form such of the incidents of the Messiah’s life as were well known from St. Peter’s teaching to the community in which he lived. Behind the book there lies as the only explanation of it the Christian community fat Jerusalem?) orphaned of its chief teacher. If this be lost sight of, the book remains as a mere narrative of disconnected incidents in the life of one Jesus of Nazareth.

If a keynote to the Gospel be wanted, it may be found in the phrase ‘having authority’ ( Mark 1:22). Jesus is depicted as one whose words and deeds proved Him to be endowed with power, and so to be the Son of God. Cf. the following:-  Mark 1:22 : ‘He was teaching as having authority’;  Mark 1:27 : ‘a new teaching, with authority he commands’;  Mark 2:10 : ‘the Son of Man hath authority’;  Mark 5:30 : ‘knowing the power which had gone forth from him’;  Mark 6:2 : ‘the powers (miracles) done by him.’ In accordance with this is the emphasis in the Gospel upon the impression made by Him upon the peasantry. Cf. the following:-  Mark 1:22 : ‘the crowds were astonished at his teaching’;  Mark 2:12 : ‘all were astonished’;  Mark 5:42 : ‘they were astonished with great amazement’;  Mark 6:2 : ‘the populace were astonished’;  Mark 7:37 : ‘they were above measure astonished’;  Mark 11:18 : ‘the crowd were astonished at his teaching’;  Mark 1:33; ‘the whole city was gathered at the door’;  Mark 1:45 : ‘He could no longer enter into a city, but was without in desert places, and they came to him from all sides’;  Mark 2:2 : ‘They were gathered together, so that the space about the door could no longer contain them’;  Mark 3:9 : ‘He bade his disciples prepare a boat, because of the crowd’;  Mark 3:20 : ‘the crowd again gathers, so that they could not even eat’;  Mark 4:1 : ‘and there gathers to him a very great crowd, so that he embarked into a boat’;  Mark 6:31 : ‘There were many coming and going, and they had no opportunity to eat.’

( b ) If the Second Gospel is a book of reminiscences, or rather of notes of a great teacher’s reminiscences of the life of his Master, the First Gospel is a theological treatise in narrative form. Its purpose is to prove that Jesus of Nazareth was, though rejected by the rulers of His people, the true Messiah, in whom were or would be fulfilled all the Messianic expectations of the OT. The phrase ‘that it might be fulfilled’ may be taken as the keynote of the book. Characteristic of the book are the following: (1) its apologetic aspect; it is a defence of the Messiahship of Jesus against (i.) current slander (cf. esp. chs. 1, 2), (ii.) the hard fact that the Jewish authorities rejected Him; (2) its consequent polemic against the recognized authorities of the Jews; (3) its conception of the Church or Society of the Messiah as consisting of Jews or proselytes still under the authority of the Mosaic Law; (4) its conception of the Kingdom as to be inaugurated shortly when the Messiah returned on the clouds of heaven. See on these points St. Matthew 3 , pp. 309ff., 326ff.; Expository Times xxi. 439ff.; and article‘Matthew (Gospel)’ in Dict. of Christ and the Gospels .

( c ) In the Third Gospel we come at last to a professed biography or history of a life. It is best treated when taken as the first part of a Great historical work of which Acts is the second volume, and some of the following features characterize both works: (1) if in the First Gospel Jeans is ‘He who fulfils’ and in the Second He is the one having authority and power, in the Third He is the Divine Healer; (2) there is a strong universalistic note. Jesus is the Second Adam, and His gospel is for all peoples (cf.  Luke 2:14;  Luke 2:23;  Luke 3:6); (3) prominence is given to women in both Gospel and Acts; (4) there is considerable emphasis upon prayer, the influence of the Holy Spirit, and upon Christianity as being a religion marked by thanksgiving, joy, and peace.

Out of his many sources St. Luke has composed a wonderful book. About the first part of the Gospel hangs the peace of God, clothing it like a soft garment. Into the world has entered the Prince of Peace, bringing healing to the souls and bodies of men-not of Jews only but of all mankind, not for the rich and privileged classes but for the poor and the outcast, not for men alone but for women also. To those who are Christ’s disciples the gates of prayer are ever open, and they live in an atmosphere where praise is upon their lips and joy in their hearts. About the second part hangs still the feeling of the joy and peace which Christianity brings with it. But there is now a new note of triumph. The Christian Church as St. Luke describes it in the Acts marches victoriously through the Roman world from conquest to conquest. Harnack somewhere fitly quotes as a keynote to the work the words of the old Latin hymn ‘The Royal banners forward go.’

II. The Fourth Gospel .-The Fourth Gospel is dated by many modern writers in the early part of the 2nd cent. (so recently Clemen*[Note: Die Entstehung des Johannesevangeliums, Halle, 1912.]and Bacon†[Note: The Making of the NT.]). This of course precludes its apostolic authorship. The line of argument which leads up to this position is as follows. ( a ) The Fourth Gospel conflicts with the first three in facts such as the date of the Crucifixion, the cleansing of the Temple, and the account of John the Baptist; it is therefore hopelessly unhistorical, and cannot have been written by an apostle. ( b ) It conflicts with them in its presentation of the Person of Christ. The Christology is so different from that of the Synoptic Gospels that the sayings put into the mouth of Christ must be mainly the work of an author (not an apostle) who is writing under the influence of Jewish Alexandrian Philosophy and of Stoicism.‡[Note: See Moffatt, LNT, p. 522; Scott, Fourth Gospel, p. 29 ff.]( c ) What then of the 2nd cent. attribution of the Gospel to the Apostle? This is hopelessly misleading. Irenaeus misunderstood Polycarp and attributed the Gospel to John the Apostle when he ought to have assigned it to John the Elder. Irenaeus is wrong again when he said that John the Apostle lived to a good age and spent the last part of his life at Ephesus. As a matter of fact, he suffered early martyrdom at the hands of the Jews.§[Note: Moffatt, LNT, p. 602 ff.]

We may consider further some points in this argument. ( a ) The historical inaccuracy in matters of fact needs at least considerable qualification. In many respects the writer is remarkably accurate in his representation of Palestine as it was before the Fall of Jerusalem, e.g. in geographical and topographical detail, in his knowledge of Jewish custom, the relationship between Jewish parties, their religious beliefs. Moreover, the Synoptic tradition is too one-sided to be taken as a measure or gauge.

( b ) The contrast drawn between the Christology of the Synoptic Gospels and that of the Fourth Gospel is open to the same criticism. What right have we to regard the first three Gospels as an adequate presentation of the Person of Christ, and not as three slightly varying forms of a tradition which represented a very meagre part of a life which was many-sided? For hints in the Synoptic Gospels of a Judaea n ministry see Moffatt, Introd. to Literature of the New Testament (Moffatt). , p. 541. With respect to the teaching of Christ, the Synoptic Gospels give us a significant hint that there were sides of this teaching which they have left almost wholly unrecorded. The saying  Matthew 11:27 =  Luke 10:22, with its emphasis upon the unique Sonship of Christ, implies the whole Johannine Christology, and is no doubt a fragment from a whole cycle of teaching such as that which has survived in the Fourth Gospel. And St. Mark has another allusion to this teaching in  Mark 13:32 (‘the Son’). The modern critic fashions out of the first three Gospels a Jesus after his liking, and then denies that the Christ of the Fourth Gospel is compatible with this Jesus whom his literary criticism has created. But is it not more likely to be the case that the Jesus of history was One too lofty in personality, too many-sided in character, to be understood by His contemporaries? The Synoptic tradition has given to us one impression as it was left upon some of His followers (though even here there are many aspects of character-teacher of virtue, critic of Pharisaic religion, mystic, doer of miracles, apocalyptic seer, etc.); the Fourth Gospel has preserved another side of His character. It may well be that, had others set themselves to describe the life, we should have had information which would have given us quite a fresh conception of Him. It is, moreover, easy to draw quite false antitheses between the Fourth Gospel and the Synoptics. It is, e.g. , true that the writer of the Fourth Gospel dwells by preference upon the teaching as to the present possession of Christian privileges rather than upon that as to their future consummation (the apocalyptic teaching of the Synoptic Gospels). But the whole cycle of this apocalyptic teaching is presupposed. There is to be a general resurrection ( John 5:28). Eternal life involves a resurrection at the last day ( John 6:40). The very conception of eternal life is apocalyptic, involving the thought of the permanence of the individual life and its future entry into a Kingdom which will be a fulfilment of the partial manifestation of the kingdom in the present. The retention of these passages in the Gospel is not a deliberate departure from the writer’s view of life as present, and a falling back on a primitive eschatological view (Scott, Fourth Gospel , p. 249). Rather they are a hint that there is another side of the doctrine of eternal life which the author knows to have been taught by Christ, and which he will not altogether omit because it is the necessary corollary of such teaching on eternal life as he records. They who have eternal life cannot die for ever, and there must be a sphere in which their life will be manifested. That is pure apocalyptic.

The conception of the Christology of the book as being the work of a writer strongly influenced by Alexandrian philosophy is probably a false one due to the fact that modern writers on the Gospel know something about Alexandrian philosophy because Philo wrote in Greek, but little or nothing about Jewish theology in the time of Christ, except at second hand, or in so far as it can be ascertained from Greek sources (the apocalyptic literature). The Gospel is probably thoroughly Hebraic in language, in method of argument, in idea, and it will be seen to be so when Christian scholars take the trouble to set themselves to the work of critically editing the Rabbinical literature, with a view to ascertaining how much of its theology they must carry back into the period of the life of Christ.*[Note: See I. Abrahams, in Cambridge Biblical Essays, London, 1909, p. 181 ff.]

( c ) With regard to the 2nd cent. tradition, it is significant that decision as to its value seems to depend upon a prior question-that of the possibility of an apostolic authorship for the Fourth Gospel. That is, critics who find the Gospel so unhistorical as to render its composition by an apostle impossible all depreciate the value of the 2nd cent. witness to St. John as the author. And indeed what need to trouble about explaining away this witness if the Gospel on its own showing cannot be apostolic? On the other hand, all who do not find the Gospel to be so unhistorical as to make its composition by an apostle, or its dependence upon him, incredible, find the 2nd cent. attestation to be good. The most recent critical work, that of Clemen,*[Note: Die Entstehung des Johannesevangeliums.]decides in favour of the literary unity of the Gospel; denies a confusion between two Johns, a presbyter and an apostle; argues that there is no valid ground for denying that the apostle settled in Ephesus at the end of his life, and none for supposing his early martyrdom. Clemen believes the Gospel to be too far removed from history to have been written by the apostle himself, but thinks that Johannine tradition is a main element in it.

Recent attempts to analyze the Gospel into sources seem to have failed,†[Note: Wellhausen, Erweiterungen und Änderungen im vierten Evangelium, Berlin, 1907, Das Evangelium Johannis, do. 1908; F. Spitta, Das Johannes Evangelium als Quelle der Geschichte Jesu, Göttingen, 1910; Bacon, The Fourth Gospel in Research and Debate, London, 1910.]and it is little likely that for the present any fresh light on the book will be forthcoming. It may be hoped that we shall one day have an editor of the Gospel who is trained in Rabbinic exegesis, as well as in Western scholarship. Such a one may find that the Gospel is certainly the work of a Jew, and may see no reason for denying that its author may have been John the son of Zebedee. If he prefer historical evidence as to Christ’s teaching and Person to preconceived ideas about Him, he may also see no reason for denying that both Synoptic and Johannine pictures of Jesus are substantially true, yet equally one-sided, and that the Jesus of history must have been One of whom all our knowledge can be only partial, enough to elicit our devotion and to silence our criticism.

Literature.-This is enormous. The following are some recent books in English: V. H. Stanton, The Gospels as Historical Documents , Cambridge, pt. i. [1903], pt. ii. [1909]; J. Moffatt, Introd. to Literature of the New Testament (Moffatt). , Edinburgh, 1911; A. S. Peake, A. Critical Introduction to the NT , London, 1909; W. Sanday, The Life of Christ in Recent Research , Oxford, 1907, Oxford Studies in the Synoptic Problem , do. 1911, The Criticism of the Fourth Gospel , do. 1905; A. Harnack, Luke the Physician , Eng. translation, London, 1907, and Sayings of Jesus , do. 1908; F. C. Burkitt, The Earliest Sources for the Life of Jesus , Boston, 1910; J. R. Cohu, The Gospels in the Light of Modern Research , Oxford, 1909; E. R. Buckley, An Introductions the Synoptic Problem , London, 1912; B. W. Bacon, The Making of the NT , do. 1912; E. F. Scott, The Fourth Gospel , Edinburgh, 1906; J. Armitage Robinson, The Historical Character of St. John’s Gospel , London, 1908; L. Pullan, The Gospels , do. 1912; W. C. Allan and L. W. Grensted, Introduction to the Books of the NT , Edinburgh, 1913.

W. C. Allen.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [2]

From the Old English God Spel , "good news." The providential preparations for the gospel attest its divine origin.

(1) The translation at Alexandria of the Old Testament into Greek (by the Septuagint), rendering the Jewish Scriptures accessible through that then universal language of the refined and polite to the literary of all nations. All possibility of questioning the existence or falsifying the contents of Old Testament prophecy was precluded thereby, however much the Jews who rejected Jesus would have wished to alter the prophecies which plainly identified Him as the foretold Messiah. The canon of the Old Testament having been completed, and prophecy having ceased before the Sept. translation, they could not deny that the divine knowledge derivable from it was complete.

(2) Greek and oriental philosophy had drawn attention to religious and moral speculations, which at once exposed and undermined paganism, and yet with all its endless labors gave no satisfactory answer to the questionings and cravings of man's spiritual being.

(3) The Roman empire had broken down the barriers between E. and W. and united almost the whole world, Asia, Africa, and Europe, in one, and established peace and good order, making possible the rapid transmission of the glad tidings from country to country; compare  Luke 2:1;  Matthew 22:21.

(4) The universal expectation in the East of a great king to arise in Judea, probably due to fragments of revelation (as the prophecy of Balsam,  Numbers 24:17) such as led the wise men of the East to conic seeking "the king of the Jews."

(5) The settling of the Jews, and the consequent erection of synagogues, throughout all the towns of Asia. Greece, Italy, Africa, and western Europe. Hence by the reading of the law and the prophets in the synagogues everywhere each sabbath proselytes of righteousness were gathered from the Gentiles, such as the eunuch or chamberlain of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, a student of Scripture, Cornelius the centurion who "feared God with all his house, and gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always."

These not being bound under the ceremonial yoke, as the original Jews, formed a connecting link with the Gentiles; and hence at Antioch in Pisidia, when the Jews rejected the preaching of Paul and Barnabas, these proselytes, with the Gentiles, "besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath, ... and on that day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God" ( Acts 13:15-44). So at Iconium ( Acts 14:1), and at Thessalonica ( Acts 17:1-4). Such were the "devout men, out of every nation under heaven," the collected representatives of the world, to whom Peter preached with such success ( Acts 2:4-11). The 3,000 converts of that day and the 5,000 of a few days after ( Acts 4:4) would act as missionaries on their return to their several nations. To the Jews first in each synagogue abroad the apostles preached, and gathered many converts from among them; and then to the Gentiles.

The Jews' national rejection of Jesus is no valid objection to the gospel, since He foretold it Himself ( Matthew 16:21;  Matthew 26:2), and the Old Testament prophets did so too ( Isaiah 49:16;  Isaiah 49:21;  Isaiah 49:52;  Isaiah 49:53; Psalm 22); so that, fixing their eyes on the prophecies of Messiah's glory and kingdom which they wrested to mean His setting up a temporal kingdom at Jerusalem and overthrowing the Roman existing dominion, and shutting their eyes to the prophecies of His humiliation, "they knew Him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath," and yet in spite of themselves, like their types Joseph's brethren ( Genesis 50:20), "they have fulfilled them in condemning Him" ( Acts 13:27;  Acts 3:18). The harmony in Christ of prophecies seemingly so opposite, His temporal and temporary humiliation, and yet His spiritual dominion now and His final visible and everlasting kingdom, furnish conclusive proof of the Divinity of prophecies which no human sagacity could have anticipated or human agency fulfilled.

The correspondence of the gospel event to the predictions of the Old Testament is thus established by the Jews, unwilling witnesses and therefore beyond suspicion. Graves (Pentateuch, 2:3,6) well says, had they universally embraced the gospel at its first publication, the sceptic might allege the prophecies to have been fabricated or altered to fit them to the events; the contrary is now certain. This is one great cause why the national conversion of the Jews is delayed "until the fullness of the Gentiles shall come in" ( Romans 11:35). They continue guardians of the prophetic records until these shall have had their contents examined, and their application ascertained, by every other nation in the world. Genuineness and inspiration of the Four Gospels. The "prophets" in the Christian church who had the spiritual gift of "discerning spirits" were an effectual check on the introduction of a pseudo-inspired writing. Paul appeals to them on the inspiration of his letters ( 1 Corinthians 14:37;  1 Corinthians 12:10; compare  1 John 4:1).

Thus, by the two-fold inspiration, that of the authors and that of the judges, the canonicity of the four Gospels, as of the other books of New Testament, is established. The anonymous fragment of the canon of the New Testament attributed to Caius a presbyter of Rome (published by Muratori, Antiq. Ital., iii. 854, and known as the Muratorian Fragment), recognizes the Gospels (Luke and John, the sentences as to Matthew and Mark are obliterated) as inspired, and condemns as uninspired the Shepherd by Hermes, "written very recently in our own times," i.e. in the first part of the second century, the age in which John the last apostle died. Theophilus (Ad Autol., iii. 11), Bishop of Antioch A.D. 168, refers to "the evangelists" and "the Holy Scriptures" of the New Testament. Clement of Alexandria in the latter part of the second century refers to the collection of Gospels as one whole, "the gospel" (Quis Dives Salvus?).

The anonymous letter to Diognetus (sec. 11 ed. Hefele) attributed to Justin Martyr refers to "the Gospels and the Apostles" (i.e. the letters). Ignatius of Antioch, a hearer of John (Ep. ad Philad., sec. 5), calls "the (written) Gospel the flesh of Jesus," and classes it with the Old Testament prophets. Tertullian (Adv. Marc. iv. 2), mentioning the Four Gospels two as the work of apostles and two as that of apostolic men (A.D. 208); Irenaeus (Adv. Haer., ii. 27; iii. 11, sec. 7); martyred A.D. 202; Origen, speaking of the four Gospels as "the elements of the church's faith"; Eusebius; and not only these orthodox writers but heretics, Marcion dud others, appeal to the Gospels as the inspired standard Canon. (See Canon .).

They were translated into Syriac in the second century, and into Latin and the two Egyptian dialects by the fourth century. We have better evidence for their genuineness than for any other ancient writing. Theophilus arranged the Four Gospels so as to form one work (Jerome, Ep. ad Algas., iv. 197). Tartan, who died A.D. 170, formed a Diatessaron or harmony of the Four Gospels. Barnabas (Paul's companion), Clement of Rome ( Philippians 4:3), and Polycarp quote the Gospels, though not with verbal exactness. Justin Martyr quotes Matthew, Luke, and John largely and exactly. As the heretic Gnostics and Marcion arose early in the second century their acceptance of the Gospels proves that these had been promulgated some time before (i.e. in the apostolic age itself), for after the dissensions between the orthodox and heretics had arisen the Gospels would never have been accepted by mutually hostile parties.

A distinct line was drawn between the apocryphal and the genuine Gospels. Unbelievers, as Celsus in controversy with Origen, could not deny the genuineness of the four even while rejecting their contents. The fathers' large quotations (Origen's especially) prove our Gospels were the same as theirs. Our Saviour wrote nothing Himself, the alleged letter to Abgarus, king of Edessa, being probably spurious. If He had (like Muhammed) recorded His own miracles and teachings, internal consistency would have been nothing marvelous. People would have deified the form, while failing to discern the inner essence. "If I bear witness of Myself My witness is not true" ( John 5:31).

There would be lost the powerful proof we now have, from the mutual coherency of writings not composed by the Founder of Christianity nor in His lifetime, but by Jews, unlearned mostly, giving independent yet marvelously agreeing accounts of miraculous works, and a spiritual system of doctrine unheard before, themselves willing to lay down their lives for the truths they witnessed to; these writings received and accepted too by numerous congregations, living at the time and in the very places where the miracles alleged in proof of their inspiration were wrought, and producing worldwide effects now for ages. The reality of their inspiration alone can account for all this.

The Jews and Gentiles had attained high civilization when Christ came; it is not in such an age that myths spring up and are accepted, but in a people's infancy ( 2 Peter 1:16). Mutual relationship of the Four Gospels. - They differ in language and details, so that the later cannot have been mere copyists of their predecessors. Their accordance in unusual expressions and in choice of incidents implies at the same time that the later evangelists were acquainted, with the Gospels that preceded. The four have by the Holy Spirit's design, if not by that of the writers, a supplementary relation to each other. Each later evangelist has a two-fold aim:

(1) to confirm by his own independent witness the facts recorded in the preceding Gospel;

(2) to give new facts, and to place those already recorded in a new light. The former aim accounts for the agreements, the latter for the variations. In the first three, called the Synoptic Gospels, from the main outline being the same and the scene of Christ's ministry mainly Galilee, the first aim is prominent. In the fourth, written long after, all is new except the events of passion week and the feeding of the 5,000 (and the storm at sea) recorded to introduce the discourse in Galilean Capernaum (John 6); and the scene is mainly not in Galilee but Judea. But they hint also at Christ's ministry in Judea ( Matthew 23:37;  Luke 13:34); John too occasionally describes His Galilean ministry (John 2; John 6; John 7; John 21).

Of 99 portions in Matthew and 93 portions in Mark, 78 sections are common to both Matthew and Mark; also, of 65 particulars in Mark, 54 of them appear in Matthew in the same relative order. Yet that Mark does not copy Matthew appears from his restoring the true order of events before the Baptist's death, from which Matthew had departed to give prominence to the Sermon on the Mount and the apostolic commission, and to make less prominent the narrative, which is but one third of the whole. Mark too, of all Four Gospels, abounds in the most minute graphic touches as an eyewitness of the scenes, though his Gospel is the shortest.

In 42 sections the three Synoptists coincide; 12 more sections are given by Matthew and Mark alone; five sections are given by Mark and Luke alone, 14 sections are given by Matthew and Luke. Besides, five sections are unique to Matthew, two sections are unique to Mark, and nine sections are unique to Luke. The verbal coincidences are chiefly in reciting the words of Jesus or of others in connection with, Him, seldom in the narrative of the evangelists themselves. In Matthew the proportion is as one to more than two, in Mark one to four, in Luke one to ten (Norton, Genuineness, I. 240). Stroud thus tabulates the four, taking 100 as the sum:

Portions Unique To

Coincidences

Total Each Gospel

Mark

7

93

100

Matthew

42

58

100

Luke

59

41

100

John

92

8

100

John's narrative of Mary's anointing of Jesus' feet combines her actions drawn from Luke, the ointment and its value from Mark, and the admonition to Judas from Matthew. His chief aim is to set forth Jesus as the Incarnate Word, the everlasting Son of God, a truth which some gnostics preceding Cerinthus even already began to impugn. Yet he omits facts recorded by the Synoptists which would have suited his purpose, just; because he knew they had sufficiently recorded them already. That Luke wrote chronologically in his general facts is probable from his phrase "in order" ( Luke 1:1; unique to him, expressing succession  Luke 8:1, "afterward," Greek "in order,"  Acts 18:23). His "Acts" are in chronological order. Notes of time occur in his Gospel ( Luke 1:26;  Luke 1:56;  Luke 3:1-23;  Luke 6:1).

Of the 44 particulars in Mark and the 42 particulars in Luke, (forming the latter's main part ending with  Luke 9:50,)  Luke 9:32 particulars are common to both gospels, and with one exception in the same order; the more remarkable as 10 new particulars are inserted into Luke, 12 particulars are in Mark; the true succession alone would admit of such insertions without irregularity ensuing. At  Luke 18:15, the blessing of the children, Luke's narrative rejoins Matthew and Mark. The middle portion relates to the last half year of Jesus' ministry,  Luke 9:51 refers to His last journey to Jerusalem. His mission of the 70 (the better manuscripts have: 72) before Him (Luke 10), also  Luke 13:22-23;  Luke 17:11;  Luke 23:5 confirm this. His route was through Samaria into Galilee from Ephraim ( Luke 9:51;  John 11:54) as the starting point, then along the border between Galilee and Samaria into Peraea ( Luke 17:11;  Luke 13:31), so by Jericho to Bethany and Jerusalem (Birks' Horae Evangel. and Greswell; but (See Jesus Christ

Mark wrote before Luke, for except 24 verses all his Gospel is in one of the two other Synoptists; he never, if he was after Luke, would for the sake of 24 verses of original matter have published a distinct Gospel. His graphic vividness indicates an eyewitness not a compiler. Matthew, the earlier, omits the ascension as involved in the resurrection. Luke, the later writer, supplies the omission. Matthew, writing for Judea, dwells on facts less known there, Christ's appearing in Galilee, omitting the ascension as known to most of his readers. Luke, writing for Gentile converts, describes facts less familiar to them which occurred after the resurrection in and about Jerusalem.

Matthew selects facts suitable for Jews, the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy in Jesus' descent from Abraham and David and His legal title to Solomon's throne. Luke shows the Gentiles that He was sprung from Adam, the common father of Gentiles and Jews. Matthew is more copious in discourses, the facts being taken for granted as notorious to his readers, the first thing needed being to show the Jews in what relationship with Christ's teaching had with the law. Luke is copious in facts less known to the Gentiles and on Christ's later ministry; Matthew having already dwelt more on His earlier ministry. Mark uses "gospel" for Christ's doctrine; a later usage, not in Matthew. (See Matthew ; MARK.)

Matthew in naming the twelve ( Matthew 10:3) modestly places himself after Thomas as "Matthew the publican." Mark and Luke place him before Thomas and omit the humiliating epithet also they do not join his former profession with the apostolic name Matthew, but hide it under his lesser-known name Levi ( Matthew 9:9;  Mark 2:14;  Luke 5:27). This is an undesigned propriety and mark of truth. John by his greater fullness on Jesus' Godhead composed a doctrinal supplement to the Synoptics, who dwelt more on His ministry as the "Son of man" (though they too declare plainly His Godhead:  Matthew 16:16-17;  Luke 1:32, etc.). John marks Christ's going up to the feasts at Jerusalem, which they do not.

He also supplies the interval, omitted in them, from the temptation to Jesus' second return to Galilee when His public ministry began, after John was cast into prison. He inserts in this interval Jesus' "earlier" return to Galilee ( John 1:43) and visit to Jerusalem ( John 2:13) and Judea ( John 3:22;  John 3:24), before the Baptist's imprisonment.

Then, at  John 4:3-43, his Gospel coincides with the Synoptists at Christ's second visit to Galilee ( Matthew 4:12;  Luke 4:14). In  John 7:1 he alludes to His 18 months' ministry in Galilee, recorded by them and therefore omitted by him, between the visit to Jerusalem at the feast of tabernacles ( John 7:2;  John 7:10) and the former visit ( John 5:1), for  John 6:4 compared with  John 7:1 implies Christ omitted attending the Passover occurring in that interval lest the Jews should kill Him before the time.  John 21:1 evidently supplemerits  Matthew 28:16, which it precedes in time.  John 21:6-7 supplements  Luke 5:6;  Luke 5:8, the corresponding miracle before His resurrection. There are three periods marked in Acts:

(1) From the ascension to the rise of the first purely Gentile church at Antioch where the disciples were first called Christians ( Acts 11:26); the first Gospel, Matthew, corresponds to this first and Jewish period, between A.D. 30 and A.D. 41. The second period is from the rise of the Gentile church at Antioch to Paul's passing over to Europe in obedience to the vision at Troas; the second Gospel, Mark, answers to this Judaeo-Gentile transition period, A.D. 41 or 44 - A.D. 50; hence, there occur (Mark 7) adaptations to Gentile converts by explanations of Jewish usages. The third period extends from Paul's first entering Europe down to his reaching Rome; the third Gospel, Luke, answers to this third period, A.D. 50-63, being suited to Greeks not familiar with the geography of Judea; it must have been written before  Acts 1:1 which refers to it (Acts being written probably soon after A.D. 63, the date of the close of Paul's imprisonment with which it abruptly breaks off).

Theophilus probably lived at Antioch (Birks' Hor. Evang., 192), and Luke perhaps published his Gospel at the close of his first connection with Paul, whom he joined at Troas A.D. 53, and who seems to have helped him as Peter helped Mark. Philippi, where Luke was left behind, was perhaps the center from which he circulated it among the Greek churches. Compare  2 Corinthians 8:18, "the brother whose praise is in the Gospel throughout all the churches." Mark probably wrote while having the opportunity of Peter's guidance in Palestine, between his return from Perga and his second journey with Barnabas in or for Caesarea, the second center of gospel preaching as Jerusalem was the first and Antioch the third, the scene of Cornelius' conversion by Peter, Mark's father in the faith, the head quarters of the Roman forces in Palestine, where Philip the evangelist resided. Latin idioms and Roman energy are characteristic of Mark, whose very name is Roman.

Many centurions are honourably noticed in the Gospels and Acts, so that it is likely the gospel made much way among the Romans at Caesarea. In  Colossians 4:10 be is identified with John (Hebrew) Mark (Latin) by the addition "sister's son to Barnabas." He was with Peter in Mesopotamian Babylon (A.D. 58) when Peter ( 1 Peter 5:18) calls him "Mark (Marcus) my son." Peter, after escaping from Herod's prison, went to the house of John Mark's mother first ( Acts 12:12). Eusebius, from Papins or John Presb., (Hist. Eccles., iii. 39; v. 8) calls Mark "Peter's interpreter," "handing down in writing what Peter preached." Justin Martyr, Dial. Tryph., 106, quotes Mark's Gospel as "Records (or "Memorials", Apomnemoneumata ) of Peter." Tertullian (Marcion iv. 5) and Jerome (Ad Hedib.) say, "Peter narrated, Mark wrote." Internal evidence favours this tradition.

Mark's Gospel, except a few verses, is limited to the time of Peter's attendance on our Lord. The blessing pronounced on him after his confession of Christ is omitted, while the ensuing reproof is retained; his fall is recorded, but not his bitter tears of repentance. For other instances of omitting what tends to Peter's honour compare  Matthew 14:29;  Matthew 17:24-27;  Mark 9:30-33;  Mark 14:47;  John 18:10;  Luke 5:10;  Luke 24:34. The angel's words addressed to Mary Magdalene after Christ's resurrection, "Go, tell His disciples and Peter," are recorded owing to Peter's deep sense of Christ's pardoning grace after his grievous fall; delicacy forbade his recording his own repentance, gratitude can never forget that Jesus' first words of special comfort were sent to him, "tell Peter" specially, for his Saviour has risen even for his justification ( Mark 16:7).

Mark's Gospel, brief, vivid, and abounding in acts rather than discourses, was best suited to the Roman character, with fewer Old Testament quotations than Matthew who wrote for the Jews. The tradition of its being written in Rome arose probably from its Roman character; from Caesarea it would soon pass to Rome through Romans sailing from Caesarea there. Mark's shortcoming was that of his spiritual father - Peter - slowness to admit uncircumcised Gentile Christians to the privileges of full fellowship ( Acts 13:13;  Acts 15:38; compare  Acts 10:14;  Galatians 2:11-14). Mark, from love of ease and home, as well as Jewish prejudice, shrank from carrying the gospel to the heathen of Pamphylia; but by subsequent zeal he so regained Paul's favour that the apostle desired Luke to bring him, saying "he is profitable to me for the ministry" ( 2 Timothy 4:11).

Matthew presumes his readers are familiar with Jewish usages and localities, and appeals to their prophets continually. This accords with the earliest period of church history. The closing charge "Go ye, teach all nations," accords with the church's circumstances at its opening the door to Cornelius and Gentile proselytes, A.D. 41. Eusebius' Chronicle in some manuscripts gives this date. A written Gospel was not needed when all the apostles were in Jerusalem; but just when they were going abroad a record such as Matthew's was needed. Isidore and Nicephorus (Hist. Ecclesiastes, ii. 15) fix on 15 years after the ascension as the date. Thus, in the Jewish aspect of Matthew's Gospel, the Roman of Mark's, and the Greek of Luke's, we observe the conflux of the three chief human civilizations, the Hebrew theocracy, the Roman polity, and the Greek literary and artistic refinement; while in John's the spiritual verities of the Son of God predominate.

The same significant union appears in the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin inscription on the cross. Gospel harmonies: spiritual relations. Discrepancies have been alleged in the Gospels. But they are not irreconciliable; granting that the ways of harmonizing proposed are not always the true ways, the very variations disprove collusion. Reconciliable diversity is a confirmation of the truth, as alleged by mutually independent witnesses. Entire sameness in all four would make all but the first mere copies. Contradictions would prove one or other inaccurate. Substantial unity, with circumstantial diversity, partial and reconciliable, is the highest kind of internal evidence. As in architecture a front and a side view, a ground plan and an elevation, are different, yet harmonize in viewing the connected whole, so the four, though not facsimiles, have an inner harmony when one first looks to the purpose and the individual spiritual character of each, and then to the mutually connected whole in its fourfold aspect.

The variation in the order of the same events as recorded in different Gospels ( Matthew 8:28 compare  Mark 5:1;  Luke 8:26;  Matthew 8:19-22 compare  Luke 9:57-61) does not imply discrepancy unless it could be shown that all the evangelists designed a chronological record throughout. The spiritual sequence and connection is the essential thing in a revelation, and is as true in those Gospel passages which do not observe the chronological order as in those which do; for the same truth is manifold in its spiritual bearings, and is therefore put in various connections, under the Spirit's guidance, for the church's edification. Fuller information as to all the facts of the case would clear away seeming discrepancies. It is enough for the harmonist to show a possible reconciliation (in the absence of fuller knowledge); this is sufficient even to meet a priori objections against the accurate truth of details, and such objections have no force against the gospel as a whole.

"Substantial truth under circumstantial variety" is the most conclusive testimony, as proving the mutual independence of the witnesses, for had all four been alike their testimony would have been that of but one witness. At the same time all four, being supervised by the Spirit of God, are true in their order of events spiritually, though but one order is true chronologically. Mechanical uniformity is no necessary result of inspiration. The four are not mere annals or biographies, but spiritual records, "memoirs" adapted to various wants of the Christian life. A diatessaron, or continuous record compiled chronologically out of the four, fails in this, viz. the setting forth of the events under their mutual, manifold, spiritual relations. Christ's life, death and resurrection are represented from four different aspects to complete the view.

Each Gospel has its distinctive character; the progression of the four reaches its climax in John, who portrays the divinity of the Son of God, as the former three portray His humanity. They are not four different Gospels, but one fourfold Gospel from the Holy Spirit, through four intelligent agents, each giving that view of the Lord Jesus which belonged to his own character and circumstances, and those of his immediate readers, and so by Divine Providence meeting severally the church's wants in all ages. Seeming discrepancies area test of faith, whether in spite of difficulties we will, because of the preponderating probabilities, believe all God's word.

They are incentives for us more diligently to "search the Scriptures," which contain within themselves their own best vindication and harmony. The Gospels are fragmentary, complete spiritually but not historically; hence the seeming discrepancies. Those early churches which collected the canon saw the alleged discrepancies, but saw nothing in them incompatible with inspiration and truth; otherwise they would not have transmitted them: as in nature the seeming variations in the orbits of some planets are found, on fuller knowledge, to be in harmony with the general law.

Fourfold Gospel - Irenaeus (iii. 11), Athanasius (Syn. Scr., p. 55), Jerome (Matt., prooem.) regarded the four living Cherubim united in one as representing the fourfold gospel. (See Cherubim .) Both are the chariot of God bearing Him into all lands ( Psalms 99:1;  Psalms 19:4), guided by the Spirit, intertwined with wheels in wheels of coincidences and variations, full of eyes, discerning the thoughts. The four in their spiritual ideal reveal the Saviour under a fourfold aspect.

(1) The lion denotes Christ's kingship, as "lion of the tribe of Judah." Matthew traces His line of succession to the throne from "David the king." The wise men (Matthew 2), according to Balaam's prophecy of the "sceptre to arise out of Israel," sought "the king of the Jews." The climax of the three temptations (Matthew 4) is Satan's offer of the kingdom. The Sermon on the Mount has the sententious tone of an authoritative king. Seven parables illustrate the true nature of the kingdom, for the Jews for whom Matthew writes looked for Messiah's kingdom. His claim of exemption from tribute, recorded in Matthew alone ( Matthew 17:24), marks Him Son and Heir of the kingdom. Matthew closes with His universal dominion ( Matthew 28:18-20).

(2) The ox or calf typifies patient toil ( 1 Corinthians 9:9-10). Mark's representation of Christ corresponds; homely, earnest, minutely graphic, full of action rather than discourse, suited to the Roman practical character, it. abruptly carries us at once into Christ's ministry of unceasing toil (Mark 1). The word variously translated "straightway," "immediately," "forthwith," "anon," "as soon as," "by and by" ( Eutheoos occurs 27 times, though in Matthew but eight times, in Luke twice; an illustration of its energetic tone. Minute details are peculiar to his vivid style: "Jesus was with the wild beasts" ( Mark 1:13); "Zebedee with the hired servants" ( Mark 1:20); Boanerges ( Mark 3:17); Jesus' gestures ( Mark 3:5); His successive acts in curing the deaf ( Mark 7:33-34); the lingering glory on His countenance, and the people's amazement ( Mark 9:15). It presents the best picture of Jesus' daily outward life.

(3) A man's face denotes human sympathy. Luke's Gospel presents the lowly humanity of the Son of man's conception, birth, and childhood; it traces Him up to Adam, the common father of all men. The parables and miracles unique to Luke exhibit Christ's human tenderness; the prodigal son, the good Samaritan, the grateful Samaritan leper, the publican's prayer, Zaccheus, the raising of the Nain widow's son.

(4) The eagle denotes high soaring heavenliness. John's Gospel, say the fathers, is "the Gospel after the Spirit," as the others are "after the flesh." John supplies details of Andrew, Philip, Nathanael, Thomas, and Judas, unmentioned by the others; also details of time, place, and numbers; also supplemental matter ( John 2:19), "destroy this temple," accounting for the charge of the false witnesses unexplained in  Matthew 26:61. In the prologue and elsewhere Christ's characteristic aspect is His Divine glory breaking forth the brighter amidst the darkness of the Jews' opposition.

Each of the four, while recognizing the Lord's other aspects, has one aspect prominent; and the four combine in one harmonious whole, joined by a spiritual not a mechanical unity. "Mutual intertexture is characteristic of Scripture. The second and third evangelists warranted the genuineness of each former Gospel with all the authority of the latter, by quoting its words. Thus they became joint vouchers for the genuine Gospels and joint opposers of the spurious. John authenticates the foregoing ones not by adopting but by omitting what they had related, and supplying what they omitted." (Wordsworth.)

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [3]

GOSPELS . Under this heading we may consider the four Gospels as a whole, and their relations to one another, leaving detailed questions of date and authorship to the separate articles.

1. The aims of the Evangelists . On this point we have contemporary evidence in the Lukan preface (  Luke 1:1-4 ), which shows that no Evangelist felt himself absolved from taking all possible pains in securing accuracy, that many had already written Gospel records, and that their object was to give a contemporary account of our Lord’s life on earth. As yet, when St. Luke wrote, these records had not been written by eye-witnesses. But they depended for their authority on eye-witnesses (  Luke 1:2 ); and this is the important point, the names of the authors being comparatively immaterial. The records have a religious aim (  John 20:31 ). Unlike the modern biography, which seeks to relate all the principal events of the life described, the Gospel aims at producing faith by describing a few significant incidents taken out of a much larger whole. Hence the Evangelists are all silent about many things which we should certainly expect to read about if the Gospels were biographies. This consideration takes away all point from the suggestion that silence about an event means that the writer was ignorant of it (see Sanday, Criticism of Fourth Gospel , p. 71). Again, although, before St. Luke wrote, there were numerous Gospels, only one of these survived till Irenæus’ time (see § 4 ). But have the rest entirely vanished? It may perhaps be conjectured that some fragments which seem not to belong to our canonical Gospels (such as   Luke 22:43 f.,   John 7:53 to   John 8:11 ,   Mark 16:9-20 ) are survivals of these documents. But this is a mere guess.

2. The Synoptic problem . The first three Gospels in many respects agree closely with one another, and differ from the Fourth. Their topics are the same; they deal chiefly with the Galilæan ministry, not explicitly mentioning visits to Jerusalem after Jesus’ baptism until the last one; while the Fourth Gospel deals largely with those visits. In a word, the first three Gospels give the same general survey, the same ‘synopsis,’ and are therefore called the ‘ Synoptic Gospels ,’ and their writers the ‘Synoptists.’ But further, they agree very closely in words, arrangement of sentences, and in many other details. They have a large number of passages in common, and in many cases all three relate the same incidents in nearly the same words; in others, two out of the three have common matter. The likeness goes far beyond what might be expected from three writers independently relating the same series of facts. In that case we should look for likenesses in details of the narratives, but not in the actual words. A striking example is in   Matthew 9:6 =   Mark 2:10 =   Luke 5:24 . The parenthesis (‘Then saith he to the sick of the palsy’) is common to all three an impossible coincidence if all were independent. Or again, in Mt. and Mk. the Baptist’s imprisonment is related parenthetically, out of its place (  Matthew 14:35 .,   Mark 6:17 ff.), though in Lk. it comes in its true chronological order (  Luke 3:19 ). The coincidence in Mt. and Mk. shows some dependence. On the other hand, there are striking variations, even in words, in the common passages. Thus the Synoptists must have dealt very freely with their sources; they did not treat them as unalterable. What, then, is the nature of the undoubted literary connexion between them?

( a ) The Oral Theory . It is clear from NT ( e.g.   Luke 1:2 ) and early ecclesiastical writers ( e.g. Papias, who tells us that he laid special stress on ‘the utterances of a living and abiding voice,’ see Eusebius, HE iii. 39), that the narrative teaching of the Apostles was handed on by word of mouth in a very systematic manner. Eastern memories are very retentive, and this fact favours such a mode of tradition. We know that the Jews kept up their traditions orally (  Matthew 15:2 ff. etc.). It is thought, then, that both the resemblances and the differences between the Synoptists may be accounted for by each of them having written down the oral tradition to which he was accustomed.

This is the ‘Oral Theory,’ which met with a great degree of support, especially in England, a generation or so ago. It was first systematically propounded in Germany by Gieseler, in 1818, and was maintained by Alford and Westcott, and lately by A. Wright. It is suggested that this theory would account for unusual words or expressions being found in all the Synoptics, as these would retain their hold on the memory. It is thought that the catechetical instruction was carried out very systematically, and that there were different schools of catechists; and that this would account for all the phenomena. The main strength of the theory lies in the objections rained to its rival, the Documentary Theory (see below), especially that on the latter view the freedom with which the later Evangelists used the earlier, or the common sources, contradicts any idea of inspiration or even of authority attaching to their predecessors. It is even said (Wright) that a man copying from a document could not produce such multitudinous variations in wording. The great objection to the Oral Theory is that it could not produce the extraordinarily close resemblances in language, such as the parentheses mentioned above, unless indeed the oral teaching were so firmly stereotyped and so exactly learnt by heart that it had become practically the same thing as a written Gospel. Hence the Oral Theory has fallen into disfavour, though there is certainly this element of truth in it, that oral teaching went on for some time side by side with written Gospels, and provided independent traditions ( e.g. that Jesus was born in a cave, as Justin Martyr says), and indeed influenced the later Evangelists in their treatment of the earlier Gospels. It was only towards the end of the lives of the Apostles that our Gospels were written.

( b ) The Documentary Theory , in one form, now obsolete, supposed that the latest of the Synoptists knew and borrowed from the other two, and the middle Synoptist from the earliest.

This theory, if true, would be a sufficient cause for the resemblances; but in spite of Zahn’s argument to the contrary ( Einleitung , ii. 400), it is extremely unlikely that Matthew knew Luke’s Gospel or vice versa . To mention only one instance, the Birth-narratives clearly argue the independence of both, especially in the matter of the genealogies. Augustine’s theory that Mark followed, and was the abbreviator of, Matthew is now seen to be impossible, both because of the graphic and autoptic nature of Mk., which precludes the idea of an abbreviator, and because in parallel passages Mk. is fuller than Mt., the latter having had to abbreviate in order to introduce additional matter.

The form of this theory which may now be said to hold the field, is that the source of the common portions of the Synoptics is a Greek written narrative, called (for reasons stated in art. Mark [Gospel acc. to]) the ‘Petrine tradition’ the preaching of St. Peter reduced to the form of a Gospel. The favourite idea is that our Mk. is itself the document which the other Synoptists independently used; but if this is not the case, at least our Mk. represents that document most closely. This theory would at once account for the close resemblances.

Here it may be as well to give at once a sufficient answer to the chief objection to all documentary theories (see above). The objection transfers modern ideas with regard to literary borrowing to the 1st century. As a matter of fact, we snow that old writers did the very thing objected to; e.g. Genesis freely embodies older documents; the Didache (c [Note: circa, about.] . a.d. 120) probably incorporates an old Jewish tract on the ‘Way of Life and the Way of Death,’ and was itself afterwards incorporated and freely treated in later documents such as the Apostolic Constitutions ( c [Note: circa, about.] . a.d. 375), which also absorbed and altered the Didascalia  ; and so the later ‘Church Orders’ or manuals were produced from the earlier. We have no right to make a priori theories as to inspiration, and to take it for granted that God inspired people in the way that commends itself to us. And we know that as a matter of fact written documents were in existence when St. Luke wrote (  Luke 1:1 ). It is not then unreasonable to suppose that Mk. or something very like it was before the First and Third Evangelists when they wrote. A strong argument for the priority of Mk. will be seen if three parallel passages of the Synoptics be written out in Greek side by side, and the words and phrases in Mk. which are found in || Mt. or || Lk. be underlined; it will be found almost always that nearly the whole of Mk. is reproduced in one or both of the other Synoptics, though taken singly Mk. is usually the fullest in parallel passages . Mk. has very little which is peculiar to itself; its great value lying in another direction (see art. Mark [Gospel acc. to] for other arguments). The conclusion is that it, or another Gospel closely resembling it, is a common source of Mt. and Lk. This accounts for the resemblances of the Synoptists; their differences come from St. Matthew and St. Luke feeling perfectly free to alter their sources and narrate incidents differently as seemed best to them. They had other sources besides Mk. Here it may be desirable to remark by way of caution that in so far as they use a common source, the Synoptists are not independent witnesses to the facts of the Gospels; in so far as they supplement that source, they give additional attestation to the facts. Yet an event spoken of by all three Synoptists in the same way is often treated as being more trustworthy than one spoken of by only one or by two. A real example of double attestation, on the other hand, is the reference in   1 Corinthians 13:2 to the ‘faith that removes mountains,’ as compared with   Matthew 17:20;   Matthew 21:21 .

Another form of the Documentary Theory may be briefly mentioned, namely, that the common source was an Aramaic document, differently translated by the three Evangelists. This, it is thought, might account for the differences; and much ingenuity has been expended on showing how an Aramaic word might, by different pointing (for points take the place of vowels in Aramaic), or by a slight error, produce the differences in Greek which we find. But it is enough to say that this theory could not possibly account for the close verbal resemblances or even for most of the differences. A Greek document must be the common source.

( c ) The non-Markan sources of Mt. and Lk . We have now to consider those parts of Mt. and Lk. which are common to both, but are not found in Mk., and also those parts which are found only in Mt. or only in Lk. In the former the same phenomena of verbal resemblances and differences occur; but, on the other hand, the common matter is, to a great extent, treated in quite a different order by Mt. and Lk. This peculiarity is thought by some to be due to the source used being oral, even though the ‘Petrine tradition,’ the common source of the three, was a document. But the same objections as before apply here ( e.g. cf.   Matthew 6:24;   Matthew 6:27 =   Luke 16:13;   Luke 12:25 , or   Matthew 23:37-39 =   Luke 13:34 f., which are almost word for word the same). We must postulate a written Greek common source; and the differences of order are most easily accounted for by observing the characteristics of the Evangelists. St. Matthew aimed rather at narrative according to subject, grouping incidents and teachings together for this reason, while St. Luke rather preserved chronological order (cf. the treatment of the Baptist’s imprisonment, as above). Thus in Mt. we have groups of sayings ( e.g. the Sermon on the Mount) and groups of parables, not necessarily spoken at one time, but closely connected by subject. We may infer that St. Luke treated the document common to him and St. Matthew in a stricter chronological order, because he treats Mk. in that way. He introduces a large part of Mk. in one place, keeping almost always to its order; then he interpolates a long section from some other authority (  Luke 9:51 to   Luke 18:14 ), and then goes back and picks up Mk. nearly where he had left it. Probably, therefore, Lk. is nearer in order to the non-Markan document than Mt.

Of what nature was this document? Some, following a clue of Papias (see art. Matthew [Gospel acc. to]), call it the ‘Logia,’ and treat it as a collection of teachings rather than as a connected history; it has been suggested that each teaching was introduced by ‘Jesus said,’ and that the occasion of each was not specified. This would account for differences of order. But it would involve a very unnecessary multiplication of documents, for considerations of verbal resemblances show that in the narrative, as well as in the discourses, a common non-Markan document must underlie Mt. and Lk.; and, whatever meaning be ascribed to the word logia , it is quite improbable that Papias refers to a record of sayings only . While, then, it is probable that discourses formed the greater part of the non-Markan document, we may by comparing Mt. and Lk. conclude that it described at least some historical scenes. The document must have included the preaching of the Baptist, the Temptation, the Sermon on the Mount, the healing of the centurion’s servant, the coming of John’s messengers to Jesus, the instructions to the disciples, the Lord’s Prayer, the controversy about Beelzebub, the denunciation of the Pharisees, and precepts about over-anxiety. It is very likely that it contained also an account of the Crucifixion and Resurrection, and many other things which are in Mk.; for in some of the passages common to all three Synoptists, Mt. and Lk. agree together against Mk. This would be accounted for by their having, in these instances, followed the non-Markan document in preference to the ‘Petrine tradition.’

In addition there must have been other sources, oral or documentary, of Mt. and Lk. separately, for in some passages they show complete independence.

3. Relation of the Fourth Gospel to the Synoptics . The differences which strike us at once when we compare Jn. with the Synoptics were obvious also to the Fathers. Clement of Alexandria accounts for the fact of the differences by a solution which he says he derived from ‘the ancient elders,’ namely, that John, seeing that the external (lit. ‘bodily’) facts had already been sufficiently set forth in the other Gospels, composed, at the request of his disciples and with the inspiration of the Spirit, a ‘spiritual’ Gospel (quoted by Eusebius, HE vi. 14). By this phrase Clement clearly means a Gospel which emphasizes the Godhead of our Lord. The human side of the Gospel story had already been adequately treated. Elsewhere Eusebius ( HE iii. 24) gives an old tradition that John had the Synoptics before him, and that he supplemented them. In all essential particulars this solution may be treated as correct. The main differences between John and the Synoptics are as follows:

( a ) Geographical and Chronological . The Synoptists lay the scene of the ministry almost entirely in Galilee and Peræa; St. John dwells on the ministry in Judæa. The Synoptists hardly note the flight of time at all; from a cursory reading of their accounts the ministry might have been thought to have lasted only one year, as some early Fathers believed, thus interpreting ‘the acceptable year of the Lord’ (  Isaiah 61:2 ,   Luke 4:19 ); though, if we carefully study the Synoptics, especially Lk., we do faintly trace three stages in the wilderness of Galilee (a brief record), in Galilee (full description), and in Central Palestine as far as Jerusalem and on the other side of Jordan. During this last stage Jesus ‘set his face’ to go to Jerusalem (  Luke 9:51; cf.   2 Kings 12:17 ,   Ezekiel 21:2 ). But in Jn. time is marked by the mention of several Jewish feasts, notably the Passover, and we gather from Jn. that the ministry lasted either 2 1 / 2 or 3 1 /2 years, according as we read in 5:1 ‘a feast’ (which could hardly be a Passover) or ‘the feast’ (which perhaps was the Passover). These differences are what we should expect when we consider that the Synoptic story is chiefly a Galilæan one, and is not concerned with visits to Jerusalem and Judæa until the last one just before the Crucifixion. Yet from incidental notices in the Synoptics themselves we should have guessed that Jesus did pay visits to Jerusalem. Every religious Jew would do so, if possible, at least for the Passover. If Jesus had not conformed to this custom, but had paid the first visit of His ministry just before the Crucifixion, we could not account for the sudden enmity of the Jerusalem Jews to Him at that time, or for the existence of disciples in Judæa, e.g. , Judas Iscariot and his father Simon Iscariot (  John 6:71 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ), probably natives of Kerioth in Judæa; Joseph of Arimathæa, ‘a city of the Jews’ (  Luke 23:51 ); the household at Bethany; and Simon the leper (  Mark 14:3 ). The owner of the ass and colt at Bethphage, and the owner of the room where the Last Supper was eaten, evidently knew Jesus when the disciples came with the messages. And if the Apostles had just arrived in Jerusalem for the first time only a few weeks before, it would be unlikely that they would make their headquarters there immediately after the Ascension. Thus the account in Jn. of a Judæan ministry is indirectly confirmed by the Synoptics (cf. also   Matthew 23:37 ‘ how often ’).

( b ) Proclamation of Jesus’ Messiahship . In the Synoptics, especially in Mk., this is a very gradual process. The evil spirits who announce it inopportunely are silenced (  Mark 1:2 f.). Even after Peter’s confession at Cæsarea Philippi at the end of the Galilæan ministry, the disciples are charged to tell no man (  Mark 8:30 ). But in Jn., the Baptist begins by calling Jesus ‘the Lamb of God’ and ‘the Son of God’ (  John 1:29;   John 1:34 ); Andrew, Philip, and Nathanael at once recognize him as Messiah (  John 1:41;   John 1:45;   John 1:49 ). Can both accounts be true? Now, as we have seen, a Judæan ministry must have been carried on simultaneously with a Galilæan one; these would be kept absolutely separate by the hostile district of Samaria which lay between them (  John 4:9 ). Probably two methods were used for two quite different peoples. The rural population of Galilee had to be taught by very slow degrees; but Jerusalem was the home of religious controversy, and its inhabitants were acute reasoners. With them the question who Jesus was could not be postponed; this is shown by the way in which the Pharisees questioned the Baptist. To them, therefore, the Messiahship was proclaimed earlier. It is true that there would be a difficulty if the Twelve first learned about the Messiahship of Jesus at Cæsarea Philippi. But this does not appear from the Synoptics. The Apostles had no doubt heard the questions asked in Judæa, and did know our Lord’s claim to be Christ; but they did not fully realize all that it meant till the incident of Peter’s confession.

( c ) The claims of our Lord are said to be greater in Jn. than in the Synoptics ( e.g.   John 10:30 ), and it is suggested that they are an exaggeration due to a later age. Certainly Jn. is a ‘theological’ Gospel. But in reality the claims of our Lord are as great in the Synoptics, though they may not be so explicitly mentioned. The claim of Jesus to be Lord of the Sabbath (  Mark 2:28 ), to re-state the Law (  Matthew 5:17;   Matthew 5:21 f., RV [Note: Revised Version.] , etc.), to be about to come in glory (  Mark 8:38;   Mark 14:62 ), to be the Judge of the world (  Matthew 25:31 ff. etc.), the invitation ‘Come unto me’ (  Matthew 11:28 ff.), the assertion of the atoning efficacy of His death (  Mark 10:45;   Mark 14:24 ) cannot be surpassed (see also Mark [Gospel acc. to], § 3 ). The self-assertion of the great Example of humility is equally great in all the Gospels, and is the great stumbling-block of all the thoughtful upholders of a purely humanitarian Christ.

( d ) Other differences, which can here be only alluded to, are the emphasis in Jn. on the work of the Spirit, the Comforter; the absence in Jn. of set parables, allegories taking their place; and the character of the miracles, there being no casting out of devils in Jn., and, on the other hand, the miracle at Cana being unlike anything in the Synoptics. The only miracle common to the four Gospels is the feeding of the five thousand, which in Jn. is mentioned probably only to introduce the discourse at Capernaum, of which it forms the text (  John 6:1-71 ). All these phenomena may be accounted for on Clement’s hypothesis. The Fourth Evangelist had the Synoptics before him, and supplemented them from his own knowledge. And it may be remarked that, had Jn. been a late work written after the death of all the Apostles, the author would never have ventured to introduce so many differences from Gospels already long in circulation; whereas one who had been an eye-witness, writing at the end of his life, might well be in such a position of authority (perhaps the last survivor of the Apostolic company, whoever he was) that he could supplement from his own knowledge the accounts already in use.

The supplementary character of Jn. is seen also from its omission of matters to which the writer nevertheless alludes, assuming that his readers know them; e.g. , Jesus’ baptism (without the knowledge of which   John 1:32 would be unintelligible), the commission to baptize (cf. the Nicodemus narrative,   John 3:1-36 ), the Eucharist (cf.   John 6:1-71 , which it is hardly possible to explain without any reference to Jesus’ words at the Last Supper, for which it is a preparation, taking away their apparent abruptness), the Transfiguration (cf.   John 1:14 ), the Birth of our Lord (it is assumed that the answer to the objection that Christ could not come from Nazareth is well known,   John 1:46 ,   John 7:41;   John 7:52 ), the Ascension (cf.   John 6:62 ,   John 20:17 ), etc. So also it is often recorded in Jn. that Jesus left questions unanswered, and the Evangelist gives no explanation, assuming that the answer is well known (  John 3:4 ,   John 4:11;   John 4:15 ,   John 6:52 ,   John 7:35 ).

There are some well-known apparent differences in details between Jn. and the Synoptics. They seem to differ as to whether the death of our Lord or the Last Supper synchronized with the sacrificing of the Paschal lambs, and as to the hour of the Crucifixion (cf.  Mark 15:25 with   John 19:14 ). Various solutions of these discrepancies have been suggested; but there is one solution which is impossible, namely, that Jn. is a 2nd cent. ‘pseudepigraphic’ work. For if so, the first care that the writer would have would be to remove any obvious differences between his work and that of his predecessors. It clearly professes to be by an eye-witness (  John 1:14;   John 19:35 ). Either, then, Jn. was the work of one who wrote so early that he had never seen the Synoptic record, but this is contradicted by the internal evidence just detailed, or else it was written by one who occupied such a prominent position that he could give his own experiences without stopping to explain an apparent contradiction of former Gospels. In fact the differences, puzzling though they are to us, are an indication of the authenticity of the Fourth Gospel.

4. Are the Gospels contemporary records? We have hitherto considered them from internal evidence. We may, in conclusion, briefly combine the latter with the external attestation, in order to fix their date, referring, however, for details to the separate headings. It is generally agreed that the Fourth Gospel is the latest. Internal evidence shows that its author was an eyewitness, a Palestinian Jew of the 1st cent., whose interests were entirely of that age, and who was not concerned with the controversies and interests of that which followed it. If so, we cannot place it later than a.d. 100, and therefore the Synoptics must be earlier. Irenæus ( c [Note: circa, about.] . a.d. 180) had already formulated the necessity of there being four, and only four, canonical Gospels; and he knew of no doubt existing on the subject. It is incredible that he could have spoken thus if Jn. had been written in the middle of the 2nd century. Tatian ( c [Note: circa, about.] . a.d. 160) made, as we know from recent discoveries, a Harmony of our four Gospels (the Diatessaron ), and this began with the Prologue of Jn. Justin Martyr (c [Note: circa, about.] . a.d. 150) is now generally allowed to have known Jn., though some hold that he did not put it on a level with the Synoptics. Again, it is hard to deny that 1 Jn. and the Fourth Gospel were written by the same author, and 1 Jn. is quoted by Papias ( c [Note: circa, about.] . 140 or earlier), as we learn from Eusebius ( HE iii. 39), and by Polycarp ( Phil . 7, written c [Note: circa, about.] . a.d. 111). If so, they must have known the Fourth Gospel. Other allusions in early 2nd cent. writers to the Fourth Gospel and 1 Jn. are at least highly probable. Then the external evidence, like the internal, would lead us to date the Fourth Gospel not later than a.d. 100. This Gospel seems to give the results of long reflexion on, and experience of the effect of, the teaching of our Lord, written down in old age by one who had seen what he narrates. The Synoptics, to which Jn. is supplementary, must then be of earlier date; and this is the conclusion to which they themselves point. The Third Gospel, being written by a travelling companion of St. Paul (see art. Luke [Gospel acc. to]), can hardly have been written after a.d. 80; and the Second, whether it be exactly the Gospel which St. Luke used, or the same edited by St. Mark the ‘interpreter’ of St. Peter (see art. Mark [Gospel acc. to]), must be either somewhat earlier than Lk. (as is probable), or at least, even if it be an edited form, very little later. Its ‘autoptic’ character, giving evidence of depending on an eye-witness, makes a later date difficult to conceive. Similar arguments apply to Mt. (see art. Matthew [Gospel acc. to]). Thus, then, while there is room for difference of opinion as to the names and personalities of the writers of the Gospels (for, like the historical books of OT, they are anonymous), critical studies lead us more and more to find in them trustworthy records whose writers had first-hand authority for what they state.

It may be well here to state a difficulty that arises in reviewing the 2nd cent. attestation to our Gospels. In the first place, the Christian literature of the period a.d. 100 175 is extremely scanty, so that we should not a priori expect that every Apostolic writing would be quoted in its extant remains. And, further, the fashion of quotation changed as the 2nd cent. went on. Towards the end of the century, we find direct quotations by name. But earlier this was not so. In Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin, and other early 2nd cent. writers, we find many quotations and references, but without names given; so that doubt is sometimes raised whether they are indebted to our canonical Gospels or to some other source, oral or written, for our Lord’s words. It is clear that our canonical Gospels were not the only sources of information that these writers had; oral tradition had not yet died out, and they may have used other written records. To take an example, it is obvious that Justin knew the Sermon on the Mount; but when we examine his quotations from it we cannot be certain if he is citing Mt. or Lk. or both, or (possibly) an early Harmony of the two. It may be pointed out that if, as is quite possible, the quotations point to the existence of Harmonies before Tatian’s, that fact in reality pushes back the external evidence still earlier. Many, or most, of the differences of quotation, however, may probably be accounted for by the difficulty of citing memoriter . When to quote accurately meant to undo a roll without stops or paragraphs, early writers may be pardoned for trusting too much to their memories. And it is noteworthy that as a rule the longer the quotation in these early writers, the more they conform to our canonical Gospels, for in long passages they could not trust their memories. The same peculiarity is observed in their quotations from the LXX [Note: Septuagint.] .

Bearing these things in mind, we may, without going beyond Tatian, conclude with the highest degree of probability, from evidence which has undergone the closest scrutiny: ( a ) that our Mt. was known to, or was incorporated in a Harmony known to, Justin and the writer of the Didache ( c [Note: circa, about.] . a.d. 120) and ‘Barnabas’; and similarly ( b ) that our Mk. was known to Papias, Justin, Polycarp, and (perhaps) pseudo-Clement (‘2 Clem. ad Cor .’), Hermas, and the author of the Gospel of pseudo-Peter and the Clementine Homilies , and Heracleon and Valentinus; ( c ) that our Lk. was known to Justin (very obviously), the Didache writer, Marcion (who based his Gospel on it), Celsus, Heracleon, and the author of the Clementine Homilies  ; and ( d ) that our Jn. was known to Justin, Papias, and Polycarp.

A. J. Maclean.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [4]

Traditionally, the first four books of the New Testament have been called Gospels, probably because they record the gospel, or good news, of the coming of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world. Questions that naturally arise are why there should be four such books and why three of those books should contain so much material that is similar.

Preserving the message

After the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, his followers spread the good news of salvation through him, firstly in Jerusalem, and then throughout Palestine and neighbouring countries. They taught the stories and teachings of Jesus to their converts, who memorized them and passed them on to others ( Matthew 28:18-20;  Acts 2:42;  2 Timothy 2:2).

As the years passed, those who had seen and heard Jesus became fewer in number and more widely scattered. To preserve what these men taught concerning Jesus, various people began making written collections of things Jesus had said and done ( Luke 1:1). There is no certainty concerning how or when the four Gospels were written. There is, however, enough evidence from within the books and from other first century sources to make the following explanation a possibility.

Three related accounts

Mark’s Gospel appears to have been the first written. Mark had assisted the apostle Peter on missionary journeys that took them through the northern parts of Asia Minor and brought them eventually to Rome (cf.  1 Peter 1:1;  1 Peter 5:13). When Peter left Rome, Mark stayed behind, and was still there when Paul arrived as a prisoner, accompanied by Luke and Aristarchus (about AD 60;  Acts 27:2;  Acts 28:16;  Acts 28:30). (In letters Paul wrote from Rome, he mentions that Mark, Luke and Aristarchus were all with him;  Colossians 4:10;  Colossians 4:14; Philem 24.) The Roman Christians asked Mark to preserve Peter’s teaching for them, and this resulted in the writing of Mark’s Gospel (see Mark, Gospel Of )

Meanwhile Luke also had been preparing an account of the life of Jesus. No doubt he had done much of his research during the two years he had just spent in Palestine with Paul ( Acts 24:27). Others had already written accounts of the life of Jesus ( Luke 1:1), and Luke was able to gather material from these and from people still living in the region who had seen and heard Jesus. Upon meeting Mark, Luke took some of Mark’s material and added it to his own to fill out his record and so bring the book to completion.

Luke wrote his Gospel for a person of importance (perhaps a government official) named Theophilus, to give him a trustworthy account of the origins of Christianity ( Luke 1:1-4; see Luke, Gospel Of ) (Luke continued the story with a second volume, which recorded the spread of Christianity from Jerusalem to Rome;  Acts 1:1; see Acts, Book Of )

Matthew’s Gospel appears to have been written about ten years later. It was intended for Christians who were of Jewish background but who read Greek freely. The book shows a strong interest in the fulfilment of God’s purposes concerning Israel’s Messiah, and the responsibility of the Messiah’s people to spread his message to the Gentiles. The place most commonly suggested for the writing of such a book is Antioch in Syria, which was closely connected with the Jewish churches of Palestine and with the mission to the Gentile nations ( Acts 11:19-22;  Acts 11:27-29;  Acts 13:1-4;  Acts 14:26-27;  Acts 15:1-3;  Acts 15:22;  Acts 15:30; see Matthew, Gospel Of )

By this time, Mark’s Gospel had become widely known. Since it represented Peter’s account of Jesus’ ministry, it was well respected, and Matthew saved himself a lot of work by using material from it extensively in his own book. (About 90% of Mark is found in Matthew.) There is also a lot of material common to Matthew and Luke that is not found in Mark. This material is commonly referred to as Q and probably came from one or more of the many writings that had appeared over the years ( Luke 1:1). It consists mainly of teachings and sayings from Jesus, in contrast to stories about him.

Because of the parallels between Matthew, Mark and Luke, the three books are often referred to as the Synoptic Gospels (meaning Gospels that ‘see from the same viewpoint’). However, each contains material of its own that has no parallel in the other Gospels. In Mark this amount is very small, less than 5%. In Matthew the amount is about 28% and in Luke about 45%.

A different kind of book

John’s Gospel bears little similarity in form or style to the other three Gospels, though the general sequence of recorded events is the same. John wrote within the last decade or so of the first century, by which time the other three Gospels were widely known. His purpose was not to produce another narrative-type account of Jesus’ ministry, but to use selected stories of Jesus, particularly his teachings, to instruct people in basic truths concerning Jesus’ unique person and ministry.

Many people in the region where John lived (probably Ephesus) were troubled by false teachers. Some of these teachers denied that Jesus was fully divine, others that he was fully human. John wanted people to be convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, and to find true life through him ( John 20:30-31). John’s Gospel therefore consists mainly of teaching, much of which comes from the recorded words of Jesus himself. In contrast to the Synoptic Gospels, action stories are comparatively few. Less than 10% of John’s material is found in the Synoptics (see John, Gospel Of )

Easton's Bible Dictionary [5]

 Matthew 4:23 Romans 10:15 Evangelion_ (= good message) were called _evangelistai   Ephesians 4:11 Acts 21:8

There are four historical accounts of the person and work of Christ: "the first by Matthew, announcing the Redeemer as the promised King of the kingdom of God; the second by Mark, declaring him 'a prophet, mighty in deed and word'; the third by Luke, of whom it might be said that he represents Christ in the special character of the Saviour of sinners ( Luke 7:36;  15:18 ); the fourth by John, who represents Christ as the Son of God, in whom deity and humanity become one. The ancient Church gave to Matthew the symbol of the lion, to Mark that of a man, to Luke that of the ox, and to John that of the eagle: these were the four faces of the cherubim" ( Ezekiel 1:10 ).

Date. The Gospels were all composed during the latter part of the first century, and there is distinct historical evidence to show that they were used and accepted as authentic before the end of the second century.

Mutual relation. "If the extent of all the coincidences be represented by 100, their proportionate distribution will be: Matthew, Mark, and Luke, 53; Matthew and Luke, 21; Matthew and Mark, 20; Mark and Luke, 6. Looking only at the general result, it may be said that of the contents of the synoptic Gospels [i.e., the first three Gospels] about two-fifths are common to the three, and that the parts peculiar to one or other of them are little more than one-third of the whole."

Origin. Did the evangelists copy from one another? The opinion is well founded that the Gospels were published by the apostles orally before they were committed to writing, and that each had an independent origin. (See Matthew, Gospel Of .)

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [6]

a term evidently of Anglo-Saxon origin (according to some, i.q. God's Spell, i.e., Word of God; but according to most and better authorities, i.q. good spells i.e., glad news) is the rendering of Εὐαγγέλιον , good message (originally spoken of a Reward For Good News, Homer, Odyssey, 14:152, 166; Plutarch, Ages. 33; then of glad tidings itself, and so Sept. for בְּשׂוֹרָה  2 Samuel 18:20;  2 Samuel 18:22), constantly used in the N.T. (but not in Luke nor by John, and only twice in Acts, once in Peter, and once in Revelation) to denote,

1. The annunciation of the kingdom of the Messiah, as ushered in by the coming and life of Christ;

2. The Gospel scheme or plan of salvation thus inaugurated, especially in its promulgations; and,

3. The records or histories which constitute the original documents of this system of faith and practice. Justin Martyr employs for the last the less appropriate term Ἀπομνεύματα , memoirs; and other ancient writers occasionally style them Βίοι , lives; but they were not so, much designed as biographical sketches, whether complete or otherwise, but rather as outlines of the divine economy introduced in the New Dispensation. The central point of Christian preaching was the joyful intelligence that the Savior had come into the world ( Matthew 4:23;  Romans 10:15); and the first Christian preachers, who characterized their account of the person and mission of Christ by the term Εὐαγγέλιον , were themselves called Εὐαγγελισταί ( Ephesians 4:11;  Acts 21:8). The former name was also prefixed to the written accounts of Christ; and as this intelligence was noted down by various writers in various forms, the particle Κατά , "according to" (e.g. Εὐαγγέλιον Κατὰ Ματθαῖον ) was inserted. We possess four, such accounts; the first by Matthew, announcing the Redeemer as the promised King of the kingdom of God; the second by Mark, declaring him "a prophet mighty is deed and word" ( Luke 24:19); the third by Luke, of whoms it might be said that he represented Christ in the special character of the Savior in of sinners ( Luke 7:36 sq.;  Luke 15:18-19 sq.); the fourth by John, who represents Christ: as the Son of God, in whom deity and humanity became one. The ancient Church gave to Matthew the symbol of the ox, to Mark that of the lion, to Luke that of the man, and to John that of the eagle; these were the four faces of the cherubim. The cloud in which the Lord revealed himself was borne by the cherubim, and the four evangelists were also the bearers of that glory of God which appeared in the form of man.

I. Relative Position. Concerning the order which they occupy in the Scriptures, the oldest Latin and Gothic versions, as also the Codex Cantabrigieassis, place Matthew and John first, and after them; Mark and Luke, while the other MSS. and old versions follow the order given to them in our Bibles. As dogmatical reasons render a different order more natural there is much in favor of the opinion that their usual position arose from regard to the chronological dates of the respective composition of the four gospels (see Seiler, De tempore et ordine quibus tria Evangg. priora scripta sunt, Erlang. 1805 sq.): this is the opinion of Origen, Ireneaeus, and Eusebius. All ancient testimonies agree that Matthew was the earliest and John the latest evangelist. Kitto, s.v. For the dates, see each gospel. See also Tischendorf's tract, Wann wurden unsere Evangelien verfasst? (2d ed. Lpz. 1865).

II. Authenticity. It may fairly be said that the genuineness of these four narratives rests upon better evidence than that of any other ancient writings. They were all composed during the latter half of the 1st century. Before the end of the 2d century there is abundant evidence that the four gospels, as one collection, were generally used and accepted. Irenaeus, who suffered martyrdom about A.D. 202, the disciple of Polycarp and Papias, who, from having been in Asia, in Gaul, and in Rome, had ample means of knowing the belief of various churches, says that the authority of the four gospels was so confirmed that even the heretics of his time could not reject them, but were obliged to attempt to prove their tenets out of one or other of them (Contr. Haer. 3:11, § 7). Tertullian, in a work written about A.D. 208, mentions the four gospels, two of them as the work of apostles, and two as that of the disciples of apostles (apostolici); and rests their authority on their apostolic origin (Adv. Marcion. 4, chapter 2). Origen, who was born about A.D. 185, and died A.D. 253, describes the gospels in a characteristic strain of metaphor as "the [four] elements of the Church's faith, of which the whole world, reconciled to God in Christ, is composed" (In Johan.).

Elsewhere, in commenting on the opening words of Luke, he draws a line between the inspired Gospels and such productions as "the Gospel according to the Egyptians," "the Gospel of the Twelve," and the like (Homil. in Luke 3, page 932 sq.). Although Theophilus, who became sixth (seventh ?) bishop of Antioch about A.D. 168, speaks only of "the gospels," without adding, at least in that connection, the names of the authors (Ad Autol. 3, pages 124, 125), we might fairly conclude with Gieseler that he refers to the collection of four, already known in his time. But from Jerome we know that Theophilus arranged the records of the four evangelists into one work (Epist. ad Algas. 4, page 197). Tatian, who died about A.D. 170 (?), compiled a Diatessaron, or Harmony of the Gospels. The Muratorian fragment (Muratori, Antiq. It. 3:854; Routh, Reliq. S. volume 4), which, even if it be not by Caius and of the 2d century, is at least a very old monument of the Roman Church, describes the gospels of Luke and John; but time and carelessness seem to have destroyed the sentences relating to Matthew and Mark. Another source of evidence is open to us in the citations from the gospels found in the earliest writers. Barnabas, Clemens Romanus, and Polycarp quote passages from them, but not with verbal exactness. The testimony of Justin Martyr (born about A.D. 99, martyred A.D. 165) is much fuller; many of his quotations are substantially found in the gospels of Matthew, Luke, probably of John, and possibly of Mark also, whose words it is more difficult to separate.

The quotations from Matthew are the most numerous. In historical references, the mode of quotation is more free, and the narrative occasionally unites those of Matthew and Luke: in a very few cases he alludes to matters not mentioned in the canonical gospels (see Sernisch, Apost. Denkuiirdigk. d. M. Justin. Hamb. 1848). Besides'these, Matthew appears to be quoted by the author of the epistle to Diognetus, by Hegesippus, Irenaeus, Tatian, Athenagoras, and Theophilus. Eusebius records that Pantaenus found in India (the south of Arabia?) Christians who used the gospel of Matthew. All this shows that long before the end of the 2d century the gospel of Matthew was in general use. From the fact that Mark's gospel has few places peculiar to it, it is more difficult to identify citations not expressly assigned to him;' but Justin Martyr and Athenagoras appear to quote his gospel, and Irenaeus does so by name. Luke is quoted by Justin, Irenaeus, Tatian, Athenagoras, and Theophilus; and John by all of these, with the addition of Ignatius: the epistle to Diognetus, and Polycrates. From these we may conclude that before the end of the second century the Gospel collection was well known and in general use.

There is yet another line of evidence. The heretical sects, as well as the fathers of the Church, knew the gospels; and as there was the greatest hostility between them, if the gospels had become known in the Church after the dissension arose, the heretics would never have accepted them as genuine from such a quarter. Both the Gnostics and Marcionites arose early in the 2d century; and therefore it is probable that the gospels were then accepted, and thus they are traced back .almost to the times of the apostles (Olshausen). Upon a review of all the witnesses, from the apostolic fathers down to the Canon of the Laodicean Council in 364, and that of the third Council of Carthage in 397, in both of which the four gospels are numbered in the Canon of Scripture, there can hardly be room for any candid person to doubt that from the first the four gospels were recognized as genuine and as inspired; that a sharp line of distinction was drawn between them. and the so-called apocryphal gospels, of which the number was very great; that; from the citations of passages, the gospels bearing these four names were the same as those which we possess in our Bibles under the same names; that unbelievers, like Celsus, did not deny the genuineness of the gospels, even when rejecting their contents; and, lastly, that heretics thought it necessary to plead some kind of sanction out of the gospels for their doctrines: nor could they venture on the easier path of an entire rejection, because the gospels were everywhere known to be genuine. As a matter of literary history, nothing can be better established than the genuineness of the gospels; and if in these latest times they have been assailed, it is plain that theological doubts have been concerned in the attack. The authority of the books has been denied from a wish to set aside their contents. Out of a mass of authorities the following may be selected: Norton, Genuineness of the Gospels (Bost. 1846-8, 3 volumes); Kirchhofer, Quellensammlung zur Geschichte des N.-T. Canons (Zurich, 1844); De Wette, Lehrbuch der hist.-krit. Einleitung, etc. (6th ed., Berlin, 1860; tr. Bost. 1858); Hug's Einleitung (tr. with notes, Andover, 1836); Olshausen, Biblischer Commentar. Introduction, and his Echtheit der 4 Canon. Evangelien (Konigsb. 1823); Jones, Method of settling the canonical Authority of the N.T. (Oxf. 1798, 2 volumes); Baur, Krit. Untersuchungen Ü ber die Canon. Evangelien (Tub. 1847); Reuss, Gesch. des N.T. (4th ed., Brunswick, 1864); Alford's Greek Testament, Prolegomena, volume 1; Westcott's History of N.T. Canon (2d ed. Lold. 186.6); Gieseler, Historisch-kritischer Versuch uber die Enstehung, etc., der schriftlichen Evangelien (Leipzig, 1818).

III. Mutual Relation And Origin. "Many portions of the history of Jesus" (remarks Mr. Norton, who has minutely investigated the subject) "are found in common in the first Three gospels, others are common to Two of their number, but not found in the third. In the passages referred to, there is generally a similarity, sometimes a very great similarity, in the selection of particular circumstances, in the aspect under which the event is viewed, and the style in which it is related. Sometimes the language found in different gospels, though not identical, is equivalent or nearly equivalent; and not unfrequently, the same series of words, with or without slight variations, occurs throughout the whole or a great part of a sentence, and even in larger portions" '(Genuineness of the Gospels, 1:240). Mr. Westcott exhibits the proportion of correspondences and peculiarities in several numerical tables: "If the extent of all the coincidences be represented by 100, their proportionate distribution will be, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, 53; Matthew and Luke, 21; Matthew and Mark, 20; Mark and Luke, 6.... Looking only at the general result, it may be said that of the contents of the synptic gospels, about two fifths are common to the three, and that the part peculiar to one or other of them are little more than one third of the whole." He adds, "in the distribution of the verbal coincidences a very simple law is observable; they occur most commonly in the recital of the words of our Lord or of others, as are comparatively rare in the simple narative. Thus, of the verbal coinciden in Matthew, about seven eighths; of those in Mark, sabout four fifths; and of those in Luke, about nineteen twentieths, occur in the record of the words of others" (Introduction to the Study of the Gospels, page 179). The following instances may be referred to for illustration,  Matthew 8:2-3 - Mark 1:40;  Mark 1:42= Luke 5:12-13;  Matthew 9:5-6 = Mark 2:9;  Mark 2:11  Luke 5:23-24; Matthew ix. 23, 24=  Mark 10:23-25 = Luke 18:24-25. The amount of agreement, however remarkable, ought not to be overrated; it occurs chiefly in reporting the words of Christ. Norton gives, as the most striking instance of verbal coincidence in the case of narrative  Luke 9:16 (comp.  Matthew 14:19;  Mark 6:41). Along with thee instances of correspondence, there are also many instances of difference. This renders the problem difficult of solution. No explanation can be satisfactory which does not account for both the correspondences and differences. Such is the phenomenon which has provoked so many attempts at explanation. "The literature of the subject is of vast extent, and the question is regarded as still unsettled. Our aim in the present article is to inquire how near the principal hypotheses which have been proposed approach to a solution of the difficulty.

1. In order to account for this singular relationship between the synoptic gospels, the first supposition is that the evangelists copied from one another, or that one evangelist used the gospels of his predecessors making such extracts as he thought necessary, with alterations and additions of his own. It is a curious circumstance, however, that the supposition of any one of the evangelists copying from the others is attended with insuperable difficulty. Whichever of them we suppose to be the original evangelist, and whichever we suppose to be the last, having one or both the others before him, we are unable in this way to explain the phenomenon. There are six possible ways of putting the case, every one of which has had learned advocates, and this variety of opinion itself is a strong argument against the hypothesis. Griesbach thought that Mark copied from Matthew and Luke, and this opinion is still held by some; but an opinion in favor of the originality of Mark has of late been gaining ground (Thiersch. Meyer, Weiss). It must, we think, be evident to any one who attentively compares the gospels of Matthew and Mark, that the latter cannot with any propriety be called a copy or abridgment of the farmer. There is an air of originality and freshness in Mark's narrative which proves the work to be anything but a compilation; and besides, in several important particulars, Mark differs from Matthew. No explanation can be satisfactory which does not account for the want of agreement as well as the agreement between the gospels. Indeed, it is not easy tosee what object Mark or any other of the evangelists could have in compiling a new gospel out of one or more which were acknowledged to be the works of apostles or their companions. "In its simple form, the 'supplemental' or 'dependent' theory is at once inadequate for the solution of the difficulties of the relation of the synoptic gospels, and inconsistent with many of its details; and, as a natural consequence of a deeper study of the gospels, it is now generally abandoned, except in combination with other principles of solution" (Westcott, On the Gospels, page 184).

2. We are thus brought to consider Eichhorn's famous hypothesis of a so- called original gospel, Now Lost. A brief written narrative of the life of Christ is supposed to have been in existence, and to have had additions made to, it at different periods. Various copies of this original gospel, with these additions, being extant in the time of the evangelists, each of the evangelists is supposed to have used a different copy ass the basis of his gospel. In the hands of bishop. Marsh, who adopted and modified the hypothesis of Eichhorn, this original gospel becomes a very complex thing. He supposed that there was a Greek translation of the Aramaean original gospel, and various transcripts with alterations and additions. But when it is considered that all these suppositions are entirely gratuitous, that they are made only to meet the emergencies of the case as they arise, one cannot help feeling that the license of hypothesis is carried beyond just bounds. The grand objection to this original gospel in the entire want of historical evidence for its existence. If such an original gospel ever had existed, it must have been of the very highest authority, and, instead of being tampered with, would have been carefully preserved in its original form, or at least in its Greek translation. The alterations and additions supposed to have been made in it are not only inconsistent with its sacred and authoritative character as the original gospel, but also with the habits of the Jews. Even if this hypothesis did adequately explain the phenomena presented in the first three gospels, it is far too artificially contrived to be true; but it fails of its aim. The original work, supposed to consist of the sections common to the three gospels, cannot be made out; and the individuality of, character belonging to each of the evangelists is irreconcilable with the supposition that several different writers contributed materials. Notwithstanding the identity of subject among the three gospels, each writer is distinguished by his own characteristic style. It is remarkable that Dr. Weiss, of K Ö nigsberg, has quite recently (Stud. u. Kritik. 1861, 1, 4) propounded a theory of explanation very much akin to that of Marsh. He supposes that the first evangelist, the writer of Matthew's Gospel, as well as Luke, used a copy of Mark's Gospel, and, along with this, a second more ancient, perhaps immediately apostolic written source, which Mark also had already made use of in the composition of his gospel. In this way he thinks all the phenomena are simply and easily explained. He endeavors to establish his view by a detailed examination and comparison of the three synoptic gospels, and holds that these results of criticism are confirmed by the ancient tradition that Matthew wrote his gospel in Hebrew, while there is no trace of the Hebrew gospel itself. The conclusion is that the Hebrew gospel of Matthew must have been displaced at, an early period by another containing its essential contents, but richer and more generally accessible in its Greek form. Hence, the later Greek gospel was held to be the work of Matthew the apostle, the more ancient Hebrew one having.been really the apostle's work. This revival in the present day of what is substantially the byypathnesis of Eichhorn and Marsh is significant of the still sunsettled state of the question.

3. That our present gospels are to be traced mainly to the oral teaching of the apostles as their source, was the opinion of Herder and Gieseler, and more recently of De Wettea, Guericke, Norton, Westcott, and others. "They have correctly apprehended" (says De Wette) "the spirit of Christian antiquity who regard the or al tradition of the gospel (the oral Original Gospel) as the basis and source of all the Christian gospels, and who endeavor to apprehend the history of the origin of the latter in a definite relation to the former" ( Introd. To N.T. , sec. 87). The gospel was published orally before it was committed to writing, and the preaching of the apostles must, from the nature of the case, have consisted chiefly of a narration of the facts recorded in our present gospels. It is naturally supposed that very soon a certain agreement or uniformity of narrative would be the result, and that we have a transcript, as it were, of this type or form of narrative in the first three gospels. The verbal coincidences in the gospels are found especially in those cases in which it might have been expected that the first preachers of the gospel would be exact, namely, the recital of the words of Christ, and quotations from the O.T. This account of the probable origin of the gospels is not only in accordance with the character of the period as an age of oral tradition rather than of writing, but is also substantially the same as that which Luke gives in the preface to his gospel ( Luke 1:1-4). While Luke refers to written accounts of the ministy of Christ in the possession of some Christians at that time, he mentions that these accounts were founded directly or indirectly upon the oral accounts of the apostles ( Καθὼς Παρέδοσαν Ἡμῖν Οἱ Ἀπ᾿ Ἀρχῆς Αὐτόπται Καὶ Ὑπηρἐται Γενόμενοι Τοῦ Λόγου ). The statement of Papias respecting the origin of Mark's Gospel is, that it was derived from the preaching of Peter, and we have already quoted the important testimony of Irenaeus to the same effect. To prevent misapprehension, however, it ought to be observed that our written gospels date from the latter half of the first century, and that, "so long as the first witnesses survived, so long the tradition was confined within the bounds of their testimony; when they passed away it was already fixed in writing" (Westcott, page 192). The theory of the oral origin of the gospels, while it has much evidence in its favor, cannot be accepted as a complete solution of the problem. It does not explain the striking instances of verbal coincidence in the narrative portions common to the three synoptists, or to two of them; nor the instances in which either two or all the three evangelists agree with each other in their quotations from the Sept., and at the same time differ from the Sept. itself ( Matthew 3:3;  Mark 1:3;  Luke 3:4; compared with  Isaiah 40:3, Sept., and  Matthew 4:10;  Luke 4:8, camspared with  Deuteronomy 6:13, Sept.). De Wette would combine the two hypotheses of a common oral source, and of the influence through writing of one evangelist on another."

There is a striking difference between the fourth gospel and the synoptic gospels in respect both to contents and form; but, with all this difference, there is a general and essential agreement. John relates in part the same things as the synoptists, and in a similar manner, but not with the verbal agreement. The following are parallel: The purification of the Temple,  John 2:13-22= Matthew 21:11 sq.; the feeding of the multitude;  John 6:1-15 = Matthew 14:13-21; the walking upon the sea,  John 6:16-22= Matthew 14:22-36; the anointing,  John 12:1-8 = Matthew 26:6-13; the entry into Jerusalem,  John 12:9-19 = Matthew 21:1-11; the prediction of the denial of Peter,  John 13:36-38  Matthew 26:33-35. In some of these instances the expressions are verbally parallel; also in the following:  John 12:25= Matthew 10:39;  Matthew 13:20=  Matthew 10:40;  Matthew 14:31 = Matthew 26:46. There is a similarity betweenjohn  John 4:44, and  Matthew 13:57; between  John 13:16 and  Matthew 10:24, and  Luke 6:40 (De Wetta, Exagat. Handb. Zum N. Test .). On. the other hand, however, much important matter has been omitted and much added by John, while his manner of narrations also differs from that of the synoptists. In the first three gospels, the scene of our Lord's ministry is chiefly laid in Galilee, but in the fourth gospel it is chiefly in Judaea and Jerusalem. This may partly account for the different style of our Lord's discourses in the synoptic gospels, as compared with the Gospel of John (Hug, page 433). In the former, Christ often makes use of parables and proverbial sayings; in the latter, John records long and mystical discourses. Yet we find proverbial maxims and parables also in  John 12:24-26;  John 13:16;  John 13:20;  John 10:1 sq.;  John 15:1 sq. Many points of difference between the fourth gospel and the others may be satisfactorily accounted for from the fragmentary character of the narratives. None of them professes to be a complete biography, and, therefore, one may contain what others omit. Besides, the fourth gospel was composed after the others, and designed to be in some respects supplemental. This was the opinion of Eusebius, and of the still more ancient writers whose testimony he cites, Clement of Alexandria and Origen; and the opinion appears to be well founded. Whether John was acquainted with the works of his predecessors or not is uncertain, but he was no doubt acquainted with the evangelical tradition out of which they originated. We have, then, in this circumstance, a very natural explanation of the omission of many important facts, such as the institution of the supper, the baptisnm of Jesus by John, the history of his temptationand transfiguration, and the internal conflict at Gethsemane. These his narrative assumes as already known. In several passages he presupposes in his readers an acquaintance with the evangelical traditions ( John 1:32;  John 1:45;  John 2:1;  John 3:24;  John 11:2). It is not easy to reconcile the apparent discrepancy between John and the synoptists with reference to the day on which Christ observed the first passover with his disciples. L Ü cke decides in favor of John, but thereby admits the discrepancy to be real.

Again, ins the synoptic gospels, the duration of our Lord's ministry appears to beonly one year, whereas John mentions three passovers which our Savior attended; but neither the Synoptists nor John determine the duration of the Savior's ministry, and, therefore, there is no contradiction between them on this point. It has been alleged that there is an irreconcilable difference between the synoptics and the Johannean representation of Christ, so that, assuming the historical reality of the former, the latter must; be regarded as ideal and subjective; particularly, that. the long discourses attributed to Christ in the fourth gospel could hardly have been retained in John's remembrance, and that they are so unlike the sayings of Christ in the other gospels, and so like John's own, style in his epistles, that they appear to have been composed by John himself. If the allegation could be made good that the Christ of John is essentially different from the Christ of the synoptists, the objectionwould be fatal. On the contrary, however, we are persuaded that, on this all- important point, there is an essential agreement among all the evangelists. We must remember that the full and many-sided character of Christ himself might be represented under aspects which, although different, were not inconsistent with each other. It is by no means correct to say that thee fourth gospel represents Christ as God, while the others describe him as a mere man. Yet we may find in the fact of his wondrous person as the God- man an explanation of the apparent difference in their respective representations. That the synoptists do not differessentially from John in their view of Christ is shown; by Dorner in an admirable comparison (Dorner, Ent Weckelungsgeschichtea, V. 81 sq.; E. tr. v. 50 sq.). L Ü cke and Fromman, as well as De Wette, greatly incline to the view that John has mingled his own subjectivity with the discourses of Christ, which he professes to relate. That the evangelist does not transfer his own subjective views to Christ appears from the fact that while he speaks of Christ as the Logos, he never represents Christ as applying this term to himself. We may also refer to those passages in which, after quoting obscure sayings of the Redeemer or remarkable occurrences, he either adds an explanation or openly confesses his ignorance 'of their meaning' at the time ( John 2:19-22;  John 6:70;  John 7:37-39;  John 11:11;  John 12:16;  John 12:32;  John 13:27;  John 20:9). The susceptible dispositiona of John himself, and the intimate relation in which he stood to Christ, make the supposition reasonable that he drank so deeply into the spirit of his master, and retained so vivid a recollection of his very words, as to reproduce them with accuracy. Instead of transferring his own thoughts and expressions to Christ, John received and reproduced those of Christ hirnself. In this way the similarity between John's language and that of Christ is accounted for. It is acknowledged, even by Strauss and De Wette, that the most characteristic expressions in John were really used by Christ himself. When it is objected that John could not retain in remembrance, or hand down with accuracy, such long discourses of Christ as he records in his gospel, far too little regard is paid to the assistance of the Holy Spirit, to be expected especially in such a case as this, according to the Savior's promise, "He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" ( John 14:26).

See Bp. Marsh's Translation of Michaelis's Introd. to N.T. 3:2 (1803) for an account of Eichhorn's earlier theory and of. his own. Veysie's Examination of Mr. Marsh's Hypothesis (1808) has suggested many of the objections. In Bp. Thirlwall's Translation of Schleiermacher on St. Luke (1825, Introduction) is an account of the whole question. Other principal works are, an essay of Eichhorn, in the 5th volume, Allgemeine Bibliothek der Biblischen Literatur (1794); the Essay of Bp. Marsh, just quoted; Eichhorn, Einleitung in das N.T. (1804); Gratz, Neuer Versuch die Enstehung der drei ersten Evang. zu erklaren (1812); Bertholdt, Histor. kritische Einleitung in sammtliche kanon. und apok. Schriften des A. und N.T. (1812-1819); and the work of Gieseler quoted above. See also De Wette, Lehrbuch, and Westcott, Introd., already quoted; also Weisse, Evangelienfrage (Lpz. 1856); Schlichthorst, Verhaltn. d. synopt. Evang. zu einander (G Ö tting. 1835); Wilke, Der Urevangelist (Dresden and Leipz. 1838); Lucke, Kommentar ub. d. Ev. Joh.; Frommann, Der Johannische Lehrbegriff; Schwarz, Untersuchungen uber d. synopt. Evangelien (Tub. 1844); Anon. Die Evangelien, ihr Geist, Verfasser und Verhaltniss zu einander (Leipz. 1845); Ritsch, in the Theol. Jahrb. 1851; Kostlin, Ursprung und Kompos. d. synopt. Evangelien (Stuttg. 1853); Smith (of Jordanhill), Origin and Connection of the Gospels (Edinb. 1853). For the mythical theory of the origin of the gospels, as developed by Strauss and others, (See Rationalism), and the art. (See Jesus). For diatessara on the Gospels, (See Harmonies Of The Gospels).

IV. Commentaries, expressly on the whole of the four gospels alone, have been numerous; the most important are here designated by an asterisk (*) prefixed: Theophilus, Commentariorum Fragmenta (in Grabe, Spicilegium, 2:223 sq.); Athanasius, Quaestiones (in Opp. [Spur.], 2:253 sq.); Jerome, Expositio (in Opp. [Suppos.] 11:733 sq.); Augustine, Quaestionum lib. 2 (in Opp. 4:311 sq.); Juvencus, Carmina (in Bibl. Patr. Gallandii 4); Sedulius, Expositiones [on Matthew, Mark, and Luke] (in Maii Script. Vet. 9:159 sq.); Arnobius, Annotatiuncula (in Bibl. Max. Patr. 8); Theophylact, Commentarius (in Opp. 1); Anselm, Explanationes (in Opp. ed. Picard); Rupert, In Evang. lib. 1 (in Opp. 1:534 sq.); Euthymius, Commentarius (Gr. and Lat., Lips. 1792, 3 volumes, in 4, 8vo); Aquinas, in Aurea Catena (Paris, 1637, fol.; also in Opp. 4:5; in Bibl. Patr. Gall. 14:297, et al.; Catena from the Fathers, by Pusey, etc., Oxf. 1841-5, 4 volumes, in 8, 8vo); Gorrainus, Commentaria (Colon. 1472, 1537, Hag. 1502, Antw. 1617, Lugd. 1693, fol.); Zuingle, Adn.otationes [ed. Lec Juda] (in Opp. iv); Faber, Commentarii (Meld. 1522, Basil. 1523, Colossians 1541, fol.); Bucer, Enarrationes (Argent. 1527, 1528, 2 volumes, 8vo; Basil. 1537, Geneva, 1553, fol.); Arboreus, Commentarius (Paris, 1529,1551. fol.); Cajetan, Commentarii (Venice, 1530, Paris, 1532, 1536, 1540, 1543, fol.; ib. 1542, Lugd. 1558, 1574, 8vo). Sarcer, Scholia (on the gospels successively, Freft. and Basel, 1538-50, 4 volumes, 8vo); Broeckweg, Enarratione, (Par. 1543, 8vo; Ven. 1648, 4to); Herborn, Enarrationes (Colon. 1546, 4to); Brunsfeld, Adnotationes [including Acts] (Argent. 1553, fol.); Delreio, Commentarii (Hispal. 1554, fol.); Lossii, Adnotationes (Francft. 1559, 2 volumes, fol.); Bullinger, Commentarius (on successive gospels; together, Tigurini. 1561, fol.); Aretius Commentarii (Lausanne, 1578. 2 volumes, 8vo; also in his Comment. on the N.T.); Rande, Erklarung (Francfort, 1597, fol.); Biniet, Commentaria (Paris, 1581); Sa, Scholia [compiled] (Antwerp, 1591, Lugd., 1602, Colon. 1612, 4to); Bulliond, extracts of old and new comments (in French, Lyons, 1596, 1628, 4to); *Maldonatus [Rom. Catholic], Commentarius (Mussipont. 1596, 2 volumes fol.; and often later in various forms; his own last. ed. Lugd. 1615, fol.; lately, Mogunt. 1841-55, 5 volumes, fol.); Gualtha, Homolia [including Acts] (Tigur. 1601, fol.); Lucas, Commentarius (Antw. 1606, 2 volumes, fol., with a supplement in two volumes, fol. on ib., 1612-16, complete, ib. 1712, 5 volumes, in 2, fol.); Scultetus, Exercitationes (Amst. 1624, 4to; also in the Critici Sacri, 6); Heraeus, Scholia [founded on Aquinas] (Antw. 1625, 12mo); Coutzen, Comm;ezentaria (Colon. et Mog. 1626, 2 volumes, fol.); Munster and others, Annotationes (in the Critici Sacri, 6); Masius, Notae (ib. 6); Jansen, Commentarius (1631); Crell, Explicatio (in Opp. 3:1 sq.); Ebert, Tetrasticha Hebraea (in Ugolini. 31:17 sq.); De Rance, Reflexions (Paris, 1699, 4 volumes, 12mo); De Dieu, Animadversiones (L.B. 1633, 4to); Spanheim, Dubia Evangelica [polemical] (Geneva, 1634-9, and later, 3 volumes, 4to); Bounet's Commentary (in French, Par. 1634, 4to); Panonus, Commentarius (Naples, 1636, fol.); De Sylveria, Commentarii (in 6 successive volumes, some of them often, chiefly at Lyons, 1642-75); Trapp, Commentary [including Acts] (London, 1647, 4to; 1748, 1868, 8vo); Walseus, Commentarius [from Beza and others] (L.B. 1653, 4to); Boys, Collatio [chiefly in favor of the Vulgate] (Lond. 1655, 8vo); Ferrerus, Commentarius (Lugd. 1661, fol.); Wolzogen, Commentarius in Opp. [Amst. 1668, fol.] pages 1-1038);. Sandys, Interfretationes (Amst. 1669, 8vo); Lightfoot, Horae Hebraicae [valuable for Talmudical comparisons] (ed. Carpzov, Lips. 1675, 4to); Keuchen, Adnotata [including Acts] (Amnst. 1689, and later, 4to); *Alex. Natalis, [Rom. Cath.] Expositio [chiefly extracted] (Paris, 1703, fol.); *Dorsche, Commentarius (Hamb. 1706, 4to); Ulric, Bibelubung [completed by Wirz] (Tigur. 1713-39, 4 volumes, 8vo); S. Clarke, Paraphrase (first in parts, Lond. 1721-2, and later, 2 volumes, 8vo; also in Works, 3; transl. in Germ. by Wilmsen, Berl. 1763, 3 volumes, 4to); Hagiophilus, Observationes [incomplete] (Gardeleg. 1741, 4to); Hoecher, Analecta (ed. Wolfii, Altenb. 1766, 4to); Lynar, Erklr. (Hall. 1775, 8vo);, Bp. Pearce, Commnetary [including Acts] (London, 1777, 2 volumes, 4to); Thalemann, Versio [including Acts] (Berlin, 1781, 8vo); Bp. Mann, Notes [including Acts] (2d ed. London, 1788, 12mo); Campbell, Notes (Aberdeen, 1789, 2 volumes, 8vo, 3d ed. ib. 1814, 4 volumes, 8vo; Andover, 1837, 2 volumes, 8vo); Quesnel, Comment (Bath, 1790, 2 volumes, 8vo; London, 1830, 3 volumes, 12mo); Bossuet, Reflexions (in OEuvres, 14:117 sq.); Erskine, Songs (in Works, 10:627 sq.); Schulz, Anmerk. (Halle, 1794, 4to); Elsley, Annotations [including Acts] (Lond. 1799,1821, 1827, 3 volumes; 1841, 2 volumes; 1844, 1 volume, 8vo); Brameld, Notes (Lond. 1803, 8vo); *Kuin Ö l, Commentarius [including Acts] (Lips. 1807-12, and since, 4 volumes, 8vo; London, 1835, 3 volumes, 8vo); Jones, Illustrations (Lond. 1808, 8vo); Stabback, Annotations [including Acts] (Falmouth, 1809, 2 volumes, 8vo); St. Gilly, Observations (Lond. 1818, 8vo); Kistemacher, Erklarung (Munst. 1818-20, 4 volumes, 8vo); Moller, Ansichten (Gotha, 1819, 8vo); *Fritzsche, Commentarii [Matthew, Mark, and Luke] (Lips. 1825-30, 2 volumes, 8vo); Sumner, Exposition (Lond. 1832, 8vo); Barnes, Notes (New York, 1832, 1847, 2 volumes, 8vo); *Watson, Exposition [Matthew and Mark] (London, 1833, 8vo; New York, 1841); Page, Notes (London, 1834, 12mo); Glockler, Erklarung [Matthew, Mark, and Luke] (Frankfort, 1834, 8vo); Slade, Remarks (Lond. 1835, 12mo); Lingard, Notes (London, 1836, 8vo); Adam, Exposition (ed. Westoby, London, 1837, 2 volumes, 8vo); Ripley, Notes (Boston, 1837-8, 2 volumes, 8vo); Rule, Notes (Gibraltar, 1841, 4to); Longking, Notes (N.Y. 1841-4, 4 volumes, 16mo); Kenney, Commentary [including epistles] (Lond. 1842, 2 volumes, 12mo); Paulus, Exeg. Handbook, [first 3 gospels] (Heidelb. 1842, 3 volumes, 8vo); Baumgarten-Crusius, Commentar, [Matthew, Mark, and Luke] 1 (Leipzig, 1844, 2 volumes, 8vo); Livermore, Commentary (Lond. 1844, 8vo; Boston, 1850, 12mo); Paige, Notes (Boston, 1844-5, 2 volumes, 12mo); Mackenzie, Commentary [including Acts] (London, 1847, 8vo); *Ewald, Erklarung (first 3 gospels, Gottingen, 1850, 3 volumes, 8vo; John, ib. 1861-2, 2 volumes, 8vo); Brown, Discourses of Christ (Edinburgh, 1850, 3 volumes, 8vo; New York, 1864, 2 volumes, 8vo); also Commentary (ib. 1854-5, 4 volumes, in 7, 8vo); Girdlestone, Lectures (new ed. Lond. 1853, 4 volumes, 8vo); *Stier, Reden Jesu [on Christ's words only (Barmen, 1853-5, 7 volumes, 8vo; tr. Edinb. 1855 sq., 8 volumes, 8vo; N.Y. 1864-8, 2 volumes, in 3, 8vo); Stebbing, Helps (Lond. 1855, 8vo); *Norton, Notes (Boston, 1855, 2 volumes, 8vo); Lyttleton, Notes [including Acts] (Lond. 1856, 8vo); Ryle, Expos. Thoughts (London and N.Y. 1856-66, 6 volumes, 8vo); Hall, Notes (N.Y. 1857, 2 volumes, 12mo) Owen, Notes (N.York, 1857-60, 3 volumes, 12mo); Whedon, Commentary (N.Y. 1860-6, volumes 1, 2, 12mo); *Bleek, Erklarung [first 3 gosp.] (Lpz. 1861-2, 2 volumes, 8vo); Jacobus, Notes (N.York, 1848-56; Edinb. 1863, 3 volumes, 8vo); Burger, Erkldrung [Matthew, Mark, and Luke] (Nordlingen, 1865, 8vo); Burgon, Commentary (new ed. London, 1865, 5 volumes, 12mo); Bisping, Exeg. Handb. (M Ü nster, 1865, 8vo); Warren, Notes (Boston, 1867, volume 1, 12mo). (See New Testament).

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [7]

The name by which the four accounts in the New Testament of the character, life, and teaching of Christ are designated; have been known since as early as the 3rd century, of which the first three are called "Synoptic," because they are summaries of the chief events, and go over the same ground in the history, while the author of the fourth gospel follows lines of his own; the former aim mainly at mere narrative, while the object of the latter is dogmatic, as well as probably to supply deficiencies in the former; moreover, the interest of John's account centres in the person of Christ and that of the others in His gospel; the writers were severally represented as attended, Matthew by a man, Mark by a lion, Luke by an ox, and John by an eagle.

References