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A GOSPEL (meaning "good news", comparable to the Greek εὐαγγέλιον, euangelion ) is a written account of the career and/or teachings of Jesus of Nazareth . The word originally meant the Christian message itself, but in the 2nd century it came to be used for the books in which the message was set out. The four gospels of the New Testament
New Testament
— Matthew , Mark , Luke and John — are almost our only source of information on Jesus
Jesus
, and thus occupy a uniquely important place in Christianity. They were all written in the period between c.70 AD and the end of the 1st century, by anonymous authors, and stand at the end of a process of oral and written tradition that began on, or even before, the death of Jesus. For various reasons modern scholars are cautious of relying on them uncritically, nevertheless, they do provide a good idea of the public career of Jesus, and critical study can attempt to distinguish the original ideas of Jesus
Jesus
from those of the later authors.

CONTENTS

* 1 Canonical gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)

* 1.1 Stages: oral tradition to written gospel * 1.2 Composition * 1.3 Contents * 1.4 Genre and reliability

* 2 Canonisation and the non-canonical gospels

* 2.1 Jewish-Christian gospels * 2.2 Gospel of Thomas * 2.3 Gospel of Peter
Gospel of Peter
* 2.4 Gospel of Judas * 2.5 Infancy gospels * 2.6 Harmonies * 2.7 Marcion\'s Gospel of Luke
Gospel of Luke
* 2.8 The Gospel
The Gospel
of the Lots of Mary

* 3 See also * 4 Notes

* 5 References

* 5.1 Citations * 5.2 Bibliography

* 6 External links

CANONICAL GOSPELS (MATTHEW, MARK, LUKE AND JOHN)

Matthew's sources include the Gospel of Mark , the "shared tradition" called Q , and material unique to Matthew, called M .

STAGES: ORAL TRADITION TO WRITTEN GOSPEL

Main articles: Synoptic problem
Synoptic problem
and Oral gospel traditions

In the immediate aftermath of Jesus' death his followers expected him to return at any moment, and certainly within their own lifetimes. In consequence there was little motivation to write anything down for future generations, but as eyewitnesses began to die, and as the missionary needs of the church grew, there was an increasing demand and need for written versions of the founder's life and teachings. The stages of this process can be summarised as follows:

* Oral traditions — stories and sayings passed on largely as separate self-contained units, and not in any chronological order; * Written collections of miracle stories, parables, sayings, etc., with oral tradition continuing alongside these; * Proto-gospels preceding and serving as sources for the written gospels — the dedicatory preface of Luke, for example, testifies to the existence of several previous accounts of the life of Jesus. * Gospels formed by combining proto-gospels, written collections and still-current oral tradition.

Given this history, it is almost certain that none of the four gospels were written by eye-witnesses. Evidence of this can be seen in the conflicts between them: to take a few examples, according to the synoptic gospels, Jesus' mission took one year, was spent primarily in Galilee, and climaxed with a single visit to Jerusalem at which he cleansed the Temple of the money-changers, while in John, Jerusalem was the focus of Jesus' mission, he visited it three times (making his mission last three years rather than one), and the cleansing of the Temple took place at the beginning rather than the end of the ministry.

COMPOSITION

Main article: Synoptic gospels
Synoptic gospels
Comparison of Matthew 3:7-10 and Luke 3:7-9. Common text highlighted in red.

The first three gospels are called the "synoptics", from a Greek phrase meaning "seen together", because they put the events of Jesus' life in the same order and have many of the same stories and sayings, often in the same or very similar words. The usual way of explaining this similarity is that Mark was written first, and that the authors of Matthew and Luke, acting independently, used Mark plus a collection of sayings called the Q document and additional material unique to each called the M source (Matthew) and the L source (Luke). Mark was probably written c.AD 66–70, during Nero
Nero
's persecution of the Christians in Rome or the Jewish revolt, and the general consensus on the dates of both Matthew and Luke is around AD 85-90. Early Christian tradition names the author of Mark as John Mark
John Mark
, a companion and interpreter of the apostle Peter , but most modern scholars regard the authorship as unknown. The consensus has equally rejected the idea that Luke was written by a companion of the apostle Paul , or that Matthew was by an apostle (the superscription "according to Matthew" was added some time in the 2nd century).

The Gospel of John is radically different: it is the only gospel to call Jesus
Jesus
God, and in contrast to Mark, where Jesus
Jesus
hides his identity as messiah, in John he openly proclaims it. Christian tradition identified the author as John the Apostle
John the Apostle
, but most modern scholars treat it as an anonymous work. It arose in a Jewish Christian community in the process of breaking from the Jewish synagogue, and scholars believe that the text went through two to three redactions (editions) before reaching its current form. The author may have known the synoptic gospels, but he does not use them in the way that Matthew and Luke used Mark. It is usually dated to AD 90–110.

CONTENTS

The four gospels share a story in which the earthly career of Jesus culminates in his death and bodily resurrection, an event of crucial redemptive significance. They therefore differ from sayings-collections like the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas in making the person of Jesus, and not his teachings, the crucial factor in their faith. The four nevertheless present different narratives , reflecting different intents on the parts of their authors. Mark never calls Jesus
Jesus
"God" or claims that Jesus
Jesus
existed prior to his earthly life, never mentions a virgin birth (the author apparently believes that Jesus
Jesus
had a normal human parentage and birth), and makes no attempt to trace Jesus' ancestry back to King David
King David
or Adam
Adam
. Crucially, Mark originally had no post-resurrection appearances of Jesus
Jesus
, although Mark 16:7, in which the young man discovered in the tomb instructs the women to tell "the disciples and Peter" that Jesus will see them again in Galilee, hints that the author may have known of the tradition.

Matthew reinterprets Mark, stressing Jesus' teachings as much as his acts, and making subtle changes to the narrative in order to stress his divine nature – Mark's "young man" who appears at Jesus' tomb, for example, becomes a radiant angel in Matthew. The miracle stories in Mark confirm Jesus' status as an emissary of God (which was Mark's understanding of the Messiah), but in Matthew they demonstrate his divinity. Luke, while following Mark's plot more faithfully than does Matthew, has expanded on the source, corrected Mark's grammar and syntax, and eliminating some passages entirely, notably most of chapters 6 and 7, which he apparently felt reflected poorly on the disciples and painted Jesus
Jesus
too much like a magician.

The synoptic gospels represent Jesus
Jesus
as an exorcist and healer who preached in parables about the coming Kingdom of God
Kingdom of God
. He preached first in Galilee and later in Jerusalem, where he cleansed the temple . He states that he offers no sign as proof (Mark) or only the sign of Jonah (Matthew and Luke). In Mark, apparently written with a Roman audience in mind, Jesus
Jesus
is a heroic man of action, given to powerful emotions, including agony. In Matthew, apparently written for a Jewish audience , Jesus
Jesus
is repeatedly called out as the fulfillment of Hebrew prophecy.

In Luke, apparently written for gentiles, Jesus
Jesus
is especially concerned with the poor. Luke emphasizes the importance of prayer and the action of the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
in Jesus's life and in the Christian community. Jesus
Jesus
appears as a stoic supernatural being, unmoved even by his own crucifixion. Like Matthew, Luke insists that salvation offered by Christ is for all, and not the Jews only.

The Gospel of John represents Jesus
Jesus
as an incarnation of the eternal Word (Logos), who spoke no parables, talked extensively about himself, and did not explicitly refer to a Second Coming
Second Coming
. Jesus
Jesus
preaches in Jerusalem, launching his ministry with the cleansing of the temple. He performs several miracles as signs, most of them not found in the synoptics. The Gospel of John ends:(21:25) "And there are also many other things which Jesus
Jesus
did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen."

GENRE AND RELIABILITY

Main article: Historical reliability of the Gospels

The consensus among modern scholars is that the gospels belong to the ancient genre of bios, or biography. Ancient biographies were concerned with providing examples for readers to emulate while preserving and promoting the subject's reputation and memory, and so they included both propaganda and kerygma (preaching) in their works. Mark, for example, is not biography in the modern sense but an apocalyptic history depicting Jesus
Jesus
caught up in events at the end of time.

As Luke's attempt to link the birth of Jesus
Jesus
to the census of Quirinius demonstrates, there is no guarantee that the gospels are historically accurate. The gospel
The gospel
authors altered the traditions at their disposal (their sources) to serve their own ends — thus Matthew and Luke have frequently edited Mark, and the contradictions and discrepancies between John and the synoptics make it impossible to accept both as reliable A second problem is that the gospels as we have them are not the originals, but have been edited and recopied over time, and evidently differ from them in thousands of ways. In that long chain of transmission the texts have been corrupted, leading Origen
Origen
to complain in the 3rd century that "the differences among manuscripts have become great, ... either neglect to check over what they have transcribed, or, in the process of checking, they make additions or deletions as they please." Despite all this, scholars are confident that the gospels do provide a good idea of the public career of Jesus, and that critical study can attempt to distinguish the ideas of Jesus
Jesus
from those of later authors and editors.

CANONISATION AND THE NON-CANONICAL GOSPELS

Main article: Development of the New Testament
New Testament
canon Main article: New Testament
New Testament
apocrypha Further information: Gnostic gospels
Gnostic gospels

The creation of a Christian canon was probably a response to career of the heretic Marcion
Marcion
(c.85-160), who established a canon of his own with just one gospel, the gospel of Luke, which he edited to fit his own theology. The Muratorian canon , the earliest surviving list of books considered (by its own author at least) to form Christian scripture, included Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and Irenaeus
Irenaeus
of Lyons went further, stating that there must be four gospels and only four because there were four corners of the Earth and thus the Church should have four pillars.

In addition to the four canonical gospels, early Christians wrote other gospels that were not accepted into the canon, some of which are discussed below.

JEWISH-CHRISTIAN GOSPELS

Main articles: Jewish-Christian gospels , Gospel of the Nazarenes , Gospel of the Ebionites
Gospel of the Ebionites
, and Gospel of the Hebrews
Gospel of the Hebrews

Epiphanius , Jerome
Jerome
and other early church fathers preserve in their writings citations from Jewish-Christian gospels . Most modern critical scholars consider that the extant citations suggest at least two and probably three distinct works, at least one of which (possibly two) closely parallels the Gospel
Gospel
of Matthew.

GOSPEL OF THOMAS

Main article: Gospel of Thomas

The gospel
The gospel
attributed to Thomas is mostly wisdom without narrating Jesus's life. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church says that the original may date from c. 150. It may represent a tradition independent from the canonical gospels, but that developed over a long time and was influenced by Matthew and Luke.

While it can be understood in Gnostic terms, it lacks the characteristic features of Gnostic doctrine. The Jesus
Jesus
Seminar identified two of its unique parables, the parable of the empty jar and the parable of the assassin . It had been lost but was discovered, in a Coptic version dating from c. 350, at Nag Hammadi in 1945–46, and three papyri, dated to c. 200, which contain fragments of a Greek text similar to but not identical with that in the Coptic language, have also been found.

GOSPEL OF PETER

Main article: Gospel of Peter
Gospel of Peter

The gospel
The gospel
of Peter was likely written in the first half of the 2nd century. It seems to be largely legendary, hostile toward Jews, and including docetic elements. It had been lost but was rediscovered in the 19th century.

GOSPEL OF JUDAS

Main article: Gospel of Judas

The Gospel of Judas is another controversial and ancient text that purports to tell the story of the gospel from the perspective of Judas, the disciple who is usually said to have betrayed Jesus. It paints an unusual picture of the relationship between Jesus
Jesus
and Judas, in that it appears to interpret Judas's act not as betrayal, but rather as an act of obedience to the instructions of Jesus. The text was recovered from a cave in Egypt by a thief and thereafter sold on the black market until it was finally discovered by a collector who, with the help of academics from Yale and Princeton, was able to verify its authenticity. The document itself does not claim to have been authored by Judas (it is, rather, a gospel about Judas), and is known to date to at least 180 AD.

INFANCY GOSPELS

Main article: Infancy gospel

A genre of "Infancy gospels " (Greek: protoevangelion) arose in the 2nd century, such as the Gospel of James , which introduces the concept of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, and the Infancy Gospel
Gospel
of Thomas (not to be confused with the absolutely different sayings Gospel
Gospel
of Thomas), both of which related many miraculous incidents from the life of Mary and the childhood of Jesus
Jesus
that are not included in the canonical gospels.

HARMONIES

Main article: gospel harmony

Another genre is that of gospel harmonies , in which the four canonical gospels were selectively recast as a single narrative to present a consistent text. Very few fragments of harmonies have survived. The Diatessaron was such a harmonization, compiled by Tatian around 175. It was popular for at least two centuries in Syria
Syria
, but eventually it fell into disuse.

MARCION\'S GOSPEL OF LUKE

Main article: Gospel
Gospel
of Marcion
Marcion

Marcion
Marcion
of Sinope , c. 150, had a much shorter version of the gospel that differed substantially from what has now become the standard text of the gospel of Luke. Marcion's version of the gospel was far less oriented towards the Jewish scriptures than the now canonical texts are. Marcion
Marcion
is said to have rejected all other gospels, including those of Matthew, Mark and especially John, which he allegedly rejected as having been forged by Irenaeus
Irenaeus
. Marcion's critics alleged that he had edited out the portions he didn't like from the then canonical version, though Marcion
Marcion
is said to have argued that his text was the more genuinely original one.

THE GOSPEL OF THE LOTS OF MARY

Written in Coptic , it contains oracles that would have been used to provide support and reassurance to people seeking help for problems. It is not a gospel in the traditional sense, since it doesn’t predominantly teach about Christ.

SEE ALSO

* Book: Gospel
Gospel

* Christianity
Christianity
portal

* Acts of the Apostles (genre) * Agrapha are the collection of religious sayings attributed to Jesus
Jesus
Christ that are not found in the canonical gospels. * Apocalyptic literature
Apocalyptic literature
* The Aquarian Gospel
Gospel
of Jesus
Jesus
the Christ * Bodmer Papyri * Godspell
Godspell
is a musical based on the gospels of Jesus
Jesus
Christ. The word "Gódspell" is Anglo Saxon (c. 1000 AD) for Gospel. * The Gospel
The Gospel
* Gospel (liturgy) * Gospel in Islam * Jesusism * List of gospels

NOTES

* ^ For gospel as the Christian message see the article The Gospel . * ^ The priority of Mark is accepted by most scholars, but there are important dissenting opinions: see the article Synoptic problem
Synoptic problem
.

REFERENCES

CITATIONS

* ^ Woodhead 2004 , p. 4. * ^ Tuckett 2000 , p. 522. * ^ A B Cross & Livingstone 2005 , p. 697. * ^ A B Tuckett 2000 , p. 523. * ^ A B Reddish 2011 , p. 21-22. * ^ A B Sanders 1995 , p. 4-5. * ^ Honoré 1986 , p. 95-147. * ^ A B Reddish 2011 , p. 17. * ^ Burkett 2002 , p. 124-125. * ^ Martens 2004 , p. 100. * ^ O\'Day 1998 , p. 381. * ^ Reddish 2011 , p. 13. * ^ Reddish 2011 , p. 188. * ^ Reddish 2011 , p. 26. * ^ Levine 2009 , p. 6. * ^ Perkins 1998 , p. 241. * ^ Reddish 2011 , p. 108,144. * ^ Burkett 2002 , pp. 155–6. * ^ Reddish 2011 , p. 36. * ^ Reddish 2011 , p. 40. * ^ Harrington 1991 , p. 8. * ^ Nolland 2005 , p. 16. * ^ Burkett 2002 , p. 214. * ^ Burkett 2002 , p. 215. * ^ Burkett 2002 , p. 215–216. * ^ Edwards 2015 , p. ix. * ^ Ehrman 2004 , p. 164–165. * ^ Perkins 2012 , p. unpaginated. * ^ Lincoln 2005 , p. 18. * ^ A B Hurtado 2005 , p. 587. * ^ Ehrman 2005b , p. 215. * ^ Burkett 2002 , p. 158. * ^ Parker 1997 , p. 125. * ^ Telford 1999 , p. 149. * ^ Beaton 2005 , p. 117. * ^ Morris 1986 , p. 114. * ^ Beaton 2005 , p. 123. * ^ Aune 1987 , p. 59. * ^ Johnson 2010 , p. 48. * ^ Funk, Robert W. , Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus
Jesus
Seminar. The five gospels. HarperSanFrancisco. 1993. * ^ A B C D Harris, Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985 * ^ A B Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005, article Luke, Gospel of St * ^ Ehrman 2009 . * ^ St. Matthew, "The Thompson Chain-Reference Study Bible
Bible
New King James Version", (B.B. Kirkbride Bible
Bible
Co. Inc., 1997) p. 1258 verse 12:21, p.1274, verse 21:43. * ^ Lincoln 2004 , p. 133. * ^ Dunn 2005 , p. 174. * ^ Donahue 2005 , p. 15. * ^ Ehrman 2009 , p. 7. * ^ Ehrman 2009 , p. 52. * ^ Ehrman 2005b , p. 34. * ^ Ehrman 2005b , p. 35. * ^ Philipp Vielhauer in Schneemelcher 's New Testament
New Testament
Apocrypha Vol.1 (1971) English revised edition R. Wilson, of Neutestamentliche Apokryphen 1964 Hennecke & Schneemelcher * ^ A B C D "Thomas, Gospel
Gospel
of". Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005 * ^ Funk, Robert W. , Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus
Jesus
Seminar . The five gospels. HarperSanFrancisco. 1993. " The Gospel
The Gospel
of Thomas", p 471–532. * ^ A B C "Peter, Gospel
Gospel
of St.". Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005 * ^ Ehrman, Bart (2003). The Lost Christianities. New York: Oxford University Press. p. xi. ISBN 978-0-19-514183-2 . * ^ Achtemeier, Paul J., Th.D., Harper's Bible
Bible
Dictionary, (San Francisco: Harper and Row, Publishers, Inc.; 1985). * ^ Daily Mail, 19 February 2015 * ^ "The Gothic and Anglo-Saxon Gospels in Parallel Columns".

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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New Testament
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Gospel
of John". In Evans, Craig A. Routledge Encyclopedia of the Historical Jesus. Routledge. ISBN 9781317722243 . * Burkett, Delbert (2002). An introduction to the New Testament
New Testament
and the origins of Christianity. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-00720-7 . * Burridge, R.A. (2006). "Gospels". In Rogerson, J.W.; Lieu, Judith M. The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199254255 . * Charlesworth, James H. (2008). The Historical Jesus: An Essential Guide. Abingdon Press. ISBN 9780687021673 . * Cross, Frank Leslie; Livingstone, Elizabeth A. (2005). The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780192802903 . * Donahue, John (2005). The Gospel
The Gospel
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The Gospel
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The Gospel
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Synoptic Gospels
and the Acts of the Apostles: Telling the Christian Story". In Barton, John. The Cambridge companion to biblical interpretation. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 978-0-521-48593-7 . * Parker, D.C. (1997). The Living Text of the Gospels. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521599511 . * Perkins, Pheme (2012). Reading the New Testament: An Introduction. Paulist Press. ISBN 9780809147861 . * Martens, Allan (2004). "Salvation Today: Reading Luke's Message for a Gentile Audience". In Porter, Stanley E. Reading the Gospels Today. Eerdmans. ISBN 9780802805171 . * Powell, Mark Allan (1998). Jesus
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