The Gospels: Second
Justin Martyr, the most eminent of the early Fathers, wrote around the middle of the second century and makes more than three hundred quotations from the books of the Old Testament, and nearly one hundred from the Apocryphal books; but none from the Four Gospels. -- In the latter half of the second century, between the time of Justin and Papias, and the time of Theophilus and Irenaeus, the Four Gospels were undoubtedly written or compiled.
There are extant writings accredited to the Apostolic Fathers, Clement of Rome, Barnabas, Hermas, Ignatius, and Polycarp; written, for the most part, early in the second century. These writings contain no mention of the Four Gospels. This also is admitted by Christian scholars. Dr. Dodwell says: "We have at this day certain most authentic ecclesiastical writers of the times, as Clemens Romanus, Barnabas, Hermas, Ignatius, and Polycarp, who wrote in the order wherein I have named them, and after all the writers of the New Testament. But in Hermas you will not find one passage or any mention of the New Testament, nor in all the rest is any one of the Evangelists named" (Dissertations upon Irenaeus).
The Four Gospels were unknown to the early Christian Fathers. Justin Martyr, the most eminent of the early Fathers, wrote about the middle of the second century. His writings in proof of the divinity of Christ demanded the use of these Gospels had they existed in his time. He makes more than three hundred quotations from the books of the Old Testament, and nearly one hundred from the Apocryphal books of the New Testament; but none from the Four Gospels. The Rev. Dr. Giles says: "The very names of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, are never mentioned by him [Justin] -- do not occur once in all his writings" (Christian Records, p. 71).
Papias, another noted Father, was a contemporary of Justin. He refers to writings of Matthew and Mark, but his allusions to them clearly indicate that they were not the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. Dr. Davidson, the highest English authority on the canon, says: "He [Papias] neither felt the want nor knew the existence of inspired Gospels" (Canon of the Bible, p. 123).
Theophilus, who wrote after the middle of the latter half of the second century, mentions the Gospel of John, and Irenaeus, who wrote a little later, mentions all of the Gospels, and makes numerous quotations from them. In the latter half of the second century, then, between the time of Justin and Papias, and the time of Theophilus and Irenaeus, the Four Gospels were undoubtedly written or compiled.
These books are anonymous. They do not purport to have been written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Their titles do not affirm it. They simply imply that they are "according" to the supposed teachings of these Evangelists. As Renan says, "They merely signify that these were the traditions proceeding from each of these Apostles, and claiming their authority." Concerning their authorship the Rev. Dr. Hooykaas says: "They appeared anonymously. The titles placed above them in our Bibles owe their origin to a later ecclesiastical tradition which deserves no confidence whatever" (Bible for Learners, Vol. III, p. 24).
It is claimed that the Gospel of Matthew originally appeared in Hebrew. Our version is a translation of a Greek work. Regarding this St. Jerome says: "Who afterwards translated it into Greek is not sufficiently certain." The consequences of this admission are thus expressed by Michaelis: "If the original text of Matthew is lost, and we have nothing but a Greek translation then, frankly, we cannot ascribe any divine inspiration to the words."
The contents of these books refute the claim that they were written by the Evangelists named. They narrate events and contain doctrinal teachings which belong to a later age. Matthew ascribes to Christ the following language: "Thou art Peter, and Upon this rock I will build my Church" (xvi, 18). This Gospel is a Roman Catholic Gospel, and was written after the beginning of the establishment of this hierarchy to uphold the supremacy of the Petrine Church of Rome. Of this Gospel Dr. Davidson says : "The author, indeed, must ever remain unknown'. (Introduction to New Testament, p. 72).
The Gospel of Luke is addressed to Theophilus. Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, who is believed to be the person addressed, flourished in the latter half of the second century.
Dr. Schleiermacher, one of Germany's greatest theologians, after a critical analysis of Luke, concludes that it is merely a compilation, made up of thirty-three preexisting manuscripts. Bishop Thirlwall's Schleiermacher says: "He [Luke] is from beginning to end no more than the compiler and arranger of documents which he found in existence" (p. 313).
The basis of this Gospel is generally believed to be the Gospel of Marcion, a Pauline compilation, made about the middle of the second century. Concerning this Gospel, the Rev. S. Baring-Gould in his Lost and Hostile Gospels, says: "The arrangement is so similar that we are forced to the conclusion that it was either used by St. Luke or that it was his original composition. If he used it then his right to the title of author of the Third Gospel falls to the ground, as what he added was of small amount."
Mark, according to Renan, is the oldest of the Gospels; but Mark, according to Strauss, was written after the Gospels of Matthew and Luke were written. He says: "It is evidently a compilation, whether made from memory or otherwise, from the first and third Gospels" (Leben Jesu, p. 5I). Judge Waite, in his History of Christianity, says that all but twenty-four verses of this Gospel have their parallels in Matthew and Luke. Davidson declares it to be an anonymous work "The author," he says, "is unknown."
Omitting the last twelve verses of Mark, which all Christian critics pronounce spurious, the book contains no mention of the two great miracles which mark the limits of Christ's earthly career, his miraculous birth and his ascension.
Concerning the first three Gospels, the Encyclopedia Britannica says: "It is certain that the Synoptic Gospels took their present form only by degrees." Of these books Dr. Westcott says: "Their substance is evidently much older than their form." Professor Robertson Smith pronounces them "unapostolic digests of the second century."
The internal evidence against the authenticity of the Fourth Gospel is conclusive. The Apostle John did not write it. John, the apostle, was a Jew; the author of the Fourth Gospel was not a Jew. John was born at Bethsaida; the author of the Fourth Gospel did not know where Bethsaida was located. John was an uneducated fisherman; the author of this Gospel was an accomplished scholar. Some of the most important events in the life of Jesus, the Synoptics declare, were witnessed by John; the author of this knows nothing of these events. The Apostle John witnessed the crucifixion; the author of this Gospel did not. The Apostles, including John, believed Jesus to be a man; the author of the Fourth Gospel believed him to be a god.
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