Authors of the New Testament


#1

I read on another thread that theologians and historians dispute the authorship of especially the following books of the New Testament:
[LIST=1]
*]St Matthew
*]St Mark
*]St Luke
*]St John vs. Revelation
*]Romans vs. Hebrews
[/LIST]
I was rather astonished to find the first three Gospels among them, although I was aware there were disputes about John and Revelation (John the Divine), and Hebrews (St Paul?). I’d find it quite worrying if Matthew and John weren’t actually written by the Apostles.

Can someone bring me up to date what the state of research is on this? Is there any Magisterial pronouncement on who the authors were of any of these books? What’s your position on the authorship? Can you recommend resources that might be of help? I do have Pope Emeritus Benedict’s trilogy “Jesus of Nazareth”, but I haven’t got around to reading the books yet. Perhaps he addresses this in some way?

The minister at my former Anglican church once said “Oh, you’ll be really surprised what you’ll learn when you study theology: The authors we attribute to the Gospels were invented. No one knows who wrote them.” I didn’t really take much note of this statement, since I confused it with the Q theory.


#2

:popcorn:


#3

CutlerB #1
Can someone bring me up to date what the state of research is on this? Is there any Magisterial pronouncement on who the authors were of any of these books? What’s your position on the authorship? Can you recommend resources that might be of help?

Yes, and the following will help.

At the website below you have What Does The Church Really Say About The Bible, by Edith Myers, The Wanderer Press, 1979
catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=3752

“…the Pontifical Biblical Commission was formally established by Pope Leo XIII in 1902, and in 1907, in Praestantia Sacrae Scripturae, Pope Pius X declared its decisions to be binding.”

"4) On the Author and the Historical Truth of the Fourth Gospel, 1907.
There is sufficient evidence that John the Apostle wrote the Fourth Gospel, the Commission stated, to uphold this opinion against adverse critics. We may not say that the discourses of Our Lord that are reported therein are not really the words of Jesus but theological compositions of the authors.

"8) **On the Author, Date of Composition, and Historical Truth of the Gospel According to St. Matthew, 1911. **
“Matthew, the Commission said, is in truth the author of the Gospel published under his name. The Gospel was originally written in Hebrew, sometime before the destruction of Jerusalem. We cannot accept the idea that the book was merely a collection of sayings compiled by an anonymous author. While the book was first written in Hebrew, the Greek is regarded as canonical, and is to be regarded as historically true, including the infancy narratives, and passages relating to the primacy of Peter (Mt: 16:17-19) and to the Apostles’ profession of faith in the divinity of Christ (Mt: 14:33).”


#4

If one carefully studies the synoptic problem and the many solutions, one will find that there are about six or more hypotheses, just a few–Q, Mark wrote first, Mark wrote after the fall of Jerusalem, Matthew did not write first, there is an "L (from which the author of Luke copied), there is an “M” (from which the author of Matthew copied), none of the apostles wrote any of the Gospels, and so on and so forth. And that there are not inspired by God.

**In other words, the solutions do not start with historical or scientific facts, but with a series of hypotheses. They will not accept God or the apostles!
**


#5

Regarding theologians, Fr. Benedict Groeschel gives talks on various subjects. One of those subjects is the three theological virtues of faith, hope and love. Father introduces them by saying, “They are not called the three theological virtues because theologians necessarily have them”

Think about that one.


#6

Hi Cutler,

To be fair, your former pastor was exaggerating things when he said the authors attributed to the Gospels were invented. I mean, there is a reason why these individuals are considered the authors (both now by some and in the past).

Firstly, there is ancient attestation as to who the authors are (in Papias, quoted in Eusebius, and in Irenaeus), and while these are not perfect, they are certainly evidence. It seems clear that this attestation went alongside a tradition of who the authors are.

Secondly, the internal evidence of the Gospels themselves points to the authors on occasion. For example, it is no stretch of the imagination that the author of Mark had some kind of information and, as John Mark is mentioned as a companion to Peter, this makes perfect sense. Further, the author of both Luke and Acts was the same person, and there are strong indications that the texts were written by a Gentile (as Luke was) and a companion of Paul (as Luke was also), particularly considering the “we” passages in Acts and the similarity of Luke’s theology and account of the Last Supper with Paul. John, too, can be reasonably identified as the “beloved disciple” who is the source of the tradition through the fourth gospel.

They’re just some ideas, there are lots more.


#7

The salient point for me is that the scriptures are so cryptic in so many places that there absolutely must be some external and divinely guided institution to complete them with “the rest of the story.” I note that, the older the bible, the more certain the editors were of the provenance of the Gospels and Epistles. Since historical-critical modernism has seeped into theology, doubts have accompanied it, and are growing. But, we should all be familiar with just who the author of doubt is, and of his relentless desire is to de-construct the faith and to dissolve Jesus Christ. He has already succeeded int he case of the pseudo-Christian sects, who deny the divinity of Christ. I know the author of doubt, and for that reason, I tend to view modern scholarship with a jaundiced eye - particularly if it opposes the consistent tradition of the Church.

Modern exegetes seem to be making decisions based on a heavier weighting of evidentiary findings, i.e. documentary evidence, as they diminish the weight of Tradition. From three decades of seeking, locating, identifying, securing, preserving and presenting physical evidence, I can assure you that any given piece of physical evidence can lead in at least two opposing directions. Physical evidence cannot speak for itself and thus, man proposes to speak for it via “expert testimony.” The Sacred Tradition, on the other hand, is living and breathing, subject to cross-examination and speaks for itself.


#8

Which bring me to another point: What exactly is the problem with the historical-critical method? From what I understand, we are not to fear research or examination of our Faith, since it is true. Why is the above-mentioned method another matter? It seems to be pervasive in modern theology. As I want to study Catholic Theology very soon, this is making me unsure.

The reasoning behind ignoring Sacred Tradition would, I think, be that “tales” evolve over time, people add stuff on and so forth… Like folklore.


#9

In and of itself, there is not a thing wrong with historical-critical. Pope Benedict pointed this out in his trilogy on Jesus of Nazareth. However, modernists have latched onto this method and are applying revisionist history to the faith, clouding what was once certain and casting doubt upon many aspects of the faith. There is a movement afoot which questions the source of and accuracy of the scriptures. We see this occurring and it is reflected in the notes and book intros of the NAB and NABRE. However, at the same time, the champs of H-C also tend to dismiss the Tradition as an unreliable source of transmission. All that is left is the Magisterium, and it has no stability by itself. To me, this is a coordinated attack on the faith itself - coincidental with the rise of rampant secularization as well as militant atheism. This can be seen if one steps back and examines the big picture. Since there is an unseen spirit that motivates and coordinates all of this, and which is set against the very foundations of the faith, who could be behind it?

But, they are not tales when their transmission is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit, and when their transmission is not simplistic in the manner of dad to son to grandson. The transmission of Tradition is an unbroken and continuous process whose corruption would be immediately obvious as it was occurring. In fact, the early heretics were caught out by this exact process. The living witness of the entire Church testified to the falseness of their claims as it was occurring.

Things passed on from generation to generation from single person to single person can most certainly suffer corruption, modification and other alterations. But, not while the rest of the family witnesses are present to correct any mistakes. And the Church as a whole is the living witness to Tradition. In other words, the entirety of the Church is the constant witness as Tradition is transmitted. Tradition is not some simplistic thing that is officially passed on once per generation within the Church. It is a continuous and organic process.


#10

Alright. I have Benedict’s trilogy on my shelf, ready for reading. :slight_smile:

True, but those people will not accept it.


#11

CutlerB #8
What exactly is the problem with the historical-critical method? From what I understand, we are not to fear research or examination of our Faith, since it is true. Why is the above-mentioned method another matter? It seems to be pervasive in modern theology. As I want to study Catholic Theology very soon, this is making me unsure.

In 1978, R. H. Fuller, one of the chief form critics, wrote in the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, “It is ironic that just at the time when the limitations of the historical-critical method are being discovered in Protestantism, Roman Catholic scholars should be bent on pursuing that method so relentlessly.” By 1980, the same R. H. Fuller considered the method they followed so relentlessly to be “bankrupt.” [See Fr William G Most, *Catholic Apologetics Today, TAN, 1986, p 237].

The Pope’s Jesus of Nazareth (Bloomsbury, 2007) decries the aberrational reconstructions of historical-critical (HC) scholarship on the truths of the Scriptures – of Jesus Himself. But along with the proper use of that analysis, Benedict XVI stresses the need of canonical exegesis which reads the individual texts of the Bible in the context of the whole, and “which carries it (HC) forward in an organic way toward becoming theology in its proper sense.” (Foreword).

“If you read a number of these reconstructions one after another, you see at once that far from uncovering an icon that has been obscured over time, they are much more like photographs of their authors and the ideals they hold ……the figure of Jesus Himself has for that very reason receded even further into the distance.” This is the selfist image constantly promoted.


#12

The world’s greatest living theologian, IMO. Note that many of the editors and revisers of the NAB/NABRE are secular theologians, and not ordained clergy. In the case of our scriptures, this is a huge difference from all prior bible translations. Read my post again, as I was editing while you replied.

If you are to study theology, just sharpen your critical thinking skills, as there is much nonsense being taught as orthodoxy these days.


#13

, TAN, 1986, p 237].

The Pope’s Jesus of Nazareth (Bloomsbury, 2007) decries the aberrational reconstructions of historical-critical (HC) scholarship on the truths of the Scriptures – of Jesus Himself. But along with the proper use of that analysis, Benedict XVI stresses the need of canonical exegesis which reads the individual texts of the Bible in the context of the whole, and “which carries it (HC) forward in an organic way toward becoming theology in its proper sense.” (Foreword).

“If you read a number of these reconstructions one after another, you see at once that far from uncovering an icon that has been obscured over time, they are much more like photographs of their authors and the ideals they hold ……the figure of Jesus Himself has for that very reason receded even further into the distance.” This is the selfist image constantly promoted. Excellent. :thumbsup:

Two cases in point: Deepak Chopra’s image of Christ ends up looking very much like Chopra himself. The image of Christ in The Zealot is also a dilution and distortion of revealed truth about Christ.

What do we know from scripture?

1 John 4:1-3
Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)
4 Dearly beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits if they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
2 By this is the spirit of God known. Every spirit which confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God:
3 And every spirit that dissolveth Jesus, is not of God: and this is Antichrist, of whom you have heard that he cometh, and he is now already in the world.

We see Jesus being dissolved in so many ways today. This is a blatant exampe of the spirit of antichrist in our presence, if we will see it.


#14

Actually, I’m hoping to study at the archdiocesan seminary. It’s Jesuit-run, and I am bout sure whether that is good or bad, having heard strange things from the US. If I am correct, Pope Francis spent some time there too. :slight_smile:


#15

I would keep Benedict XVI’s writings close at hand for comparison purposes. We can see that there is some friction in the German Church hierarchy, which is not unheard of or maybe even unusual, but it must be watched and placed in perspective. This only mirrors the Curia disputes and debates which are part of any human organization. As a potential positive sign, the Jesuits know that they will be under the Francis microscope if they veer too far off course. So, in that regard, it might be a very opportune time to study with them.


#16

The four gospels were anonymous and the authors were attributed to them by tradition at a later date. Hebrews from the very earliest times disputed Paul as the author. The side that believed it was written by Paul won the argument. Most scholars today have good reason for believing that it wasn’t.

The Revelation of John was not written by John the Apostle, nor does it claim to be. John was a common name in those times, as it is now. That does not make the writing anonymous. John was real enough. The writing style is too different nevertheless to see it as the same John as the one who wrote the other biblical works attributed to “John”.
Likewise the authorship of John was disputed by the Church in early times before it was finally accepted as worthy of Scripture.
.


#17

Darryl1958 #16
The four gospels were anonymous and the authors were attributed to them by tradition at a later date.

At the website below you have What Does The Church Really Say About The Bible, by Edith Myers, The Wanderer Press, 1979
catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=3752

“…the Pontifical Biblical Commission was formally established by Pope Leo XIII in 1902, and in 1907, in Praestantia Sacrae Scripturae, Pope Pius X declared its decisions to be binding.”

  1. On the Author, Date of Composition, and Historical Truth of the Gospel According to St. Matthew, 1911. Matthew, the Commission said, is in truth the author of the Gospel published under his name. The Gospel was originally written in Hebrew, sometime before the destruction of Jerusalem. We cannot accept the idea that the book was merely a collection of sayings compiled by an anonymous author. While the book was first written in Hebrew, the Greek is regarded as canonical, and is to be regarded as historically true, including the infancy narratives, and passages relating to the primacy of Peter (16:17-19) and to the Apostles’ profession of faith in the divinity of Christ (14:33).

  2. On the Author, Time of Composition, and Historical Truth of the Gospels According to St. Mark and St. Luke, 1912. The Commission upheld the authorship of these books by Mark and Luke, their historicity, and their having been written before the destruction of Jerusalem. It cannot prudently be called into question, the Commission said, that Mark wrote according to the preaching of Peter, or that Luke followed the preaching of Paul. Both of them told what they had learned from “eminently trustworthy witnesses.”


#18

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