Authorship of the gospels

This is a continuation of a discussion on another thread found here.

“Apostles and apostolic men” could be anyone in the apostolic tradition. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were names later assigned to the gospels, and not present on any of the earliest manuscripts. Nothing in church teaching says the named individuals were the authors.

The tradition that assigned the author names to each Gospel is just that – tradition. It’s not historical, at least according to any critical scholar I’ve ever heard, including those who are orthodox Christians.

There is not the slightest historical evidence, or even a hint, that ‘Q’ or its author ever existed. If ‘Q’ had existed, it would have been the most treasured, copied, precious scroll of Christianity during the first 50-70 years of the new religion. If ‘Q’ had been the key document containing the sayings of Christ, it would have been passed from hand to hand and read at Services.

It seems that you are defining “historical evidence” as an extant manuscript. That’s extremely problematic, because manuscripts only survived if they were copied by scribes. Q as identified by scholars was copied/redacted into the gospels of Matthew and Luke.

Q is easily discovered by looking at places in Matthew and Luke where there’s overlap, not just in topic areas, but in word-for-word agreement and common sequence for many of the sayings in Q. Today, if two staffers of a presidential candidate heard the same stump speech and waited several decades to recount that candidate’s stump speech, the odds that they’d come up with mostly the exact same words and sequence of sayings are miniscule.

To suggest that a separate Q manuscript would be highly revered in the first couple centuries of Christianity is anachronistic. Aside from the synoptic gospels themselves, even within the text of the New Testament itself, we have evidence that authors redacted prior books that they cited. For example, 2 Peter 2:4 cites Jude 6 but omits Jude’s reference to the apocryphal Book of Enoch. In addition to reflecting the fact that the canon of the Old Testament was still in flux during the authorship of the New Testament, 2 Peter illustrates how New Testament authors selectively cited prior works. Q could easily be copied into Matthew and Luke by those gospels’ authors. There’s nothing to say that 1st century Christians would inherently value the remaining Q manuscript left behind… that’s a value of modern historiography.

“Modern scholarship” would have us believe we owe the preservation of ‘The Our Father’ and ‘The Beatitudes’ to ‘Q’ since Mark did not bother to record them.

OK, sure. What problem do you see with that?

“Modern scholarship” would also have us believe that the community that produced ‘Q’ made such few copies that none have been found or have been mentioned by historians. Yet the anonymous authors of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, unknown to each other, found two rare copies and made them the basis of their writings. Then the communities of both Matthew and Luke lost ‘Q’. If ‘Q’ was so important, multiple copies would have been made for many communities. “Modern scholarship” has not explained how all copies of this key Christian document were lost. Also, how did all knowledge of ‘Q’ disappear without leaving even a vague reference or echo in any piece of Christian or heretical literature?

Again, I’ll argue that this assertion of what ancient Christians would have done is anachronistic. The gospels of Matthew and Luke both contained Q. There is nothing to suggest that ancient culture would have valued the older, non-narrative Q gospel manuscripts. Preservation of ancient documents only took place through scribal copying. If Q was preserved in Matthew and Luke, there’s nothing to suggest that an ancient scribe would have thought it necessary to copy it.

Those who hold the Markan theory demand the most stringent proof for the historicity of the Gospels, for which we have much historical evidence. Yet they accept conjectures and theories about ‘Q’, based on further conjectures and theories for which there is no evidence at all. In reality ‘Q’ was created out of nothing by theologians in the 19th century, to fill a hole in the Markan priority theory.

The development of modern historical and text-critcial methods isn’t just a result of some kooks in Germany deciding that they had to push Mark as the first gospel. It requires a rejection of modern historiographical methods in favor of a biblical inerrancy belief to dismiss Markan priority out of hand.

Papias was the bishop of Hieropolis. Eusebius reports that Papias wrote five books and mentions his commentaries on the Gospels of Matthew and John. Ancient Armenian literature records Papias writing commentaries on Luke and John. So, Papias had carefully studied at least three of the Gospels. H… …
[/INDENT]Here we have Papias quoting John the Apostle’s words in defense of the style of the Gospel of Mark. So the ‘poor Greek’ of Mark was not first noticed in the 19th century.

Well, we don’t have only Papias to tell us that oral tradition was important. Luke 1 tells us that much. The pre-Pauline text cited in Paul (e.g., Rom 1:3-4; 3:24-26; Philippians 2:5-11; 1 Cor 8:6;15:3-5) shows evidence of oral transmission of liturgical hymnity. 1 Cor 15 says “for I handed on to you of first importance what I also received,” spelling out that oral tradition was a means of transmission.

Q could have been a oral collection too. Matthew and Luke both use “Q” material, but it is often in radically different ways (see Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, and how the same material is presented in Luke.) This is much like folk stories and songs today can easily survive 2-3 generations of oral transmission in different groups and still preserve the same tales and sayings.

Contrast this with the written Markian material that is presented as more uniform among all three synoptics. To me, this indicates it was written and Matthew and Luke did some redaction of order and theme, but used most of their source as it came to them.

As for authorship, we do have records, the early Church fathers. Those count, they are as historic as anything from the 2nd and 3rd centuries. It is a shame history as a discipline was not as rigorous as it is today, but those are the breaks. Either we think the ancients as liars and fools, or we accept that they did their best to preserve what was handed down to them.

So to dispute authorship rests on straw, as there is NO evidence that anyone else claimed authorship for the works.

We can never “know” by 21st century standards of proof whether the attributed authorship is correct or not, but to discount it would be to ignore the evidence we do have. Disputing authorship takes us beyond just using what we know today to examine the source documents of our Faith, and puts us squarely in the position of making OUR OWN hypotheses and suppositions based largely on newly found tools that can create doubt.

Absence of proof is not proof of absence as they say…

Except for 2000 years of Church [size=2]Tradition – and the Pontifical Bible Commission. Here’s the Commission’s 1911 response to the attack of the Modernists on the historicity of the Gospels, which categorically defined the traditional Catholic position. This reply was framed in its usual question and answer form: [/size]Having regard to the universal and unwavering agreement of the Church ever since the first centuries, an agreement clearly attested by the express witness of the Fathers, by the titles of the Gospel manuscripts, the most ancient versions of the sacred books and the lists handed on by the holy Fathers, by ecclesiastical writers, by popes and Councils, and finally by the liturgical use of the Church in the East and in the West, may and should it be affirmed as certain that Matthew, the apostle of Christ, was in fact the author of the Gospel current under his name? Answer: In the affirmative (cf. Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Vol. 3, 19 June 1911, pp. 294ff.).

From this link:


The duplications of Mark are a feature of his style. They are often referred to as his ‘redundant clauses’ or ‘duality’. To take an example:

Matthew: “That evening they brought to him” (Mt.8:16-17). .
Luke: “Now when the sun was setting, they…brought them to him" (Luke 4:40-41).

The gospel of Mark (1: 32), conflates the material together as: .

"That evening, at sundown they brought to him …” .

By using ‘evening’ and ‘sundown’, Mark is duplicating himself. For those who accept that Mark is conflating, there is no difficulty as it is just part of his style. But for Markans duality is a serious problem. If there were only a few instances of duality, they could be ignored. It could be said that Matthew just happened to use half of the duality and Luke happened to use the other half. But there are many dualities and where both halves are of equal importance, they authors do not chose the same half.

Matthew and Luke would have had to divide up Mark’s dualities between them in a consistent manner to avoid them using the same half. The only way this could have been achieved would be for their gospels to have been brought together in some way. Again the advocates of Markan priority meet the problem that, according to them, Matthew and Luke did not know one another.


Realising the strength of the Clementine case, Markans have attempted to answer this problem. In 1983, C.M.Tuckett claimed there were 213 dualities in Mark’s gospel, so chance would explain the 17 cases where Matthew and Luke chose different halves ((CMT 20-21)). At first this appears a plausible argument, and many feel overawed by statistics. A few comments are therefore required.

  1. Let us presume for the moment, that Markan priority is correct. Of the 213 dualities Matthew and Luke did not use either half in 157 of them. It is correct that 39 do not use the same half. But these instances are where dualities are vague or do not have ‘equal value’ (i.e. one word is more suitable than the other, so was highly likely to be chosen by both). The debate must be judged on the 17 cases where there is a clear duality of equal value and meaning (e.g. ‘evening’ and ‘sunset’). Markans need to explain why, whenever there was such a choice, Matthew and Luke always chose differently.
  1. An interesting observation may also be made regarding the 213 dualities examined by Tuckett. Matthew has one or both halves 152 times, of which 124 are when Matthew and Mark are in the same sequence. Luke has one or both 116 times, of which 114 are when one or both are in the same sequence. This is further support for the view that Mark was conflating the other two.
  1. As Riley has pointed out, the normally accepted number of dualisms as listed by Neirynck, a Markan, is 217. Tuckett omits many of these while adding others of his own. So the statistical basis for his calculations is itself open to questioning ((RO107-8)).
  1. A more detailed response to Tucket was made in 1987 by Allan J. McNicol ((AJMT)).


Of the ten healing stories in Mark, eight appear in Matthew and Luke. Both had chosen exactly the same eight ((WRF 166-7)).

Mark lists six Commandments (Mark 10: 19). Matthew and Luke list five and these are exactly the same five ((WRF 160)).

If Mark was reading from the other two there is no problem in accepting that he copied what was in front of him and added something of his own. .

But if Matthew and Luke were using Mark, the pattern of choosing exactly the same items would be highly unlikely unless they consulted with one another. Markan priority insists that they did not know one another.

Mark’s sources were Matthew and Luke, not ‘Q’

Luke wrote before Mark, but Mark published before Luke.

  1. Let us presume for the moment, that Markan priority is correct. Of the 213 dualities Matthew and Luke did not use either half in 157 of them. It is correct that 39 do not use the same half. But these instances are where dualities are vague or do not have ‘equal value’ (i.e. one word is more suitable than the other, so was highly likely to be chosen by both). The debate must be judged on the 17 cases where there is a clear duality of equal value and meaning (e.g. ‘evening’ and ‘sunset’). Markans need to explain why, whenever there was such a choice, Matthew and Luke always chose differently.

Good questions, but this point is a logical fallacy. There is no reason why the debate MUST be judged on only 17 of the 213 alleged dualities. The only reason to say that would be because those 17 are the ones that point to the conclusion the author wishes to reach. If one of those 17 hadn’t fallen in line, it could have been disregarded as “not having equal value or meaning.”

It think this is an example of “begging the question,” basing a conclusion on an assumption that is as much in need of proof or demonstration as the conclusion itself.

And it is precisely those early Church fathers who tell us that Matthew wrote Matthew, Mark wrote Mark, etc.

From The Gospels are Historical:

…Firstly, every early historian states that Matthew wrote the first Gospel. Any theory, however clever, must be doubted when it is unable to face the challenge of history.

Secondly, it conflicts with the doctrinal teaching of the Church regarding authorship.

Thirdly, the whole Markan logical edifice is balanced on a presumption. This presumption is that the Gospel of Mark was carefully thought out in the author’s room and composed by him in his best Greek style.

If a different scenario more consistent with history, doctrine and literary analysis replaces this presumption, the theory loses its foundation. …

…Those who held the view that Mark wrote third persevered in their research. From literary analysis and the ancient historians they developed the scenario of Peter giving a series of talks. In these he quoted alternatively from Matthew and Luke and thereby blended them together like two streams conflating into one. Peter’s secretary Mark, in response to repeated requests, issued copies of his unedited verbatim shorthand transcript. This is what we now know as Mark’s Gospel. According to Clement of Alexander (who lived 200 years nearer to the events than did Jerome), Peter was indifferent to its distribution until he saw its beneficial effects.

From Clement we know that Mark issued his transcript to meet an urgent demand. We can see how Luke’s Gospel could have been written pre-Mark but published after it. When Jerome wrote his: ‘Prologus Quattuor Evangeliorum’, he records that the Gospels were Published in the Matthew, Mark, Luke order. But, when writing his history: ‘Of Illustrious Men’, Jerome places them in the Matthew, Luke, Mark order (i.e. in order of writing). It should also be remembered that in Jerome’s covering letter to the Pope, regarding his vulgate version, he had to explain why he had placed the Gospels in an unfamiliar order.

Why *are *the Gospels attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? Why not Saints Tom, Dick, Harry and Janette (while not forgetting the venerable Q)? I have no wish to be facetious, but it is necessary to be blunt in order to bring home an important point. The use of familiar names to describe unknown alleged authors, emotionally clouds a clear understanding of what Markan priorists wish us to believe: that the community that produced Q later lost it, although it was so important that Matthew and Luke, unknown to each other, made much use of it. Then the communities of Matthew and Luke also lost it. It is hard to believe that only two copies were made of Q and these just happened to be in the possession of the isolated communities in which Matthew and Luke lived and these communities lost them.

Oh, I see… like the claim that, as Mark’s Gospel was in poor grammatical Greek compared to those of Matthew and Luke, he must have written prior to them :smiley:

Actually no.

Presumption: Mark’s greek is poor.
Conclusion: Mark was written first, later authors made the language more eloquent.

The fact that Mark’s Greek is clumsier than Matthew or Luke is not in dispute, even if you disagree with the conclusion, thus this isn’t an example of “begging the question”

Presumption: The 17 of the 213 dualities that Matthew and Luke alternate are the only ones of value to look at.
Conclusion: Matthew and Luke had access to each others’ Gospels while composing them.

The very idea that only 17 of the 213 dualities are “only ones worth examining” is a presumption that needs proof or explanation before it can be accepted as it isn’t clear why all 213 shouldn’t be examined with equal weight to see how Matthew and Luke used them.


Understand that we are not at cross purposes when it comes to authorship of the Gospels. I agree with you that absent any alternatives, the only proof of anything we have is what we have from the Church fathers, who name Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as the authors of the Gospels. Literary criticism can give us better dates of composition, and give us some idea as to how the Gospels were written (eye witness? source composition? Purposeful symbolic style?) but none of this analysis disproves authorship. It remains, as it always has, a part of Tradition that can never be verified to the standards of the 21st century, but something that the Church fathers seemed to be unanimous about (anyone is free to correct me here.)

But, the Church Fathers were not infallible, their writings not Canon, and it isn’t hard to find hetrodoxy and error in their writings too. To that effect, their knowledge of the order the Gospels were written in and published is questionable. That is really all I am doing, asking questions and examining evidence.

In pursuit of that we must examine our debating points with a logical eye. I already pointed out the “begging the question” fallacy in the point about the 213 dualities. I will go further and say IF that argument (or the rest of that quote) is correct it still doesn’t address which Gospel was written first, as the alleged “trading off” and similarity in what miracles and teachings to use could have been accomplished with Matthew and Luke writing with Mark already in hand and knowing each other. Markan authority and Matthew/Luke’s knowledge of each others’ writings are separate questions.

Secondly, the theory that St. Peter gave speeches based on Luke and Matthew while Mark wrote them down then distributed them is PURE speculation as described. Just as speculative, if not more so, than using literary criticism to dispute the authorship. The idea of Peter giving speeches based on what another Apostle and one of Paul’s traveling companions wrote is weak. Peter saw it all. If he was giving speeches, they would almost certainly read like narrative eyewitness accounts (like John) not episodic collections of tales like Matthew and Luke (note that Matthew has a bit of an “out” here since his Gospel is arranged in a very specific, symbolic format common in the Jewish style, maybe Patrick can explain this in more detail?)

I do think of Mark sitting in a room, surrounded by pericopic scrolls, his own remembrances of oral tradition, and the Holy Spirit above his head helping to turn all of the oral Gospel of Christ (the root authentic message that was and still is taught in our Church) into a document that could be send out to Churches around the Greek speaking world to help them know, believe, and understand. I think he did a fantastic job of this. Mark is my personal favorite Gospel. He is a very early written witness to our Faith.

Lastly, don’t get so hung up on “Q.” All it means in German is “source.” It is a construct that is hypothesized to exist because Matthew and Luke share a source that isn’t Mark. Q may be nothing more than the Oral Gospel, never written until those two took it upon themselves to recount what they had learned. Even with Q, you still have unique material in each, a good bit of it in fact. When you consider the amount of unique material in Matthew and Luke, then compare it to the 2 or 3 stories unique in Mark, it again points to both Matthew and Luke (whether they knew each other or not) having access to Mark; they thought his work Canon and used it. To assume Mark had access to Matthew and Luke would mean he read, then discarded about 1/2 of each of their Gospels…including the virgin birth. That, to me, is a more disturbing thought than the idea that Mark was written first.

Patrick, where is that diagram?!

Thank you Erich

From 1907 to 1933 the Pontifical Biblical Commission emphatically stated:

  1. ‘Matthew wrote his Gospel before the other Gospels
  2. Scholars are not free to advocate the two-source theory whereby Matthew and Luke are dependant on Mark and the “Sayings of the Lord” (“Q”).’
    The New Biblical Theorists, Msgr George A Kelly, Servant Books, 1983, p 34].

Thus there is no basis whatsoever for Catholics to flirt with the “Q” fantasy.

Questionable? Hardly.

Papias (who wrote commentaries on the three synoptic gospels) life span overlapped that of the Apostle John by 30-40 years, and Hieropolis (where Papias was bishop) was only about 90 miles or so – along a good surfaced road – from Ephesus (where John lived). Contact with John would have been easy. No doubt John took a great interest in Papias as he trained to be a bishop, and afterwards gave him good advice.

Justin Martyr (c. 100-165) was born in Palestine and following his study of philosophic systems, became a Christian about 130 AD. About eight years later, Justin moved to Rome and set up as a teacher of Christian philosophy. He became a public leader in the defence of Christian beliefs against Paganism, the Jews and the heretical teachings of Marcion. So he had to be careful to use soundly based arguments. Amongst his writings we possess twelve direct quotations from the Gospels. Justin then moved to Ephesus where he died. The elderly members of the Ephesus community would remember the Apostles who had lived in or visited the town.

In his ‘Dialogue with Trypho’, published between 161-165, Justin quotes from Matthew and Luke, referring to them as: ‘the teachers who have recorded all that concerns our Saviour Jesus Christ’. He writes of: ‘the memoirs composed by the apostles which are called Gospels’. He specifically attributes the Apocalypse to John the Apostle.

He knew the Septuagint well, and used the same version as had been used by Matthew. Justin in his ‘Dialogue with Trypho’, frequently uses the phrase ‘the memoirs of his apostles [note: plural] and others who followed him’, as the source of his quotations. So Justin accepted that apostles had written at least two of the Gospels. Also, in his ‘Dialogue with Trypho’, he refers to Mark 3:16-17 as being in Peter’s memoirs.

Clement of Alexandria (c 150-215) was a pupil of Pantoris, the first great Christian teacher at Alexandria in Egypt. Clement records that he himself had traveled widely, meeting and listening to: ‘truly notable men’ from all over the Roman Empire’. While Rome was the administrative heart of the Church, her intellectual center was at Alexandria. The town had long possessed a famous Pagan university. The earlier presence of Philo had also made it the center of Jewish studies, and it was here the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament had been made.

In his commentary on 1 Peter 5, 13, he wrote: ‘Mark, the follower of Peter, while Peter was publicly preaching the Gospel at Rome before some of Caesar’s knights and producing many testimonies about Christ, being begged by them that they should be able to record what was said, wrote the Gospel which is called the Gospel of Mark, from the things said by Peter - just as Luke is recognized as the pen that wrote the Acts of the Apostles and as the translator of the Letter of Paul to the Hebrews’.

In another thread, I mentioned that Clement stated a tradition of the earliest presbyters about the order of the gospels; and it has this form. He used to say that the earlier-written of the gospels were those having the genealogies (i.e. Matthew and Luke) and “John, last of all.” It is worth noting he uses the plural: the earliest presbyters. As a professional teacher, employed by the diocese founded by Mark, Clement of course had access to its records and traditions – and he lived 200 years nearer to the events than did Jerome.

Tertullian (c. 155-220) lived mainly in Africa and was a contemporary of Clement of Alexandria. For a time he practiced as an Advocate at Rome, so as a lawyer he would have been very experienced when sifting evidence. Between 207 and 212, he wrote Adversus Marcionem [Treatise against Marcion]. Being one of disputation, it would have been compiled with great care to ensure it was not open to challenge.

"… I lay it down to begin with that the documents of the gospels have the Apostles for their authors, and that this task of promulgating the gospel was imposed upon them by the Lord himself. If they have also for their authors apostolic men, yet these stand not alone but as companions of the apostles, because the preaching of disciples might be made suspect of the desire of vainglory, unless there stood by it the authority of their teachers, or rather the authority of Christ, which made the Apostles teachers. In short, from among the Apostles, John and Matthew implant in us the Faith, while from among apostolic men Luke and Mark reaffirm it …”.

So Tertullian has placed the name of Luke before that of Mark.

All I see is one comment from Clement about the order the Gospels were written. The other quotes you provide make no mention of order, only authorship, which I don’t dispute.

The division of the authors in the portion I bolded is due their witnessing, John and Matthew implant the faith as they were Apostles. Luke and Mark reaffirm it as they were compliers of the traditions passed on to them from others. Using this text to indicate order of authorship would give us John, Matthew, Luke, Mark…directly contradicting Clement, who you quote earlier.

Yet that is precicely what Markans claim, based upon their analysis of the language and content relationship between the various books. Mark’s Greek is more primitive than the other Gospel writers. Often, Luke or Matthew will state a parallel Jesus quotation much more eloquently than Mark. In addition, Mark occasionally uses an unusual word or phrase where Matthew uses a common word. It is argued that this makes more sense if Matthew was revising Mark, rather than the reverse.%between%

Markans also note that Mark’s gospel is by far the shortest, and omits much that is in Matthew and Luke, and argue that Mark would be unlikely to omit important events from Matthew and Luke, if he had access to their gospel.

Not “PURE” speculation, but a hypothesis which does justice both to modern critical scholarship and to the integrity of the ancient Fathers of the Church who first
recorded for us the fundamental facts.

I was taught Markan priority in high school, but was never really satisfied with it. For one thing, it raised more questions than it answered, and gave rise to more speculations.

You claim that the “idea of Peter giving speeches based on what another Apostle and one of Paul’s traveling companions wrote is weak.” Yet it does not occur to you that neither Paul nor Luke were not eye-witness apostles, and this would present its own set of problems. Paul had to produce a version of Matthew’s Gospel that would meet the spiritual needs of the Greek world, and he also had to make sure that this version would be acceptable to Peter and the other Apostles who were still living. Paul needed to get Luke’s gospel ratified by an apostolic eye-witness, and who better than Peter?

This link provides an excellent summary of the Clementine tradtion; beginning at this link can be found all of the supporting details.

I apologize for this, but you are missing the point of my post. “Begging the Question” is a logical fallacy, meaning the very structure of the argument prevents it from being valid as presented.

Assumption: The 17/213 dualities where Matthew and Luke use mutually exclusive language are the only dualities to consider because it is in those 17 that we see the mutually exclusive language.

The assumption is circular.

The very fact that you agree that Mark’s Greek is less eloquent is proof that the assumption part of the argument isn’t a fallacy. Again, you are free to disagree with the conclusion, but at least we can debate the conclusion because the assumption is valid in logical form.

In order for the argument about dualities to be valid, we first have to address the assumption, that only 17 of the 213 are really important for us to look at, while the overwhelming majority of the dualities aren’t relevant. As it stands, the presumption is that because these 17 show the dualities, they matter more. It is circular reasoning; begging the question. If you wish to show why those 17 in particular matter more, you are free to, but the “equal value and meaning” explanation is extremely subjective and can easily be applied where desired, and discounted where it would conflict.

You speak a great deal about needing to rely on history, yet there is no historical basis for the belief that Peter gave speeches based on Luke’s and Matthew’s Gospel, or that Paul had Luke’s written Gospel “approved by Peter,” or that Mark’s Greek got sloppy because he was copying a short gospel quickly over and over again. Right? Can you pull out any Church Father quotes to support these claims? If you can, I would love to see them. If you can’t, you are drawing epi-circles to prop up a weaker theory.

The Markan priority is based on the texts themselves. The argument needs no appeal to the imagined actions of historical actors. The texts themselves tell the story.

From this link,

…But theories which develop from such understandings, are not necessarily correct.

The Markan priority theory is the best known of these, so let us examine what it asserts.

Those supporting this theory say that as Mark’s Gospel is in ‘poor’ Greek compared with that of Matthew and Luke, it must have been written first (i.e. prior to the others).

They say next that if an eyewitness companion of Jesus, such as Matthew, wrote a Gospel, he would not have based it on copying from the work of a non-eyewitness such as Mark who had second and third hand information. They say that this indicates that the apostle Matthew did not write “Matthew’s Gospel”. Similarly, it may be shown that Paul’s secretary, Luke, did not write what we call “Luke’s Gospel”. This logic discredits the reliability of the early historians because they all clearly report that the apostle Matthew wrote the first Gospel. So their evidence that the apostle John was author of the last Gospel cannot be trusted.

Opponents of Markan priority have pointed out many of its fallacies. But by clinging to the Matthew-Mark-Luke-John order, adopted by Jerome for his 4th century ‘Vulgate’ Latin translation, they find themselves in conflict with the valid findings of literary analysis. So while Markan priorists reject the historical evidence, the supporters of Jerome’s sequence reject the findings of literary analysis. In this apparent battle between ‘history’ and ‘science’, most students are attracted to Markan priority because it appears to be based on ‘science’

For various reasons a third way, which claims the order of writing was Matthew-Luke-Mark-John, was pushed to the side in the debate between the other two. We will examine this third way later, but here we will point out three reasons why the Markan priority theory should be challenged.

Firstly, every early historian states that Matthew wrote the first Gospel. Any theory, however clever, must be doubted when it is unable to face the challenge of history.

Secondly, it conflicts with the doctrinal teaching of the Church regarding authorship.

Thirdly, the whole Markan logical edifice is balanced on a presumption. This presumption is that the Gospel of Mark was carefully thought out in the author’s room and composed by him in his best Greek style.

If a different scenario more consistent with history, doctrine and literary analysis replaces this presumption, the theory loses its foundation.

So let us turn to the alternative third explanation based on the records of the historians who lived before Jerome, on a careful use of modern literary methods and in conformity with doctrine. This explanation is the oldest in Christianity, and has been confirmed by recent studies. It claims the order of writing to be Matthew-Luke-Mark-John.

From the same link…

Some of the pioneers of scriptural research in the 18th century concluded from literary analysis that Mark had written third. This was becoming accepted in German academic circles until political pressure made the state universities exclusively teach Markan priority. In this manner Markan priority became established in Germany before spreading to English speaking countries.

Substitute “Protestant” for “German” and you should be able to see where the political pressure came from. Remember that this was the time of the “Iron Chancellor” Bismarck, the unification of Protestant Germany (which expressly excluded Catholic Austria), Vatican I (which defined the doctrine of papal infallibility when it comes to teaching about faith or morals), and all the rest. Matthew’s Gospel is the only one which contains the passage where Jesus bestows on Peter the Keys of the Kingdom. If Markans are correct, if the apostle Matthew did not write “Matthew’s Gospel” – and the author of “Matthew’s Gospel” necessarily based his work on second and third hand information – then what does this ultimately do to Catholic teachings about the papacy? * That* is the more disturbing thought.

You seem to be hung up on these dualities, from a several-paragraph quote out of a much larger work, when there are lots of other ways that, taken as a whole, strongly refute the idea of Markan priority and the hypothetical ‘Q’.

I challenge you to read the links here in their entirety (I’m not the only one who finds them convincing). Besides, that would be much more efficient than my quoting them here, 1500 characters at a time.

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