greetings have a very simple question for you does anyone know were I can find quotes by an early church father 1st 2nd or 3rd century who said what the order of the Gospels were I remember them saying it was Matthew mark Luke Then John but i can’t seem to find the quote thanks for any help.
St. Irenaeus (A.D. 140-202) mentions the Gospels in this order in “Adversus haereses” (AD 180/199) 3,1,1
Also Origen (ca. A.D. 185-253/254) wrote the order of the Gospels as stated, preserved from a fragment from BK. 1: “In Eusebius, History of the Church”, Bk.6, Ch 25, 3
Is that in order of age? I thought Mark was the oldest.
This is what current Scriptural Historians think, but the reason that the Canon is in the order it is today is that from the earliest of times the order that they are in the Bible was thought to be the order in which they were written.
Thanks! Your answer was nice, succinct and informative without being condescending. I don’t think you’re gonna last on this forum.
It’s a long read, but as The Authors of the Gospels points out, several of the Early Church Fathers identified Matthew as the oldest Gospel. In particular, Clement of Alexandria (quoted by Eusebius) noted:
So greatly then did the brightness of true religion light up the minds of Peter`s hearers that they were not satisfied to have a once-for-all hearing nor with the unwritten teaching of the divine proclamation, but with appeals of every kind begged Mark, the follower of Peter, whose gospel we have, to leave them too a memorial in writing of the teaching given them by word of mouth. Nor did they cease until they had persuaded the man, and in this way became the cause of the written gospel according to Mark. And it is said that the Apostle, when the fact became known to him through the revelation of the Spirit, was pleased with the eagerness of the men and approved [or ratified] the writing for use in the churches.
Clement relates the anecdote in the sixth book of:
The Outlines [Hypotyposes], and Papias, bishop of Hierapolis, also bears witness to it and to Peter mentioning Mark in his earlier letter. Indeed they say that he composed it at Rome itself, and that he indicates this when referring figuratively to the city as Babylon in these words:
The elect [the church] that is in Babylon greets you and so does my son Mark ((EH 2. 15, 1-2 and RO 166)).
`And again in the same books, Clement states a tradition of the very earliest presbyters about the order of the gospels; and it had this form. He used to say that the first written of the gospels were those having the genealogies. And that the Gospel of Mark had this formation. While Peter was publicly preaching the Word in Rome and proclaiming the gospel by the spirit, the audience, which was numerous, begged Mark, as one who had followed him for a long time and remembered what had been said, to write down the things he had said.
And he did so, handing over the Gospel to those who had asked for it. And when Peter got to know about it, he exerted no pressure either to forbid it or to promote it … But John, last of all, being conscious that the exterior facts had been set forth in the [other] Gospels, after he had been urged by his friends and divinely moved by the Spirit, composed a spiritual Gospel`. ((EH 6:14, 5-7 and RO 166r)).
In this last paragraph above, Clement of Alexandria clearly sets down which two gospels were the first to be written - Matthew and Luke. He is the only early historian to specifically write concerning the chronology of the Gospels. He said he was quoting the very earliest presbyters [note in the plural]. Other writers did not dispute his evidence.
When Jerome made a fresh translation of the New Testament in the fourth century, he chose to adopt the Matthew-Mark-Luke-John sequence. In his ‘Prologue to the Four Gospels’, he did not say they were written in the Matthew-Mark-Luke-John sequence, but that they had been published [adidit] in this order. This is why we find this order in our Bibles today.