The First Gospel


#1

In another thread someone said that most scholars say Mark was written first, but ive read also that Matthew was, and that the Church says Mark wasn’t.
Anyone know what the Church teaches about this, and what most scholars say?


#2

Sort of. No one’s entirely sure.

Basically - Matthew, Mark and Luke share A LOT in common. For this reason they’re often called the “Synoptic Gospels” (as opposed to John, which is sort of the “oddball” Gospel). At first glance, Matthew and Luke appear to have drawn their content from two primary sources - the Gospel of Mark and a second, hypothetical source commonly called the Q Document (whose contents appear in both Matthew and Luke but not in Mark). Based on this, modern biblical scholars have deduced that Mark and Q must have come first, if they were the source of the other two gospels.

The Church has neither condoned nor condemned these theories. Rather, it simply stresses the fact that the four Gospels are ALL considered to be divinely inspired, meaning that there’s no false teaching in any, regardless of the date that they were published on. It should be noted, that the Gospel of Matthew is attributed to the Apostle Matthew, who, having a firsthand account of things, would not have had to have drawn from any source about the life of Christ. As well, Luke’s primary source for his Gopel is traditionally ascribed to be the Virgin Mary, who likewise would not have had need for any other “source” besides her own firsthand experiences.


#3

“What the Church teaches” is a loaded phrase.

“Church teaching” most commonly implies a dogmatic or doctrinal stance which the faithful are obligated to accept.

There is no “Church teaching” on which Gospel was first, which Gospel is the best, or which Gospel is the most accurate.

Peace and all good!


#4

*]USCCB INTRODUCTION says Mark is likely the first written.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/scripture.cfm?bk=Mark&ch=


#5

This is the most common theory, but it is not official Church teaching. It is just the opinion of the person writing that article. The only theory that is consistent with what the early Church Fathers taught is the
Clementine Gospel Tradition.
Published order: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
Written order: Matthew, Luke, Mark, John

Here is a new article written for the average Catholic .

**The Gospels are Historical ** - By Dennis Barton - Free Pamphlet


**.
**



#6

This is what I dislike about the NAB footnotes and prefaces: it never explains things. :stuck_out_tongue:

I really wish it went more like:

“The majority of current scholars believe that Mark’s gospel is the first to be written, for reasons such as (insert brief introduction of reasons here) . Most scholars today subscribe to the so-called two-source hypothesis, which theorizes that the gospels of Matthew and Luke used Mark as well as a hypothetical ‘sayings source’ called Q, although a small minority believes that Q is unnecessary (Farrer-Goulder hypothesis). However, a certain segment of scholars meanwhile also believe that Matthew’s gospel is the first to be written, an idea which resembles a popular early Christian belief since at least the time of Irenaeus that Matthew had written a ‘Hebrew’ gospel first. Out of this camp, one side believes that Mark is a conflation of the earlier gospels of Matthew and Luke (Griesbach hypothesis), another believes that Luke used the earlier gospels of Matthew and Mark (Augustinian hypothesis). There are also many other obscure hypotheses.”

Call me nitpicky, but the NAB would be much better if it took the time to write stuff out like this. It’d be more wordy, yeah, but at least it’ll have more integrity.


#7

Actually, I would say that it’s not even exactly consistent with what the Church Fathers believed, because for one, there’s no single, consistent ‘belief’. Instead what you have are actually more like different versions of the story that share some consistent ideas such as (1) Matthew writing a gospel in either the ‘Hebrew’ language (i.e. the Jewish language at the time: either Hebrew proper or Aramaic) or the ‘Hebrew’ style (the later Fathers repeated St. Irenaeus’ claim that this Hebrew gospel was chronologically the first gospel to be written)* and (2) Mark being based on Peter’s oral teachings. But beyond that, they really kinda contradict each other on the details. (For one, was Peter alive or dead when Mark wrote his gospel? Did he approve it - St. Jerome’s idea - or was ambivalent about it - which is what Clement of Alexandria implied?)

  • Irenaeus is the first man to claim this in writing. Our earliest source, Papias, is ambiguous in this regard.

If you have time to spare, I elaborated on this in another thread.

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=957777

P.S. As for Clement, I also recommend this paper: Clement of Alexandria on the Order of the Gospels.


#8

Good to know, because I’d read that most scholars say Mark was written first, but the Church says Mark wasn’t.


#9

I think the contradictions you claim are only in your head. The issues you site are easily reconcilable. Peter was alive when Mark took down in shorthand what Peter preached. Mark then later transcribes the shorthand into Greek Language. Mark publishes that Gospel. After Peter dies, Mark continues to publish that Gospel. No contradiction.

At first Peter was ambivalent about what we now call Mark’s Gospel. Peter was not trying to replace Matthew or Luke’s Gospels. That explains why Peter had no problem leaving out so many sections. It probably was a one day preaching marathon, with breaks and lunch time provided. So, obviously Peter could not cover the entirety of both Gospels. Taking today’s perspective that Mark should have recording everything he knew and reading that back into Mark or Peter’s mind is illogical.

So, at first there were two Gospels, Matthew written for the Jews in mind, and Luke written for the Greeks. Peter wants to reconcile these two factions, the Jewish Christians and the Greek Christians and so he preaches showing the unity of those two Gospels.

After seeing the success, Peter then explicitly approves of Mark’s Gospel. No contradiction.

Yes, I have been reading your other thread and I consider your claims or implications without merit.

The Clementine Gospel Tradition ( modified Griesbachian theory)
does not base its conclusions on only the evidence provided by Clement.

So, are claiming that the Gospel that was written third did not use the other two ?
Or that it is PURE SPECULATION (and I infer you to mean “without any real evidence to support it” ) to think that the third Gospel was based on the two before it ?

I consider what you call the Augustinian hypothesis a misnomer. What he said falls more in line with what I am claiming to be true,
Written Order: Matthew, Luke, Mark.
Published Order Matthew, Mark, Luke

churchinhistory.org/s3-gospels/%28g215%29-augustine-quotes.htm

“Mark (who in the mysterious symbolism of the four living creatures seems to symbolize the figure of the man) either appears rather as one who goes with Matthew because together with him he relates a great number of things respecting the kingly figure … Or more probably he goes in step with both. For though he agrees with Matthew in many things, yet in some things he agrees more with Luke, so by this very fact he may be shown to share the symbolism of the Lion and the Bull (for Christ is a Man), which symbolism Mark possesses as he shares both aspects”.

I really wish I had more time to reply to your claims, but my time is very limited now.
Hopefully, someday I will have time to write more.

**The Gospels are Historical **- By Dennis Barton - Free Pamphlet

defendingthebride.com/ss/hs/index.html

.


#10

This is all way over my head. Does the Church teach that Mark wasn’t written first, which goes against most scholars?


#11

No. The Church does not have an official, infallible position on this issue…

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#12

Thank’s for your reply. No, I don’t want more info, it’ll confuse me even more. :o


#13

Of possible relevance…[Akin]


#14

[RIGHT][/RIGHT]

In the articles’ conclusion, is what it saying is that most likely Matthew and Luke borrowed from Mark rather than the other way around?


#15

yes absolutely.


#16

What he said. :slight_smile:


#17

Actually, my problem with this scenario is that it really mishmashes different details from different writers (Irenaeus, Clement, Jerome in particular). I’m more on the side that thinks that each account should be taken each on their own terms than just try to harmonize them.

I still say the only real consistent element across the patristic testimony from Papias downwards are:

  • Matthew wrote a ‘Hebrew’ gospel, which from Irenaeus onwards was considered to be the first gospel to be chronologically written. (Most Fathers usually speak of this ‘Hebrew’ Matthew rather than the canonical Greek Matthew in this context. Jerome even went so far as to note, “Who later translated (his gospel) into Greek, is not quite certain.”)
  • Mark was Peter’s disciple who wrote his gospel using Peter’s teachings and memories of Jesus as a source. Mark is often contrasted with Luke, who in turn was Paul’s disciple.

The Clementine Gospel Tradition ( modified Griesbachian theory)
does not base its conclusions on only the evidence provided by Clement.

So, are claiming that the Gospel that was written third did not use the other two ?
Or that it is PURE SPECULATION (and I infer you to mean “without any real evidence to support it” ) to think that the third Gospel was based on the two before it ?

Well, I think it’s pure speculation to think that Clement was advocating a variant of the Griesbach theory just because (Eusebius’ paraphrase of) Clement talks about the two gospels with the genealogies first before going on about the circumstances that led to the penning of Mark’s gospel (leaving the whole issue of how exactly to translate that problematic Greek word there - progegraphthai - for a moment).

Again, in the same books Clement has set down a tradition which he had received from the elders before him, in regard to the order of the Gospels, to the following effect. He says that the Gospels containing the genealogies were progegraphthai, and that the Gospel according to Mark was composed in the following circumstances: Peter having preached the word publicly at Rome, and by the Spirit proclaimed the Gospel, those who were present, who were numerous, entreated Mark, inasmuch as he had attended him from an early period, and remembered what had been said, to write down what had been spoken. On his composing the Gospel, he handed it to those who had made the request to him; which coming to Peter’s knowledge, he neither hindered nor encouraged.

Note: never does Clement suggest any literary relationship between the synoptics in his account. In fact, no Father explicitly did until St. Augustine. Augustine was the first person to wonder whether the synoptic gospels actually have a literary relationship and to try to solve the ‘synoptic problem’. This is really what I was getting at: some folks read Clement as if he is suggesting a literary relationship between the synoptics (he, or rather Eusebius, mentions Matthew and Luke first before Mark - does this mean he thought Mark used Matthew and Luke?), but they’re reading something that’s not necessarily there into the account.

I consider what you call the Augustinian hypothesis a misnomer. What he said falls more in line with what I am claiming to be true,
Written Order: Matthew, Luke, Mark.
Published Order Matthew, Mark, Luke

“Mark (who in the mysterious symbolism of the four living creatures seems to symbolize the figure of the man) either appears rather as one who goes with Matthew because together with him he relates a great number of things respecting the kingly figure … Or more probably he goes in step with both. For though he agrees with Matthew in many things, yet in some things he agrees more with Luke, so by this very fact he may be shown to share the symbolism of the Lion and the Bull (for Christ is a Man), which symbolism Mark possesses as he shares both aspects”.

I’m sorry, but I still don’t see this passage as implying that Augustine actually advocated a proto-Griesbach theory. The observation that Mark “shares both aspects” of Matthew and Luke doesn’t necessarily equate to “Mark used Matthew and Luke.” It’s simply Augustine observing what modern scholars would call Mark being the ‘intermediary’ or the ‘middle term’: Mark is usually closer to Matthew and Luke than they are to each other. No matter what theory one holds, nobody disputes that Mark is the common denominator.

One facet of the synoptic problem is to attempt to explain why Mark is the middle term: was it because Matthew and Luke used Mark - Markan priority (as per the Two-source and the Farrer-Goulder hypotheses)? Or was it because Mark condensed Matthew and Luke - Markan posteriority (as per Griesbach)?

P.S. Faith1960, please ignore our little discussion here if you find all this talk confusing. :blush:


#18

And after all this…it just doesn’t really matter!


#19

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the earliest we have of the Gospel of Mark is lacking a resurrection story.

So it would make sense that this would have been the first Gospel.

As things progressed, Matthew was written with both a birth and the resurrection story, & a resurrection story was then added to Mark.

Then, in AD 63, Luke wrote his gospel which he admits came from many different sources- certainly Matthew and Mark among them.


#20

Hi Steve.
Thanks for sharing how some people think.
When I get time I will explain why I think this argument does not hold up.

but for starters,
“Ya. They did not at first believe in the Resurrection in the early years ???”

Are we starting to see some problems with this line of thinking.
More later,
John

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