Dating and authorship of the gospels

In actuality, there were gospels composed in the name of every apostle, including Thomas, Bartholomew and Phillip, but these texts are considered "spurious" and unauthorized.

Although it would be logical for all those directly involved with Jesus to have recorded their own memoirs, is it not odd that there are so many bogus manuscripts? If Peter didn't write the Gospel of Peter, then who did? Is not the practice of pseudepigraphy—the false attribution of a work by one author to another—an admission that there were many people within Christianity engaging in forgery?

Indeed, the term "according to" in the original Greek—kata—could be interpreted to suggest that the texts were understood to be relating a tradition of these individuals, rather than having been written by them.

In reality, none of the evangelists identifies himself as a character in the gospel story.

Nevertheless, fundamentalist Christian apologists such as Norman Geisler make misleading assertions such as that "many of the original manuscripts date from within twenty to thirty years of the events in Jesus' life, that is, from contemporaries and eyewitnesses." Scrutinizing the evidence forensically, however, it is impossible honestly to make such a conclusion.

Moreover, even the latest of the accepted gospel dates are not based on evidence from the historical, literary or archaeological record, and over the centuries a more "radical" school of thought has placed the creation or emergence of the canonical gospels as we have them at a much later date, more towards the end of the second century.

If these apostles themselves had gospels forged in their names, how can we be certain that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John did not likewise have gospels falsified in their names?

What we do know for a fact—admitted even by the Catholic Encyclopedia—is that the titles attached to the gospels, "The Gospel According to Matthew," etc., are not original to the texts but were added later.

Christian apologetics for the early gospel dates rely on the slimmest of evidence, including a very late third-hand testimony of a late second-hand testimony that "Mark" had written a narrative, supposedly based on the experiences of Peter as related by the apostle himself. According to Eusebius—in disagreement with Irenaeus, who suggested Papias had known the apostle John—Papias had no direct acquaintance with any of the apostles: …Papias himself in the preface to his work makes it clear that he was never a hearer or eyewitness of the holy apostles, and tells us that he learnt the essentials of the faith from their former pupils.As another example, regarding Jesus's body being stolen, Matthew's gospel claims that "this story has been spread among the Jews to this day." The phrase "to this day" indicates that the writer is talking about a significant length of time, not shortly after the resurrection as some have attempted to place the composition and emergence of this gospel.In fact, we do not have any mention in the historical record of the story of Christ's body being stolen having been spread among the Jews until the second century.In the fourth century, Church historian Eusebius quoted early Church father and bishop Papias of Hierapolis (c. The assumption that the "presbyter John" with whom Papias apparently had a relationship was the same as the apostle John is evidently incorrect….

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…Many of Papias's remarks, according to Eusebius, involved miracles, such as the raising of the dead, which stretch the credulity.

Nor, as we have seen, is the Aramaic gospel of Matthew the same as the canonical Matthew….

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