Authors of the Gospels

January 21, 2010 — Leave a comment


Let’s spend a couple of posts investigating the believed authors of the four Gospels. I have to say “believed” because as with most of the Bible the authorship of the Gospels are often in dispute among various authorities. It is generally believed that Matthew and John were both part of the original twelve. Mark and Luke were not. They were much like Saint Paul in that they came along after Christ’s ascension. In this post we will discuss Mark and Luke and save Matthew and John for the next.  

It is believed that Mark was the first Gospel written sometime around the year AD 55 or so. That would make it about twenty two years after Christ went back to heaven. It is also the shortest of the four gospels. It is generally believed that Mark was a close associate of Peter so it seems evident that he got much of his information from Saint Peter’s direct experiences with Christ. Mark was the scribe for Peter and I imagine he wrote and arranged the text pretty much as Peter instructed him. Since Peter was thought to be illiterate this would be a very necessary way for him to get his message across. If Peter was the head apostle, or as the Catholics say the first Pope, his teaching had great authority within the early church. Probably more so than any of the other apostles. Mark is generally believed to be the John Mark who was mentioned in the Book of Acts. I can just imagine Mark following Peter around for twenty years gathering and arranging the info he gleaned from Peter during that time. To me that would have been the most rewarding job imaginable in those early times. Of course even that would not compare to actually sitting at Jesus’ feet!

Luke is generally believed to be the second Gospel written and much of it was gleaned from Marks and therefore Peter’s experiences. Luke also wrote the book of Acts so he was quite a diligent writer during his times. Luke was frequent companion with Paul on his later missionary journeys so that is the source for his personal account of Saint Paul in the later part of the Book of Acts. Luke was probably an early Gentile convert and was well educated in Greek culture. It is believed that he was also a physician by trade so he was a fairly learned man. The Gospel of Luke was written to a particular individual by the name of Theophilus who some would attune to a publisher in today’s world. Many believe that he was a primary benefactor to Luke. It is believed that the source for the text was gathered from several oral traditions and numerous people who may have actually witnessed some the events reported. In that vain Luke was acting like the investigative reporter of today’s world. The text was believed to be written specifically for Theophilus’ personal used but was made into a book of sorts in order for Theophilus to allow others to learn what he had learned. It is generally believed that Luke was finished about twenty years after Mark; that would make it about forty to fifty years after Christ’s death on the cross.

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