Appendix: Was Matthews Gospel Originally Written In Aramaic
Both Papias and Irenaeus testify in their descriptions of who wrote the Gospels that Matthews Gospel originated in the language of the Hebrew peopleby which they almost certainly intended Aramaic, which was the spoken language of the Jews at the time and which shares the same alphabet as Hebrew. No ancient Aramaic version of Matthews Gospel has, however, survived. The Gospel According to Matthew is in Greek. Further complicating matters, the version of Matthews Gospel that has survived in Greek reads smoothly and elegantly, not at all like a literal translation from Aramaic might read. Plus, Matthews Gospel incorporates much of Marks Gospeloften word-for-word. Many different solutions to this dilemma have been posited over the centuries. Heres the reconstruction that I find most convincing, though others are certainly possible as well:
* B. Ehrman, Jesus, Apocalyptic Prophet of a New Millennium , 248-249 B. Ehrman, Lost Christianities , 235 B. Ehrman and W. Craig, Is There Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus?: A Debate between William Lane Craig and Bart Ehrman .
Who Wrote The Gospel Of Matthew
Over the course of the new few weeks, we will discuss the reasons for accepting the traditional viewpoints for New Testament authorship. We will begin with the Gospel of Matthew today and will then move towards the other three Gospels before looking at some of the letters in Revelation.
The New Testament begins with the Gospel of Matthew. But, what do we know about the origin of the First Gospel? In a world where traditional scholarship is often questioned and too often disregarded, several theories exist as to whom the author of the First Gospel may be. Traditionally, the church has ascribed the First Gospel to the apostle known as Matthew. But, what evidence do we find about the author of the first book in the New Testament?
When we discuss internal evidence, we are speaking of the evidence that we find within the book in question. What clues do we find about the author of the First Gospel from the text? Like the other three Gospels, the First Gospel is anonymous.
Second, the author focuses on Jesuss work within Galilee and does not so much focus on Jesuss work with Gentiles as does Luke. Thus, the evangelist is mostly concerned with Jesuss ministry to the Jews.
When we speak of external evidence, we are addressing information we have about a documents authorship from outside the document. What do others say about the author of the First Gospel?
Date and Location of Writing
Finally Recognition Of Authorshipin Mid 2nd Century
Theophilus, who wrote after the middle of the latter half of the second century, mentions the Gospel of John. Irenaeus, who wrote a little later, mentions all of the Gospels, and makes numerous quotations from them. In the latter half of the second century, then, between the time of Justin and Papias, and the time of Theophilus and Irenaeus, the Four Gospels were undoubtedly written or compiled.
So Did The Apostle John Write The Book Of John
Despite alternative theories about the disciple whom Jesus loved, most evidence still points to the apostle John. The early church father Irenaeus wrote, afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon His breast, did himself publish a gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia. Irenaeus lived in the second century, and claimed to receive this information from Johns disciple, Polycarp.The text seems to point to John, too. The disciple whom Jesus loved was clearly close to Peter:
- Peter asks him to ask Jesus a question
- Peter and this disciple race to the tomb together
- Peter is fishing with this disciple when Jesus appears to them on the shore
- Peter swims to Jesus after this disciple identifies him
- After Jesus hints at Peters death, Peter asks about this disciple
This close relationship supports the likelihood that this disciple was part of Jesus inner circle . Since James is martyred early , and John is never mentioned by name in the whole book , John is believed to be the most likely author.
Arguments Against Luke As The Author
The main arguments against Luke as the author are the portrayal of Paul and the theology presented in Luke and Acts. Some scholars claim that the theologies are different, and that the Paul we see in Acts is different from the Paul we see in his letters. The most apparent difference in the portrayal of Paul is his treatment of Judaizers. In Acts 21, a group of them tell Paul to participate in purification rituals to prove he still follows Jewish customs and will teach Gentiles to follow them as wellincluding Jewish food laws. He complies.
When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses,telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law. As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.
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Gospel Of John Commentary: Who Wrote The Gospel Of John And How Historical Is It
A look at some of the questions surrounding the Bibles most enigmatic gospel
The evangelist John rests one hand on his gospel book, in this 83-inch-tall marble sculpture carved by Donatello in about 1415 for a niche in the facade of the Cathedral of Florence. Scholars writing Gospel of John commentary often grapple with the question: Who wrote the Gospel of John?
The Gospels, the first four books of the New Testament, tell the story of the life of Jesus. Yet only onethe Gospel of Johnclaims to be an eyewitness account, the testimony of the unnamed disciple whom Jesus loved. . Who wrote the Gospel of John? is a question that remains unanswered, though noted theologians throughout the ages maintain that it was indeed the disciple John who penned the famous Biblical book.
Gospel of John commentary is easy to findsome of the most famous theologians in history have closely examined the text and underscored its importance from as early as the beginning of the third century. It is believed that Origen, an Alexandrian Christian scholar and theologian, wrote his Gospel of John commentary while in Alexandria at some point after 218 A.D. St. Augustinea famous fourth century church fathercontributed no fewer than 124 tractates in his Gospel of John commentary, while St. Thomass Gospel of John commentary of the 13th century is still highly regarded today by modern scholars.
Double Standards Are The Worst
Have you ever been on the other side of a double standard? Of course, you have.
Take for example the subject of womens breasts. OK, that was me shamelessly trying to get your attention. But now that I got your attention, hear me out. In America, its perfectly acceptable for breasts to be on display on newsstands in the grocery aisle. But if you pull a breast out at Walmart to feed a baby you know, what breasts were actually made for youll get all kinds of awkward looks. My wife can attest to this. It often meant shed have to go sit in the backseat of a cold van to nurse one of our kids. During the Iowa winter, thats not fun.
OK, so what does that have to do with the gospels? Because when it comes to the gospels, there are huge double standards. They are presumed to be guilty until proven innocent. Normal ways of doing history seemingly get thrown out the window. And a big example of this is when it comes to the debate authorship of the gospels.
We have very good external evidence that the gospels were written by the names traditionally ascribed to them Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Let me just quote to you some of the early church fathers.
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The Gospel According To Mark
The Gospel According to Mark is the most important of the synoptic gospels because it is the primary source for Matthew and Luke. Seventy six percent of Mark is reproduced almost word-for-word in both Matthew and Luke. An additional 18% of Mark is reproduced in Matthew but not in Luke, and an further 3% of Mark is in Luke but not in Matthew. This means that 97% of Mark is reproduced in Matthew and/or Luke.
Matthew contains 606 of Marks 661 verses. Luke contains 320 of Marks 661 verses. Of the 55 verses of Mark which Matthew does not reproduce, Luke reproduces 31 therefore there are only 24 verses in all of Mark not reproduced somewhere in Matthew or Luke.
The diagram below is lifted, without permission, from his writings. I hope he is understanding. Clicking on the diagram takes you to his website, so its kinda like not copying it.
Textual History And Canonisation
The oldest gospel text known is ð52, a fragment of John dating from the first half of the 2nd century. The creation of a Christian canon was probably a response to the career of the heretic , who established a canon of his own with just one gospel, the gospel of Luke, which he edited to fit his own theology. The Muratorian canon, the earliest surviving list of books considered to form Christian scripture, included Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Irenaeus of Lyons went further, stating that there must be four gospels and only four because there were four corners of the Earth and thus the Church should have four pillars.
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Old Testament: The Single Author Theory
The Old Testament, or Hebrew Bible, narrates the history of the people of Israel over about a millennium, beginning with Gods creation of the world and humankind, and contains the stories, laws and moral lessons that form the basis of religious life for both Jews and Christians. For at least 1,000 years, both Jewish and Christian tradition held that a single author wrote the first five books of the BibleGenesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomywhich together are known as the Torah and the Pentateuch . That single author was believed to be Moses, the Hebrew prophet who led the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt and guided them across the Red Sea toward the Promised Land.
Yet nearly from the beginning, readers of the Bible observed that there were things in the so-called Five Books of Moses that Moses himself could not possibly have witnessed: His own death, for example, occurs near the end of Deuteronomy. A volume of the Talmud, the collection of Jewish laws recorded between the 3rd and 5th centuries A.D., dealt with this inconsistency by explaining that Joshua likely wrote the verses about Moses death.
Rembrandt van Rijn, painting of Moses Breaking the Tablets of the Law, 1659.
That’s one opinion among many, says Joel Baden, a professor at Yale Divinity School and author of The Composition of the Pentateuch: Renewing the Documentary Hypothesis. But they’re already asking the questionwas it possible or not possible for to have written them?
Aramaic Original New Testament Theory
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The New Testament in Aramaic languages exists in a number of versions:
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Shorter Ending Of Mark
The “Shorter Ending” , with slight variations, is usually unversed, and runs as follows:
But they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been told. And after this, Jesus himself sent out by means of them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.
While the New Revised Standard Version places this verse between verse 8 and 9, it could also be read as verse 21, covering the same topics as verse 9-20.
The earliest extant complete manuscripts of Mark, Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, two 4th-century manuscripts, do not contain the last twelve verses, 16:920, nor the unversed shorter ending. Codex Vaticanus has a blank column after ending at 16:8 and placing kata Markon, “according to Mark”. There are three other blank columns in Vaticanus, in the Old Testament, but they are each due to incidental factors in the production of the codex: a change to the column-format, a change of scribes, and the conclusion of the Old Testament portion of the text. The blank column between Mark 16:8 and the beginning of Luke, however, is deliberately placed.
Other manuscripts which omit the last twelve verses include: Syriac Sinaiticus Minuscule 304 a Sahidic manuscript over 100 Armenian manuscripts the two oldest Georgian manuscripts. The Armenian Version was made in 411-450, and the Old Georgian Version was based mainly on the Armenian Version.
Why Do We Need Four Gospels
Many people have asked, Do we really need four gospels in the Bible? That seems redundant. Shouldnt one do the trick?
Maybe that would be the case if Jesus were a regular person who just did regular things. But he isnt, and he didnt.
John says that the world itself couldnt hold all the books that could be written about Jesus ministry . Hes probably being hyperbolic, but if theres that much to say about Jesus, then we shouldnt be surprised that we have multiple accounts of him in our Bible. If the world couldnt hold his whole story, then surely a 16-chapter pamphlet like Mark couldnt!
We have four gospels because during the early church period, four people found it necessary to tell the story of Jesus from four different perspectives. Each gospel was written for a different group of people, by a different author, who was trying to accomplish a different purpose.
Lets take a closer look at each one:
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One of the facts in dispute among the four Gospels is the length of Jesus ministry. According to the Synoptics, it lasted only about a year, while John has Jesus ministering between two and three years. The Jesus of Johns telling also knew Jerusalem well and had traveled there three or four times. The Synoptics, however, have Jesus visit Jerusalem only once. In John, Jesus had friends near Jerusalem, including , Martha and Lazarus of the town of Bethany, which is just outside of the city on the east slope of the Mount of Olives.
The author of John also knew Jerusalem well, as is evident from the geographic and place name information throughout the book. He mentions, among others, the Sheep Gate Pool , the Siloam Pool and Jacobs Well. The geographic specificity lends credence to the Johns account.
Given Johns familiarity with Jerusalem and its environs, it is very possible that he had visited the Pool of Siloam, which he mentions in connection with the story of the curing of the blind man . It is that pool that has only recently been uncovered, as described in the accompanying article.
For more on the question of Johns historical reliability, see D. Moody Smith, John: Historian or Theologian?Bible Review, October 2004.
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Longer Ending Of Mark
Mark 16:9-20 is first attested in the 2nd century . It is considered to be canonical by the Roman Catholic Church, and was included in the Rheims New Testament, the 1599 Geneva Bible, the King James Bible and other influential translations. In most modern-day translations based primarily on the Alexandrian Text, the longer ending is included, but is accompanied by brackets or by special notes, or both.
Text and interpretation
In this 12-verse passage, the author refers to Jesus’ appearances to Mary Magdalene, two disciples, and then the Eleven . The text concludes with the Great Commission, declaring that believers that have been baptized will be saved while nonbelievers will be condemned, and pictures Jesus taken to Heaven and sitting at the Right Hand of God.
: Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene, who is now described as someone whom Jesus healed from possession by seven demons. She then “tells the other disciples” what she saw, but no one believes her.
: Jesus appears “in a different form” to two unnamed disciples. They, too, are disbelieved when they tell what they saw.
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