10 (an email chain that cracked open my understanding of the bible not as a “telephone game” hand me down of stories – email timeline are from the bottom up)
Got Myself a Professor! 26DEC
Oooo! I reached out a little, and landed myself a professor!!!….wow wow wow!!!!
I really didn’t know any of this attribution of the Bible, truly thought it was 100 AD, not 35-65 years after death…. well they should hand this info out! I can’t wait to get into the scholars debates!
Ran into him via Facebook when our friend started that church closed Facebook group (she is an angel who brings her own glitter)…and then again at the living nativity where I got to borrow his cutest baby (sweetest baby I wrote about in my three babies piece)…His Mom and I are really good friends so I know him just a little, but now I really want to know him!!! I had sent my “Christmas flood” piece, but none of the others. I am so excited…I will trade free babysitting for free education!
———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: Dec 25,
Good question about the gospels- and one that I am equipped to answer! Every Christian should know this stuff.
In the first place, the gospels are technically anonymous- nowhere in the gospels does it say, “I Matthew, wrote this stuff down.” The gospels don’t identify their authors by name. Nevertheless we’re not completely in the dark about their identities- and in fact, it is the writers’ identities which is part of what makes the gospels credible and trustworthy as accounts of what really happened during Jesus’ life and how God was at work in it all.
There are both internal clues and external testimonies to the gospels’ authorship. First, Matthew and Mark don’t give us much to go on internally- within the text of the gospels themselves. But Luke and John do. We know from the introduction that the same person who wrote the gospel of Luke also wrote Acts (e.g. they are both addressed to somebody named “Theophilus”, and Acts 1 refers to a “former book,” clearly indicating the gospel of Luke). And if you look at the second half of the book of Acts, the narrative suddenly shifts from 3rd person to 1st person plural- from “he” and “they” to “we,” see especially chapter 20, where it begins suddenly. That indicates that at some point, the author had joined Paul on his missionary journeys. So the author of Luke was someone who knew Paul and presumably other apostles and eyewitnesses personally, though he himself was not an eyewitness of the life of Jesus. As he says in the intro to Luke in chapter 1, he carefully investigated and spoke to those who were eyewitnesses to make sure he got his facts right.
In John’s gospel, we actually see a direct attribution of authorship or sourceship to an individual called “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” See John 21:24. So even if the final text of the gospel was redacted to some degree, the core and bulk of the gospel of John was written by this “disciple whom Jesus loved,” whom early Christian testimony is unanimous in identifying with the apostle John.
Another point I should stress- even though the text of the gospels themselves are anonymous, every single early manuscript of the canonical gospels that has survived to this day bears in superscription the name of one of the four evangelists- Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Likewise, no early Christian author whose writings have survived to this day EVER attributes the four canonical gospels to anyone other than those who we now identify them with. This means that the four gospels that are in the New Testament were all either written by one of the eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life and resurrection, or else someone who was intimately acquainted with those eyewitnesses. The core of Matthew’s gospel (the teachings of Jesus) was probably written down by Matthew the apostle. Mark’s gospel was written by John Mark, a protégé of Paul and an intimate acquaintance of Peter. Luke was written by Luke the “beloved physician” (Col. 4:14; 2 Tim 4:11), and John was written by Jesus’ disciple John, the brother of James.
And the timing is important too. Most biblical scholars, even skeptical ones, say that Mark was the first to be written, between 65 and 70 (or only 35-40 years after Jesus’ crucifixion). Matthew was written (using Mark as one of its sources) around 80-85. Ditto for Luke’s gospel. John was written sometime after 90 or so, when John was an old man, living in Ephesus. So NONE of the four NT gospels was written 100 years after Jesus. Rather they were written between 30 and 60-65 years- well within the lifetime of the first generation of eyewitnesses, by leaders who were either eyewitnesses themselves, OR disciples of the eyewitnesses.
Sent: Thu, Dec 25, 10:19 pm
so – I have been building this curriculum for sunday school – it stems from a “how the bible came to be” packet – which talks about the care that was taken in preparing and preserving the bible. I teach the science portion of the sunday school classes (science, crafts, cooking, music, stories…) – really I get to make a good messy fun activity that teaches some science – but looks at the bible story in a different way than crafts, for example… I teach the crafts and the cooking too – but the kids LOVE the science lessons…
so – I have been developing and taught a few times a curriculum on walking thru the timeline of the bible – I have always been intriqued by history and certainly have always questioned the different translations of the bible… we walk 100 year increments – stopping along the way to highlight either bible stories or historical events, like the invention of the printing press… I had the kids make their own dead sea scrolls, make illuminated manuscripts and then we buried them in mud outside like the book of Kells (yeah – we got the water and the gardening tools out to do this)
so – I have a gazillion questions – and certainly this will be a lifelong journey for me to figure it all out for myself in the brief spare moments I have to investigate… so one of the big questions for the new testament – who actually wrote down these mathew mark luke and john chapters and why did they not write them down for 100 years? where is the historical knowledge for this early aspect of the christian church? just one of the many questions I have…
thanks and I will chat with you soon I hope – I will breeze through that great “light reading” you sent – you are so lucky that you fit it in one file –
take care and Merry Christmas
On Wed, Dec 24, 2014 at 1:34 PM, xxx wrote:
Sure – I’m a resource guy for the church. I’m good at teaching and answering faith questions about the bible, theology, or church history. Let me know how I can help!
Sent: Tue, Dec 23, 10:00 pm
so can I send you some of my other writings ? since they are coming out of my head fast and furiously… I think God is telling me to dump my brain and fill it with other thoughts… I’ve only shared these writings with a couple people, but since you are more distant than the rest of my church family, perhaps you’ll be able to keep the confidentiality of my writings as well??? the devotional pieces are open for sharing, but the personal pieces are between me and God…and I need non-judgmental discussions to help me process… the writing is helping so much.
but I also need to do more research, consult the scholars like yourself, for my logistical questions about the Bible. I also have been preparing a Bible timeline curriculum for Sunday school and United Methodist Women… all this to do before I dive into vacation Bible School…