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  #1  
Unread 9th December 2009, 02:40 AM
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Why The Four Gospels?

Why are the Gospel's we revere and believe to be true and special, the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Why do we not accept the other ones such as The Gospel according to Peter and Judas.
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  #2  
Unread 9th December 2009, 03:47 AM
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without going into details, because it does not add up with the teachings of the apostolic church which is the Pillar and Ground of Truth (1 Timothy 3:15).
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Unread 9th December 2009, 10:38 AM
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I think you ask a most intriguing question. Indeed it is due to the fact that they do not add up to the accounts written in the four accepted and apostolic churches. I think this may indeed be a mistake. Since mostly the work of the gospel, it can be argued is the work of, or influenced by paul, simply owing to historical timing and content, or the statements of eyewitnesses, it seems as though the church has kept it to a minimum since these newly found scriptures differ massively.

what i find interesting is that the scriptures that are new and rejected all say similar things to othr common beliefs or paint a new picture completely, some examples being the gospel of judus and mary magadaline. Of course, the most significant one being the gospel of barnabus, which was part of the bible for some time before it was removed, i wonder why if others had accepted it previously. theres a thought...

i suppose one would need to research the other gospels and indeed other texts like the DSS or apocolyse of peter for example and see what they think. is there a reason why the church has censored these or are they indeed covering something up as many have suggested. Historical dating is usually available for most books, though you may wish to check your sources as some censorship historical dating does exist.

peace be with you in your quest.. who knows what you will find! for me, i accept these texts to be definate words of those with jesus... even if the rest of us do not... and i implement them... some more then others, but i definatly believe in them
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Unread 9th December 2009, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by sevenatenine View Post
Why are the Gospel's we revere and believe to be true and special, the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Why do we not accept the other ones such as The Gospel according to Peter and Judas.
Well, firstly, for the most part the other "Gospels" are not gospels at all - i.e. they don't contain a proclamation of a new Lord coming to the throne, but are collections of sayings and or miracle stories. Without the resurrection (or something equivalent) it's not a gospel.

Secondly, for the most part they are second century creations or later, not part of the earliest witness.

Thirdly, in many cases, it's obvious when one reads them what they are. Some are downright silly, many are obviously gnostic,...

Last edited by ebia; 9th December 2009 at 04:39 PM.
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Unread 11th December 2009, 05:56 AM
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sevenatenine,
Why The Four Gospels?
Why are the Gospel's we revere and believe to be true and special, the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Why do we not accept the other ones such as The Gospel according to Peter and Judas.
Why not also the Gospel of Thomas (ca. AD 40-150)? If you read the Gospel of Thomas and compare it with each of the 4 Gospels in the NT, you will notice the marked difference in content. I'd suggest a read of Nicholas Perrin's, Thomas, the Other Gospel (SPCK, London, 2007). Perrin concludes his book with this comment:
Is this the Other Gospel we have been waiting for? Somehow, I suspect, we have heard this message before. Somehow we have met this Jesus before. The Gospel of Thomas invites us to imagine a Jesus who says, 'I am not your saviour, but the one who can put you in touch with your true self. Free yourself from your gender, your body, and any concerns you might have for the outside world. Work for it and self-realization, salvation, will be yours – in this life.' Imagine such a Jesus? One need hardly work very hard. This is precisely the Jesus we know too well, the existential Jesus that so many western evangelical and liberal churches already preach.
If the Gospel of Thomas is good news for anybody, it is good news to those who are either intent on escaping the world or are already quite content with the way things are (p. 139).
This Gospel of Thomas is a different Gospel, "a Christianized self-help philosophy" (Perrin 2007, p. 139).

As for the Gospel of Peter [GP]. please read this assessment: Quarles, C. L. 2006, 'The Gospel of Peter: Does it contain a precanonical resurrection narrative?' in The Resurrection of Jesus: John Dominic Crossan and N. T. Wright in Dialogue, ed. R. B. Stewart, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, pp. 106-120. Here are a few grabs from Quarles' critique of GP:
Such compositional projection and retrojection [of GP] are absent from the canonical Gospels. This suggests that the authors of the canonical Gospels were constrained to preserve faithfully the traditions about Christ, but that the author of GP felt free to exercise his imagination in creative historiography. The compositional strategy of projection suggests that the GP shares a common milieu with second-century pseudepigraphal works and casts doubt on [John Dominic] Crossan's claim that the GP antedates the canonical Gospels…
Compositional strategies that were popular in the second century can readily explain how the author of the GP produced his narrative from the canonical Gospels…
The GP is more a product of the author's creative literary imagination than a reflection of eyewitness accounts of actual events (Quarles 2006, pp. 116, 119).
Of the Gospel of Judas, the National Geographic reported:
Stephen Emmel, professor of Coptic studies at Germany's University of Munster, analyzed the Gospel of Judas and submitted the following assessment.
"The kind of writing reminds me very much of the Nag 'Hammadi codices," he wrote, referring to a famed collection of ancient manuscripts.
"It's not identical script with any of them. But it's a similar type of script, and since we date the Nag 'Hammadi codices to roughly the second half of the fourth century or the first part of the fifth century, my immediate inclination would be to say that the Gospel of Judas was written by a scribe in that same period, let's say around the year 400."
Here is another assessment of the "other gospels" in an article on "the historical reliability of the Gospels" by James Arlandson:
The Gnostic authors often borrowed the names of Jesus’ disciples to attach to their texts, such as the Gospel of Peter, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, and the Gospel of Mary. The Gospel of Judas has been discovered, restored, and published most recently. Using the disciples’ names or other Biblical names gives the appearance of authority, but it is deceptive. The original disciples or Bible characters had nothing to do with these writings. The teaching of Jesus, the names of his disciples, and the four Gospels traveled well. Gnostics capitalized on this fame.
All of these (late) Gnostic documents would not be a concern to anyone but a few specialists. Yet some scholars, who have access to the national media and who write their books for the general public, imply that Gnostic texts should be accepted as equally valid and authoritative as the four canonical Gospels, or stand a step or two behind the Biblical Gospels. At least the Gnostic scriptures, so these scholars say today, could have potentially been elevated to the canon, but were instead suppressed by orthodox church leaders. (Orthodox literally means “correct or straight thinking,” and here it means the early church of Irenaeus and Athanasius, to cite only these examples).
This series challenges the claim that the Gnostic texts should be canonical or even a step or two behind the four Biblical Gospels. The Gnostic texts were considered heretical for good reason.
So there are scholarly and practical reasons why the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Peter, and the Gospel of Judas are not chosen over the four NT Gospels. They are understood to be Gnostic inventions, reinterpreting material from the NT Gospels.

Sincerely, Spencer

Last edited by OzSpen; 11th December 2009 at 06:04 AM.
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  #6  
Unread 11th December 2009, 02:44 PM
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Ireneaus explained why there had to be exactly four Gospels. In his words (well, his words in English translation), "It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are." How come? Easy: there are four winds, aren't there? And four winds equals four Gospels. That's obvious. But there's more. The world is divided into four parts, there are four beasts around the heavenly throne (Revelation 4), and it's fitting for the Church to have four pillars. (Adv. Haer. 3.11.8.) If for some reason that doesn't satisfy you, kindly recall that Irenaeus is a saint.
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  #7  
Unread 11th December 2009, 04:00 PM
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sevenatenine,
Why The Four Gospels?
On another website, “The New Testament Canon, Part 3,” I came across this useful summary of why we have four and only four Gospels in the NT:
Sometime around 170-175 Tatian, possibly a disciple of Justin, created a harmony of the four orthodox gospels known as the Diatessaron. This text was accepted in some circles, even being used to replace the four gospels, but this success was short lived. What this harmony reveals, however, is that the church recognized four gospels.

The four gospels are confirmed by Irenaeus of Lyons in Against the Heresies (cir. 175),
From this it is clear that the Word, the artificer of all things, being manifested to men gave us the gospel, fourfold in form but held together by one Spirit. A.H. III,11.8 [Against Heresies].
Irenaeus also quotes from, or alludes to, almost all the documents that become the orthodox NT. These citations are mostly from Pauline works (25+ occurrences from each of these: Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians and Ephesians). His Pauline citations/allusions include all three "Pastoral" epistles. The other general NT letters get scant recognition and a few are totally absent (Philemon, 2 Peter, 3 John, and Jude). He also refers to a few non-NT documents as “inspired” (1 Clement, Shepherd of Hermas).

By the time we come to the end of the second century and look at the citations of Clement of Alexandria (writings cir. 195-202) and Tertullian (writings cir. 205-225) we find hundreds of references from almost every NT document. The NT writings that are excluded by these two men are very similar to that of Irenaeus, but Clement then includes many writings as “scripture” that did not get final acceptance. One can take the citations from Clement and Tertullian and reconstruct the entire NT excluding the 4 or 5 small epistles which they neglect. Indeed, this is a very important factor from this point forward - “Did Clement/Tertullian cite from it?” These are the first two prolific Christian writers. From this point forward we find an increasing number of fathers writings great numbers of documents filled with biblical citations.
The Muratorian canon is a manuscript fragment that represents the oldest known list (or canon) of the New Testament. The beginning and ending of the MS is missing. The document is dated by most scholars about 170 AD. It was discovered in a library in Italy by Ludovico Antonio Muratori, a famous historian of the time. This list consists of the following:

- (Matthew and Mark were apparently named in the beginning of the fragment which is missing)
- Luke and John
- Acts
- all 13 of Paul's letters
- 1 and 2 John is assumed since the writer only names two letters of John
- Jude
- the Revelation of John
This listing omits Hebrews, 1 and 2 Peter, and 3 John. It also names a few documents that do NOT appear in the orthodox NT.

So by the middle of the second century most of the 27 documents in the orthodox NT canon had already gained widespread acceptance, especially the four gospels. It is critical to understand the importance of why only four gospels were accepted. These early fathers were very familiar with the other gospels that were floating around – Marcion's gospel of Luke, the various gnostic gospels, and other “proto-orthodox” gospels that simply were not well accepted.

Gnosticism was at its zenith during the second century. There were many Gnostic texts and many orthodox ones as well that did not make the NT canon. Most of the documents that were not accepted had too many bizarre texts and thus did not have a large following. One aspect of why a gospel/document was affirmed to be in the NT was how much acceptance it received among the churches in various regions. This acceptance was also reflected in if, and how much, the church fathers cited the document.
Sincerely, Spencer
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Unread 11th December 2009, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by marlowe007 View Post
Ireneaus explained why there had to be exactly four Gospels. In his words (well, his words in English translation), "It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are." How come? Easy: there are four winds, aren't there? And four winds equals four Gospels. That's obvious. But there's more. The world is divided into four parts, there are four beasts around the heavenly throne (Revelation 4), and it's fitting for the Church to have four pillars. (Adv. Haer. 3.11.8.) If for some reason that doesn't satisfy you, kindly recall that Irenaeus is a saint.
With all due respect to Irenaeus, I don't think many people find that particular argument of his convincing any more.
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Unread 11th December 2009, 04:36 PM
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ebia,
With all due respect to Irenaeus, I don't think many people find that particular argument of his convincing any more.
I agree. Allegorical interpretation has done much to damage accurate exegesis of the Scriptures. Irenaeus' statement provides no insight for me.

Research indicates that the Gospels other than the four in the NT have a Gnostic influence and are later than the NT Gospels.
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Unread 5th January 2010, 05:54 AM
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The early Church has always known of only four Gospels, and there never was a time when any of the so-called 'other' gospels were accepted. That supposedly by St. Thomas is clearly gnostic in its tendencies.

From the early Church historian Eusebius we know that an very early commentator, Piapas, whose works have disappeared, wrote that St. Mark was the companion of St. Peter and that his Gospel represented the preaching of that Saint. St. Luke was the companion of St. Paul, and his Gospel and Acts represent much of St. Paul's teaching. St. John's Gospel, which is usually held to be the latest of them to be composed, has always been recognised to be more 'theological' in form.

Modern scholarship has suggested the existence of another 'source', Q, which is in effect a 'saying source' from which both St. Luke and St. Matthew quote, but few, even among those who argue for the existence of such a source, have suggested it was a 'gospel'.

Why four? Because that is all that the early Church ever received.

peace,

Anglian
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