How the Gospels
The Clementine Gospel Tradition
In a few words
For over 200 years there has
been debate over the order in which the Gospels were written. But, just
before he died, Bernard Orchard put forward a solution which makes the
Markan priority theory and ‘Q’ redundant. This is a summary built on his
The Apostle Matthew wrote his
Gospel in Hebrew for the Jewish Christians to read at the: “Breaking of
bread” (an early reference to the Eucharistic celebration, Acts 2:42.)
It was in thematic form and illustrated the fulfilment of the Jewish
prophesies. Matthew or a colleague translated it into Greek.
Next, Luke wrote a Gospel in
Greek in historical order for the Gentiles. As Luke had not been a
companion of Jesus, he needed an Apostle to indorse his Gospel. So when
he arrived in Rome he asked Peter to do this. Peter agreed and gave a
talk in which he quoted alternatively from Matthew and Luke. In this
manner he indorsed Luke’s Gospel by merging it with that authored by a
well known Apostle. Peter’s secretary Mark used Greek shorthand to
record Peter’s words.
Peter, not being a native Greek
speaker or an academic, spoke in koine (common) Greek. Linguists agree
that what became known as Mark’s Gospel has poor Greek grammar and
style. Mark’s shorthand faithfully records Peter’s poor Greek. The large
audience of leading Christians: ‘Incessantly begged Mark to make copies
for them’. To which Mark agreed. When Peter saw the good the Gospel of
Mark was achieving, he agreed to him issuing a second edition: ‘to all
the churches’. In the meantime Luke had published his Gospel.
Archaeologists have found copies
of both editions of Mark’s Gospel, which are distinguished by one
edition omitting the last 12 verses. These final verses appear to record
Peter’s answers to questions asked at the end of the meeting.
So the Gospels were written in
the Matthew – Luke – Mark- John order, but published in the: Matthew –
Mark – Luke – Mark (2nd Edition) – John order. This led to
libraries cataloguing them in differing sequences and preachers quoting
from them in differing orders. In following generations this would have
caused discussion and raised questions. So, to clarify the situation,
Clement of Alexandria, the leading teacher in the diocese originally
founded by Mark, explained: “The first written of the Gospels were those
with the infancy narratives”.
At the time Jerome wrote, the
Matthew- Mark – Luke – John order was popular, so he adopted it for his
Latin translation. He never said it was the order of their composure.
Augustine of Hippo, writing his
first book at about the same time, reported that: ‘it was said’ that
‘the order of writing’ had been: Matthew- Mark-Luke- John. This was
presumably the order they had been received by the library at Hippo.
Augustine didn’t offer an opinion regarding their order of being written
and published. But some years later, after careful internal analysis of
the Gospels, he stated in his fourth book that Mark’s theology had been
influenced by that of both Matthew and Luke.
This article was obtained from the: ‘Church in
History’ website. You can find more interesting articles there
concerning the bible. For more details: see www.churchinhistory.org
How the Synoptic
Problem Was Solved - By Dennis Barton -
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