The Authors of the Four Gospels
It is important to acknowledge that strictly speaking, the gospels are anonymous. But the uniform testimony of the early church was that Matthew, also known as Levi, the tax collector and one of the 12 disciples, was the author of the first gospel in the New Testament; that John Mark, a companion of Peter, was the author of the gospel we call Mark; and that Luke, known as Paul's beloved physician, wrote both the gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. There are no known competitors for these three gospels, Apparently it was just not in dispute. Would anyone have had a motivation to lie by claiming these people wrote these gospels when they really didn't? Probably not. Remember, these were unlikely characters. Mark and Luke weren't even among the 12 disciples.
Matthew was, but as a former hated tax collector, he would have been the most infamous character next to Judas Iscariot.
The first three gospels are called the synoptics, which means "to view at the same time," because of their similar outline and interrelationship. Anyone who reads all four gospels will immediately recognize that there are obvious differences between the synoptics and the gospel of John. Only a handful of the major stories that appear in the other three gospels reappear in John, although that changes noticeably when one comes to Jesus' last week. From that point forward the parallels are much closer.
For many years the assumption was that John knew everything Matthew, Mark, and Luke wrote, and he saw no need to repeat it. so he consciously chose to supplement them.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke each have very distinctive theological angles that they want to highlight: Luke, the theologian of the poor and of social concern; Matthew, the theologian trying to understand the relationship of Christianity and Judaism; Mark, who shows Jesus as the suffering servant.
Karen Armstrong further writes; We know very little about Jesus. The first full-length account of his life was St. Mark's gospel, which was not written until about the year 70, some forty years after his death...
According to Dr Blomberg; The standard scholarly dating is Mark in the 70's, Matthew and Luke in the 80's, John in the 90's. But that's still within the lifetimes of various eyewitnesses of the life of Jesus, including hostile eyewitnesses who would have served as a corrective if false teachings about Jesus were going around. Consequently, these late dates for the gospels really aren't all that late. In fact, we can make a comparison that's very instructive. The two earliest biographies of Alexander the Great were written by Arrian and Plutarch more than four hundred years after Alexander's death in 323 B.C., yet historians consider them to be generally trustworthy. In other words, the first five hundred years kept Alexander's story pretty much intact. So whether the gospels were written 60 years or 30 years after the life of Jesus, the amount of time is negligible by comparison. It's almost a non-issue.
Dr. Blomberg further explains that he believes the gospels may have been written even sooner. And we can support that by looking at the book of Acts, which was written by Luke. Acts ends apparently unfinished--Paul is a central figure of the book, and he's under house arrest in Rome. What happens to Paul? We don't find out from Acts, probably because the book was written before Paul was put to death. That means Acts cannot be dated any later than A.D. 62. Having established that, we can then move backward from there. Since Acts is the second of a two-part work, we know the first part-the gospel of Luke-must have been written earlier than that. And since Luke incorporates parts of the gospel of Mark, that means Mark is even earlier. If you allow maybe a year for each of those, you end up with Mark written no later than about A.D. 60, maybe even the late 50's. If Jesus was put to death in A.D. 30 or 33, we're talking about a maximum gap of thirty years or so. Historically speaking, especially compared with Alexander the Great, thats like a news flash!
Jesus' most audacious claim
Jesus' most common title for himself in the first three gospels is 'Son of Man.' Karen Armstrong, the former nun who wrote the best-seller A History of God, said it seems that the term 'Son of Man' simply stressed the weakness and mortality of the human condition, so by using it Jesus was merely emphasizing that he was a frail human being who would one day suffer and die. If that is true, that doesn't sound like much of a claim to deity.
Contrary to popular belief, 'Son of Man' does not primarily refer to Jesus' humanity. Instead it is a direct allusion to Daniel 7:13-14.
"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed."
This is someone who approaches God himself in his heavenly throne room and is given universal authority and dominion. That makes "Son of Man' a title of great exaltation, not of mere humanity. In addition, Jesus claims to forgive sins in the synoptics and that's something only God can do. Jesus accepts prayer and worship. Jesus says, Whoever acknowledges me, I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven. final judgment is based on one's reaction to--whom? This mere human being? No, that would be a very arrogant claim. Final judgment is based on one's reaction to Jesus as God.
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