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Yeshua in Context » Formation of the Gospels, General, Gospels as History » Chronicling the Formation of the Gospels #2

Chronicling the Formation of the Gospels #2

This is not exactly what I promised would be in Part 2, but these notes are about current decisions I am making in theorizing how the gospels were formed. Note the word current. I’d like to see, as I build on this, how believable it turns out to be.

First, I accept the basic order of Mark, then Matthew, then Luke, and then John.

Second, I currently lean toward Mark Goodacre’s skepticism about the existence of Q (a sayings source thought to be used by both Matthew and Luke).

Third, I like much of Richard Bauckham’s eyewitness theory about Mark and Luke especially (and in a different way, John). I keep in mind the warning Scot McKnight gave me (in an email) to factor in much direct (verbatim) literary dependence from Mark to Matthew to Luke (which he would say undermines some aspects of Bauckham’s theory).

Fourth, I like so far what I know of Bauckham’s theory in Testimony of the Beloved Disciple, but I want to see how Paul Anderson’s work meshes with that (The Fourth Gospel and the Quest for Jesus).

Something like this seems to be going on (for the moment this outline makes sense to me):

Mark, not one of the Twelve or a disciple, writes his gospel first (the first written work on Yeshua’s life perhaps). There is some basis for the idea of Peter as the source through Mark’s overhearing him. Mark has other eyewitness background as well, as per Bauckham. This may be John Mark from Acts.

Matthew, not one of the Twelve (else why would he use Mark?) and perhaps not even named Matthew, adds much sayings material. Where did he get this sayings material? Is Papias’ statement about a (lost) Hebrew Matthew a clue here?

Luke, in the circle of Paul, uses Mark and Matthew and has a free hand in re-ordering sayings especially. Luke also seems to have his own eyewitness information gathered separately from Mark, as per Bauckham.

John, perhaps a disciple but not the John of the Twelve, perhaps the elder John from Papias’ statement, assumes knowledge of Mark and writes a different sort of gospel. I think the Beloved Disciple theory of his identity is believable. Where does John get these long discourses? I would not dismiss them as ahistorical entirely. I think at least there is a possibility that the beloved disciple has certain sayings in his memory that form the core of these long discourses. My reading of Paul Philip Levertoff’s Love and the Messianic Age has me thinking about some ways that a small saying here or there by Yeshua might have been developed into expanded discourses emphasizing the mystical side of Yeshua (Levertoff’s book is not about history or gospel origins, but his comparison of John and Chassidus is simply forming for me a small bit of a theory).

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