The 4 Gospels Origin

Hiya ,

I’m new here and this is my first post.

My wife, also an atheist, says that each of the four gospels were passed down over years with very little change and that they were then put into one book and constitute four different contemporary sources for evidence that Jesus existed.

I disagree. I feel that they were a collection of stories that when the bible was being written, were assembled, and worded as a to have cohesiveness concerning the legitimacy of Jesus as the son of God.

In a nutshell, she says Jesus was real and there are four sources as evidence. I say there is no evidence of a Jesus, just a claim from only the bible. Was there possibly a collection of evangelists that Jesus was loosely based on? Possibly, but I see no evidence of there actually having been one man who was definitively Jesus.

What I’d like your thoughts on are, do you think the four gospels existed as separate entities for years before the bible was written or a collection of stories molded into four distinct books when the bible was being written.

Thanks all.

Not one of them is contemporary, the earliest example dates to decades after the alleged events they purport to describe, and all 4 are anonymous as they were unauthored, so the best anyone can claim is that they are unevidenced hearsay, regardless of any changes that may have occurred.

The new testament was compiled over three centuries after the alleged events they claim to depict. The names Mathew Mark Luke and John are fictional, they were added by early church leaders to lend gravitas by implying the gospels were written by disciples.

There is only scant evidence that Jesus existed at all, and none for the hearsay claims in the gospels, they cannot be evidence for their own claims, obviously.

  1. Where did she get the previous versions to compare?
  2. Why didn’t she give those versions to a museum when she was done comparing them so the rest of us could compare them?
  3. Why do we need to take her word on the matter, why can’t we see these documents for ourselves?

The three synoptic gospels ( Mark, Luke and Matthew) are anonymous retelling of the stories that appear in “Mark”. Over 60% of “Luke” is directly copied from the Greek “Mark”.
Matthew corrects many of the mistakes of Jewish Law and Lore that appear in the Greek based tales in “Mark” and is intended for that audience. More than 50% of Matthew is direct copy of Mark.
Neither Luke nor Matthew originally contained the birth narrative. Mark ended much more abruptly after the crucifixion until the second half of the third century where we surmise passages were added.

The earliest example of 'Mark" is dated to 160CE, a small fragment. No one knows what Mark originally contained, however clues are available by reading other contemporary manuscripts. Mark was written in about 80CE by an educated Greek.

John is a much later addition. Dated between 90CE and 180CE ( the earliest fragment is dated between 125CE and 250CE) . It appears to be the work of up to four different authors and textual analysis puts it closer to the turn of the century that the other ‘gospels’. “John” claims to be an eyewitness account and expands on the tales in Mark and Matthew, however the dates of writing are incompatible with that claim, despite the ridiculous assertions by Polycarp in the early second century.

Paul at about 55CE (again 30+ years after the alleged events) is our earliest source for the origins of the gentile church. That there were followers of the “way” (Ebionites) and had the dead jesus figure as their inspiration is indisputable, but to become a follower you had to be, or become jewish, undergo circumcision (if male) and accept the Law and observances of Jewry as it was at that time.
Also note that they believed the Jesus figure was entirely human, and a good Jew, so observant of the Law that he was adopted by God and had a spiritual (not physical) resurrection. Paul rebelled against that and was declared apostate for his trouble. He never met or saw the physical jesus. He only experienced dreams and visions on which he based his writings.

There are no contemporary accounts of the Jesus figure during his alleged lifetime. During one of the most documented periods of early history where 13 other “messiahs” are documented and corroborated this magical, divine jesus somehow missed out on being mentioned by anyone.

Conclusion: that a very human jesus figure may have existed is ‘not proven’. That the magical, divine, resurrected figure as told in the gospels is utterly improbable.


Dang! That was something I did know. Mark was first. The others after just retelling and adding “more” to the stories.

If they came up with one contemporary source, I still might not believe. I mean, one person could just be crazy, and everyone might have copied from them. But they don’t even have one. It is almost as if it didn’t happen and someone just wrote a story, decades later. I can’t tell the difference but when they add in the magic, I have to assume it is just a story.

She’s close. The first Gospel, Mark, was probably past on for a generation prior to being written down. At least 30 to 40 years after the supposed death of the Jesus Character. Matthew and Luke just copied Mark and tried to make it better. Mark had 4 possible endings. It was written and rewritten before Matthew and Luke ever got to it.
The first ending has women finding Jesus tomb empty, running away, and telling no one. (That would never do.) Subsequent authors just added shit to it.

John’s Gospel was the last written, and he did his best to turn Jesus into God. This is the miracle version of the gospels. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus is hesitant, afraid to speak about himself, his intentions, and his deeds, to anyone. But not in Luke. In Luke, he makes all the “I am god,” claims. Jesus gets more and more powerful from the first gospel to the last. Interestingly the last gospel that did not make it into the canon, has Jesus exiting the tomb with a giant talking cross. (Figure that one out.)

In the End, one Gospel, Mark, was passed on over the years and then copies many times over to add improvements. This resulted in the creation of Matthew and Luke. John came along and decided to create his own Jesus myth.

Not one of the Gospels qualifies as evidence beyond hearsay. They are stories about stories with no first-hand accounts. There are no sources contemporary to the life of Jesus that talk about him or his miracles. No one in history discusses ‘Palm Sunday.’ No one in history attests to the fact that Zombies actually roamed the streets. Everyone missed a world thrown into darkness. There are no sources outside the bible supporting the magical feats of Jesus or even the fact that he existed. All we have are stories.

Where is this cohesiveness you speak of. There is nothing cohesive about the gospels. If you think there is something cohesive in them, you need to follow Bart Erhman’s advice and read them side by side, Next to Nothing matches up.

Any ideas about Jesus, existing, not existing, many people, mythical stories, whatever, is all speculation. It’s like arguing who was the better starship captain Picard or Kirk. It all depends on which stories you like. And any and all evidence for anything is just based on a story.

There is only one possible gospel that existed as a separate entity before the other books were written; Mark. The other books are copies of Mark. What did seem to exist, providing the ‘Book of Thomas is as old as some think it is,’ were collections of the sayings of Jesus. This means that there were a lot of ancient sayings that were simply attributed to a guy named Jesus and then someone collected them, put them in a book and made a story around them.

I suggest you watch Bart Eherman’s ‘Who wrote the Gospels’ lecture on YouTube.

In addition, the “gospels”, or whatever abridged versions thereof emerged from the First Council of Nicaea, cannot even agree which of the events of the era in question were worthy of inclusion. Luke is the only “gospel” that includes the Nativity. Matthew is the only “gospel” that includes the hilarious passage about zombies walking along the streets of Jerusalem during the crucifixion. I’m sure other examples can be found in this vein.

Loathe as I am to correct you my friend but: In Matthew Jesus’ birth is detected by foreign priests, the magi ; in Luke it is lowly Jewish shepherds who first learn the news. In Matthew’s narrative, King Herod in Jerusalem hunts throughout the region for the infant Jesus to kill him.

Both were, I surmise, added much later as neither narrative was recorded in either gospel according to the Ebionite texts (all destroyed). We do know they had no birth narrative because of the shock and horror of the Early Church Fathers when they visited them in Jerusalem about 160CE. Of course the Ebionites were declared heretic by the nascent Church and later on in the 5th Century. Finally destroyed in the 7th Century by that great and merciful freedom fighter Mohammed.

Similarly Marcion’s gospel and the other texts (Luke and Mathew and Mark) used in their temples did not contain any reference to the birth narrative. Like many of the other smaller mystery cults the Jesus figure was adopted by God, not fathered by him or his remotely operated mobile penetrating tool.

Lets not forget the claims of the Keralian Church in India. Traditionally founded by Thomas (Didimus the Twin) their texts did NOT include the Pauline texts, but did include the Childhood texts (Gospel of Thomas) (no birth narrative, human parents only) where Jesus was not shown in an entirely complimentary light, such childhood peccadilloes as killing a schoolmate for insults being mentioned. In addition the Keralian Church (Thomasinians) included the Repentance of Judas and The Book of Mary in their Canon.

Of course when the Portuguese arrived in the fifteenth century they did their very best too wipe this scandalous heresy from the face of the earth…but we know. We know. History has a way of biting one in the bum when suppressed.

In short a “cohesive set of texts” is Church fostered modern lies, or in the words of the famous…Utter Bollocks.

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So, was Mark a story started immediately after the death of Jesus, common knowledge to all and passed down?

Thank you I will. I guess what I’m trying to make sure I understand is that the “Mark” stories that were passed down, were they actually stories that began immediately after the death of christ or does the evidence show that there was no mention of this Jesus character amongst the population until years later?

The only thing, in entire new testament that we can consider “evidenced” (still highly debatable, lots of allowances needed) is that certain Peter and Paul have started proclaiming visions of the risen lord named Jesus (probably Jeshua, or it may even be that muslims have saved the most reliable version. They call him Isa. Well entire orthodox side of christianity calls him Isus. Pronounced something like esus, like you would when you say event. First letter is not spelled as “I” but as “E”)
Basically everything else can and should be treated as legendary development. Or as they now call it, christology. Just theologically fancy way of saying myth development.
“Mark” is the oldest gospel, of the current versions that we have. There was certainly a different “Mark” available and it was astonishingly different. Clement of Alexandria speaks about that in his letters. There was also a completely different “Matthew” specifically for Jewish christians (which combined judaic teaching).
Luke, meaning unknown author of “Luke” and Acts is usually referenced as reliable, but only if you take critical approach that it was written after 90 at least after 88.
One should take into consideration work of Dennis MacDonald as well as already known parallels between OT and NT when reading NT. He brings a new perspective from Greek epics and tragedies. I just got his latest book, massive book.

Edit for boring part about name, hope it makes sense tho.

I mis-spoke, she thinks the 4 gospels were oral stories that were immediately (after the death of christ) passed down amongst the general population and over time those stories had achieved somewhat of a consistent retelling and were then compiled into the gospels.

magical thinking :woman_shrugging:t6:

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decades later :clown_face:

Then it’s entirely possible that the jesus we’ve all heard about is a composite of these other messiahs around at the time and not a particular individual.

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Some people think the world is flat, no kidding, now ask her what objective evidence she can demonstrate for that belief?

I am dubious that oral hearsay generally infer consistency, let alone accuracy?

The gospels are unevidenced hearsay, if your wife has found some way to lend objective evidence to the claims in them, then she is doing what millennia of historians and theologians cannot.

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Very unlikely as the author was Greek, knew nothing of Jewish Law and Lore. It could not have been written before 75CE. A growing number of scholars are now convinced that Mark is largely based on Paul’s writing. i.e on the secondhand hearsay of a man who had hallucinations.
The other synoptic gospels are based on Mark except for John who took stories from all three and expanded on them to give them verisimilitude.

Please understand that the gospels were never intended to be read as a compilation. Each gospel (and the other texts) was intended for a different audience. They were jealously guarded as the “true” gospel for that audience with the other texts ignored even if they had them.

The first compilation gospels was widespread in the Syriac churches, where all the contradictions were removed and a single gospel presented. Then there was the Gospel of Marcion (more popular then, than the Roman Church) who took some of the magical stuff out of Luke and presented it as the true story of Jesus the ADOPTED son of the god of the new gospel…

There were literally hundreds of Gnostic gospels, the tradition of the early churches that when people had visions of the Messiah or the Disciples they would write them down and they became gospels in their own right. 2 Peter is a fine example. Revelations another.

So a simple answer, no, Mark was around 75CE there is no evidence anywhere that it was around in oral form before then. It is largely Greek based in its style and content, it does not follow any Aramaic styling (the lingua franca of the jews in Judea) It is told in a tradition Hellenistic style.

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Not according to the gospel of James. (The alleged, earliest gospel known.) I think it is something like 14 pages, and it is a text of Jesus’s sayings. I don’t know why dating it is so difficult. It could be as early as 60 AD. But, as late as 140. It’s certainly within the timeline of the current canon. My hypothesis is that these sayings were just floating about and attributed to all the gods. Christians picked them up and began attributing them to Jesus. Just like they attributed the flood story to Jesus. Just like they took three early stories and created Moses. This sort of stuff just happened.

The earliest biblical text we know of, was probably the text Constantine had thrown together and then doled out to the Christian bishops who attended the Council of Nicea. Now Christians will swear that Constantine did not write the Bible. But, I know of no other reference to the official New Testament as a text prior to Constantine. The next official bible came about as a result of Marcion’s. AD 140. As the story goes, the Bishops saw his bible and freaked. They did not like it and since they had no bible of their own, they hopped on the bandwagon and created one.

So, there were biblical writings around by 140 AD. Marcion had written a bible. Even so, Marconism became as fractured as early Christianity with sects popping up everywhere. Bart Erhman has asserted that the varieties of Christianity were more varied in the early centuries than they are today. (Look up his lecture on Early Christianities.)

MARK was not a story started immediately after the death of Jesus. “Mark” is a book. Someone sat down and wrote a book about all the different stories that were being passed around. The author decided which stories to include and which to omit.

The Muratorian Canon, which is believed to date to 200 A.D., is the earliest compilation of canonical texts resembling the New Testament. I believe this was the one that was in response to Marconi, (I could be wrong.) This was not widely accepted. As you will see, in 325 CE, Constantine creates something and calls it the official bible.

We have no copies of Constantine’s text. There was nothing resembling our New Testament until the 5th Century.

LOOK: The bottom line is that the construction of the Bible was a fucking mess. This is what the best scholars assert: "It’s a fucking mess, and you need a PhD in Biblical studies as well as degrees in Greek and ancient Hebrew to even get close to figuring it out. But all the videos and books are fun to watch and read, For every assertion made about Early Christianity, there is a counter assertion. (So it seems to me.)

Edit: To change the flavor of the ice cream.

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Exactly, Marcion produced the very first canon. It contained his Gospel plus Luke and Matthew and the short form of Mark (without birth narratives) it may have included others but we just do not know.
The Roman Church realised that the Marcionites were very real competition and started to compile texts as Codex in response to their growing numbers.
Tertullian wrote FIVE books attacking Marcion. They make fun reading, especially when you consider that Tertullian came up with the Trinity in direct response to Marcion’s Duality concept. Then he was declared heretic because of his avowed Montanism and didn’t get the sainthood! LOL.