Why Was The Gospel of Matthew Attributed to Matthew?

I have now gotten to a point where I can discuss why the four Gospels were specifically given the names of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.   Recall the most important points of my preceding posts on the blog so far:  the Gospels were all written anonymously and they circulated anonymously, for years and decades; we have no certain evidence that they – these particular Gospels — were called by their familiar names until around 180 CE, in sources connected with ...

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Why Are the Gospels Anonymous?

In my previous posts I have tried to establish that the four Gospels circulated anonymously for decades after they were written.   To some modern readers that seems surprising.   Why wouldn’t the authors name themselves?   Surely they named themselves.   Didn’t’ they?

The clear answer is, no, they did not.   But why?

There have been a number of theories put forth over the years.   Possibly the most popular one (at least it’s the one I’ve heard most often) is that the Gospel writers thought ...

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Papias on Matthew and Mark

In my previous two posts I showed why Papias is not a reliable source when it comes to the authorship of Matthew and Mark.   If you haven’t read those posts and are personally inclined to think that his testimony about Matthew and Mark are accurate, I suggest you read them (the posts) before reading this one.

In this post I want to argue that what he actually says about Matthew and Mark are not true of our Matthew and Mark, and ...

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Believing Papias When It’s Convenient

In my previous post I stressed that, contrary to what you sometimes may have heard or possibly will hear, Papias is not a *direct* witness to what the apostles of Jesus were saying.  That is an important point because of the most important “testimony” that Papias gives, a testimony that is often taken as very strong evidence that the second Gospel of the NT was written by Mark, the companion of Peter, and that the first Gospel was really and ...

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Papias as an Earwitness?

I have discussed Papias a number of times on the blog in the past, but have not given any substantial time to him in a about a year and a half.   He is an important figure for historians of early Christianity, because, as I pointed out in my previous post, he was a proto-orthodox author from the first part of the second century.   More than anything, conservative biblical scholars have latched on to Papias because in their opinion he provides ...

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Papias and the Gospels: Some Background

In my previous post I argued that sometime in the second half of the second century, an edition of the four Gospels was compiled by an unknown editor/scribe, and place in circulation in Rome, in which the texts were identified, definitively and possibly for the first time, as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.   Now the question is: why did these names come to be chosen?

This is a complicated question, and the answer is neither straightforward nor easy.   But I can ...

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The Four Gospels in the Muratorian Fragment

I argued in my previous post that sometime between Justin, in Rome around 150-60, and Irenaeus in 185 the Gospels had begun to be known as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  In my opinion this did not happen earlier (if some of you are wondering about the witness of Papias, I’ll say something about him in a few later posts).   In terms of his personal and ecclesiastical life, Irenaeus is best known as the bishop of Lyons in Gaul (i.e., ...

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The Gospels are Finally Named! Irenaeus of Lyons.

In the previous post we saw that the Gospels almost certainly circulated anonymously at first, just as they were composed anonymously.  It is an interesting question why the authors all chose to remain anonymous instead of indicating who they were.  I have a theory about that, and I may post on it eventually when I get through a bit more of this thread on why the Gospels ended up with the names they did.  At this stage, what we can ...

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When Did the Gospels Get Their Names?

In this series of posts on the authors’ names associated with the New Testament Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – we have so far seen that the texts themselves are completely anonymous.   The authors of two of these works (Luke and John) do speak in the first person in a couple of instances, but they do not say who they are.  By the end of the second century, roughly a century after the books were written, they were ...

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Did the Beloved Disciple Write the Gospel of John?

I have started a series of posts dealing with the authorship of the Gospels – specifically, why they were eventually named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.   My first point, in my previous post and in this one, is that the books are completely anonymous.  Their authors never divulge their names.   Eventually I may want to address the question of why that is.  But for now, my point is that despite what people might commonly think, the books are anonymous.

I pointed ...

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