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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., the ancient forerunner of Lyon, France).   But he spent significant time in Rome itself before his appointment in Gaul, and he considered the Roman church to be the center of Christendom at his time. There is another witness to the fourfold Gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John from Irenaeus’s time, and also from Rome.   This comes to us in a fragmentary Latin text discovered in the 18th century and called the Muratorian Fragment.   This document was discovered by an Italian scholar named Lodovico Antonio Muratori in the Ambrosiana Library (and so it is named [...]

2020-04-03T14:20:45-04:00November 20th, 2014|Canonical Gospels, History of Christianity (100-300CE)|

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 say with certainty is that the Gospels are quoted in the early and mid-second centuries by proto-orthodox Christian authors, who never identify them as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. That is especially significant when we come to Justin around 150-60 CE, who explicitly quotes these books as “Memoirs of the Apostles,” but does not tell us which apostles they are to be associated with.   This is in Rome, the capital of the Empire, and the seat of what was probably the largest, and certainly the most influential, church at the time. Some thirty years after [...]

2020-04-03T14:20:54-04:00November 18th, 2014|Canonical Gospels, History of Christianity (100-300CE)|
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