How the 4 Gospels Came to Be Chosen for the New Testament

Manila Bulletin, April 15, 2006 | Go to article overview

How the 4 Gospels Came to Be Chosen for the New Testament


Byline: LIWANAG SANTIAGO

Astronomical evidence strongly suggests that Christ was crucified on a Friday, a full moon, April 03 A.D. 33 or in the year 786 A.U.C. (from the founding of Rome.) Israel was then a province of Rome under the reign of Tiberius Claudius Nero, Caesar.

The story of the life, teachings, miracles and death of Christ was written in stages by eyewitnesses; the apostles Matthew, John, Peter, through his protA[c]gA[c] Mark and Paul, through the physician, Luke. Matthew started writing his version only some 20 years after the death of Christ. John finished his version in his old age, some 70 years later.

Through a few years after the Crucifixion, there was no need to write the biography of Christ. Most of the potential readers were Israelites, residents of Galilee, Judea, Samaria or Jerusalem, themselves eye-witnesses of Christ. They heard Him preach forgiveness, love, peace and salvation in their synagogues. They saw for themselves or were told by relatives, friends, or neighbors who saw Christ make the blind see, the lame walk, the dead roused from death, the leper made whole again and the evil spirits commanded to walk away from their victims.

But as time marched on, the eye-witnesses dwindled away from old age. The converts to the church, Christ founded on Peter, the rock, grew by leaps and bounds. Christianity spread out. As though by miracle, it made converts of both Jew and Gentile across the eastern seaboard of the Mediterranean and the bounding seas.

The new converts who were willing to die for Christ, wanted to know more about Him, Mary, His mother, Joseph, the carpenter and foster father, the Apostles, the Priests and Pharisees who fabricated the charges, that paved the way to Calvary. They found the gospels and writings in their possession scanty.

If the new converts to Christ were going to be fed to the lions at the arena or nailed to crosses along the road to Rome or tortured to death in more cruel ways, they wanted to know why. They needed to know the dramatis personae, the entire background of the Christian story. As this need to know and the right to know echoed across the converted lands, the creative and enterprising scribes, the Dan Browns of the time, heard and saw the opportunity to make something.

Thus proliferated writings to fill the need of the new generations of the followers of Christ to know. Quite naturally, by the old law of supply and demand, the market of ideas was filled with literature on prophesies, gospels, epistles, creeds, anecdotes, biographies, fantasies and others, attributed to unknowing Apostles, like Thomas and Philip, Judas Iscariot and several Prophets of the Old Testament for good marketing reasons. …

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