Trajectories through the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers

By Andrew F. Gregory; Christopher M. Tuckett | Go to book overview

3
The Gospel of Luke in the Apostolic Fathers:
An Overview

Arthur J. Bellinzoni


I. INTRODUCTION

In an article published in 1992, I traced the use of the Gospel of Matthew in second-century Christian literature from the Apostolic Fathers through Irenaeus.1 Such a study, I maintained, is central to an understanding of the origin and development of the church’s fourfold gospel canon.

Then, in 1998, in a Festschrift in honour of Joseph B. Tyson, I examined the use of the Gospel of Luke in writers from the middle of the second century, specifically Marcion, Justin Martyr, and Tatian, all three of whom clearly knew, used, and substantially reworked the Gospel of Luke.2 In that article, I argued that it was clearly in Rome that the process of canonization began, with Marcion (who created a new edition of Luke as his one gospel), with Justin (who harmonized texts or perhaps created a full-blown harmony of Matthew and Luke as his one gospel, for reading, along with the ‘writings of the prophets’, in Christian worship services in Rome), and with Tatian (who wrote the Diatessaron, a harmony of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as his one gospel). Marcion, Justin, and Tatian apparently all agreed that there could be only one gospel. They disagreed, however, on the nature and the content of that single gospel.

Inasmuch as Marcion, Justin, and Tatian all took steps in the process of creating a single gospel to serve as the core of what would later become a New Testament canon, even if unwittingly so, it is important to look more closely at the decades between the initial composition of the gospels and the

1 Arthur J. Bellinzoni, ‘The Gospel of Matthew in the Second Century’, SC 9 (1992), 197–259. The present article draws freely on the 1992 study.

2 Arthur J. Bellinzoni, ‘The Gospel of Luke in the Second Century CE’, in R. P. Thompson and T. E. Phillips (eds.), Literary Studies in Luke–Acts: Essays in Honor of Joseph B. Tyson (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1998), 59–76.

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