Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Gospel Authors Were Named Early And Credibly

Ben Witherington has posted a brief video about gospel authorship. He makes some good points, but I disagree with some of his arguments and would add others.

I see no reason to reject the traditional view that Matthew had a larger role in the production of the gospel that goes by his name, for example. See here, as well as the other posts linked within it.

Concerning Witherington's claim that the beloved disciple of the fourth gospel is Lazarus, see here. It should be noted not only that the internal evidence supports John, the son of Zebedee, over Lazarus, but also that the external sources who name John as the author repeatedly identify him as the beloved disciple as well. They don't just name John as the author.

Witherington mentions that the early Christians would have had reason to attach titles to the gospels ("The Gospel According To Matthew", etc.) once the four gospels were being collected and needed to be distinguished from one another. But that sort of need for distinguishing among them would have been present as soon as more than one gospel was circulating. The need would have arisen before the number got to four. See here for a discussion of further evidence suggesting the early attachment of the authors' names to the gospels.

Something Witherington doesn't mention is the early and widespread corroboration of the gospel authorship claims by non-Christian sources. See here and here, for example.


  1. Jason, all your blogs are choke full of information. I especially like how you collect and inter-connect many of your blogs into one master blog on a certain topic. For example, on the topic of Roman Catholicism or on Christmas. Would you consider making one for all the various topics you address and keeping it updated? One of the common complaints that non-Christians have is that studying such issues is difficult because they're hard to research. They don't know where to begin. Of course, intellectual laziness on their part is no excuse. Nevertheless, I think making it a little easier for them is one thing we can do if we take seriously their eternal destiny. The way you organize your master lists are very logical and can help people find the answer they're looking for to their particular apologetical itch.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement. We have two indexes above, just below the Triablogue banner at the top of the screen. They're not exhaustive, and some of the sections haven't been updated in a while, but those indexes organize our material on a lot of topics. The index on the right is the one I put together.