A gospel (a contraction of Old English god spel, meaning 'good news/glad tidings', comparable to Greek εὐαγγέλιον, evangelion)[1] is a written record of the teachings of Jesus, usually in the form of an account of his life and career.[2] The term originally meant the Christian message itself, but came to be used for the books in which the message was set out[3] in the 2nd century.

A large old Bible, open and displaying two pages of densely-written calligraphy, with some decoration surrounding one section on the left-hand page.
The canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John can be found in most Christian Bibles

Gospels are a genre of ancient biography in Early Christian literature. The New Testament has four canonical gospels, which are accepted as the only authentic scripture by the great majority of Christians, but many others exist, or used to exist, and are called either New Testament apocrypha or pseudepigrapha. Some of these have left considerable traces on Christian traditions, including iconography.

Canonical gospels edit

Hypothesized sources of the synoptic gospels edit

  • Q sourceQ is material common to Matthew and Luke, but not found in Mark
  • M sourceM is material unique to Matthew
  • L sourceL is material unique to Luke

Hypothesized sources of the Gospel of John edit

  • Signs Gospel – narrative of the Seven Signs
  • Discourses Gospel – source of the discourse material

Apocrypha and pseudepigrapha edit

Gnostic gospels edit

Jewish-Christian gospels edit

Infancy gospels edit

Other gospels edit

Partially preserved gospels edit

Fragmentary preserved gospels edit

Fragmentary gospels are those preserved from primary sources.

  • Gospel of Eve – mentioned only once by Epiphanius around 400 AD, who preserves a single brief passage in quotation
  • Gospel of Mani – 3rd century – attributed to the Persian Mani, the founder of Manichaeism
  • Gospel of the Saviour (also known as the Unknown Berlin gospel) – highly fragmentary 6th century manuscript based on a late 2nd or early 3rd century original, a dialogue rather than a narrative, heavily Gnostic in character in that salvation is dependent upon possessing secret knowledge
  • Coptic Gospel of the Twelve – late 2nd century Coptic language work – although often equated with the Gospel of the Ebionites, it appears to be an attempt to retell the Gospel of John in the pattern of the Synoptics; it quotes extensively from the Gospel of John.

Reconstructed gospels edit

Reconstructed gospels are those preserved from secondary sources and commentaries.

  • Secret Gospel of Mark – suspect: the single source mentioning it is considered by many to be a modern forgery, and it was lost before it could be independently authenticated.
  • Gospel of Matthias – a lost text from the New Testament apocrypha. The content has been surmised from descriptions in works by church fathers.

Lost gospels edit

  • Gospel of Cerinthus – around 90–120 AD – according to Epiphanius,[9] this is a Jewish gospel identical to the Gospel of the Ebionites, and apparently, a truncated version of the Gospel of Matthew according to the Hebrews.
  • Gospel of Apelles – mid- to late 2nd century, a further edited version of Marcion's edited version of Luke
  • Gospel of Valentinus[a]
  • Gospel of the Encratites[b]
  • Gospel of Andrew – mentioned by only two 5th century sources (Augustine and Pope Innocent I) who list it as apocryphal[c]
  • Gospel of Barnabas – this work is mentioned only once, in the 5th century Decree of Gelasius, which lists it as apocryphal.
  • Gospel of Bartholomew – mentioned by only two 5th century sources, which list it as apocryphal.[d]
  • Gospel of Hesychius – mentioned only by Jerome and the Decree of Gelasius that list it as apocryphal.[e]
  • Gospel of Lucius – mentioned only by Jerome and the Decree of Gelasius that list it as apocryphal.
  • Gospel of Merinthus[f] – mentioned only by Epiphanius; probably the Gospel of Cerinthus, and the confusion due to a scribal error.
  • An unknown number of other Gnostic gospels not cited by name.[g]
  • Gospel of the Adversary of the Law and the Prophets[11]
  • Memoirs of the Apostles – lost narrative of the life of Jesus, mentioned by Justin Martyr, the passages quoted by Justin may have originated from a gospel harmony of the Synoptic Gospels composed by Justin or his school.

Fragments of possibly unknown or lost (or existing) gospels edit

Fragmentary gospels are those preserved from primary sources.

  • Papyrus Egerton 2 – late 2nd century manuscript of possibly earlier original; contents parallel John 5:39–47, 10:31–39; Matthew 1:40–45, 8:1–4, 22:15–22; Mark 1:40–45, 12:13–17; and Luke 5:12–16, 17:11–14, 20:20–26, but differ textually; also contains incomplete miracle account with no equivalent in canonical Gospels
  • Fayyum Fragment – a fragment of about 100 Greek letters in 3rd century script; the text seems to parallel Mark 14:26–31
  • Oxyrhynchus Papyri – fragments #1, 654, and 655 appear to be fragments of Thomas; #210 is related to Matthew 7:17–19 and Luke 6:43–44 but not identical to them; #840 contains a short vignette about Jesus and a Pharisee not found in any known gospel, the source text is probably mid-2nd century; #1224 consists of paraphrases of Mark 2:17 and Luke 9:50
  • Gospel of Jesus' Wife – modern forgery based on the Gospel of Thomas[12][13]
  • Papyrus Berolinensis 1171book of Enoch 0 – 6th century Greek fragment, possibly from an apocryphal gospel or amulet based on John.
  • Papyrus Cairensis 10735 – 6th or 7th century Greek fragment, possibly from a lost gospel, may be a homily or commentary
  • Papyrus Merton 51 – fragment from apocryphal gospel or a homily on Luke 6:7
  • Strasbourg Fragment – fragment of a lost gospel, probably related to Acts of John

Medieval gospels edit

Modern gospels edit

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ Mentioned by Tertullian in Adversus Valentinianos, according to Irenaeus, it is the same as the Gospel of Truth
  2. ^ Epiphanius ascribed a gospel to the sect of Encratites. It is more probable however, that he referred to the Gospel of Tatian
  3. ^ Augustine and Innocent only mentioned it once with no information about it. If it is the same as the Acts of Andrew, then it was written around 150–250 AD and is not lost, and is kind of a Christian retelling of the Odyssey, only with St. Andrew in the lead role.
  4. ^ Jerome mentions it twice: Catul. Script. Eccles. in Pantæn. and Præfat. in Comm. in Matt.[expand acronym] It is also mentioned once in the Decree of Gelasius
  5. ^ This phrase is found in the Decree of Gelasius wherein certain gospels are condemned by that title. What they were is uncertain. Jerome speaks of "those books which go under the names of Lucian and Hesychius and are esteemed through the perverse humors of some".
  6. ^ The Gospel of Merinthus is mentioned only by Epiphanius as one of those spurious gospels which he supposes were written in the apostles' time and referred to by Luke in Luke 1:1 "as not being a true and genuine account". Fabricius supposes that Merinthus and Cerinthus are the same person and that Cerinthus was changed into Merinthus by the way of banter or reproach. Although Epiphanius makes them into two different persons, yet in the heresy of the Cerinthians, he professes himself uncertain. He said "The Cerinthians are also called Merinthians as we see by the accounts we have; but whether this Cerinthus was also called Merinthus, a fellow laborer of his, God knows".[10]
  7. ^ The Gnostics had various gospels. Epiphanius speaks of their writing "The Revelation of Adam, and other false gospels".
  8. ^ The Eye-Witness gospel is a gospel written by Elsie Louise Morris and/or Benjamin Fish Austin. The gospel purports to be an old manuscript found in an old Alexandria Library giving a graphic and detailed account of Jesus as a friend of Jesus. The gospel states that Jesus did not die on the cross, but died six months later. The gospel references the Essenes a lot, and is allegedly written by an elder of the Essene order who was a close friend of Jesus'. The document was discovered in a building in Alexandria, but since then, the document has disappeared. It was published in 1907 by John Richardson and again by the Holmes Book Company in 1919. This information was retrieved from 4Enoch.org
  9. ^ The Fifth Gospel by Rudolf Steiner is another gospel obtained from Akashic records. The gospel is in the form of 13 lectures. The book contains Zoroastrian themes along with Christian themes. The gospel states that the Lord's Prayer is based on an ancient pagan prayer that Jesus obtained from Ahriman. Steiner states that the Gospel can be read at Akashic Record. The gospel's authenticity is doubted because Levi Dowling and Edgar Cayce both produced stories of Jesus' life from Akashic Record. Most of the text can be read at Google Books with the title The Fifth Gospel: From the Akashic Record.
  10. ^ Hans Naber (or Kurt Berna) was a soldier in World War II who claimed to have been given a message from Jesus Christ about the Shroud of Turin and that he did not die on the cross. He claimed too much blood was on the shroud and that corpses do not bleed, thus the person was probably alive or dying. He published a series of books in an attempt to prove that Jesus did not die on the cross, but survived and went to India. The Fifth Gospel (Das Fünfte Evangelium) was a book in which he attempted to prove that Jesus traveled to India with Mary Magdelene and Thomas the Apostle.
  11. ^ Grabriele Wittek, founder of the new religious movement Universal Life published this gospel as a rebuilding of the gospel of the Holy Twelve. The full title of the book is This Is My Word – Alpha and Omega: The Gospel of Jesus. the Christ Revelation, which True Christians the World Over Have Come to Know. The gospel can be read online at Das-Wort Publishing House in Universelles Leben.
  12. ^ Catulle Mendès was a French poet who claimed to have found gospel written by the Apostle Peter. He said he found the manuscript at the St. Wolfgang Abbey. Unlike other biblical hoaxes, Mendes presented the manuscript, which was written in Old Latin that the Romans had used. However, the manuscript was quickly proved to be a hoax as it was written by Mendes. The gospel is an infancy Gospel attributed to the Apostle Peter. It was originally written in Latin by Mendes but was eventually translated into French by Mendes. The title of the original book is L'Evangile de l'enfance de Notre Seigneur Jésus Christ selon Saint Pierre, mis en français par Catulle Mendès d'après le manuscrit de l'Abbaye de Saint Wolfgang, or The Gospel of the infancy of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Saint Pierre, translated into French by Catulle Mendès from the manuscript of the Abbey of St. Wolfgang.
  13. ^ Otoman Zar-Adusht Ha'nish, founder of the Mazdaznan movement published a book called Jehoshua the Nazir. He claimed to get it from various Eastern mysterious sources. The book was first published in 1917 with the title Yehoshua Nazir; Jesus the Nazarite; life of Christ. The book is accepted as scripture by the Mazdaznan followers. The text is available on the Internet Text Archive.
  14. ^ Harvey Lewis was a notable Rosicrucian author and author of the Mystical Life of Jesus. The gospel was allegedly inspired by the Aquarian Gospel. The book is a collection of records about Jesus retrieved from the ancient monastreries of the Essenes and the Rosicrucian Order. Lewis allegedly went with a staff of researchers through Palestine and Egypt visiting holy sites and obtaining information. The book states that Jesus entered priesthood and secret priesthood and talks about the doctrines and secret facts about the resurrection.
  15. ^ Friedrich Clemens Gerke was a German writer and journalist, most notable for his revision of Morse Code in 1848. In 1867 he published the Ur-Gospel of the Essenes (Urevangelium der Essäer). It was also known as the Fifth Gospel (Das Fünfte Evangelium) and later as Jesus the Nazarene — Life, Teachings and Natural Death of the Wisest of the Wise. Reality Retold and Dedicated to the German People (Jesus der Nazarener — Des Weisesten der Weisen Leben, Lehre und natürliches Ende. Der Wirklichkeit nacherzählt und dem deutschen Volke gewidmet.) The book has not been translated into English and the full text in German is available at the internet text archive under the title Jesus der Nazarener.

Footnotes edit

  1. ^ Woodhead 2004, p. 4.
  2. ^ Tuckett 2000, p. 522.
  3. ^ Cross & Livingstone 2005, p. 697.
  4. ^ Harris, J. R., ed. The Gospel of the Twelve Apostles Together with the Apocalypses of Each One of Them (Cambridge, 1900).
  5. ^ Pan. Hæres. 26. § 2
  6. ^ Wilson, Robert (1975). Tenney, Merrill (ed.). The Zondervan pictorial encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House. p. 311. ISBN 0310331889. Retrieved 13 February 2023. A late and secondary compilation, ultimately dependent on the Protevangelium of James and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, but greatly amplified. It derives from a Syr. original, but the date of this source is doubtful.

    Also available on BibleGateway.com's Encyclopedia of the Bible (which is derived from the Zondervan work)
  7. ^ Ehrman, Bart; Pleše, Zlatko (December 18, 2013). Ehrman, Bart (ed.). The Other Gospels: Accounts of Jesus from Outside the New Testament. USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 58–77. ISBN 9780199335220. The Latin Infancy Gospel ... is a later account of the births and early lives of Mary and Jesus
  8. ^ Jarus, Owen (February 3, 2015). "Newfound 'Gospel of the Lots of Mary' Discovered in Ancient Text". Live Science. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  9. ^ Pan. Haer. 28.5.1., I 317.10
  10. ^ Jones, A new and full method of settling the canonical authority of the New Testament
  11. ^ Augustine, Contra Adversarium Legis et Prophetarum, 2.3.14.
  12. ^ Ariel Sabar. "The Unbelievable Tale of Jesus's Wife". The Atlantic. Retrieved June 18, 2016.
  13. ^ Bernhard, Andrew (October 11, 2012). "How The Gospel of Jesus's Wife Might Have Been Forged" (PDF). gospels.net. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 5, 2016. Retrieved June 11, 2017.

References edit

External links edit