Gospels in the New Testament – faction or unity?
This is not going to be a long article. There are simple, yet effective ways of judging whether the different gospels in the New Testament were the result of “matthean community”, or “markan community”, or “lukan community, or “johnannine community”? Was the church divided into such communities because they had limited access to the text, or some simply preferred one or the other of the gospels? Or perhaps, some church were founded by them, and followed only their tradition?
===Unity in the Gospel===
Although different gospels have a different theme and a different perspective of describing Christ, the unity they share is remarkable, especially when considering they were written by different authors. The minute differences pinpointed by nitpicking scholars can be convincingly explained by the right hands. Those who nitpick insignificant, minute differences often propose questions, not solutions. The only solutions they can come up with, are theories such as the Q source that cannot be archaeologically supported, and can only barely be historically supported indirectly, which means there is still no direct evidence of such source, only conjecture.
There is no text so diversified, runs across such a wide range of different era, been written by so many authors, and still can keep its integrity on its theme and unity. This in itself is already a miracle that cannot be satisfactorily explained by science.
The most direct evidence, is, of course, extra-biblical literature. The most ancient extra-biblical writings are the writings of the Christian Church Fathers. They are usually divided in three periods: apostolic fathers, ante-nicene fathers, nicene fathers and post-nicene fathers. The era of the church fathers is usually considered to end around 700 A.D. The apostolic fathers are the most ancient, lived and worked with the apostles, and succeeded their work. They’re the most representative of the beliefs and traditions of the apostolic church besides the Bible. The most representative of them are people like Clement of Rome and Polycarp, etc. Ante-nicene fathers are the church fathers who lived before the Council of Nicaea with the doctrine of Trinity fully set in place. They’re the second most ancient Christian extra-biblical sources we have. The most famous examples of these fathers are Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandrian, Origen, Tertullian, etc. The nicene fathers are of course the fathers during the time of the war on theism, with the doctrine of Trinity being the final winner. Representative of these fathers are famous ones like Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, etc. Post-nicene fathers write their documents with fully established theism. The most representative of the post-nicene fathers is Augustine.
For the study on whether the Christian communities were divided into different traditions such as markan community or lukan community, one can simply go through the writings of the apostolic fathers and restore what the church was like during their time. Fact is, there has been research on whether the apostolic fathers followed one apostle more than the other, but such research had fruitless results. Instead of showing their bias toward any of the apostles or gospels, they simply referred to the books of the New Testament as if they were one text. The writings of the apostolic fathers showed what they discussed was representative of the tradition of all the churches, and not just any region. Faith was unified, as were the regarded gospels considered as one.
This is a simple note on the theology of theological remarks of “markan community” or “johannine community” and attempt to divide them and regard them separately in their theological interpretations. Such a method is not attested by the direct successors of apostles, and has absolutely no historical evidence at all. They’re just conjecture made by modern scholarship simply because one author has one writing style and the other author has another writing style, and they were trying to express different things in their writings. The scholars use such minute differences to divide them into factions and sometimes consider them incompatible with each other.
Imagine this: if you and I were to go through the same event, and write down what happened, the key points you and I make will be different, as will our writings be of different styles. Such differences do not suggest that we were promoting our readers to make cliques and divide into factions of the same thing that we record. We are simply recording it in our own ways, trying to express to the same readers the same event.
Diving the Bible into different communities according to different styles of the gospels is non-sense and total ignorance on historical criticism.Written on December 4, 2017 at 4:53 pm