Bart Ehrman Identifies When the Gospels Got Their Names.

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    Nov 22, 2014 5:52 AM GMT
    Dr. Ehrman:

    Here is my hypothesis. I suggest that sometime after Justin, but before Irenaeus and the writing of the Muratorian Fragment, an edition of the four Gospels was published in Rome. This edition included the four Gospels that were most widely accepted and used in proto-orthodox circles. And in order to indicate which each of them was, the unknown compiler of this edition decided to call them by the names of apostolic authorities with whom they could each be associated. And so he indicated in his manuscript of the edition, that these were Gospels “according to Matthew,” “according to Mark,” “according to Luke,” and “according to John.”

    This edition of the Gospels became popular and influential in Rome as it was circulated and copied.



    Stephen:

    Justin at 150-160 but before Irenaeus 185, the gospels are named.

    And why should Rome care about a non-violent Messiah after the Jews revolted 115-117 Kitos War and 132-135 Bar Kokhba Revolt--of course, after 67-73, the Great Jewish Revolt? Why should they still be publishing gospels, in Rome?

    Answer: They did not want another revolt 20 years later. That's a reason why any Roman should entertain any literature about a Jewish Messiah: he was peaceful and his Son of Man kingdom free of Rome was still put down by his crucifixion. The Jewish God is going to deliver the Israelites, shaking Rome off their backs as if Rome were Egypt?

    If we had to fight the Nazis three times, not just once, I might be able to imagine the annoyance the Romans had with the Jewish rebels and their messiahs. Even after the gospels were written during the Flavian empire, Akiba calls Bar Kokhba the Jewish Messiah, a militant and violent one, at that.

    We all know and can know this is true because when the Romans returned from victory of the Bar Kokhba revolt, there was no celebration. What a nuisance the Jewish revolts had become in Rome's consciousness. Not a surprise, I, myself, would have liked to have read a revision of history, the gospels, that the Jews never became militant, there was no Great Revolt, there was no Kitos revolt, there was no Bar Kokhba revolt.

    Dr. Ehrman, it makes sense that the four gospels would reach polished form and be published in Rome, as opposed to being perfected in Phoenicia, or Antioch, Syria and published there. I don't believe the gospels are not to some degree war literature/propaganda. Just as we cannot see Captain America outside the context of WWII, Christianity in Antiquity has to be seen to some degree within the context of the three revolts.
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    Nov 22, 2014 3:20 PM GMT
    Dr. Ehrman saidDr. Ehrman:

    Here is my hypothesis. I suggest that sometime after Justin, but before Irenaeus and the writing of the Muratorian Fragment, an edition of the four Gospels was published in Rome.

    Stephen:

    Justin at 150-160 but before Irenaeus 185, the gospels are named.



    The gospels aren't written between 33 and, say, 40. There was no reason to write down the great sayings and wonderful accounts until 66 - 95? The Hellenists moved the Jesus movement out of Jerusalem 1) when they went back home after the Passover week when Jesus was crucified, 2) when they went back home after Pentecost, and 3) when they fled persecution when Stephen (king) was stoned. This community wrote nothing for their gatherings, let alone their memory? That's hard to accept.

    For three of the four gospels, these written accounts are not titled until 161-184? What would be interesting is how they were identified in the libraries of Rome, Syria, Alexandria, Edessa.

    You say the one gospel that seemed to have had a name was Mark because it opens: "The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. [NIV translation]" The original title of The Gospel According to Mark likely was "The Gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God."

    Somewhere I read that gospel has usage roots in the Roman military (good news about a military win). This would also connect the gospels to the military contexts, first with the Great Revolt, then the subsequent revolts.

    Writing and copying the gospels 66 - 95 was not an inexpensive, unsponsored undertaking. I'm sure the four collections of the sayings and accounts of Jesus had some sort of title that distinguished them from one another.

    I'm thinking it's not that "The Gospels Are Finally Named! (the title of Dr. Ehrman's blog post)" It's more of "The Sayings and Accounts of Jesus are Finally Renamed."
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    Nov 22, 2014 3:40 PM GMT
    A Reader Responds:

    I was thinking: if someone just made up the names of the Gospels, why go for Mark and Luke instead of going for the disciples themselves? I understand that Mark and Luke were associated with Peter and Paul, but still… Is it possible that there was an oral tradition among the Christian communities that indicated who told those stories before the anonymous authors wrote them?

    Thanks!
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    Nov 22, 2014 3:47 PM GMT
    Bart Ehrman:

    Why do we have no witness to the names of these Gospels before then, but at this point, in authors connected with Rome, we do have such a witness?


    Stephen:

    Probably because they were written by members of the Quindecimviri Sacris Faciundis which regulated Rome's foreign religions--Messianic Judaism would have been a Roman regulated foreign religion (Passover garments of the high priests were kept by Rome).

    In order that the gospels not appear to be the word coming down from Rome, they had to be renamed to characters associated more closely with Jesus.
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    Nov 22, 2014 3:55 PM GMT
    If you cannot track the writing of the gospels back to Paul or other Hellenists, you might have to credit the Romans for putting pen to paper about a Pacifist Non-Violent Messiah after Jews began to revolt, beginning 66 C.E. and whatever trouble was brewing slightly before then.
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    Nov 25, 2014 12:09 AM GMT
    Have you read the writings of David Sedaris?
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    Nov 25, 2014 1:35 AM GMT
    Koastal saidHave you read the writings of David Sedaris?


    Hi Koastal.

    I no longer have a sense of humor after this:

    Texas Textbooks Make Moses a Founding Father of the United States
    http://www.realjock.com/gayforums/3958648

    Historical accuracy is serious business.

    No, I googled David Sedaris and found he was a humorist.
    I also checked what he had on amazon.com.

    What's the point you or he would make about the OP?
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    Nov 25, 2014 1:35 AM GMT
    Really hope it's something valuable.
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    Nov 25, 2014 3:07 AM GMT
    StephenOABC saidReally hope it's something valuable.

    Actually, the Texas txtbook thing is very alarming. I fear for our youth. Don't you?

    I mention Sedaris because we recently saw him at Jones Center. He writes about the mysteries of plain everyday phenomena. Not unlike the 'writers' (mostly storytellers really) that lived around 100-300. How they wrote about their everyday phenomena you know. Which for some reason we remain obsessed with it. I don't know, I find more that I can relate to Sedaris' storytelling. Just resonates a little more w me. What about you? You seem really interested in old storytellers.