Monday, April 22, 2013

Canon in D Bible. Get it? Like "canon in the Bible"?

You might as well start playing this now. Enjoy.

            While we have been reading through the Gospel of Mark over the past few classes, you may have asked yourself why this book was chosen as part of the Canonical Gospels, which also includes Matthew, Luke, and John (Waterworth, 1848). There are many other gospels, or stories about the life of Jesus, that were written and considered for inclusion, but denied canon during the Council of Trent. These include the Gospels of Philip, Judas, Truth, and Perfection, to name a few (Koester, 1980). What makes the common four so important to be included in one of the most widely read sacred texts?
            The Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, are so called because they “see together,” or have the same point of view. They definitely live up to that name; many of the events recorded in one are shared by the others, such as John the Baptist, Jesus’s baptism, Jesus’s temptation, various healings and parables, Peter’s confession (and denial), Jesus’s transfiguration, and the plot to kill Jesus (“The Order,” n.d.). Many scholars affirm there existed what is referred to as the mysterious “Q source.” This document and the Gospel of Mark are considered to be the material from which the other Synoptic Gospels drew (Lührmann, 1989).

            The Augustinian hypothesis claims, however, that the Gospel of Matthew was the original source of material for the later Gospels of Mark and Luke. This hypothesis also claims that Luke borrowed material from Mark (Thomas, 2002). The Q source is completely ousted with this theory.

            Another theory that exists concerning the Synoptic Gospels is the Farrer hypothesis. This claims that Mark was written first followed by Matthew. Luke then borrowed from both of these (Farrer, 1955). With the shared styles and recorded events, this claim boasts much regard.

            Whichever theory may be correct – or, none of them may be correct – the Gospel of John still must be discussed. Why is this one different from the other three? The authorship of John has been long disputed. Its writing style and wordage bears much resemblance to the three epistles credited to John’s penmanship. Indeed, the first chapters of both the Gospel and 1st John share very similar wording about the manifestation of God as Jesus and calling Him the Word and the Light.
When I have read through the Gospels before, I felt a different undertone with John. John seemed to tell a more evangelical and proselytizing story. That is to say, it was a more awe-inspiring and persuasive one to me. It felt like John – or whoever the author was – was trying to convert me. Phrases such as “eternal life” are employed much more frequently. It’s also noteworthy that Jesus’s mother is never mentioned throughout the whole book.
The Gospel of John largely owes its inclusion in biblical canon to the work of Irenaeus. Irenaeus lived from 130 to 202 and was the disciple of Polycarp. Polycarp was a disciple of John (Richardson, 1953). So if John really was the author of his Gospel, it would make sense that Irenaeus would endorse it fervently. Another thing Irenaeus did fervently was fight Gnosticism, a school of thought that significantly downplayed Jesus’s divinity (“Irenaeus, Bishop,” n.d.). As I’ve already mentioned, John’s Gospel drives the idea home that Jesus is God is Jesus is God is Jesus. Of course, those Gnostics would hate this idea, and Irenaeus could use it to dissuade others from their heretical teaching. From then until today the Gospel of John has held a place in the Bible along with Matthew, Mark, and Luke. All four of them unite together to create an image of a man living in Israel who is followed by millions of people still today.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John... and the heart guy...

[electronic image of Planeteers uniting in power to summon the awesome Captain Planet]. Retrieved April 21, 2013, from:

Farrer, A. (1955). On Dispensing With Q. Studies in the Gospels: Essays in Memory of R. H. Lightfoot. Retrieved from

Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, Theologian. Retrieved from

[iSSerDc]. (2007, July 3). pachelbel's Canon in D--Soothing music(the best version) [video file]. Retrieved from

Koester, H. (1980). Apocryphal and Canonical Gospels. The Harvard Theological Review, 73(1/2), 105-130.

Lührmann, D. (1989). The Gospel of Mark and the Sayings Collection Q. Journal of Biblical Literature, 108(1), 51-71.

McOnroy (designer). (2007). The Two-source Hypothesis to the synoptic problem [electronic image]. Retrieved April 21, 2013, from:

McOnroy (designer). (2007). The Augustinian hypothesis solution to the Synoptic problem [electronic image]. Retrieved April 21, 2013, from:

McOnroy (designer). (2007). Farrer hypothesis solution of the synoptic problem [electronic image]. Retrieved April 21, 2013, from:

Richardson, C. (1953). Early Christian Fathers. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press.

The Order of the Triple Tradition in the Synoptic Gospels. Retrieved from

Thomas, R. (2002). Three views on the origins of the Synoptic Gospels. Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic & Professional.

Waterworth, J. (1848). Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent. London.

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