by Edip Yuksel

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What Gospel did Jesus preach?
"People have been reading the Bible for nearly two  thousand
years.  They  have  taken  it  literally,  figuratively,  or
symbolically. They have regarded it  as  divinely  dictated,
revealed,  or  inspired,  or  as a human creation. They have
acquired more copies of it than of any  other  book.  It  is
quoted  (and  misquoted)  more often than other books. It is
translated (and mistranslated) more than others as well.  It
is  called  a  great  work  of literature, the first work of
history. It is at the heart  of  Christianity  and  Judaism.
Ministers,  priests,  and  rabbis  preach it. Scholars spend
their lives studying and teaching  it  in  universities  and
seminaries. People read it, study it, admire it, disdain it,
write about it, argue about it,  and love  it.  People  have
lived  by  it  and died for it. And we do not know who wrote
it." (Who Wrote the Bible, R.  Elliott  Friedman,  Harper  &
Row, New York, 1989, p. 15).
The  New  Testament  consists  of four Gospels and 23 books.
Catholics add 7 more books to their Bible, which Protestants
consider  doubtful  (apocrypha).  So,  each sect accuses the
other with the following verses:
"... If any man shall add unto these things, God  shall  add
unto  him  the plagues that are written in this book: And if
any man shall take away from the words of the book  of  this
prophecy,  God  shall  take away his part out of the book of
life." (Rev 22:18-19).
Unfortunately, we do not have a Gospel according  to  Jesus.
The four Gospels are not word for word from God. The Gospels
were written decades after Jesus'  departure.  The  original
Gospel  was  transmitted  orally  for  about 30 or 40 years.
Years later Christian  scholars  and  priests  recorded  and
collected   those   narrations,   and  created  hundreds  of
manuscripts. There was an proliferation of Gospels. Thus  in
325  AD,  two thousand Church fathers gathered at the Nicene
Conference wanting to put an end to this chaotic  situation.
Finally,  they  limited them to four Gospels. The authorized
Gospels were called the Gospels of Matthew, Mark,  Luke  and
                                       The Gospel of Matthew
The  Gospel  ascribed to the disciple Matthew must have been
written in Hebrew or the Syriac  language,  because  Matthew
was  a  converted  Syrian  Jew.  However, the oldest copy of
Matthew is in Greek. We can easily find out that this Gospel
was not written by the disciple Matthew:
"And  as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named
Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said  unto
him,  Follow  me.  And he arose, and followed him." (Matthew
This verse points to the fact that there is a  third  person
besides  Jesus and Matthew and that person wrote the "Gospel
according to Matthew." J. B. Philips, an Anglican translator
of  the  Bible,  in  the  beginning of the Gospel of Matthew
acknowledges this fact:
"Early  tradition  ascribed  this  Gospel  to  the   apostle
Matthew,  but scholars nowadays almost all reject this view.
The author, whom we still can conveniently call Matthew, has
plainly  drawn  on the mysterious "Q", which may have been a
collection of oral traditions. He  has  used  Mark's  Gospel
freely, though he has rearranged the order of events and has
in several  instances  used  different  words  for  what  is
plainly the same story. The style is lucid, calm and "tidy".
Matthew writes with a certain  judiciousness  as  though  he
himself had carefully digested his material and is convinced
not only of its truth but of the divine  pattern  that  lies
behind  the  historic  facts."  (The Gospels, J. B. Philips,
Geoffrey Bless, London, Introduction).
The Gospel of Matthew, a digested copy of Mark  consists  of
28  chapters. It starts with listing the genealogy of Jesus,
trying to make David the prime ancestor  of  Jesus  so  that
Jesus  could  be the promised Messiah. The Holy Bible of the
Catholic Biblical Association in the introduction  has  good
information  on  the  history  and source of the Gospels. It
"Matthew's Gospel in its  present  form  was  written  in  a
Jewish  milieu,  probably after the destruction of Jerusalem
in 70 A.D. There are evidence  of  the  fulfillment  of  the
Mosaic  law  (1:19;  5:18),  and also references to violence
(21:38-41),  to  the  burning  of  a  city  (22:7),  and  to
punishment in the wake of  Jesus' death (27:25)...
"Matthew   is   obviously   an  expanded  version  of  Mark,
considered the first gospel form to  be  written.  Very  few
scholars hold that Mark is a condensed version of Matthew...
"Both  Matthew  and  Luke,  neither of whom can be proved to
have copied from the other, seem to have  had,  besides  the
Gospel of Mark, another source of some 240 verses which Mark
does not include. This source, not  found  but  deduced,  is
designated  simply  as  Q  from  Quelle, the German term for
"Current and more common opinion dates  the  composition  of
the  Gospel  of Matthew between 80-100 AD, or roughly 85 AD.
There is also the compelling evidence for the dependence  of
Matthew  on Mark: namely, the 600 of Mark's 661 verses found
in Matthew, as well as  the  relationship  of  language  and
order in these two gospels."
                                          The Gospel of Mark
Mark was not a disciple of Jesus. Christian scholars are not
sure about the author of  this  Gospel  either.  It  is  the
shortest  Gospel with 16 chapters and begins: "The beginning
of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." It  narrates
the  teachings  and  miracles  of  Jesus  in  a  very simple
language. It's narration of the events is clumsy. Christians
dispute the last part of Chapter 16. There are two different
endings  (16:8-16:20)  claimed  by  modern   editors.   Many
Christian   scholars   confess   that   these   verses   are
non-existent  in  the  original  manuscripts.  The  date  of
composition is around 70 AD.
The  Holy  Bible  of  the  Catholic  Biblical Association of
America claims that  "Modern  scholarship  has  shown  quite
clearly  that  Mark's  sources cannot be explained solely in
terms of Peter's preaching. On the basis of  manuscript  and
stylistic  evidence,  Mk  16:9-20  derives from a hand other
than Mark's."
                                          The Gospel of Luke
Luke was not a disciple either. He is known to be a follower
of Paul. His Gospel is supposed to have been written between
80-90 AD. The author  is  an  intellectual  person  and  his
literary skill is good. In the beginning of his Gospel, Luke
confesses that he had never seen Jesus.  Luke  is  also  the
author  of "The Acts". The Gospel of Luke, with 24 chapters,
mentions some important things that others do  not  mention;
nevertheless, Luke also uses the Gospel of Mark freely, like
the author of Matthew.
Because the first three Gospels are similar, they are called
Synoptic  Gospels.  The  number  of common sentences between
these three gospels are:
Between Matthew and Mark ............................... 178
Between Mark and Luke .................................. 100
Between Matthew and Luke ............................... 230
Among these three Gospels............................... 330
                                          The Gospel of John
Although the author of this Gospel is thought  to  be  John,
brother of the disciple Jacob, this is disputed by Christian
scholars. The identity of the real author is  unknown.  This
Gospel  is  very  different  from the other three Gospels in
style and in the kind of information it contains. It is  the
latest but least authentic of the Gospels.
The  Gospel  of  John  consists  of 21 chapters and the last
chapter is believed to have been added later.  Additionally,
the verses 8:1-11 are shown in parentheses, because they too
are believed to be additions. Some Christian scholars  claim
that there  are  signs  of some  disorder within the gospel;
e.g., there are two endings to Jesus' discourse at the  Last
Supper (14:37; 18:1).
Having looked at this brief information on the four gospels,
let's examine several verses about Jesus' preaching:
"And Jesus went about all the cities and villages,  teaching
in  their  synagogues,  and  preaching  the  gospel  of  the
kingdom, ..."  (Matthew 9:35)
"Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came into  Galilee,
preaching the  gospel  of  the  kingdom  of God, ..."  (Mark
"And it came to pass, that on  one  of  those  days,  as  he
taught  the  people  in the temple, and preached the gospel,
..."  (Luke 20:1)
Related Questions:
1.  Well, which gospel was Jesus preaching? Matthew? Mark?
    Luke? Or John? Or the gospels that were banned by
    the Nicene Council?
2.  The important portions of the official four gospels are
    about Jesus' life story. Was Jesus preaching his life
    story? Was he telling people about his ancestors,
    his birth, his miracles, his trips, his disciples, etc.?
3.  Where is the gospel of the kingdom of God?
    Where is the gospel according to Jesus?
4.  Why not eliminate the interpretations of Gospel writers
    and stick with the words uttered by Jesus himself?
5.  What do you think about Catholic's extra 7 books;
    are they apocrypha or books of the Bible?
    What does Rev 22:18-19 say about this issue?
(There was a cartoon here!)
This cartoon is from a free booklet: "This Was  Your  Life,"
published  by  Chick  Publications.  It is a good summary of
distortions in Christianity.

Moslem Questions on Christianity Edip Yuksel P.O. Box 43476, Tucson, AZ 85733-3476 U.S.A. Tel/Fax: (520) 323-7636

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