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The Historicity of the Gospels
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Jesus Emerges from the Historical-Critical Fog — On the Catholic Campus
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Jerome D. Gilmartin – July 4, 2017
Catholic Religious Studies - 101
“Welcome to this Catholic university and to Religious Studies 101 – The Gospels. I know that Christians in this class have been taught that the Gospels were written by apostle-eyewitnesses Matthew and John, and by Mark (Peter) and Luke (Paul). But most biblical scholars today are not sure who wrote these Gospels. There are historical indications that Mark wrote what he heard Peter preach, but evidence within the Gospel calls that into question.[1] Whoever Mark may have been, most scholars believe Mark was the first Gospel written. Matthew, whoever he was, probably wrote next, using Mark as a source. Luke, whoever he was, wrote next using both previous Gospels as well as other sources. In addition to these Gospels, there is one more source we look to in our search for the historical Jesus. It is "Q," a hypothetical, never found list of sayings of Jesus. Later this semester we’ll consider The Gospel according to John, which was probably not written by John the apostle."[2] "But professor, didn't the apostle Matthew write his Gospel in the Hebrew dialect before leaving Jerusalem?" "Maybe," the professor replies, "but biblical scholars believe that whoever wrote the only Matthew we have, the Canonical Greek Matthew, probably used Mark as a source. The apostle Matthew would not have needed a source. For this and other reasons scholars believe Matthew was written later, anonymously. These four Gospels are part of the biblical canon and the Church calls upon all Catholics to accept them on faith. In this class, however, we will study them not from the standpoint of faith, but primarily using the Historical-Critical Method; specifically, the Markan priority, Two-Source Hypothesis.”
The unwarranted dominance of Markan priority and the Two-Source Hypothesis
Are the canonical Gospels historically authentic? If so, why do great numbers of college students lose their faith in the biblical Jesus? Although scholars had long studied biblical passages and tried to explain textual similarities, until the mid-19th century few Christians doubted that the Gospels were four independently written accounts of the extraordinary life and ministry of Jesus Christ, our Divine Lord and Savior written by eyewitness-apostles Matthew and John and “apostolic men” Mark (Peter) and Luke (Paul).
By the late 19th century, however, soon after the proclamation of papal infallibility in 1870, Protestant scripture scholars began to scrutinize the first three synoptic (same view) Gospels using the historical-critical method initiated by Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677). Pope Pius XII gave Catholic scholars permission to do so in 1943.[3]  Many hypotheses have since been proposed to account for the numerous instances in which identical or similar wording is found in two of the synoptic Gospels and sometimes in all three.
Despite serious unresolved difficulties, Markan priority – the theory that Mark wrote the first of the three synoptic Gospels and both of the other two evangelists used Mark as a source – is taught in most colleges and universities today. To account for non-Markan content in Matthew and Luke, most such scholars also posit a second source; a hypothetical collection of the sayings of Jesus called “Q” (German: Quelle; source). Q is problematic for several reasons: (a) Some scholars posit relatively few Q sayings while others posit many. And, as Brant Pitre points out, (b) No Q manuscript has ever been found, (c) No Early Church Father refers to it and (d) It is fraught with internal problems.[4]
Numerous examples of the same or similar text in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark indicate that one used the other as a source. Scholars differ on who wrote first. In defense of their “Mark wrote first” rather than a “Matthew wrote first” hypothesis, proponents of the Markan priority Two-Source (Mark + Q) Hypotheses ask: “Why would the apostle Matthew – certainly literate as a former tax collector and an eyewitness to almost everything Jesus said and did as Peter was – need to copy or paraphrase Mark’s account of what Peter preached?” The answer, according to many Markan priority proponents is that he would not. Therefore, according to this hypothesis, Matthew’s Gospel was probably written not by the apostle Matthew, but by some unknown later writer. Anything in Matthew that is not in Mark is therefore considered historically doubtful, most importantly Jesus initiating Petrine primacy in the one Church he was founding: “Thou art Peter and upon this Rock . . .” (Mt 16:18-19); the verses that affirm the “One flock . . . One Shepherd” words of Jesus (Jn 10:16) and which, 500 years later, remain problematic for our Christian brethren separated from the Catholic Church by the Reformation. Attempts to increase the credibility of non-Markan verses in Matthew and Luke by attributing them to Q are unhelpful since, as scholars acknowledge, Q is hypothetical.
In Dei Verbum and the Synoptic Gospels, Bernard Orchard, O.S.B. provided a sharp critique of Markan priority. He lists thirty books dealing with the weaknesses of Markan Two-Source hypotheses.[5] And Brant Pitre pointed out in 2016:
Finally, there are so many internal problems with the [Markan priority] Two-Source Theory that E. P. Sanders and Margaret Davies once concluded: “Of all the solutions, this one [The Two-Source Theory], which remains the dominant hypothesis, is least satisfactory. [6], [7]
In view of the resolute refusal of most scholars to reject Markan Two-Source priority despite all these unresolved difficulties and more, David L. Dungan referred to it as the Teflon[®] hypothesis. The Markan priority Two-Source Hypothesis (TSH) is now considered the “best working hypothesis“ in Protestant academia. Craig Evans, among the best-known Protestant Markan priority TSH proponents, did not attempt to identify the writers of the synoptic Gospels but did not rule out the possibility that Mark, at least, may have been written before the year 70 [8]
The Anonymous Gospels Markan priority Two-Source variant –  The “best working hypothesis” in most Catholic centers of higher learning
The doubt-inducing anonymous Gospel variant of the Markan priority Two-Source Hypothesis (TSH/AG for purposes of this paper) was introduced in Catholic centers of higher learning soon after Vatican II ended in 1965 and popularized by Sulpician priest Raymond E. Brown, S.S. (1928-1998) through his many books and lectures. Brown specifically, (1) cast doubt on the possibility that the apostle Matthew[9] (and apostle John[10] ) wrote a Gospel, (2) cast doubt on Mark as the hearer and writer of what Peter preached [11] and (3) cast doubt on Luke as the close companion of Paul and writer of Acts and the Gospel that bears his name.[12]
In 1912 the Pontifical Biblical Commission gave Catholic scholars permission to discuss the Markan priority Two-Document (Two-Source) Hypothesis in the context of Church Tradition, but forbid them to advocate this hypothesis, which Protestant biblical scholars had favored for decades. In 1943, in Divino Afflante Spiritu, Pope Pius XII granted Catholic biblical scholars that long-awaited permission, but stipulated that in that endeavor the scholar study not only Greek, but Hebrew and “diligently apply himself so as to acquire daily a greater facility in biblical as well as in other oriental languages . . .”[13]
The Pontifical Biblical Commission also encouraged the study of Semitic (Hebrew, Aramaic) composition in, “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church” (1993): “[T]he study of . . . the Semitic mode of composition allows for a better discernment of the literary structure of texts, which can only lead to a more adequate understanding of their message.”[14]
However – the requirement of Pope Pius XII and the encouragement of the Pontifical Biblical Commission notwithstanding – the biblical studies of many Catholic exegetes have proceeded primarily from the Greek, with only passing reference if any to Hebrew and Aramaic, and have generally affirmed the Markan priority anonymous Gospel variant of the Two-Source Hypothesis (TSH/AG), thereby casting doubt on everything in the synoptic Gospels.
Pope Pius XII died in 1958. Had he lived he would have been astonished in 1985 to read this assertion by then preeminent Catholic Markan priority Two-Source Hypothesis scholar Raymond E. Brown, S.S.:
no one of the evangelists was an eyewitness to the ministry of Jesus. Rather the evangelists were ‘second generation’ Christians…. [15]
And – discrediting Church Fathers Papias, Irenaeus, Origen, Augustine and Jerome –  Brown wrote:
[B]ut unless those writers [Church Fathers] had historical information they cannot answer historical questions. [16]
Brown was the author of 25 books promoting the doubt-inducing Markan priority TSH/AG. His 878-page Introduction to the New Testament was published in 1997, the year before his untimely death. He had served on the Pontifical Biblical Commission under Pope Paul VI (1972 – 1978) and was again appointed in 1996, two years prior to his death, by Pope John Paul II. And yet as early as 1975, Brown cast doubt on the primacy of Peter:
we [members of the Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue] did come to significant agreement that much of what is peculiar to Matthew in that Caesarea Philippi scene [“Thou art Peter and upon this Rock I will build my Church . . .”?] is probably post-resurrectional in origin. [17]
As noted below, in The Birth of the Synoptic Gospels (© 1987) French Hebraist abbé Jean Carmignac presented compelling evidence that the Canonical Greek Gospels Matthew, Mark, and some of the sources of Luke were translations from a Semitic language, probably Hebrew but possibly Aramaic; evidence developed in full accord with the Semitism-based study called for in Divino Afflante Spiritu and by the Pontifical Biblical Commission.  In An introduction to the New Testament Brown mentions “J. Carmignac” in a footnote, indicating he was aware that Carmignac’s conclusions strongly indicated early Semitic origin of Matthew, Mark, and some of the sources of Luke, almost certainly within the lifetime of those Gospel writers and thus almost certainly written personally by those evangelists. However, rather than attempting to directly refute such early Semitic origin – which discredits Markan priority in favor of Matthean priority – Brown arbitrarily differentiated between the apostle-eyewitness Matthew and, in his view, the later unknown “Matt” whom Brown asserts wrote the Gospel according to Matthew:   
Whether somewhere in the history of Matt’s sources something written in Semitic by Matthew, one of the Twelve, played a role we cannot know. (emphasis added).[18]   
Ignoring the many Semitisms evident in Matthew, Mark and sources used by Luke has enabled Brown and other exegetes to late-date these Gospels and assert that they are anonymous, and thus cast serious doubt on their historical authenticity. [19] 
In An Introduction to the New Testament, (pp. 109-111, including footnotes) Brown attempts to cast doubt on the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke as eyewitness accounts by claiming that the discrepancies within these Gospels are not consistent with eyewitness origin. [My responses to his questions are within brackets]. For example:
“How could eyewitness John (chap. 2) report the cleansing of the Temple at the beginning of the ministry and eyewitness Matthew (chap. 21) report the cleansing of the Temple at the end of the ministry? . . .” [Both Matthew and Mark report such a cleansing late in Jesus’ ministry. Could Jesus not have also done this early as John reported? With Jesus doing “more things than the books of the world could contain” (Jn 21:25), can we not excuse these three evangelists for noting only one such cleansing, though there may have been two?]. “Matt has a Sermon on the Mount and Luke has a similar Sermon on the Plain . . . .” [In his three-year ministry, is it improbable that Jesus gave similar sermons in different places?]. “Matt has the Lord’s Prayer taught in that sermon and Luke has it later on the road to Jerusalem . . . .” [Again, is repetition of this important instruction improbable?]. Mark 10:46 places the healing of the blind man after Jesus left Jericho, while Luke (18:35; 19:1) places it before Jesus entered Jericho . . . . ” [Here Mark seems to have copied Luke’s second-hand account almost verbatim. Peter, as an eyewitness, may have corrected Mark’s account noting that the miracle occurred as Jesus and the twelve were leaving Jericho and adding the beggar’s name, Bartimaeus, which Luke was apparently unaware of. If Mark was written first, as Brown believed, and Luke copied from Mark, why did Luke omit the name of the beggar while including, for example, the names Joanna and Susanna in another passage? (Lk 8:3)]. 
In fairness to Father Brown, the reader is referred to his book, An Introduction to the New Testament, pp. 109-111, for his full defense of assumptions that are foundational to the Markan priority TSH/AG as he promoted it in his books and lectures.
Friendship with Jesus now “Like clutching at thin air” – Faith “driven out of Catholic campuses.”
In 2002, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger noted that the Two-Source theory, a.k.a. the Markan-priority Two-Source Hypothesis, isaccepted today by almost everyone.”[20] Four years later, as Pope Benedict XVI, he wrote with deep concern:
As historical-critical scholarship advanced . . . the figure of Jesus — became increasingly obscured and blurred . . . All these attempts have produced a common result: the impression that we have very little certain knowledge of Jesus and that only at a late stage did faith in his divinity shape the image we have of him. This impression has by now penetrated deeply into the minds of Christian people at large. Intimate friendship with Jesus, on which everything depends, is in danger of clutching at thin air. [21]
Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, xii, 2006
Is it coincidental that it was the doubt-inducing Markan priority Two-Source anonymous Gospel variant that has been taught as the “best working hypothesis” in most Catholic colleges and universities since soon after the close of The Second Vatican Council in 1965?
As if to emphasize (then) Pope Benedict’s point, in “How can we save Catholic Higher Education?” Catholic Professor Wolfgang Grassl wrote as follows in 2014 about the Catholic education in the United states:
Faith has been, and continues to be, driven out of Catholic campuses . . . The few remaining [Catholic faculty members] are becoming lonely, increasingly isolated from the centers of influence, and sometimes even embattled . . . God has largely been driven out of the academic enterprise . . . too many Catholic universities are now Catholic in name only. [22]     
I have no data on the extent to which Catholic clergy leave their parishioners “clutching at thin air” in regard to Jesus. I can only hope that few Markan priority proponents are as candid with their parishioners as a former pastor of mine was with me. As I sat in his office a few decades ago I must have said something about Pope John PauI II. I wasn’t prepared for his response:
“The Pope may be Bishop of Rome, Jerry, but he has no authority outside Rome. There is no biblical basis for it.” “But Father,” I objected, “don’t we read in the Bible, ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church . . . .?’” “Yes, Jerry, that’s in Matthew,” he said, “but those words giving Peter primacy are not in Mark’s account of the same scene at Caesarea Philippi. So we have good reason to doubt that Jesus gave Peter primacy.”
Here is an excerpt from a message I received recently from a Catholic priest taught by Father Brown:
Dear Jerome,
I was taught the Historical-Critical Method in the seminary in the 1970's . . . [by] Fr. Raymond Brown. [H]e saw toward the end of his life how this method could destroy Catholic Faith in people rather than build it up. I saw seminarians lose their faith in my class when exposed to the unbridled use of this method. Many were converted to this method to heterodox teachings or beliefs. Others lost their faith and left the seminary. For me, and by God's grace, somewhere someone indicated that even if the Scriptures were not written by eye-witnesses to Christ, the oral tradition certainly came from them [and] it was the Risen Lord inspiring the written text and so Christ, the Risen Lord was completely active in this process. But it would be easy to be manipulated by the HCM to abandon the Catholic Faith in favor of some Ecumenical Church with loose doctrines or dogmas. The HCM calls into question not only the infancy narratives but also the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the Virgin Conception and birth not to mention miracles of Christ and his physical death and resurrection. It really opens old heresies already resolved by the Church. And Catholic exegetes who use this method simply make the same mistakes of liberal protestant scripture scholars of the late 1800's and early 1900's which radicalized many believing Protestants and pushed them to fundamentalism and literalism that actually began to be institutionalized in the 1920's . . . The Fathers of the Church can never be left out of the equation!
This good priest does not mention what doubt-inducing HCM hypothesis Brown was teaching in the 1970s when this priest was a seminarian. It may or may not have been based on what Brown wrote the following decade while advocating the anonymous Gospel Two-Source variant: “no one of the evangelists was an eyewitness to the ministry of Jesus. Rather the evangelists were ‘second generation’ Christians . . . .” [23] Clearly the TSH/AG – pursued essentially without the Semitism study called for by Pope Pius XII and the Pontifical Biblical Commission – has been a faith-undermining force in our seminaries, our colleges, our parishes and, indirectly, in virtually every Catholic home.
Although (then) Pope Benedict faulted the Markan priority Two-Source Hypothesis he supported historical-critical exegesis. As an alternative to the TSH he encouraged “canonical exegesis”:
Canonical exegesis’ – reading the individual texts of the Bible in the context of the whole – is an essential dimension of exegesis. It does not contradict historical-critical interpretation, but carries it forward in an organic way toward becoming theology in the proper sense.[24]
Surely many Catholic scholars who now teach the Markan priority TSH/AG view that Matthew, Mark and Luke are probably anonymous, and therefore subject to doubt, would welcome canonical exegesis. Doing so would allow them to confidently teach the historical reality of Christ and his biblical teachings in the context of the whole Bible. However, the TSH/AG arguments that the synoptic Gospels are of anonymous, second generation origin remain. Until they are resolved, faithful Catholic educators may find it difficult to accept canonical exegesis. As an alternative to the TSH/AG, the Matthean priority Two-Gospel Hypothesis (TGH) is faith-affirming, consistent with Catholic teaching and lends itself well to canonical exegesis.
The Vatican II document Dei Verbum § 19, affirming what the Church has always held, states:
Holy Mother Church has firmly and with absolute constancy maintained and continues to maintain, that the four Gospels just named, whose historicity she unhesitatingly affirms, faithfully hand on what Jesus, the Son of God, while he lived among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation, until the day he was taken up (Acts 1:1-2) . . . Whether they relied on their own memory and recollections or on the testimony of those who “from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word,” their purpose in writing was that we might know the “truth” concerning the things of which we have been informed (cf. Lk 1:2-4).    
In full accord with Dei Verbum, young Catholics have long been taught that the four Gospels really do faithfully hand on what Jesus, the Son of God, taught for our eternal salvation. Catholic Answers, EWTN and many other fine organizations and individual Catholics have embraced the New Evangelization endeavor. As noted, however, after Vatican II but contrary to it, many Catholic colleges and universities began to undermine that endeavor and severely test if not shatter the faith of students by casting doubt on the Gospels with the Markan priority TSH/AG taught as the “best working hypothesis.”
Matthean priority The faith-affirming Two-Gospel Hypothesis
In contrast to Markan priority, Matthean priority posits that the Gospel according to Matthew was the first written. Among Matthean priority proponents, some have posited the sequence Matthew / Mark / Luke; other more recent scholars Matthew / Luke / Mark. In this latter view the physician Luke, associate of Paul, wrote the second Gospel using Matthew as one of his sources. Mark, last of the three, used two Gospels, Matthew and Luke, (thus the name of this hypothesis) as sources in addition to the preaching of Peter and other sources Mark may have had. In contrast to the Markan priority Two-Source Hypothesis, the Matthean priority Two-Gospel Hypothesis does not posit Q, or any source of presumed, but never found, sayings of Jesus and is consistent with the view of the early Church that Matthew was the first Gospel written. This Matthew / Luke / Mark sequence is also consistent with the commentary of Clement of Alexandria (ca. 150-215): “[T]he Gospels containing the genealogies were written first . . .”[25]  The Two-Gospel Hypothesis is a further development of the Griesbach Hypothesis. It was introduced in its current form by William R. Farmer in 1964. In “The Present State of the Synoptic Problem,” after an analysis of five scholarly books Farmer wrote:
[T]here appears to be no longer any theoretical basis for the existence of ‘Q,’ and it appears that the old Streeterian [cf. B. F. Streeter] reasons for belief in Markan priority are no longer regarded as valid. None the less, most scholars continue to use the Two-Source Hypothesis as the "best working hypothesis." The reasons given for this vary. But the most recurring one is that all major alternatives appear to be fraught with even greater difficulties than those associated with the Two-Source Hypothesis. Among these difficulties the only one which appears to be so serious as to block a shift away from the Two-Source Hypothesis in the direction of its major rival, the Two-Gospel Hypothesis, is the difficulty in imagining how one can explain the omissions Mark has made from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke on the assumption that the author of Mark has derived his Gospel largely from those two earlier Gospels. (Italics added).[26]
As a non-exegete I defer to our biblical scholars for a definitive answer to that key question. Why would Mark, having Matthew and Luke at hand, have omitted important teachings of Christ found in those Gospels? Let me offer a few thoughts that may overcome the block noted by Farmer to acceptance of the Two-Gospel Hypothesis:
(1) Peter’s prudence in what he preached in Rome, with the knights (high government officials) of Claudius (41-54) and Nero (54-68) listening to his every word.[27] In the Caesarea Philippi pericope in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus says to his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answers, “You are the Christ . . . .” and Jesus gives him primacy among the apostles and in the Church he is founding: “Thou art Peter and upon this rock . . . I will give you the keys . . . whatever you bind . . . whatever you loose . . .” (Mt 16:13-19).  The absence in Mark’s Gospel of these words of Jesus giving Peter primacy (Mk 8:27-30) would be consistent with Peter’s prudence in not including them in his preaching in Rome, with Nero’s officials listening and alert to anything that might threaten Rome’s authority. But how, scholars ask, could Peter have failed to preach the Lord’s Prayer, which was at the heart of Jesus’ teaching? Surely Peter wanted to teach the Lord’s Prayer to his followers in Rome. But, with the Emperor’s “knights,” as Clement of Alexandria called them, ready to pounce, did Peter prudently delay teaching that perfect prayer – too long as it turned out – knowing that to preach “Thy kingdom come [a rival kingdom!]; Thy will be done . . . .”  [not that of Claudius / Nero!]; “Deliver us . . . .” [overthrow Claudius / Nero!] could well have brought an immediate end to his ministry – and his life? Mark first uses the word “kingdom” in his first chapter, possibly during Peter’s pre-Rome preaching: “the kingdom of God is at hand.” (Mk 1:15). Mark quotes Peter using the word “kingdom” seventeen more times in his preaching, but always in a way unlikely to prompt the Emperor’s officials to arrested him. Both Matthew (Mt 19:28) and Luke (22:29-30) relate the promise of Jesus that Peter and the other apostles would sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Silence in Mark on this matter is another example of Peter’s prudence in what he preached with the Emperor’s officials listening.  
(2) If Peter’s ministry in Rome had not ended abruptly with imprisonment and martyrdom under Nero about A.D. 67, he would have preached a more complete Gospel. As later noted, according to St. Clement of Alexandria (ca. A.D. 150 -215) Peter was still living and approved Mark’s Gospel before Mark promulgated it. Peter may have given that approval to Mark after Peter was arrested and during his brief imprisonment before being martyred by Nero.[28] In any event, Peter’s arrest would have cut short his preaching before he had time to preach a more complete Gospel.
Farmer suggests that the key difficulty preventing exegetes from accepting the Two-Gospel Hypothesis as the best solution to the synoptic problem is Mark’s failure to include in his Gospel important teachings of Jesus that Mark would have seen in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Clearly all such omissions, even of the Lord’s Prayer, can be explained by Peter’s prudence while preaching in the belly of the beast, by his abrupt arrest and martyrdom and by what may have been Mark’s intent to limit his Gospel to what Peter preached – especially if, as Clement of Alexandria noted, Peter was still living (and in prison?) when Mark “gave his Gospel to those who had requested it.”[29]
There is yet another argument for Matthew being written before Mark, perhaps the most compelling of all. Let us suppose – since those words giving primacy to Peter (“Thou art Peter and upon this rock . . .  I will give you the keys . . . .) (Mt 16:18-19) are not found in Mark’s account of the same pericope (Mk 8:27-30) – that whoever wrote Matthew falsely added them later. Imagine the surprise, more likely indignation of other apostles upon reading what we now refer to as Mt 16:18-19; certainly John, who heard Jesus at that moment near Caesarea Philippi and would have known Jesus did not give Peter primacy within the Church and over the other apostles. Would the response of John and the other living apostles have been to quietly accept this lie of the anonymous (according to the TSH/AG) “Matthew” subordinating them to Peter and Peter’s successors? No. They, certainly John, would have made the deception widely known and thus condemned Matthew’s entire Gospel to the dust bin of history. With such deception it would never have received the canonical approval of the early Church. A strong indication, then, that Matthew’s Gospel is authentic. As later noted we have the attestation of St. Clement of Alexandria (ca. A.D. 150 -215) that John did, in fact, approve the other Gospels before writing his own: “John, last of all, seeing that the plain facts had been clearly set forth in the Gospels, and being urged by his acquaintances, composed a spiritual Gospel under the divine inspiration of the Spirit.”[30]
 And if Jesus never established Petrine primacy as in Mt 16:13-19 consider the probable response of the Church at Corinth upon receiving, in an authenticated letter from St. Clement who was Bishop of Rome in about the year 96-98, these words of criticism, clearly from a superior to a subordinate:
“Our sin will not be small if we eject from the episcopate those who blamelessly and holily have offered its Sacrifices . . . For we see that in spite of their good service you have removed some from the ministry in which they served without blame.”
If Jesus had never established Petrine primacy I imagine the response by the Bishop of Corinth, although more graciously written, might have amounted to: “I might accept such criticism from John, now head of the Church in Antioch. He is an apostle. But what makes you think that you, Bishop of Rome, have authority over me, Bishop of Corinth?” Regardless of any response that may have been written, the existence of such a letter from St. Clement, Bishop of Rome and third successor of Peter, is consistent with Petrine primacy as indicated in Mt 16:13-19 and with its absence in Mk 8:27-30, probably because Peter prudently omitted it while preaching in Rome with the officials of the Emperor listening.    
The same historical reasoning strongly points to Matthew as writer of the first published Gospel and as the eyewitness-writer of the “Great Commission” uniquely of the eleven by the risen Jesus: “Now the eleven disciples [Judas Iscariot having killed himself] went to Galilee to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them . . . Go therefore and make disciples of all nations . . . .” (Mt 28:16-20). This, of course, is the biblical passage that most strongly supports the unique claim of the Catholic Church to apostolic succession given personally by the risen Jesus; the succession that was summarily rejected by Luther and the other Reformers in the 16th century.
Mark also provides an account of the Great Commission, again uniquely of the eleven. In Mark it is preceded by the appearance of Jesus, “to the eleven themselves as they sat at table,” apparently before Jesus directed them to the mountain Matthew referred to. Mark continued, “And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation . . . . ‘“ (Mk 16:14-20). Mark’s account of the details differs somewhat from that of Matthew, as we might expect with Mark writing what Peter preached. But note that nothing in Mark’s account threatens the authority of the Emperor. In Matthew, in contrast, The Great Commission begins: “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me, Go therefore . . . (Mt 28:18-19). One more indication, it seems to me, that Irenaeus and others were correct in that Matthew was the first Gospel written and that differences and apparent omissions such as this in Mark reflect Peter’s prudence in preaching in Rome with officials of the Emperor alert to any threat to the authority of Rome.
Our separated Christian brethren are to be commended for taking to heart Jesus’ command to, “Go make disciples of all nations . . . , ” often with far better results than their Catholic counterparts. But often they do so hearing, “The Great Commission is your commission,” but unaware of Mt 28:16 and Mk 16:14-15 in which Jesus gives that Commission only to the remaining eleven whom he taught intensively day and night throughout his three-year ministry – the predecessors of all later Catholic bishops and the successors of Peter whom they would, through time and with Christ’s continuing authority (Mt 28:20), elect to lead them and his Church.  
The Great Commission of these apostles by Jesus in both Gospels in the one Church he was founding is reflected three centuries later in the Nicene creed. The amplified form, approved one-half century later at the Council of Constantinople (381) includes, “And (I believe) in . . . one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church” (italics added). This statement is read in the Catholic Church, to which historically it directly applies. It is also common to all Eastern Churches separated from Rome and – Luther’s redefinition of apostolicity in the Reformation of the 16th century notwithstanding – to most Protestant denominations today.[31]     
Matthean priority is demonstrated most persuasively in One Gospel from Two: Mark’s use of Matthew and Luke (© 2002), the 426-page book by David B. Peabody, Allan J. McNicol and Lamar Cope; The Research Team of the International Institute for Gospel Studies.
Although these authors don’t address the question of who actually wrote Matthew and the other Gospels they provide a formidable defense of Matthew as the first Gospel written. They demonstrate at many levels and in many ways the secondary character of the Gospel according to Mark with respect to the Gospels of Matthew and of Luke (p. 1). They point out that nowhere in the ancient sources is there any evidence that Mark was the first synoptic Gospel written (p. 16) and that the Patristic evidence in all cases specifies Matthew as the first Gospel composed and John the last (p. 20).  They also note (in 2001) that Raymond E. Brown and other scholars continued to use arguments of B. F. Streeter, even though Streeter had been discredited and had purportedly altered whole phrases of Mark to make his conclusions appear convincing (pp. 5; 10).

The Matthean Priority Two-Gospel Hypothesis has earned peer recognition, as noted in The Synoptic Problem: Four Views, © 2016. In this book David B. Peabody defends the Matthean Priority Two-Gospel Hypothesis against the Markan Priority Two-Source Hypothesis and two other hypotheses, both Markan Priority.

In his book, Why Four Gospels?: The Historical Origins of the Gospels, (© 2001; 2010), after an 11-point overview of the patristic and historical evidence in support of Matthean priority author David A. Black concludes that Matthew was always “first in the minds of the early fathers” and that this evidence “utterly fails to support the priority of Mark at any point . . . How do Markan prioritists deal with this evidence?” [32] In the bibliography of this book Black lists 296 books and articles dealing with the synoptic problem, including the weaknesses of the Markan priority hypothesis.
The unwarranted dominance of Q – the speculative, never-found sayings of which vary with each individual speculator – prompted David L. Dungan to label Markan priority the “headless horseman who rises across the countryside every Halloween in the light of the full moon . . . .” [33]
The case for the Matthean priority Two-Gospel Hypothesis is concisely explained at: “Evidence to support the Two-Gospel Hypothesis.”[34] “The Synoptic Gospels Compared” is a three-column comparison of the content of Matthew, Mark and Luke.[35]
Dead Sea Scrolls Semitisms point to early Hebrew underpinnings of Matthew, Mark and sources of Luke – and to Matthean priority. 
Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (1947-56) arguments for Markan priority and against Matthean priority may have seemed persuasive. Until then scholars who studied Semitisms were quite familiar with the Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Mishnaic Hebrew that developed after the destruction of the Second Temple in the year 70; less so with the Hebrew of the middle period in which Christ lived and the Gospels were written. The Dead Sea scrolls enabled scholars to translate more precisely the Hebrew and Aramaic of the time of Christ.
As noted, in Divino Afflante Spiritu (1943) Pope Pius XII encouraged exegetes to become skilled in Semitic languages, (e.g., Hebrew and Aramaic) to better interpret Sacred Scripture. More than 900 Dead Sea Scrolls, most written in Hebrew, the first of which were discovered four years later. The many Semitisms found in the canonical Greek of the three synoptic Gospels have led many to conclude that these Gospels are largely faithful translations of documents originally written in Hebrew or Aramaic during the probable lifetimes of evangelists Matthew, Mark and Luke. Such evidence points strongly to these evangelists as the writers of these Gospels. We have no evidence of fraudulent authorship of these Gospels as we have with Paul regarding letters falsely attributed to him (2 Thes 2:1-3).
Catholic priest and Semitism scholar abbé Jean Carmignac (1914-1986) was the author of the book, The Birth of the Synoptic Gospels.[36] Highly skilled in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek after more than twenty years studying the Dead Sea Scrolls, he wrote as follows in regard to Mark:

We have here the literal, carbon copy or transparency of a translator attempting to respect, to the greatest extent possible, the Hebrew text which he had before him . . . The invisible soul was Semitic but the visible body was Greek.[37] (And later) . . . and the proofs for this are so numerous that they cannot be doubted.[38]
And Matthew:
Matthew is totally as Semitic as Mark . . . if it is acknowledged that Mark was previously in Hebrew, then there is no difficulty in admitting that Matthew was likewise in Hebrew.[39]
And Luke:
He has clearly composed his Gospel in Greek . . . in his Gospel we find the most unexpected Semitisms sprinkled about in the midst of turns of phrases of a most elegant Greek [probably because] he was working upon Semitic documents, translated very literally, which he inserted into his own redaction. [40]
Citing more than thirty other scholars who affirmed the Semitic (either Hebrew or Aramaic) origin of Matthew, Mark, or sources of Luke, Carmignac wrote:
The [synoptic] Gospels therefore have been redacted earlier than is customarily claimed. They are much closer to the events. They have a historical value of prime importance. They contain the witness of disciples who followed and listened to Jesus. [41]    
Carmignac offered the following rebuttal to scholars who rejected his analysis and instead attributed the Hebrew / Aramaic Semitisms in the canonical Greek to, (a) the mother tongue of, in their view, the anonymous writers or, (b) their tendency to imitate the apparent indications of Hebrew in the Septuagint, the Koine Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible done in about the third century before Christ:
1.    Carmignac divided those Semitisms into nine categories: Semitisms of borrowing, of imitation, of thought, of vocabulary, of syntax, of style, of composition, of transmission, of translation, with the added category of multiple semitisms; several mixed together.
2.    He defended unequivocally the Semitisms of the final three categories (composition, transmission, translation), each of which he explained at length.
3.    He continued: “But even in the first five categories . . . and especially the sixth (style), the abundance of evidence presented goes far beyond any possibility that the author [writer] was influenced by his mother tongue or by the prestige of a venerable text.” [42]
This finding by many Hebraist / Aramaist scholars that the canonical Greek Matthew was a translation of an original Semitic (Hebrew or Aramaic) Gospel is important. It is consistent with the report by Irenaeus that the apostle Matthew wrote his Gospel in the Hebrew dialect while Peter and Paul were still preaching in Rome, with Mark writing his Gospel later, after both “departed.”[43] It is consistent with the report of Irenaeus that Pantaenus found a copy of the Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew in India, apparently brought there earlier by the apostle Bartholomew.[44] It is consistent with David Alan Black’s article, “New Testament Semitisms,” In which he divides these many Semitisms into 21 categories.[45] It is consistent with the work of J. J. Griesbach, W. R. Farmer, B. Orchard, O.S.B and others.
In addition to the other arguments, Semitism-based scholarship now makes it abundantly clear that the faith-building Matthean priority Two-Gospel Hypothesis is the “best working hypothesis.” Can Catholic and other Christian educators now continue in good conscience to keep the doubt-inducing Markan-priority Two-Source Hypothesis on its tottering pedestal, mindful of what that choice may mean for the eternal salvation of each student?
The Apostle John: Writer of the fourth Gospel and guarantor of the authenticity of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke
The long life of the apostle John also adds to the confidence Catholics and other Christians should have, not only in his Gospel but also in the historical authenticity of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. It is well documented that the apostle John lived until almost the year 100. Most scholars believe that he wrote his Gospel about the year 96 or soon afterward, either during his exile to the Island of Patmos or soon after returning to Ephesus in Asia Minor. Some believe he fled to Ephesus in about the year 66 at about the time of the outbreak of the first Jewish war (A.D. 66 – 73) and for the next three decades, except for his brief exile on Patmos, supervised the spread of the Gospel throughout Asia Minor.[46]
In any case, as probably the last surviving apostle, John would surely have read the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Through Eusebius, St. Clement of Alexandria (ca. A.D. 150 -215) affirms this:
The Gospels containing the genealogies [Matthew and Luke] [Here, within his quotation of Clement’s statement, Eusebius adds, “he says”] were written first . . . Mark [wrote what Peter had proclaimed and] Having composed the Gospel, he gave it to those who had requested it. When Peter learned of this, he did not positively forbid it, but neither did he encourage it. John, last of all, seeing that the plain facts had been clearly set forth in the Gospels, and being urged by his acquaintances, composed a spiritual Gospel under the divine inspiration of the Spirit.[47]
Would John have been concerned that Matthew and Luke apparently had different sources for their conflicting infancy narratives, or that Matthew and Mark placed Jesus’ driving the money changers out of the Temple near the end of his ministry rather than soon after it began, as John did? If John observed that one or another of the other three evangelists had apparently copied or paraphrased text from another evangelist, but that what all had written was true, would he have objected, “seeing that the plain facts had been clearly set forth in [those] Gospels,” if they differed only in inconsequential details? Would John, whose own Gospel is not strictly chronological, have been concerned that the earlier evangelists’ accounts were to some extent structured logically or topically?
As an apostle who accompanied Jesus throughout his entire three-year ministry John would have quickly recognized, and made known in writing to the seven churches in Asia Minor and to the Bishop of Rome, any substantive deviation in Matthew, Mark and Luke from what Jesus actually said and did. Note John’s sharp criticism of Diotrephes for his “false words.” (3 John:9-10). We know that numerous “gospels” and other such early writings were rejected by those developing the Canon two centuries later. Given John’s preeminence in the Church, any substantive disapproval of the content of Matthew, Mark or Luke by him would have disqualified them for the Canon.
Translations or not, if, as virtually all biblical scholars agree, all three synoptic Gospels in Greek were completed by the year 96, we can be confident that they had John’s approval after his return from exile in the year 96, if not decades before, and thus can be relied upon as authentic accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus, our Divine Lord and Savior.[48]
It is important to note that the doubt-inducing Markan-priority Two-Source anonymous Gospel Hypothesis popularized by Raymond Brown, S.S. and widely taught today in Catholic colleges and universities, depends for its very existence on the three synoptic Gospels being written by anonymous second generation Christians, not by evangelists Matthew, Mark and Luke.
The flawed rationale for the “anonymous origin” of the Gospel according to John
In support of his Markan-priority Two-Source anonymous Gospel Hypothesis, Raymond Brown posited what we might call a second-generation pseudo-Matthew, pseudo-Mark and pseudo-Luke, which the underlying Semitisms and the above commentary have shown to be untenable. For the last Gospel, Brown also posited a pseudo-John. In his book, An Introduction to the New Testament, Brown wrote:
Was the Beloved Disciple the evangelist? That would be the impression given by Jn 21:20,24: “has written these things.” Could this, however, be a simplification by the redactor who added chap. 21, hardening the more accurate 19:35? [49] The passage [in Jn 19:35]: [“This testimony has been given by an eyewitness, and his testimony is true; he is telling what he knows to be true that you too may have faith.”] could mean that the Beloved Disciple was not the evangelist but a witness to Jesus and thus the source of tradition that has gone into the Fourth Gospel. The evangelist who wrote that passage could have been a follower or disciple of the Beloved Disciple (whom he describes in the third person) and not himself an eyewitness of the ministry. (Parenthesis and italics in the original; underline and bracketed text added)[50]
Brown suggests that “the Beloved Disciple was not [John] the evangelist . . . . ” But at the Last Supper a beloved disciple was “lying close to the breast of Jesus” (Jn 13:23). If, as Brown suggests this unknown “beloved disciple” who was so intimate with Jesus was not John the apostle, who was it? Whoever it was, Peter must have known him well; he asked that disciple who it was who would betray Jesus. A further question would be, is this a thirteenth disciple at the Last Supper? In both Matthew (Mt 26:20) and Mark (Mk 14:17) the “twelve disciples” are at the Last Supper. Luke identifies those at the Last Supper as “the apostles,” obviously the twelve. John is undeniably one of the twelve. It seems we must then conclude either, (a) The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke are wrong; there were thirteen disciples / apostles at the Last Supper, including John and this unknown “Beloved Disciple.” Or, (b) that Luke was wrong about twelve apostles attending but Matthew and Mark were correct in that twelve disciples attended; eleven apostle / disciples and the unknown “Beloved Disciple.” But we must then ask, “Which apostle was missing, and why do all four Gospels fail to mention this?“ Finally, there is a reference to the “Beloved Disciple” or “the disciple whom Jesus loved” in four separate pericopes in The Gospel according to John (Jn 13:23; 20:2; 21:7 and 21:20). To hypothesize this unknown, non-apostle “Beloved Disciple” instead of the apostle John in each of these instances in the ministry of Jesus takes us beyond any semblance of credibility.          
Manuel Miguens, O.F.M., S.T.D, S.S.D, taught at Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. from 1969 to 1975. As indicated, he held doctorate degrees in theology and scripture. He was skilled in four biblical languages (Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic and Syriac), as well as Latin, Spanish, English and four other languages. Miguens had this to say about Brown’s casting doubt on apostolic succession:

Brown's argument is affected (and infected) by constructions like likelihood, probability, almost certainly, plausibly, it would seem, seemingly, etc. This precaution and uncertainty in argumentation is in sharp contrast to the certainty with which he states his conclusions. Brown appears to be not nearly so certain of his arguments as he is about what he wants them to prove. [Parenthesis in the published article]. [51]

It seems we have similar speculation as Brown attempts to cast doubt on the apostle John as writer of The Gospel according to John:
“Was [he] the evangelist?” “impression given,“ “Could this, however,  be . . . a simplification?,” “could mean . . .,” “could have been . . .,” Jn 21:24 is “less accurate” than Jn 19:35,” “the redactor who added . . .,” 

Again, this precaution and uncertainty in argumentation is in sharp contrast to the certainty with which he asserts that, “no one of the evangelists was an eyewitness to the ministry of Jesus. Rather the evangelists were ‘second generation’ Christians….” The same subtle method could eviscerate even the Ten Commandments:
“Thou shalt not commit adultery; that would be the impression given by the sixth Commandment.” “Could the sixth commandment be less accurate than the ninth?” “Was the redactor who added the tenth Commandment influenced by the seventh?” “The eighth commandment could mean only that we are not to lie when under oath.”
In contrast to this flawed argumentation for an anonymous pseudo-John, we have the clear, well attested statements of Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria and others affirming John, the beloved apostle who was an eyewitness to the entire earthly ministry of Jesus, as the author of The Gospel according to John.
Markan priority casts doubt on the Resurrection of Jesus, which John affirmed unequivocally in the last two chapters of his Gospel. We find further emphatic affirmation of that Resurrection only about four decades later by Bishop Polycarp of Smyrna who, in his youth was a disciple of the apostle John. In his Letter to the Philippians Bishop Polycarp affirmed the Resurrection of Jesus five times.[52] Two decades later, facing martyrdom, Polycarp chose death rather than “blaspheme my king who has saved me.” But, to the spiritual detriment of students, such poignant extra-biblical history is outside the purview of the Markan priority Two-Source Hypothesis.
Some biblical scholars who posit Gospel anonymity claim that it was only later that the titles The Gospel according to Matthew . . . Mark . . . Luke . . . John were added to our earliest copies of those Gospels. But Brant Pitre refutes that claim. Citing the research of New Testament scholar Simon Gathercole, Pitre writes, “{N]o anonymous copies of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John have ever been found . . . All the ancient manuscripts – without exception, in every language – attribute the four Gospels to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.” After listing 27 examples of manuscript evidence of various papyri and codices from the 2nd to the 5th century, all specifically attributed to one or another of the four evangelists, Pitre notes, “According to the basic rules of textual criticism, then, if anything is original in the titles, it is the names of the authors.”[53]       
Given Brown’s long-standing commitment to the Markan priority Two-Source anonymous Gospel Hypothesis, I can understand his attempt to defend it. However, as Pope Emeritus Benedict made clear, in the last fifty years, as historical criticism advanced, the figure of Jesus became increasingly obscured and blurred, placing intimate friendship with Jesus in danger of “clutching at thin air.” As noted, during this time the Markan priority Two-Source anonymous Gospel Hypothesis championed by Brown was the predominant historical-critical hypothesis taught in most Catholic universities and colleges, and it remains so today.
Summary / Conclusion
For the first eighteen centuries of the Christian era, believers accepted the four Gospels as authentic accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. In the late 1800s, more than three centuries after the Reformation, however, Protestant biblical scholars began to embrace the Historical-Critical Method of biblical analysis. They concluded that The Gospel according to Mark, although written by someone else decades later, was the first and therefore the most authentic Gospel. The writer of Matthew was considered to be not the apostle but a later unknown writer. Doubt was cast on Matthew’s Gospel and that of Luke, especially where either was as odds with the text of Mark. In 1943 Pope Pius XII gave Catholics permission to study the canonical Greek Gospels using the historical-critical method, but with the stipulation that they do so after developing skill in Semitic languages, e.g., Hebrew and Aramaic. Unfortunately, the studies of most Catholic HCM scholars have instead proceeded from the Greek with little if any reference to a Semitic substrate. For more than a half-century a Markan priority Two-Source Hypothesis variant that regards the canonical Gospels as anonymous has been widely taught in Catholic centers of higher learning. This had been the case for more than four decades when, in 2006, Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “Intimate friendship with Jesus . . . is in danger of clutching at thin air.”   
As the priest taught by Markan prioritist Raymond Brown wrote, “[Fr. Raymond Brown] saw toward the end of his life how this method could destroy Catholic Faith in people rather than build it up.” In recent decades other scholars have developed a formidable case for Matthew, almost certainly the apostle, as the writer of The Gospel according to Matthew, the first Gospel, and an equally formidable case against Markan priority; so much so that David Dungan described Markan priority as the “headless horseman who rises across the countryside every Halloween in the light of the full moon . . . .”  
The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (1947-1956) greatly aided understanding of the Hebrew and Aramaic of the time of Jesus. Since then many Hebraist / Aramaist scholars have found compelling evidence for the Semitic underpinnings of the canonical Greek Gospels of Matthew and Mark and sources of Luke, thus dating these Gospels well within the probable lifetimes of those evangelists and therefore almost certainly written by them. As a result, they provide strong support for Matthew as the first Gospel written and as a probable source for Luke and Mark, and render Markan priority untenable.
The dark night of doubt-inducing Markan priority is over. In its place, instructors in Catholic colleges and universities now have a sound scholarly basis for teaching Matthean priority, in particular the faith-building Two-Gospel Hypothesis, as “the best working hypothesis.”   
In Matthean priority we now have Jesus “emerging from the historical-critical fog” in the synoptic Gospels. We also have a clear rationale for believing that the apostle John, the beloved disciple, was the writer of The Gospel according to John. 
Copyright 2017, Jerome D. Gilmartin. All rights reserved.
Jerome D. Gilmartin  

Jerome D. Gilmartin, author of The 7-Step Reason to be Catholic, 2nd Ed.: Science, the Bible and History point to Catholicism (Imprimatur), earned a B.S. Degree with majors in psychology and philosophy from the University of Scranton in 1959, followed by 30 graduate credits in psychology from Fordham University and an additional 3 from Cornell University. He has presented 7-Step apologetics / evangelization on Johnnette Benkovic’s “Women of Grace” program on EWTN TV, on Brian Patrick’s “Son Rise Morning Show” on EWTN Radio, on CTV – the TV station of the Scranton Diocese, at catechetical conferences, parishes, and other Catholic groups. His free audio evangelization aids, “Come to Mass with me!” and “Why be Catholic, Dad?” can be downloaded at, as well as “The 7 Step Reason to be Catholic” outline in 12 languages. He hosts “In love of Christ,” a program heard weekly on JMJ Catholic Radio in the Scranton Diocese.
A special word of thanks to French scholar Marie-Christine Ceruti-Cendrier, President of the Paris-based Association Jean Carmignac and author of the book Les Evangiles sont des reportages,[54]  (The Gospels were written by Reporters). Her book has not yet been translated into English. In the first edition of 7-Step Reason to be Catholic (2001), after a brief critique of R. E. Brown’s exegesis but unaware of the importance of Semitisms, I drew the analogy of a worker who uses a cutting torch to weaken a building for demolition and then says, “Look at this building standing straight and tall; what harm have I done?” In the second edition (2008), thanks to information provided by Marie-Christine Ceruti-Cendrier, Semitisms are important in the critique of Markan priority as presented by R. E. Brown and others.   
Thanks as well to The Sulpicians, Province of the U.S., Baltimore, for their kind permission to quote Fr. Raymond E.  Brown, S.S.; to Dr. David A. Black for his 21 categories of Semitisms and permission to quote from his book, Why Four Gospels?”; and to Dr. David B. Peabody and Dr. Allan J. McNicol, co-authors (with Dr. Lamar Cope) of One Gospel from Two: Mark’s use of Matthew and Luke, for permission to reference their book. The second holder of the U.S. copyright for The Birth of the Synoptic Gospels sold the copyright in 2007; my effort to find the current copyright holder was unsuccessful; both publishers to whom I was referred responded that they did not own the copyright.
[1] An Introduction to the New Testament, 159.
[2] An Introduction to the New Testament, 368-371
[3] With the stipulations described on the following page.
[4] The Farrer Hypothesis, “Markan priority without Q” is outlined on the “Overview of Solutions” web site:
[6] The Case for Jesus, 97-98.
[7] Studying the Synoptic Gospels, 117, Sanders and Davies.
[9] An Introduction to the New Testament, 210-211.
[10] An Introduction to the New Testament, 368-371.
[11] An Introduction to the New Testament, 159-160.
[12] An Introduction to the New Testament, 268; 322-327.
[15] Biblical Exegesis and Church Doctrine, 14.
[16] Biblical Exegesis and Church Doctrine, 20.
[17] Biblical Reflections on Crises Facing the Church, 72.
[18]  An Introduction to the New Testament, 210, 211.
[19] As an extreme example, in The Five Gospels, Robert W. Funk, Roy W. Hoover and the Jesus Seminar (1993), cast doubt on the divinity, miracles and most of the words of Jesus quoted in the Gospels, as well as on his bodily Resurrection. 
[21] Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, xvi-xix (2007). [J.G. Clarification: Pope Emeritus Benedict did not specify the variant of the Two-Source Hypothesis that has almost reduced intimate friendship with Jesus to “clutching at thin air.” However, he can only be referring to the Markan priority TSH/AG as championed by R.E. Brown and widely taught in Catholic centers of higher education, since the predominant TSH variant in Protestantism does not explicitly reject the possibility that the apostle-eyewitness Matthew and “apostolic men” Luke and Mark wrote those Gospels.]
[22] > Volume 37 No 12 Spring / Summer 2014, 15. In choosing a college, Catholic parents and students may wish to consult The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College,    
[23] Biblical Exegesis and Church Doctrine, 14 (1985).
[24] Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, xix. Canonical exegesis was developed by American scholars and popularized by Brevard Childs. Childs described his canonical approach in his Biblical Theology in Crisis (1970). He applied it in Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (1979).
[25] Eusebius: Ecclesiastical History, Book VI. 14.
[27] Clement of Alexandria: “Peter . . . publicly preaching the Gospel at Rome in the presence of . . . Caesar’s knights . . . . ”
[28] Irenaeus wrote: “After their departure [apparently after the death of Peter and Paul] Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter.” (Against Heresies, 3.1.1). This is not inconsistent with Mark having received Peter’s permission to publish his Gospel while Peter was imprisoned, though soon to be martyred by Nero, then publishing it after Peter’s death.
[29] Eusebius: Ecclesiastical History, Book VI. 14.
[30] Eusebius: Ecclesiastical History, Book VI. 14.
[31]  Luther attempted to reclaim apostolicity for Protestantism by defining an apostle as, “one who brings God’s word.” This claim becomes problematic when “God’s word,” for reformers in the 16th century and later, contradicts “God’s word” as taught since the time of Christ by the apostles and their consecrated successor bishops. For example,” “The Eucharist IS the body and blood of Christ,” vs. “The Eucharist IS NOT the body and blood of Christ.” Such a “reformed” entity, even if still called a church, would no longer be “One.”       
[32] Kindle Location 661.
[33] A History of the Synoptic Problem, 389-390.
[36] Original published in French: La Naissance Des Évangiles Synoptiques.  
[37] The Birth of the Synoptic Gospels, 2-3.
[38] The Birth of the Synoptic Gospels, 44.
[39] The Birth of the Synoptic Gospels, 5.
[40] The Birth of the Synoptic Gospels, 5, 6.
[41] The Birth of the Synoptic Gospels; Carmignac’s signed message summarizing his work; back cover; paperback (1987). After noting in his book that he was influenced by 19th century German exegetes (p. 45), Carmignac speculated that Mark was the first of the synoptics written (p. 43). Later, however, in #19 of his “Response to Criticisms” of his book, Carmignac acknowledged that according to Irenaeus the apostle Matthew wrote before Mark: “Irenaeus place[d] the composition of Marc after the death of Peter and Paul, so shortly before 70 . . . [but] St. Irenaeus . . . determines the composition [of Matthew’s Gospel] before the death of the two apostles” (Against Heresies, 3.1.1; cited by Eusebius of Caesarea). Carmignac ends this response with, “Must we remind Grelot that these are the theories that must adapt to the sources, not the reverse?” This seems to suggest that Carmignac calls both himself and Grelot to adapt their differing theories to the Matthean priority view of Irenaeus. In context however, in the English translation at least, this is unclear. “Responses to Criticism” is not included in the English translation of Carmignac’s book The Birth of the Synoptic Gospels. For an English translation of Carmignac’s “Responses to Criticism,” contact
[42] The Birth of the Synoptic Gospels, 40.
[43] Against Heresies, 3.1.1; cited by Eusebius of Caesarea. If “departed” is an accurate translation and Irenaeus meant “died” this is at odds with the later writing of Clement of Alexander, who wrote that Peter became aware of the Gospel Mark was promulgating and “did not forbid it.” (footnote 47).
[44] Eusebius, History of the Church, 5. 10.
[45] Black’s article was published in The Bible Translator, 39/2 [April 1988], pp. 215-223. Black’s 21 categories of Semitisms were included in the online article “The Semitic style of the New Testament,” by Michael D. Marlowe
[47] Eusebius: Ecclesiastical History, Book VI. 14.
[48] Brown expressed his own doubt that the apostle John was the writer of The Gospel according to John. That doubt is addressed later in this paper.
[49] An Introduction to the New Testament, 369.
[50] An Introduction to the New Testament, 369.
[51] Triumph magazine, April, 1972. Published from 1965 to 1975 by L. Brent Bozell, former Senior Editor of National Review and author of Conscience of a Conservative.
[53] The Case for Jesus, 15-17.
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