Authorship of the Gospels

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jonthecatholic's picture
Authorship of the Gospels

It's been mentioned over and over on these forums that the gospels are anonymous and as such, we have no idea if we can trust what's in them. Here's a link which pieces together how Christians can say confidently that Mark wrote Mark, Luke wrote Luke, Matthew wrote Matthew and John wrote John and that these were written within the 1st century.

Anyway, if there's anything wrong with his reasoning which I failed to see, please tell me. He's got a lot more videos on this topic though.

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Sky Pilot's picture
All of the biblical stories

All of the biblical stories were written by a committee in the 680s-early 690s by a committee based in England. That is why they flow seamlessly from one to another and are consistent in their overall theme. That's not to say that there were not various manuscripts floating around but they were not the Bible as we now know it.

jonthecatholic's picture
What?!?!? We have records of

What?!?!? We have records of the early Christians quoting bible passages way before the 7th century. Either way, I’d like to see your source for this.

Sky Pilot's picture



What you don't have is an authentic Bible before the 7th Century.

jonthecatholic's picture
Do you mean that there was no

Do you mean that there was no Bible that was bound as one book before the 7th century? I can agree to that though I'll have to look at my sources. But you must remember that the Bible isn't a book, it's a collection of books. Are you saying none of the books existed before the 7th century in any form (i.e. scrolls)?

Sky Pilot's picture


"Are you saying none of the books existed before the 7th century in any form (i.e. scrolls)?"

I've always said that bits and pieces of the stories existed in written form at various times but they were never a comprehensive collection, that is, the Bible. The committee of story tellers. writers, and artists got together and produced three master copies in Latin. That was the original Bible. All others are derived from them. If you have ever read anything written by Jews then you would know that they didn't write the biblical stories even if they were the source for them. As an example, try reading the Talmud. If the Bible was written like that no one would ever read it. The English are the best story tellers, consider all of their literature. The Greeks and the Jews had nothing to do with writing the actual Bible. It is English literature that was written in Latin.

The reason it was written was because the Christians didn't have a comparable book to the Koran that Uthman's committee had written in the 640s. It was written to give the Christians an unified fairy tale. It teachs complete obedience and loyalty to the Boss, which is useful when fighting another horde of religious fantis who are invading your lands. The stories about genocides gave the preachers grounds for inciting the troops to likewise kill everyone they came across if their leaders told them to do it.

There are claims about earlier Bibles but no one has ever produced a legitimate one from an earlier time period. And when you consider that almost no one knows what the real Ten Commandments are it is easy to understand why people are so gullible about the history of their favorite ethnocentric Middle Eastern Jewish religious fairy tale.

David Killens's picture
When any "book" is compiled,

When any "book" is compiled, some documents are used, and some documents are ignored, even destroyed. For the people/committees doing this task, they had an agenda. Who knows, maybe this jesus character consorted with prostitutes and had children. But when the bibles were compiled, that little dirty secret was counter to the agenda of the compilers, and destroyed.

We will never know the truth, because in ever sense, it was lost in the past.

jonthecatholic's picture
I can't actually deny your

I can't actually deny your claim as it could quite possibly be the case. However, if one copyist in England removed, destroyed, ignored some material in his compilation, you'd expect another copyist in Germany to remove, destroy, ignore, other parts of their compilation. And another copyist in another part of England to do the same. With so many copyists removing different parts, ignoring different parts, what you expect to see is thousands of different versions of what the local churches would call the Bible.

What we have today is a finite number of different translations which still contain the same books and verses. Even protestant Bibles used to have the deuterocanon in them.

arakish's picture
JoC: "I can't actually deny

JoC: "I can't actually deny your claim as it could quite possibly be the case."

Just possibly? Just possibly? Especially when there are documents that prove that is exactly the case of what the Catholics did? In the 16th century, the Catholics chose some documents and destroyed the rest. Then they hunted down any other copies and destroyed those documents, sometimes even killing the persons for having those copies.

Boy, you need to do some serious research. Get out of that country you are in and go visit the other places researching live in person. I did it for 39 years. You are an engineer. You should have enough money to take vacations and do some actual live research. Get hell away from the pastors of your church. You already know the answer they are going to give you: Lies, Lies, More Lies, and More Lies. The only way you can find the actual true truth is to research. And I don't mean the religitard websites either.

Quit being so damned closed-minded, blinded by blinders, and self-deluded.

And there are thousands of different copies of the Bible. You just ain't done any actual research.


jonthecatholic's picture
What? What internet memes

What? What internet memes gave you all the ideas you're spewing out? I can honestly say I've run out of respect for you. And why on earth are you focusing on my being an engineer and somehow saying I should have enough money to take a vacation and do some live research? It sounds to me though you've resorted to ad hominem and I won't engage.

arakish's picture
@ JoC

@ JoC

Not ad hominem. Just an observance. You seem to be lacking in huge amounts of the actual history of your religion. How it was re-written and re-written and re-written and re-written so many damned times there is very little truth left in the Bible. Why did the church work so damned hard to wipe out all those other documents that portrayed your precious Heysoos as a normal, but perhaps wise, man? Why did the church consider it so damned heretical to include all the texts? Why cannot the church just reconcile the fact that everything written in the New Testament is NOT contemporary with the crucifixion of its supposed hero? Why cannot the church just admit that the entire Bible is just a book of literature and nothing more?

I know why. Then they would lose all the power they have to rape as much money from the people in order to keep themselves in complete roles as totalitarian tyrants.

"What internet memes gave you all the ideas you're spewing out?"

What the fucking god damn hell are you talking about? Reading the way your turds float and sink in the toilet? And as for respect, I do not even give shit what you think. And that is due to the reason that your have deluded your self with those Religious Absolutism beliefs. Remember the list of how to determine if a person is a Religious Absolutist? Here is the one item you always commit in every post you make:

They LIE by being absolute in their statements (either I believe your beliefs or I am worthless scum).

There are 13 or 14 or 15 of these. This is just the one you are guilty of in every post. A very good example is this post.

What? What internet memes gave you all the ideas you're spewing out? I can honestly say I've run out of respect for you. And why on earth are you focusing on my being an engineer and somehow saying I should have enough money to take a vacation and do some live research? It sounds to me though you've resorted to ad hominem and I won't engage.

Your LIES are highlighted. And I focus on you taking some time to do some actual live research is due to the fact that you seem to not know which websites to search for the actual true truth. Religious sites are never going to post actual true OBJECTIVE HARD EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE that contradicts and disproves the lies of religion. Do some real research. Quit sitting at the dumbputer to do your research.

In my attempts to prove the veracity of the Bible by traveling all over the Levant, Egypt, and Europe, my live research actually led to the conclusion that the Abrahamic religions are all false. Very few of their dates of incidents are correct, very few of the locations they list do not, and never, existed. The very fact that the Hebrew (Jewish, Israelites) people did not exist until circa 800 BCE is a very damning fact that everything in the Old Testament is nothing more the plagiarism of FAR! older myths and legends re-written to fit their lies about the how the Hebrews came to exist. Then the Babylonians captured them and dragged them off circa 650 BCE to 400 BCE. Of course this explains the Talmud being written in both Babylonian and Akkadian.

There many, many, many, many, many, many other damning and contradicting and disproving OBJECTIVE HARD EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE if you just do the research.

Of course, the reason you would use is you get no time off from work, you live alone, thus your job and housework leaves you no time off to do anything else by eat and drink, defecate and urinate, and sleep.

Oh well. Stay deluded. At least I could recognize the contradictive and lies of the Bible when I was only 4 years old. And over 50 years of studying and reading and researching all religions only proves to me that this meme (since you think all my posts are nothing more than a hashing of memes) is absolutely true.

Micheal Sherlock: "Religion is not merely a tool to oppress the masses, it is a self perpetuating scam that leads the masses to oppress themselves."

I shall be the first to admit that I have gathered probably a couple thousand quotes from books I have read, WWW pages, journal papers, etc., etc. However, I guarantee my posts and taking a bunch of memes and hashing them. I am capable of thinking critically, using logical and deductive reasoning, and analytical and rational thought. Are you? (Not ad hominem, simply a question.)

Take some time off and just vegitate for a week or two. Then later take another vacation to do some actual true research. That is what I did the 18 years family was alive. First, we would have a vacation where all four of us would just go and have fun and vegitate for a couple of weeks. Then later on, my wife and I would travel to the Levant region (mostly with some other side trips) to some actual live true research into biblical history and veracity. Why can't you? Or is it you do not want to destroy your religious absolutism? Would rather stay self-deluded?

There. A lot more, from ONLY your viewpoint, horse hoowhee for you to disrespect me some more. And thanks by the way. Your disrespecting means I have hit a nerve and possibly planted a seed


David Killens's picture
Back then they did not have

Back then they did not have scanners and printers, every manuscript required a great amount of man-hours to make just one copy. So we must first ask, how many copies were floating around, and whether the people who did the copying did their own editing and revising?

Everyone involved in the chain of copying had an agenda, and they did not have any oversight at that time.

My point is that the validity of every document is questionable in it's validity and origin.

What makes you believe that if there were copies in Germany, England, and any other locations, they were not already corrupted?

And that begs the question on how much revision occured, for those in power and in charge of disseminating the story of jesus, they had the agenda of spreading a story that fit into their belief system and could be used to entice new followers.

History has shown that there was widespread destruction of documents, the best example, the burning of the Library of Alexandria. Just that one library was burned four times.

48 BC: Julius Caesar accidentally burns the library when he sets fire to his ships and the fire spreads from the docks.
272 AD (roughly): Several areas of Alexandria (including the Library) are damaged when Emperor Aurelian suppresses Queen Zenobia's revolt.
391 AD: Emperor Theodosius I makes paganism illegal. Anti-Arian riots take place, and destroy many religious objects.
642 AD: The Muslim army captures Alexandria. ~500 years later, several accounts of the invasion mention the destruction of the Library and/or some or all of its contents by the order of Caliph Omar.

I cannot state definitively that all documents were corrupted, but neither can it be proven that all documents were not corrupted. But for me, because there are many instances of library burnings and revisionism happening everywhere, I am of the opinion that what finally wound up in the bible does not reflect the original content of said documents.

jonthecatholic's picture
I get you. And that's a good

I get you. And that's a good point actually. It's been said that the number of variations in the NT exceed the number of words. Though this actually (oddly enough) gives us a better idea of the original. Taken collectively, you can actually compare all the manuscripts that we do have and collectively, we can get a better idea of what the original was. I can make an analogy.

Say a teacher wrote down instructions for a project for her students to copy. Her 20 students copy the instructions and each one adds a little something to clarify certain things. One student may underline one part which he thinks is more important. Another may add the deadline which the teacher failed to write down. Another may remove the last line of instructions as he doesn't write fast. Another might misspell certain words.

But when you take all the things they wrote down together, you'll see that all of them wrote roughly the same things. You'll notice the one student added the deadline which is absent in the other manuscripts so you get a hint that maybe that was a later addition. Or you see that all other students have the last line of instructions which one student failed to copy. So by comparing manuscripts to each other, we get a better idea of what the original documents said.

In fact, NT scholars do this and have reduced the total number of unresolved variants (of the texts) to just 40 lines. 40 lines in the whole NT. That means we have figured out what 99.5% of the NT actually says. The remaining 0.5% doesn't have any influence on any Christian doctrine.

David Killens's picture
JoC, your example had

JoC, your example had oversight and a controlled and tiny time frame. The history of christianity was one that quickly splintered in various sects within a century, and the authorship of the documents is more than questionable. Your comparison is not valid.

Your example would be more valid if the students were allowed forty years (grew up, had families, jobs) before they put pen to paper and submitted their conclusions. Notwithstanding the fact that in the case of the bible, the authors were questionable.


"Nor is there a single date when we can say that the canon of the New Testament was decided. In the first and second centuries after Christ, many, many writings and epistles were circulating among the Christians. Some of the churches were using books and letters in their services that were definitely spurious. Gradually the need to have a definite list of the inspired Scriptures became apparent. Heretical movements were rising, each one choosing its own selected Scriptures, including such documents as the Gospel of Thomas, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Apocalypse of Peter, and the Epistle of Barnabas."


jonthecatholic's picture
Actually, the analogy I drew

Actually, the analogy I drew was quite accurate. Take note, I'm not saying at all (in this thread) that the gospels record hard facts. All I'm asserting here is that the peolpe who wrote the gospels were in fact Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. A point was then made about the consistency of these documents through the copying process. So no, they need not grow up.

I will contend though that simply copying the instructions on a white board may be poor analogy given how that form of copying wasn't available to the early church. A more apt analogy would be that the teacher recited the instructions and the twenty students copied.

As to your second point, most of it is true. The canon of scriptures wasn't decided on until much later. For sure some writings which were not scripture were considered scripture by some in the early church. Though it was actually decided on. See: Synod of Hippo and Carthage. Both affirm the canon of the Old and New Testaments.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ JoC

@ JoC

All I'm asserting here is that the peolpe (sic) who wrote the gospels were in fact Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Then all you need is your evidence for that. Then I will gladly escort you to Oslo where you can claim your Nobel Prize for History.

The facts are that ALL the gospels and Epistles are anonymous. MOST scholars are agreed on that..yes, I said MOST as that is the way that even wikipedia describe it. They were ascribed authorship in the 2nd suit the agenda of the day.

The facts are that the synoptic gospels as used by the Pauline movement were changed dramatically sometime in the 1st century to include the Nativity. They were changed to exclude the adoptionist verses/words. The reliability of the gospels as a witness statement is zero without corroboration, and there is none for the magical happenings.

You can assert what you wish, believe what you wish but the facts deny your rationalisations.

jonthecatholic's picture
And that's just it. The works

And that's just it. The works were never anonymous. They may internally anonymous in that the documents themselves never say in the text who the authors are but they were never truly anonymous. Tertullian writing in 220AD had very strong words against a doctored version of Luke used by the heretic Marcion. He claimed that Marcion's gospel cannot be trusted because it was anonymous and then goes on to say that the gospels was handed over to them always had the names of the authors on them (NOT IN them). Kinda like how many authors of today don't mention their name in the text but their names appear outside the text (the cover page or spine).

This anonymous authorship theory was first proposed around the time of Augustine (400AD) by someone named Faustus. You will however, note that if we follow this criteria for all works of the ancient world, the books attributed to Hippocrates, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Varro and many more could not be attributed to them at all! The fact is, we know those people wrote those books,

"[B]ecause there is a succession of testimonies to the books from the time of Hippocrates to the present day, which makes it unreasonable either now or hereafter to have any doubt on the subject."

That's all we really need to attribute these works. Why make the exemption for the gospels?

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ JoC

@ JoC

Maybe so, but there is no evidence of their authorship. None. That a a 3rd century cleric ranted against a christian sect (marcionites) is only evidence of what I have been telling you all along. That that cleric says that the Marcionites text is 'anonymous' and it is text of 'Luke' that we know exists in 110CE (because that's when Marcion first became famous in History) is hilarious. It proves nothing except ALL the gospels are anonymous. Can you not see that?

The funny thing is you argue and argue and every time you quote a 2nd or 3rd century cleric you are reinforcing what I have always said to you, that you persistently denied.

That,s called Cognitive Dissonance and you appear to be suffering a very bad case of it! I am glad you are actually looking stuff up now JoC it is less if a chore debating with you....and the best bit you are proving every single point I have made to you....keep it up! We will make a thinker of you yet!

jonthecatholic's picture
Actually, based on this, and

Actually, based on this, and the fact that many of the early Christians had a hard time accepting Hebrews as scripture (Hebrews is really anonymous), means people back then took anonymous works as unreliable.

Why then is it that the first whiff we have of the gospels being anonymous is only in 400AD with Faustus? I will use the argument from silence on this as many heretics would've loved to point this out had the early gospel writers been anonymous. See Augustine's response to Faustus claim that the gospels were anonymous? Because if you stick to that belief, you would have to accept as well that the books of Hippocrates, the books of Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero are also anonymous and as such, we shouldn't consider them reliable at all.

Maybe doctors should throw away the Hippocratic Oath since it we have no idea who wrote it.

David Killens's picture


"Maybe doctors should throw away the Hippocratic Oath since it we have no idea who wrote it."


This is a very poor example of evasion JoC. We were discussing historical texts where the source is very relevant. Before one can accept a historical text, it must be proven to be accurate. To verify it's accuracy the author must be identified. The Hippocratic Oath is just a concept, and the originator is just a footnote. In fact that oath has changed over time and depending on the culture. For example, one part of the oath is "do no harm".

Who wrote "America the Beautiful"? Although the authors are worthy of recognition, it is the contents and music that is relevant.

jonthecatholic's picture
That's the idea though for

That's the idea though for the gospels. The most common form of the argument goes, "since it's anonymous, we can't trust what it says!" Which would be the same for Hippocrates' works including the Hippocratic Oath. Thing is, we don't distrust ancient works just because of anonymity although we trust them more if they weren't anonymous. Also, ancient works' authorship were usually externally attested to, which is why I bring up Hippocrates. And Aristotle. And Plato. And Cicero.

Just because the texts themselves do not say who wrote them does not mean they were always anonymous.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ JoC

@ JoC

The most common form of the argument goes, "since it's anonymous, we can't trust what it says!"

It is not something I subscribe to, nor do any historians that I know. The FACT is that the gospels are and were anonymous and were ascribed authorship well after their copying.
I do not trust what the gospels say because there is no contemporary third party corroboration for their accounts of the life and death , miraculous works and resurrection of their jesus. None. Not a thing.
I do not trust them because we know and have evidence of contradictions, text tampering, interpolations and downright fraud in their content.

Just because the texts themselves do not say who wrote them does not mean they were always anonymous.

At last a statement correct in its brevity.
True, at some point a person or persons unknown wrote the synoptic gospel of 'Mark', subsequently much of it was copied by persons unknown to suit their personal preferences and audiences.
At a much later point the authorship was ascribed to entirely unknown humans whose names appear as disciples in those same synoptic gospels.
So you are correct in the first instance the writer of 'Mark' (who was very definitely not the 'Mark" of the gospels) was a person. Someone knew him. We do not, therefore he is is and was 'anonymous'. Exactly the same applies to 'Luke' and 'Matthew.'

Do you get it yet?

As you seem to suffer from shoprt term memory problems here are the criteria once again to establish historical veracity or even probability.

Depending on the degree of importance of knowing the truth of something we make sure we are being told the truth by checking such things as: 
who is telling us this?
how do I know if I can trust them?
can their claims be confirmed somehow?
how do I know if this document is genuine?

jonthecatholic's picture
It's actually quite easy for

It's actually quite easy for you to claim simply that the gospels were given the names they bear today well after their copying. But this begs the question, who gave their names and why give names to just these 4 and allow Hebrews to remain anonymous? It also begs the question, why Mark and why Luke? It would most definitely make more sense to give them names like Peter and Paul.

Church tradition has Mark's account based on Peter's teachings and Luke's, being based on Paul, so ascribing the names Peter and Paul to the gospels would bolster their reputation in the church. The choice of Mark and Luke's choice of being the authors is very curious and is one that cannot be explained by them being given the names at a much later date.

I contend that the most simple explanation that explains all the facts we have now is that the traditional authorship makes the most sense.

Here's something else unaccounted for by your theory. Why then is it that there is no competing tradition as to the authorship of the gospels. Not one. At least with Hebrews (truly anonymous), we have several competing traditions, though we have no idea which of them wrote Hebrews.

arakish's picture
@ JoC

@ JoC

As for the Gospels, it is rather simple.

"How do we give these anonymous writings credence the masses will believe?"


Sheldon's picture
You seem determined to miss

You seem determined to miss the point, and ignore thefact that they are anonymous and your op claim is demonstrably false.

You can spin as many hypothetical quedtions about it as you like, the early church falsified the authorship to dishonestly pretend they were contemporary eyewitness accounts.

That aside and as I've stated already, if you a bible signed by Jesus himself it would not and cannot validate the claims in it. Only objective evidence can do that.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ JoC

@ JoC

It's actually quite easy for you to claim simply that the gospels were given the names they bear today well after their copying.

Actually it is not easy , it has taken decades of research and discussion with biblical scholars. Something you have not attempted. In fact it was my great friend, Fr Fagan, a Jesuit Priest who pointed out the gospels were all anonymous and that maybe I should research all the facts surrounding them. This was 35 years ago. He was a devout Catholic, an educated man, but did not wear vatican colored glasses. His opinions were deep and and he believed, but he was a lover of facts and history.

Nyarlathotep has already quoted the definitive Catholic papal opinion on the authorship of the gospels, I have already given you multiple sources as to the dates of all the gospels and their origins. Yet you persist in what could be, and was, considered heresy if you disagree with the Papal interpretation of history, I.e. who were the authors of the gospels. As has been stated- they are anonymous.

Claim your Nobel Prize, I will dust your ascent to the podium if you can produce one iota of proof of your claims.

Cognostic's picture
JoC: "The most common form

JoC: "The most common form of the argument goes, "since it's anonymous, we can't trust what it says!"

IT? There is no "IT." WTF are you on about. There are 3 synoptic gospels, the original MARK and two that were copied and expanded upon using MARK. Then you have LUKE, WTF is Luke. None of them match up or tell the same story and none of them match the teachings of Paul. Anonymous of not, the Gospels are a pile of shit. Why don't you try reading them sometime.

Sky Pilot's picture


"None of them match up or tell the same story and none of them match the teachings of Paul."

Why would they tell the same story when their topic sentences plainly state what their purposes are?

Matthew 1:1 (NKJV) = The Genealogy of Jesus Christ
1 The book of the genealogy[a] of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:

Mark 1:1 (NKJV) = John the Baptist Prepares the Way
1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Luke 1:1 (NKJV) = Dedication to Theophilus
1 Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which [a]have been fulfilled among us,

John 1:1 (NKJV) = The Eternal Word
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Each book focuses on a different aspect of the fairy tale. We might all be atheists but we discuss it differently. That's a good thing. Imagine if everyone said the same thing that Joe Blow says. It is a fairy tale, not instructions on how to build an intergalatic space ship.

Cognostic's picture
Each book gets the fairy tale

Each book gets the fairy tale wrong.

Sky Pilot's picture


"Each book gets the fairy tale wrong."

What do you mean by each book gets it wrong? Which book gets it right?

Cognostic's picture



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