The core witnesses of the Christian faith are the Gospels. The early Church recognized Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as the authoritative sources on the life of Jesus, for they represented the earliest works growing out of oral tradition. The impact of that spoken tradition is addressed in the "Dating of the Synoptics" and in studies relating to the Passion-Resurrection narrative and the "Q" source.
Most scholars agree the evangelist Mark wrote the first document concerning the life and death of Jesus from Nazareth at the beginning of the post-apostolic era (early 70's CE). He penned his narrative in response to the radical changes the Church underwent at the close of the apostolic-era. A set of small, communities began to lose a generation of eye witnesses. The Christian movement shifted from the countryside to the cities. And, along with that change, the number of Gentile converts overwhelmed the movement's Jewish core and the use of eastern Mediterranean's Koine Greek overtook the Aramaic of Palestine. Finally, the defeat of the uprising in the Great Jewish War and the destruction of Jerusalem by Roman forces reverberated throughout the Empire, causing many to believe they lived in the end times. In other words, Mark created his gospel to preserve the memories of eye witnesses and to present the Good News to a world still reeling from radical changes.
I briefly comment on Mark's gospel, concentrating on how he structured his work. I linked studies on various Marcan passages to my thoughts in word-sunday.com. However, because of the importance chapter thirteen of Mark had on the discussion of the gospel's dating, I did include a filled out commentary on that eschatological passage.
Representing almost twenty seven percent of the New Testament, Luke-Acts stood as a monumental work that testified to the life of Jesus and the activity of the early Church. Written in two parts, it encompassed early witness through the inclusions of Mark, the "Q" source (Gospel), oral tradition and even personal testimony (Acts). The evangelist we call Luke wrote in a elegant, flowing style, unlike the clunkier styles of Mark and John.
Scholars split on the dating of Luke-Acts due to the abrupt way the evangelist ended his work on the early Church's history. As I explained in "Dating the Synoptics," I do not believe the lack of mentioning later historical events interfered with later dating. And, while Luke employed Mark as a source, he cooled to the end times fervor found in other New Testament books such as the second letter to the Thessalonians and Revelation. Hence, I support the latter date theory of the early 80's CE, more likely the mid 90's to the early 100's CE.
Because of the centrality Luke's editing has to the controversy over the existence of the "Q" source, I developed a far more extensive commentary to the physician's gospel than that of Mark. Yet, I did link various passages to my commentaries in word-sunday.com.
Matthew and John (TBA)
I decided to take a break from the development of these materials in order to upload what I had produced. I intend to tackle these gospels next.