Dr Taylor Marshall was an Episcopal priest who is now a member of the Catholic Church. He blogs at Canterbury Tales and I find myself linking to his site often. Today, he asks: Are the Four Gospels Historically Verifiable? (Arguments in Favor):
Some claim that the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are not historical or are later documents not actually written by St Matthew, St Mark, St Luke, and St John.
Here are some quick facts demonstrating the historicity of the Four Gospels:
- The Didache (written between AD 70 and 100 quotes the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. It also refers to the “gospels” (plural) revealing that there already more than one.
- Saint Clement (the fourth pope circa AD 96) in his epistle to the Corinthians contains ten quotations from both Matthew and Mark.
- The Epistle of St Barnabas (circa 90-130) quotes Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
- St Ignatius of Antioch (d. AD 108) quotes Matthew, Luke, and John.
- Papias (circa AD 120) spoke of all four Gospels and said that Matthew first wrote the words and acts of Christ in the Hebrew language which was later translated into Greek.
- St Justin Martyr knew all four Gospels and refers frequently to Luke.
- Tertullian (ca. AD 200) spoke of the Gospels “of Matthew and John the Apostles and Mark and Luke the disciples of Apostles.”
There is literally no other literary work that has this much early testimony to support it. The writings of Cicero and Caesar do not even come close – to say nothing of Plato and especially Homer. The Gospels are the best attested historical documents known to mankind. The Gospels have more historical witness than even the Old Testament, which is rather amazing when you think of it.