Front page: Jesus, a historical reconstruction (with website search function)
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Note: all emphases are mine.
1. General comments:
"In his own book Papias gives us accounts of the Lord sayings obtained directly from Aristion or learnt
direct from the presbyter John."
"And whenever anyone came who had been
[let's notice the past tense: the follower is alive then but the presbyters are likely deceased]
` a follower of the presbyters, I [Papias] inquired into the words of the presbyters, what Andrew or Peter had said, or Philip or Thomas or James or John or Matthew, or any other disciples of the Lord,
[Papias is getting third hand what the aforementioned disciples allegedly said]
` and what Aristion and the presbyter John, disciples of the Lord, were still saying. For I did not imagine that things out of books
[Papias knew of a "writing" by Mark, about the sayings & doings of Jesus]
` would help me as much as the utterances of a living and abiding voice."
The preference for "the utterances of a living and abiding voice", and also the anonymity of the (canonical) gospels, with their highly noticeable flaws & contradictions between them, would explain why they were not outrightly acknowledged soon after their publication.
"we did not follow
cunningly devised fables
we made known to you
the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty."
"cunningly devised fables"
likely refers to gospel material, because
next, Jesus' divinity is known only through
a voice from heaven,
and nothing else
(such as witnessed extraordinary feats!):
2Pe1:17-18 "For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain."
a) This is obviously extracted from the transfiguration story of the Synoptics. Let's notice the embellishments ("from God the Father", "Excellent Glory" & "holy mountain"), as compared with the gospels.
b) The alleged words of God are more similar to the ones in GMatthew than those in the other gospels:
Mt17:5b "... "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!""
Mk9:7b "... "This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!""
Lk9:35b "... "This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!""
In '1Timothy', fables and genealogies appear to be an issue among Christians:
1Ti1:4 "nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith."
GLuke and GMatthew have long genealogies of Jesus, which are totally different between David and Joseph (names and numbers) and were likely the ones causing disputes.
a) '2Peter' and '1Timothy' are dated 110-150 by most critical scholars.
b) Eusebius reported on the Christians being concerned by the two different genealogies:
'History of the Church', I, 7 "Matthew and Luke in their gospels have given us the genealogy of Christ differently, and many suppose that they are at variance with one another. Since as a consequence every believer, in ignorance of the truth, has been zealous to invent some explanation which shall harmonize the two passages ..."
c) The author of '1Timothy' appears also to have known GLuke:
1Ti5:18 "For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain [Dt25:4]," and, "The laborer is worthy of his wages [Lk10:7].""
Still later, Tatian (around 165) is on the
defensive when he wrote, in his 'Address
to the Greeks', chapter XXI:
"We do not act as fools, O Greeks, nor utter idle tales, when we announce that God was born in the form of a man. I call on you who reproach us to compare your mythical accounts with our narrations [likely a reference to the gospels then, canonical & uncanonical]."
But next, after exposing pagan beliefs:
"Athene, as they say, took the form of Deiphobus for the sake of Hector, and the unshorn Phoebus for the sake of Admetus fed the trailing-footed oxen, and the spouse us came as an old woman to Semele. But, while you treat seriously such things, how can you deride us? Your Asclepios died, and he who ravished fifty virgins in one night at Thespiae lost his life by delivering himself to the devouring flame. Prometheus, fastened to Caucasus, suffered punishment for his good deeds to men [as Christ!]. According to you, Zeus is envious, and hides the dream from men, wishing their destruction."
"Wherefore, looking at your own memorials, vouchsafe [condescend to grant] us your approval, though it were only as dealing in legends similar to your own. We, however, do not deal in folly, but your legends are only idle tales."
The message: you are not qualified to mock us about our own legend-like stories: you are believing in similar (or worst!) ones than ours!
Still later, Tertullian, in his Apology, dealt
with pagan criticism on stories showing up in the gospels:
Chapter XXI: "This ray of God, then, as it was always foretold in ancient times, descending into a certain virgin, and made flesh in her womb, is in His birth God and man united. The flesh formed by the Spirit is nourished, grows up to manhood, speaks, teaches, works, and is the Christ. Receive meanwhile this fable, --it is like some of your own--while we go on to show how Christ's claims are proved ..."
Chapter XXIII: "But at once they will say, Who is this Christ with his fables? is he an ordinary man? is he a sorcerer? was his body stolen by his disciples from its tomb? is he now in the realms below? or is he not rather up in the heavens, thence about to come again, making the whole world shake, filling the earth with dread alarms, making all but Christians wail ...? Mock as you like, ..."
For most of the 2nd century, these gospels were not always called 'gospel' (originally from the Greek "good news").
Let's note the same words were used extensively earlier on by Paul, but not as an alleged account of the earthly Jesus. Actually, the appellation "good news" for these Christian texts is rather odd, because they are only partially about happy claims. So it should not be surprising it took time for the name to be adopted. And the progression can be seen
- from Mark's gospel (70-71):
Mk1:1 "The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ."
- to the 'Didache' (93-96, except for later interpolations):
Ch.8 "And do not pray as the hypocrites, but as the Lord commanded in his gospel, pray thus: " [the Lord's prayer, very close to GMatthew version (6:9-13)] ..."
Ch.11 "But concerning the apostles and prophets, act according to the decree of the Gospel."
- to Aristides (124-129):
"And it is said that God came down from heaven, and from a Hebrew virgin assumed and clothed himself with flesh; and the Son of God lived in a daughter of man. This is taught in the gospel, as it is called, which a short time was preached among them; and you also if you will read therein ..."
- to the Ignatian epistle 'to the Smyrnaeans' (125-145):
5:1 "But certain persons ignorantly deny Him [Christ] ... and they have not been persuaded by the prophecies nor by the law of Moses, nay nor even to this very hour by the gospel ..."
7:2 "but should give heed to the Prophets, and especially to the gospel, wherein the passion is shown unto us and the resurrection is accomplished."
- to '2Clement' (140-160):
"For the Lord saith in the gospel, If ye kept not that which is little, who shall give unto you that which is great? [Lk16:10 (approximately)]"
- to Justin Martyr (150-160) (see quotes later)
When Christian writers started to use gospel quotes, no (or little) indication was given about their literary origin. That was the situation before the four gospels were declared to be sacred by the very prominent St. Irenaeus (bishop of Lyons, France) around 180:
Irenaeus, "Against Heresies", III, 11, 8:
"It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For, since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is scattered throughout all the world, and the "pillar and ground" of the Church is the Gospel and the spirit of life; it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and vivifying men afresh."
In the same chapter (also III, 1, 1), he introduced an author for each one of the four: Matthew, Luke, Mark and John.
Note: in Irenaeus' surviving works, the author of the 4th gospel and 'Revelation' is often called "John, the disciple of the Lord". However, this John is never specified as a son_of_Zebedee/fisherman/Galilean/one_of_the_twelve or even "apostle" (but Peter, Matthew & the twelve are). That will be done later by Origen (203-250C.E.):Irenaeus also gave plenty of identified quotes from each gospel.
Commentary on John, I, 14: "John, son of Zebedee, says in his Apocalypse: "And I saw an angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the Eternal Gospel, to preach it to those who dwell upon the earth ... [Rev14:6-7]"
Commentary on John, V, 3: "What are we to say of him who leaned on Jesus' breast, namely, John, who left one Gospel, though confessing that he could make so many that the world would not contain them? But he wrote also the Apocalypse, being commanded to be silent and not to write the voices of the seven thunders. But he also left an epistle of very few lines. Suppose also a second and a third, since not all pronounce these to be genuine; but the two together do not amount to a hundred lines."
Prior to that, from Eusebius 'History of Church', 3, 39, Papias (writing around 125) knew about a writing allegedly by Mark and supposedly commented upon by presbyter John (who died around 100-105?).
However "It was not, however, in exact order that he [Mark] related the sayings or deeds of Christ."
Why would Papias write that?
Most likely because he was addressing an on-going concern: in some cases, GMark order is conflicting with the one of other gospels, such as GLuke (see next). That would be causing disputes. Consequently, in order to solve the problem, Papias provided an explanation (allegedly) from presbyter John (dead by then!):
"And the presbyter said this. Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied Him. But afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who accommodated his instructions to the necessities, but with no intention of giving a regular narrative of the Lord's sayings."
With GLuke as the reference, whose author claimed:
"it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account ..." (1:3)
what would look out-of-order in GMark?
A) About doings:
a) The visit to Nazareth:
- GLuke (4:16-30): at the start of Jesus' public life
- GMark (6:1-6): much later
b) The anointment:
- GLuke (7:36-38): before the trip to Jerusalem
- GMark (14:3): in Bethany, after arriving in the holy city
B) About sayings:
a) Lk10:27 <=> Mk12:30-31a
b) Lk16:18 <=> Mk10:11-12
c) Lk17:2 <=> Mk9:42
d) Parts of the apocalyptic speech (GMark13:1-37) are placed somewhere else in GLuke:
Lk12:11-12 <=> Mk13:11
Lk17:31 <=> Mk13:15-16a
C) About relative location of sayings and doings:
In relation with the feeding of the 5000 (Lk9:10-17 & Mk6:30-44), the parable of the mustard seed appears after in GLuke (13:18-19), but before in GMark (4:30-32).
a) Papias reported also about sayings (oracles) compiled in Aramaic by "Matthew". Because those are sayings ("logias") only, I do not see here any relation with GMatthew, more so owing to "compiled" (rather than "composed"), as shown in most copies of Eusebius' work (HC). Furthermore, the fact that "Matthew" was attributed a collection of sayings (therefore emphasizing Jesus as a sage) is supported by the gospel of Thomas: logion 13 "... Matthew said to him, "You are like a wise philosopher."..."
Once again, it seems Papias was addressing concerns when he wrote:
"Matthew compiled the sayings in the Aramaic language, and everyone translated them as well as he could [explaining why the "logias" came in different versions!]."
(See here for more details, explaining the "Q" sayings might incorporate Matthew's logias)
b) Outside the gospels and 'Acts' Papias was the first one to mention Judas:
Irenaeus, 'Against Heresies', V, 33:
"And these things are bone witness to in writing by Papias, the hearer of John, and a companion of Polycarp, in his fourth book; for there were five books compiled by him. And he says in addition, "Now these things are credible to believers." And he says that, "when the traitor Judas did not give credit to them, and put the question, `How then can things [food products] about to bring forth so abundantly be wrought by the Lord? 'the Lord declared, `They who shall come to these [during the kingdom of God] shall see.'""
Around 150, some Valentinian, probably Ptolemy, commented on the prologue of the gospel of John, as recorded by Irenaeus, 'Against Heresies', 1.8.5:
"John, the disciple of the Lord, intentionally spoke of the origination of the entirety, by which the Father emitted all things. And he assumes that the First Being engendered by God is a kind of beginning; he has called it "Son" and "Only-Begotten God." ...
By this (Son), he says, was emitted the Word, ...
Now since he is speaking of the first origination, he does well to begin the teaching at the beginning, i.e with the Son and the Word. He speaks as follows: "The Word was in the beginning, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. It was in the beginning, with God." [Jn1:1-2] First, he distinguishes three things: God; beginning; Word. ...
"The entirety was made through it, and without it was not anything made." [Jn1:3] For the Word became the cause of the forming and origination of all the aions that came after it.
But furthermore (he says), "That which came into being in it was Life." [Jn1:4a] Here he discloses a pair. ...
Indeed, inasmuch as he adds, "and Life was the light of human beings" [Jn1:4b], in speaking of human beings he has now disclosed also the Church by means of a synonym, so that with a single word he might disclose the partnership of the pair. ...
Paul, too, says this: "For anything that becomes visible is light." [Eph5:13?] ...
For he calls him a light that "shines in the darkness" [Jn1:5a] ...
And its glory was like that of the Only-Begotten, which was bestowed on him by the Father, "full of grace and truth" [Jn1:14b] And he speaks as follows: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us; we have beheld its glory, glory as of the Only-Begotten from the Father." [Jn1:14a] ..."
Another point: because the first gospel(s)
were not well established for a long time,
many anonymous authors wrote other gospels
and also numerous pseudo-historical Christian
writings, about 200 of them, many in the
name of Jesus' followers (or Paul). At least
one got caught in the act:
Tertullian (160?-225?) wrote about books "which wrongly go under Paul's name," and the author of the 'Acts of Paul', which includes the unauthentic epistle 3Corinthians:
"in Asia, the presbyter who composed that writing, as if he were augmenting Paul's fame from his own store, after being convicted, and confessing that he had done it from love of Paul, was removed from his office" (On Baptism 17)
They wanted to satisfy their brand of Christianity and the requirements & problems of their own community, with various degrees of respect for what was written before. That would include the Gnostic writers, the authors of John's gospel and the two later Synoptics, who "improved" a lot from GMark (especially true for "Luke" and "John").
Another likely side effect of this explosion of "inspired" (and controversial) "histories":
Apologists (except Justin) avoided the "gospels Jesus" and based their argumentation mainly on the O.T., doctrinal/philosophical items and going on the offensive against pagan myths.
But other texts, such as the 'gospel of the
Lord' (drawn from GLuke), written by Marcion
around 125-145 and the 'Epistle of the apostles'
(incorporating elements from GLuke,
GMatthew, GJohn and 'Acts'), written 140-150, were
faithful to the earlier gospels tradition.
The apology of Aristides, addressed (allegedly) to emperor Hadrian (117-138) (according to Eusebius), probably in 124-125 or 129, contains elements from GJohn and the Synoptics:
"The Christians, then, trace the beginning of their religion from Jesus the Messiah; and he is named the Son of God Most High. And it is said that God came down from heaven [GJohn1:1-2,14], and from a Hebrew virgin [GMatthew or/and GLuke?] assumed and clothed himself with flesh [GJohn1:14]; and the Son of God lived in a daughter of man [GMatthew or/and GLuke?]. This is taught in the gospel, [a mix/combination of known gospels: see explanation under Ch. 2, Justin Martyr]
` as it is called, which a short time was preached among them; and you also if you will read therein, may perceive the power which belongs to it. This Jesus, then, was born of the race of the Hebrews; and he had twelve disciples in order that the purpose of his incarnation might in time be accomplished. But he himself was pierced by the Jews,
[it is likely Aristides removed references of 'Pilate' and 'crucifixion' (performed only by the Romans) because of the alleged addressee]
` and he died and was buried; and they say that after three days he rose [GMark or/and GMatthew?] and ascended to heaven. Thereupon these twelve disciples went forth throughout the known parts of the world ... And hence also those of the present day who believe that preaching are called Christians ..."
a) Let's look at Mk16:20a, part of interpolation(s) (as explained here), written after GLuke & GJohn were published:
"And they [the disciples, right after the alleged ascension] went out and preached everywhere ..."
This is very similar to what Aristides wrote, as apparently drawn from the (written) "gospel":
"... ascended to heaven. Thereupon these twelve disciples went forth throughout the known parts of the world ..."
It appears Aristides used GMark, with its interpolated ending, as his source document in order to make his claim (GMatthew's ending "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations" (28:19a) does not say the eleven did what the resurrected Jesus commanded but still could have been a source for Aristides and/or GMark long ending).
b) Aristides (125-129) had the twelve preaching Christianity all over, starting soon after the crucifixion. That goes against 'Acts' (where the disciples stay in Jerusalem). It is also a huge embellishment above the aforementioned work where Paul, not one of the twelve, not an eyewitness of the earthly Jesus, but an alleged recipient of visions & revelations from above, is the one preaching the Christian message outside of Palestine, up to Rome. Could 'Acts' have been written after the apology (and Mk16:20)? Hardly so: why write a downer conflicting with perfection: Jesus' own chosen disciples going all over the known world to make converts, immediately after the ascension! Then, of course, the stated perfection, if widely believed then, would render 'Acts' embarrassing (caused also by the many blatant differences, on common ground, with Paul's letters), explaining its relative lack of external evidence.
a) Mk16:20 (& Aristides' Apology) seems to have inspired Justin Martyr, who wrote (150-160), in his 1Apology XLV "His apostles, going forth from Jerusalem, preached everywhere".
Also from Justin's works:
- 1Apology XXXIX "For from Jerusalem there went out into the world, men, twelve in number, and these illiterate, of no ability in speaking"
- 1Apology XXXIX "But the Gentiles, who had never heard anything about Christ, until the apostles set out from Jerusalem and preached concerning Him"
- Trypho LIII "For after His crucifixion, the disciples that accompanied Him were dispersed, until He rose from the dead, and persuaded them that so it had been prophesied concerning Him, that He would suffer; and being thus persuaded, they went into all the world, and taught these truths."
b) Despite attesting 'Acts' in 'Against Heresies', Irenaeus wrote in his 'Demonstration apostolic':
"His disciples, the witnesses of all His good deeds, and of His teachings and His sufferings and death and resurrection, and of His ascension into heaven after His bodily resurrection----these were the apostles, who after (receiving) the power of the Holy Spirit were sent forth by Him into all the world, and wrought the calling of the Gentiles"
c) Also acknowledging 'Acts', Origen wrote (246-248), in 'Commentary of the gospel according to Matthew' X, 18:
"And the Apostles on this account left Israel and did that which had been enjoined on them by the Saviour, "Make disciples of all the nations," and, "Ye shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judæa and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." For they did that which had been commanded them in Judæa and Jerusalem; but, since a prophet has no honour in his own country, when the Jews did not receive the Word, they went away to the Gentiles."
d) Another reason for 'Acts' being largely ignored in the second century would be Paul was not liked in some orthodox circles. Tertullian (207) wrote, in 'Against Marcion' V, I:
"I must with the best of reasons approach this inquiry with uneasiness when I find one affirmed to be an apostle, of whom in the list of the apostles in the gospel I find no trace."
"'Christ did not know beforehand that he would have need of him,"
"He [i.e., Paul] himself, says Marcion, claims to be an apostle, and that not from men nor through any man, but through Jesus Christ. Clearly any man can make claims for himself: but his claim is confirmed by another person’s attestation. One person writes the document, another signs it, a third attests the signature, and a fourth enters it in the records."
e) Chrysostom (387) in the Homilies 'in Principium Actorum' remarked:
"Certainly, there are many to whom this Book [Acts of apostles] is not even known and many again think it so plain, that they slight it"
Note: 'Acts of the apostles' is attested in the third and early fourth century writings of Clement of Alexandria (death 210-220), Tertullian (222), Hyppolitus (235), Origen (254), Cyprian (258), Lactantius (320) and Eusebius (339). It was also included in the Codex Vaticanus (325-350) and Sinaiticus (330-360).
Quadratus of Athens wrote also an apology at the same
time of Aristides' one, according to Eusebius.
A small fragment is preserved, containing
probably the first reference (outside the
gospels) of healing & resurrections by
an earthly Jesus:
"Our Saviour's works, moreover, were always present: for they were real, consisting of those who had been healed of their diseases, those who had been raised from the dead; who were not only seen whilst they were being healed and raised up, but were afterwards constantly present. Nor did they remain only during the sojourn of the Saviour on earth, but also a considerable time after His departure ..."
Basilides (120-140), as reported by Irenaeus, 'Against Heresies', I, 24, 4 "[Basilides thought] He appeared, then, on earth as a man, to the nations of these powers, and wrought miracles. Wherefore he did not himself suffer death, but Simon, a certain man of Cyrene, being compelled, bore the cross in his stead, so that this latter being transfigured by him, that he might be thought to be Jesus, was crucified, through ignorance and error, while Jesus himself received the form of Simon, and, standing by, laughed at them."
Note: Gnostic "teacher" Basilides, because he thought Christ could not die, used the synoptic gospels mention of 'Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross' to have the same Simon crucified on it, instead of Jesus.According to Hippolytus of Rome, in 'Refutation of all heresies', book VII:
Valentinus (120-160) also knew about Luke's gospel, according to Irenaeus 'Against Heresies' III, XIV, 3-4 and Hippolytus of Rome, in 'Refutation of all heresies', book VI:
Chapter XXX "[Valentinus says] Jesus was born of Mary the virgin, according to the declaration, "The Holy Ghost will come upon thee"--Sophia is the Spirit--"and the power of the Highest will overshadow thee"--the Highest is the Demiurge,--"wherefore that which shall be born of thee shall be called holy."" (bolded italics as in Lk1:35)
2. The case of Justin Martyr (150-160):
Justin Martyr, the most famous Christian
apologist of the 2nd century, left us many
writings. As other apologists of his times
(Athenagoras of Athens, Theophilus of Antioch
& Minucius Felix), Justin was initially
a Hellenistic & Platonic philosopher
who got converted late to Christianity.
Justin was most familiar with GMatthew and GLuke (with some knowledge of GMark: Trypho CVI quoted in next paragraph) and called those books 'gospels' (plural):
1Apology LXVI "For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them;
[scholars have proposed Justin was quoting from a harmony, but this is rather disproved by the aforementioned quote: Justin knew of several gospels!]
` that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, "This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body;" and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, "This is My blood;" and gave it to them alone [the above rendition is a harmonization of the ones of GLuke & GMark/GMatthew]."
Trypho C "...but also in the gospel it is written that He said: 'All things are delivered unto me by My Father; [Mt11:27, Lk10:22]' and, 'No man knoweth the Father but the Son; nor the Son but the Father, and they to whom the Son will reveal Him. [Mt11:27, Lk10:22]'"
Note: "the gospel" appears to be an appellation for the combination of the known gospels, and not one in particular. This would apply to the previously quoted mentions of 'gospel' in the Apology of Aristides, the Ignatian letter 'to the Smyrnaeans', '2Clement' and:
Trypho X "Moreover, I am aware that your precepts in the so-called gospel are so wonderful and so great, that I suspect no one can keep them; for I have carefully read them."
Actually, Justin greatly preferred to call
these writings 'memoirs' (13 times in 'Trypho'!)
rather than 'gospels'. As examples:
1Apology LXVII "And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits;"
Trypho CVI "He changed the name of one of the apostles to Peter; and when it is written in the memoirs of Him that this so happened, as well as that He changed the names of other two brothers, the sons of Zebedee, to Boanerges, which means sons of thunder [only in GMark (3:17)];"
Trypho CV "For when Christ was giving up His spirit on the cross, He said, 'Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit,' [only in Lk23:46] as I have learned also from the memoirs."
Trypho CIII "For in the memoirs which I say were drawn up by His apostles and those who followed them,
[as for Mark and the author of GLuke (according to Lk1:1-2)]
` [it is recorded] that His sweat fell down like drops of blood while He was praying, [only in Lk22:44]"
Note about Jesus' blood:
Lk22:19b-20 is likely a later insertion because:
a) it is lacking in Codex Bezae & some early Latin translations. And in other early manuscripts, sequence of the three clauses is changed in 22:17-20 (wine, bread, wine), sometimes differently.
b) it duplicates the cup offering.
c) it suggests 'Jesus died for your sins', but this concept never appears again in GLuke/'Acts'.
d) it copies from 1Co11:24-25, with words like "new covenant", "for you", "do this in remembrance of me", not appearing in GMark & GMatthew's versions of the Last Supper.
Remark: Lk22:44 (quoted by Justin Martyr in 'Trypho' CIII) itself is most likely also an interpolation because Lk22:43-44 is absent in many early manuscripts, not witnessed by Clement of Alexandria & Origen and sometimes transposed in GMatthew: see this Wikipedia entry. That would prove interpolations were done on gospels soon after their publication.
Justin quoted a fair amount of (synoptic) gospels material, but rather
and without naming his sources, introducing the quotes/paraphrases of saying as follows:
"His word being", "He taught us", "He said", "He thus persuaded us", etc, or, at best, as shown already, from the "memoirs".
Here is an example:
1Apology XV "Concerning chastity, He uttered such sentiments as these: "Whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart before God." And, "If thy right eye offend thee, cut it out; for it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of heaven with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into everlasting fire.""
Let's compare it with:
Mt5:28-29 "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell."
a) Justin was also inaccurate in quoting the O.T.:
1Apology XXXII "Moses ... spoke in these words [in which book? no mention]: "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until He come for whom it is reserved; and He shall be the desire of the nations ...""
Ge49:10 "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people."
Let's consider also:
1Apology XXXVII "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know, and My people hath not understood. Woe, sinful nation, a people full of sins, a wicked seed, children that are transgressors, ye have forsaken the Lord."
Isa1:3-4 "The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master's crib; but Israel does not know, my people do not consider. Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the LORD ..."
b) Justin introduced many O.T. quotes as coming from the "Spirit of Prophecy", often with no other identification.
Quotes about doings are often not introduced, and just paraphrases with some additions:
1Apology XXXIII "... but the power of God having come upon the virgin, overshadowed her [only in Lk1:35], and caused her while yet a virgin to conceive. And the angel of God who was sent to the same virgin at that time brought her good news [only in Lk1:26-27], saying, "Behold, thou shalt conceive of the Holy Ghost, and shalt bear a Son, and He shall be called the Son of the Highest, and thou shalt call His name Jesus [approximate quote of Lk1:31-32a]; for He shall save His people from their sins [only in Mt1:21] ...""
But most of the argumentation is based on Old Testament texts, including many psalms, often quoted out-of-context, to "prove" that Christ's existence & crucifixion have been predicted. Also, Greek mythology and philosophers, such as Plato (a favorite of Justin), are extensively referred to.
From the gospels, Justin is mostly interested by sayings, the virgin birth/nativity, the baptism, the Last Supper and the arrest/crucifixion/ascension. He also mentioned 'Jesus on the donkey' (Trypho LIII, LXXXVIII), 'the disturbance in the temple' (Trypho XVII), and 'John the Baptist's preaching & imprisonment' (Trypho XLIX). Extraordinary deeds by Jesus are briefly mentioned in 1Apology XXII, XXXI & XLVIII:
"... He made whole the lame, the paralytic, and those born blind ..."
"... healing every disease and every sickness, and raising the dead ..."
"... heal all diseases and raise the dead ..." (as in Quadratus' apology, quoted earlier)
and Trypho LXIX:
"... Christ ... healed those who were maimed, and deaf, and lame in body from their birth, causing them to leap, to hear, and to see, by His word. And having raised the dead, and causing them to live, ..."
However 'walking on water', 'calming the sea', 'the transfiguration', 'the miraculous feedings' and bodily reappearances of Jesus are never mentioned.
Note: Justin appears to prefer GMatthew and then GLuke among the synoptic gospels. And, likely, he also knew about GJohn:
1Apology LXI "For Christ also said, Unless you be born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Now, that it is impossible for those who have once been born to enter into their mothers' wombs, is manifest to all."
Jn3:4-7 "Nicodemus said to Him, " ...Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. ..." Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'"
In his known writings, Justin ignored 'Acts' & all epistles (including Paul) but he did mention 'Revelation':
'Trypho', LXXXI "... there was a certain man with us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, who prophesied, by a revelation that was made to him, that those who believed in our Christ would dwell a thousand years in Jerusalem; and that thereafter the general, and, in short, the eternal resurrection and judgment of all men would likewise take place."
3. Introduction to the graphics:
a) The dating of the gospels does not take in account the later interpolations, as evidenced by the many additions/variations which do not appear in all the ancients manuscripts (such as Mk16:9-20, as explained here). Other very likely interpolations include Mt27:8b-10, Mt28:16-20 & (as already explained on this page) Lk22:19b-20.
b) This web site provides explanations for the critical dating (through the internal
The four canonical gospels, "Q", 'GThomas' and (at the bottom of this page) '1Clement', 'Didache' & 'Barnabas'.
Concerning the gospels, the internal evidence for GMark is strong (70-71 --and not around 135!), moderate for GMatthew (85-95), weaker for GJohn and GLuke.
c) The relationship between GLuke & 'Acts' is examined in the 1st section of HJ-3b ('Acts' followed the gospel and not vice versa).
d) The relationship between "Luke" and Josephus' works is analysed in Appendix A ("Luke" knew of 'Wars', explaining historical mistakes in the gospel & 'Acts'; but the author was unaware of 'Antiquities' (published 93), which would have prevented the aforementioned errors).
e) Is there realized eschatology in GLuke? The answer is here.
f) The relationship of GJohn with GMark, GLuke and 'Acts' is examined in detail on four pages, starting by John's gospel, from original to canonical.
g) The dependency of 'Revelation' on GMatthew is shown here.
h) For additional information and contents of early Christian texts used for external reference, please consult Peter Kirby's web site, Early Christian writings.
i) The dating allows for wide range of dates for many ancients texts. Also the strength of a particular writing is evaluated regarding its value as providing external evidence.
j) Because I consider the Ignatian letters to be unauthentic, the dating of those is considerably pushed back (125-145 applies for most of the "seven"; 'to Polycarp' was written later). For dependencies on GMatthew & GLuke, see here.
k) Subsequent gospel(s) is/are used for external evidence, as other Christian texts.
l) Not included are writings/preachers relating to
gospel material generally, such as the apologies
(120-130) of Aristides (except for its relationship with GJohn) and Quadratus (as quoted
earlier). Also in the same category, with
some synoptic content:
- Cerinthus, an early Gnostic/Ebionite (late 1st to early 2nd century)
According to Irenaeus, 'Against Heresies', book I, chapter XXVI, 1:
"Cerinthus, again, a man who was educated in the wisdom of the Egyptians, taught that the world was not made by the primary God, ... He represented Jesus as having not been born of a virgin, but as being the son of Joseph and Mary according to the ordinary course of human generation, while he nevertheless was more righteous, prudent, and wise than other men. Moreover, after his baptism, Christ descended upon him in the form of a dove from the Supreme Ruler, and that then he proclaimed the unknown Father, and performed miracles ..."
- The gospel of the Hebrews (written 100?-130?) ("When the Lord [Jesus, after the baptism] ascended from the water, the whole fount of the Holy Spirit descended and rested upon him ...)
- The secret book of James (written 100?-150?)
- Polycarp's epistle (written 130-150)
- '2Clement' (written 140-160)
- The gospel of the Savior (written 120-180?)
This Gnostic gospel seems also dependent on GJohn, and possibly GThomas (or vice versa).
4. The two graphics:
The first graphic
shows the external evidence mostly for GMark and GMatthew.
The second graphic is about GLuke and GJohn.
Note: GJohn, the original version, could have been written as early as around 75C.E. See here for justifications.
A) Four examples of late (and sometime very restricted) earliest available items of external evidence in ancient writings:
a) Onias, a Jewish holy man (??-65B.C.E.), credited of ending a drought through prayers and therefore widely believed to have God's favor, is first reported in Josephus' Antiquities (XIV, II, 1-2) (published 93). Later, Onias' rain making success will be detailed in the Mishnah (published around 200); Josephus briefly mentioned it.
b) Philo of Alexandria (died 45-50) was the most important Jewish philosopher/theologian in antiquity and the author of many books (some of them have disappeared). But the first external reference of Philo appears not earlier than in Josephus' Antiquities (XVIII, VIII, 1). There, Philo is briefly mentioned as a Jewish leader and philosopher but not as an author.
c) Under the influence of the Rabbis/Pharisees of Jamnia (70-100), Judaism considerably reshaped itself to become what it is today. But this crucial phase in the development of Judaism is known to us only by writings (such as the Mishnah), compiled/written not earlier than some one hundred years later.
d) Simeon Bar Kokhba, the leader of the third Jewish Revolt (132-135), is passed over in silence by Dio Cassius (150-235) in his account of the events (but the Roman general is named!).
B) This is typical of most authors, writings
and events in antiquity:
Generally, the external evidence is scarce and comes late. This is mostly due to:
a) Few writings were produced then, reducing the odds about mention of earlier texts.
b) Later authors might not have known about pertinent earlier works, available only through a few scattered copies (example: "Luke" not aware of Paul's main epistles).
c) Few manuscripts were recopied before they wore out and other writings got destroyed by fire, wars, etc.
C) However, some contemporary "thinkers" apply modern expectations for the gospels external evidence (& assuming wrongly those were immediately seen as sacred). And by observing the late (unequivocal) identification of the four canonical ones (by Irenaeus around 180), they date them not earlier than the 2nd century!
5. Did '1Clement' (to the Corinthians) know about GMark?
Let's review two passages in '1Clement':
5.1.1 First passage:
1Clement, ch.13 "... being especially mindful of the words of the Lord Jesus which He spoke, teaching us meekness and long-suffering. For thus He spoke: "Be merciful, that you may obtain mercy ; forgive, that it may be forgiven to you ; as you do, so shall it be done to you ; as you give, so shall it be given unto you ; as you judge, so shall you be judged ; as you are kind, so shall kindness be shown to you ; with what measure you measure, with the same it shall be measured to you ." ..."
Let's compare this with:
Mk 4:24 NASB "And He was saying to them, "Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure it will be measured to you , and more will be given you besides""
Mk11:25 NASB "Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you  your transgressions"
That's it (see 2nd passage later). So if "Clement" copied from GMark, he added up more variations on the same theme (principle of reciprocity).
Did "Luke" know about '1Clement'?
Let's look at the following:
a) Lk6:36-38 NASB "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful . Do not judge, and you will not be judged ["Q"]; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned [5+2?]; pardon, and you will be pardoned . Give, and it will be given to you . They will pour into your lap a good measure pressed down, shaken together, and running over [?]. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return .''
Let's notice the "give" clause is only in GLuke & '1Clement' (& not in any other gospel).
b) 1Clement, ch.27 "for nothing is impossible with God"
Lk1:37 NASB "[the angel Gabriel to Mary] For nothing will be impossible with God."
The expression "(nothing) ... impossible with God" appears only here in all the N.T.
c) 1Clement, ch.48 "make straight their way in holiness and righteousness ['en hosiotati kai dikaiosuna']"
Lk1:75 "... serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness ['en hosiotati kai dikaiosuna'] ..."
The expression "holiness and righteousness" appears only here in all the N.T.
d) 1Clement, ch.18 "... God said 'I have found a man after my own heart, David the son of Jesse; and in everlasting mercy have I anointed him?'"
The closest O.T. passages are Psalm89:20:
"[God saying] I have found my servant David with My holy oil I have anointed him"
and 1Sa13:14 LXX:
"[Samuel says] the Lord shall seek for himself a man after his own heart"
Let's notice the conflation, a specialty of "Clement"! More to come ...
And in 'Acts', we have:
Ac13:22 "... [as testified by God] I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, who will do all My will."Who copied whom?e) 1Clement, ch.2 "And you were all humble-minded and in no wise arrogant, yielding subjection rather than demanding it, giving more gladly than receiving"
In '1Clement', David is named four times but never as "servant" (however Moses is declared God's servant four times!). But "Luke" did not have a problem with "servant David", which appears in Lk1:69 & Ac4:25. And if "Luke" copied from Psalm80:20, there was no reason to drop "my servant", more so because it fits "who will do all My will". All of that suggests strongly "Luke" used '1Clement', and NOT vice versa. Furthermore, "Clement" had to know about Psalm89:20, because he obviously extracted "I ... anointed him" from it. But "Luke" needed only '1Clement' when writing Ac13:22!
Let's notice "Clement" did not introduce the words in bold as being from Jesus. But "Luke" did embellish, as it seems:
Ac20:35 "... Jesus Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
In conclusion, "Luke" likely knew about '1Clement' when writing the gospel and 'Acts'.
Did "Matthew" know about '1Clement'?
Let's look at these items:
a) Mt5:7 NASB "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy ."
The Greek root for "merciful" ('eleemon') is the same in '1Clement' and here, but different in Lk6:36-38 ('oiktirmon').
Also GMatthew is closer to '1Clement' ("Be merciful, that you may obtain mercy") than GLuke ("Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful").
b) Mt7:1-2a NASB "Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged  ..."
This first sentence is almost word by word as in Lk6:37 ("Do not judge, and you will not be judged") but again differing from '1Clement' ("as you judge, so shall you be judged"). However, the second one is very similar to the one by "Clement".
And it appears we have a contradiction here: first "do not judge", then "as you judge"! It seems "Matthew" combined the two versions, that is the one from "Q" and the one from '1Clement' (as he did in 13:31-32 (parable of the mustard seed) and 12:31-32, combining the "Q" version with Mark's).
In conclusion, it is probable "Matthew" knew about '1Clement'.
Did "Q" know about '1Clement'?
The example above could suggest a "Q" author rewrote the "judge" clause from '1Clement'. Another clause, the "do" one ("as you do, so shall it be done to you"), may have got the same treatment:
Mt7:12 "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them ..."
Lk6:31 "And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise."
This alleged rewriting was commonly done by "Q" from GMark material, such as: Mk4:22=>Mt10:26b/Lk12:2, Mk8:11-12=>Mt12:39/Lk11:29, Mk8:15=>Mt16:6/Lk12:1, Mk9:40=>Mt12:30a/Lk11:23a, etc.
Did the author of '1Clement' know about GMatthew or/and GLuke?
Considering, in '1Clement',
a) there is no other item with elements found in these gospels which are not already in GMark.
b) Jesus is never described as a descendant of David (he is "demonstrated" NOT one in Mk12:35-37), but will be many times in the two later Synoptics.
c) there is no hint about a virgin conception (as in Mt1 and Lk1). Instead Jesus is described as a descendant of Jacob "according to the flesh" as for "priests and all the Levites" and "kings, princes, and rulers of the race of Judah" (ch.32).
From these observations, it is unlikely "Clement" knew about the later gospels.
5.1.2 Second passage:
1Clement, ch.46 "... Remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ
["remember" implies the author thought those words were already known by the Christians of Corinth]
` "Woe to that man [2a]! It were better for him that he had never been born [2b], than that he should cast a stumbling-block before one of my elect . Yea, it were better for him that a millstone should be hung about, and he should be sunk in the sea, than that he should cast a stumbling-block before one of my little ones  ...""
Let's compare this with:
Mk9:42 NASB " Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea ."
Mk14:21 NASB "... but woe to that man [2a] by whom [Judas the traitor] the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born [2b (this segment has no counterpart in Lk17:2)].''
Mk14:20,22,27 NASB "... elect  ..."
The aforementioned passage in ch.46 includes
some rewriting (as for the example from ch.13),
and then a 'cut & paste' from two sayings
in GMark, all of that in order to fit the
author's purpose. But the same occurs also
in Mk1:2-3, combining Mal3:1 with Isa40:3;
and Mk1:11, combining Isa42:1 with Psalm2:7;
and Mk11:17, combining Isa56:7 with Jer7:11;
and Paul's 1Co1:31 & 2Co10:17, combining
loosely Ps34:2,44:8 with Jer9:23-24; and
also Paul in:
Ro9:31-33 Darby "But Israel, pursuing after a law of righteousness, has not attained to [that] law. Wherefore? Because [it was] not on the principle of faith, but as of works. They have stumbled at the stumblingstone, according as it is written, Behold, I [God] place in Zion [Jerusalem] a stone of stumbling and rock of offence: and he that believes on him [Christ] shall not be ashamed."
What "is written" is parts of Isa8:14 & Isa28:16, with significant rewriting by Paul in order for him to make his point:
Isa8:14 "He [the Lord God] will be as a sanctuary, but a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, as a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem."
Isa28:16 "Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes will not act hastily.""
See also Ro11:26-27 where "as it is written" incorporates parts drawn from Isa59:20-21 & Isa29:9, plus Paul's own redaction, once again in order to serve his purpose.
As we can see, "Clement" had examples to follow! And he was also prone to combine quotes, from the O.T. and other sources, to fit his agenda! More about Clement's creative quotations later ...
5.1.3 More about GMark and '1Clement':
The two aforementioned passages (in ch.13&46) are the only two occurrences of Jesus' alleged words in the whole of '1Clement'. And, in chapter 46, it appears that "Clement" did some 'cut and paste' from GMark in order to make an important point (with threat!) against anyone causing confusion ("stumbling-block") among the Christians of Corinth:
"[Immediately following the already quoted "second" passage in '1Clement':] Your schism has subverted many, has discouraged many, has given rise to doubt in many ..."
And GMark was not the only early Christian work "Clement" knew about: he named Paul twice & was well aware of some of his epistles (ch.5,47). Also "Clement" appears to have been familiar with 'Hebrews' (as in ch.36), the later using out-of-context quotes in order to support the author's agenda (as "Clement" appears to have done in ch.46!).
In chapter 16, "Clement" quoted
the LXX version of the suffering servant
(Isaiah53), "as the Holy Spirit spake concerning
Him [Jesus]". He kept close to the Septuagint except
for his addition of three occurrences of
the word "stripes" (Greek root
a) "He is a man exposed to stripes and suffering" --> LXX (3) "he was a man in suffering"
b) "He was exposed to labour, and stripes, and affliction" --> LXX (4) "him to be in trouble, and in suffering, and in affliction"
c) "the Lord is pleased to purify Him by stripes" --> LXX (10) "The Lord also is pleased to purge him from his stroke"
'Stripes' means strokes or blows with a rod or lash (or/and resulting wounds).
The three additions of 'stripes' cannot be a coincidence and is most likely a reference to the flogging of Jesus in Mk15:15.
In chapter 15, we have:
οὗτος ο λαος τοις χειλεσιν με τιμα η δε καρδια αυτων πορρω απεστιν απ εμου
"For said in a certain place, "This people honours Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me."
A similar wording appears in Mk7:6: οὗτος ὁ λαὸς τοῖς χείλεσίν με τιμᾷ ἡ δὲ καρδία αὐτῶν πόρρω ἀπέχει ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ "[same as above]" But the corresponding passage (Isa29:13) from the LXX (allegedly quoted by "Mark": "it is written") is somewhat different: here are two slightly different versions:
ὁ λαὸς οὗτος ἐν τῷ στόματι αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τοῖς χείλεσιν αὐτῶν τιμῶσί με, ἡ δὲ καρδία αὐτῶν πόρρω ἀπέχει ἀπ᾿ ἐμοῦ· and
ὁ λαὸς οὗτος τοῖς χείλεσιν αὐτῶν τιμῶσίν με ἡ δὲ καρδία αὐτῶν πόρρω ἀπέχει ἀπ᾽ ἐμοῦ
a) "Matthew", in Mt15:3, copied GMark version but switch back to the LXX for "ὁ λαὸς οὗτος" instead of following '1 Clement' or GMark "οὗτος ὁ λαὸς".
b) "Clement" replaced "ἀπέχει" (which shows in the LXX and GMatthew) by "απεστιν".
So "Mark" consulted the LXX to put together his (abbreviated) quote, but "Clement" needed only GMark to make his.
That confirms "Clement" knew about GMark, and not the other way around.
Did "Clement" also "mix & match" from O.T. scriptures, added on and altered?
The answer is YES. Here are some examples:
a) 1Clement, ch.17 "Who am I, that Thou sendest me? Nay,
I am a man of feeble speech, and a slow tongue"
This is a conflation of Ex3:11 ("Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh...") and Ex4:10 ("I am slow of speech and tongue.").
"Behold, the Lord, and
His reward is
before His face, to render to every man according to his work"
This is from Isa62:11 "... Behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him."
and Pr24:12 "And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?"
c) 1Clement, ch.39 has a number of passages
from LXX Job (4:16-18;15:15;4:19-5:5) but
it is a mixture of exactness and inexactness,
even though introduced with "for it is written".
The section from Job4:16-18 is an exact match, the section from Job15:15 is almost exact (although it is inserted right in the middle of the passage!), but the section from Job4:19-5:5 has significant changes.
And there are more of those in '1Clement' ...
d) Preceding "... Remember the words of our Lord
Jesus Christ" (1Clement, ch.46) is the following:
"Such examples, therefore, brethren, it is right that we should follow; since it is written, "Cleave to the holy, for those that cleave to them shall be made holy." And again, in another place, saith, "With a harmless man thou shalt prove thyself harmless, and with an elect man thou shalt be elect, and with a perverse man thou shalt show thyself perverse.""
First, let's notice there is no indication about where the two quotes come from (presumably the scriptures), just "it is written" and shows "in another place" (this is usual in '1Clement'. Sometimes the citations are not even introduced at all).
The first quote is most likely from:
Ex30:29 "You shall consecrate them so they will be most holy, and whatever touches them will be holy."
See how much approximate is Clement's citation. Same thing for the second quote, this one drawn from:
Psalm18:25-26 "To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd."
It is highly noticeable "Clement" made changes and inserted the bit about the "elects".
e) And "Clement" was prone to "massage" the
scriptures to fit his own agenda. At the
end of chapter 42, he wrote
"For thus saith the Scripture in a certain
place, "I will
in righteousness, and their
The closest we come from this quote is the LXX version of Isa60:17b, "I will give thy rulers in peace, and thy overseers in righteousness."
Concluding this paragraph, it appears that
"Clement" treated Mark's gospel
the same as for the O.T. scriptures: with
conflations, additions, reshuffling and inaccuracies,
and with little (or no) identification of
And there is more to come ...
"Clement" and 'Hebrews':
It is interesting to see how "Clement" treated 'Hebrews' (changes, additions & deletions!):
1Clement, ch.36 "... Jesus Christ, the High Priest of all our offerings ...
[this title is suddenly assigned to Jesus with no explanation. However, there are ten occurrences of Jesus as "High Priest" in 'Hebrews' (with extensive justification). None in the rest of the N.T.]
` who, being the brightness of His majesty, is by so much greater than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
[from Heb1:3-4, with rewriting & deletion: "who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they."]
` For it is thus written, "Who makes His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire."
[Heb1:7 "And of the angels He says: "Who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire."]
` But concerning His Son the Lord spoke thus: "Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten Thee.
[Heb1:5a "For to which of the angels did He ever say: "You are My Son, today I have begotten You"?
Notice the change in the order: 1:7 then 1:5a. The rest of the alleged God's words does not appear in 'Hebrews':]
` Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession."
And again He saith to Him, "Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool."
[Heb1:13 "But to which of the angels has He ever said: "Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool?"" Let's notice the progression: the author of 'Hebrews' enticed his audience to identify God's addressee, but "Clement" knows he is the Son! The same comment applies for Clement's rendition of Heb1:5a, quoted earlier]
` But who are His enemies? All the wicked, and those who set themselves to oppose the will of God [back to Clement's agenda!]."
More about 'Hebrews' and '1Clement':
a) Heb3:5 "... ['pistos en holo to oiko autou'] ..."
1Clement, ch.17 "Moses was called faithful in all God's house ['pistos en holo to oiko autou']"
It is word for word, letter for letter the same as the 'Hebrews' quote. The likely O.T. inspiration of the author of 'Hebrews', LXX Nu12:7, has a different wording: 'en holo to oiko mou pistos estin'.
b) Heb11:36 "... They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins ..."
1Clement, ch.26 "Let us be imitators also of those who in goat-skins and sheep-skins went about proclaiming the coming of Christ; I mean Elijah, Elisha, and Ezekiel among the prophets ..."
'Hebrews' does not specify the preaching & the identities of those wanderers, but "Clement" added them up!
Most scholars contend that '1Clement' was written in 96C.E., right after Domitian's persecution. The evidence they cite is solely from a sentence in ch.1:
"Owing, dear brethren [the Corinthians], to the sudden and successive calamitous events which have happened to ourselves [the Christians of Rome], we feel that we have been somewhat tardy in turning our attention to the points respecting which you consulted us"
However any persecution under Domitian (93-96C.E.) could hardly be referred as "sudden and successive calamitous events". Furthermore, Domitian's persecutions (supported from scanty evidence) were not momentous in Rome itself (and not even necessarily against Christians!).
But here, the calamities appear to be local: "...events which have happened to ourselves".
But if Domitian's persecution is not the events alluded to, do we have a record of successive calamities afflicting the Romans prior to 96C.E?
The answer is YES.
Suetonius: De Vita Caesarum--Divus Titus, c. 110 C.E.:
"There were some dreadful disasters during his reign [Titus], such as the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Campania [August 79C.E.], a fire at Rome which continued three days and as many nights , and a plague the like of which had hardly ever been known before . In these many great calamities ..."
Note: the plague affected Rome and most of Italy, but not the rest of the empire.
Furthermore, there are a few passages in '1Clement' which point to a date of composition earlier than 96C.E. Let's review them:
a) 1Clement, ch.5 "Let us take the noble examples [Peter and Paul] furnished in our own generation."
Peter and Paul probably died in the 60's and would still be considered of the same generation as the recipients of the letters, some fifteen years later.
b) According to ch.42&44, some presbyters, who were allegedly appointed by the first apostles themselves, had just been deposed:
1Clement, ch.44 "Those who were thus appointed by them [the apostles], or afterwards by other men of good repute, ... and who for a long time have obtained a good report from all, these, we think, have been unjustly deposed from the ministry."
c) 1Clement, ch.23 "These things we have heard [the second coming & related events] even in the times of our fathers [when those were still alive]; but, behold, we have grown old, and none of them has happened unto us."
Paul made converts and created the church of Corinth from late 50 to mid 52, during the second journey. If the "we" were around fifteen years old then, with their fathers being about twenty five years older, then thirty years later, the "we" would be in their forties, and their fathers (if still alive!) reaching their seventies. However the life expectancy in these days was no more than fifty years. So at the time the letter was written, the "we" would truly "have grown old", with the times of their fathers way behind.
d) 1Clement, ch.46 "Take up the epistle of the blessed Apostle Paul. What did he write to you at the time when the Gospel first began to be preached? Truly, under the inspiration of the Spirit, he wrote to you concerning himself, and Cephas, and Apollos, because even then parties had been formed among you."
The author thought recipients of the letter were among the same ones addressed by Paul around 55C.E.
e) 1Clement, ch.6 "To these men [Paul & Peter] ... there was gathered a great multitude of the elect, who ... became a most excellent example among us."
Initial elects would still be alive among the Christians then.
f) 1Clement, ch. 23 ""compare yourselves to a tree: take the vine. First of all, it sheds its leaves, then it buds, next it puts forth leaves, and then it flowers; after that comes the sour grape, and then follows the ripened fruit. You perceive how in a little time the fruit of a tree comes to maturity. Of a truth, soon and suddenly shall His will be accomplished, as the Scripture also bears witness, saying, "Speedily will He come, and will not tarry;""
This could not have been written after the recipients of the letter (described as being from the generation of Paul & Peter) had died. It would have been stupid to make that claim in the 2nd century, proving the author was wrong, with the second coming shown to be a false hope.
Note: it has been suggested that, from that verse (47:6), the word "ancient" would indicate the epistle was written in the 2nd century: "It is shameful, dearly beloved, yes, utterly shameful and unworthy of your conduct in Christ, that it should be reported that the very steadfast and ancient Church of the Corinthians, for the sake of one or two persons, makes sedition against its presbyters." But "ancient" is vague & not descriptive about a number of years, and, in no way, would imply the Church of Corinth was created many decades before the letter was written. "Clement" probably suggested by "steadfast and ancient" the church of Corinth was too mature to get into this (infantile) bickering.
6. The Didache, dependency and dating:
Dependency on GMatthew (or, most likely, a subset of it):
Ch.8 "And do not pray as the hypocrites, but [what follows is according to Mt6:9-13, with minor variations] as the Lord commanded in his Gospel, pray thus: "Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, as in Heaven so also upon earth; give us to-day our daily bread, and forgive us our debt as we forgive our debtors, and lead us not into trial, but deliver us from the Evil One
[above words of prayer in bold are specific to GMatthew and not found in Luke's version (11:2-4)]
for Thine is the power and the glory for ever
[those same words appear in chapter 10 and possibly (before an interpolation) also in chapter 9. This expression is therefore typical of the Didache. However, some ancient manuscripts of GMatthew show the same words (plus "Thine is the Kingdom and power" &, at the very end, "Amen") at the end of the prayer. What does that suggest?
GMatthew prayer was first, then copied in the Didache with the addition put at the end, then later copyist(s) "harmonized" the gospel according to the Didache version (and then added up some more!)]."
Ch.11 "And concerning the Apostles and Prophets, act thus according to the ordinance of the Gospel [what follows is an elaboration of Mt10:8b-14] ..."
There are other items from the Didache which appear
only in GMatthew
among the canonical gospels:
a) Ch.1 "If someone impresses you for one mile, go with him two
["And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two." (Mt5:41)]."
b) Ch.8 "And do not pray as the hypocrites
["And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites." (Mt6:5a)]"
c) Ch.9 "... did the Lord say, "Give not that which is holy to the dogs
["Do not give what is holy to the dogs" (Mt7:6a)].""
d) Ch.10 "Hosanna to the God of David
["Hosanna to the Son of David" (Mt21:9&21)]"
e) Ch.16 "the false prophets ... the sheep shall be turned into wolves
["Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves" (Mt7:15)]"
f) Ch.16 "then the sign of the sound of the trumpet
["with a great sound of a trumpet" (Mt24:31)]"
gospel-like material in the Didache have
parallels in GMatthew (such as Mt5:39-44,46-47
(mainly "Q" for chapter 1)). Some
material in chapter 16 is shared by all the
In other words, each of the gospel parallel in the Didache appears either in all the Synoptics, or in both GLuke & GMatthew only ("Q"), or solely in GMatthew. However, there is one likely exception:
Ch.16 "let your lamps not be quenched and your loins not ungirded, but be you ready; for you know not the hour in which our Lord come"
Compare the above with:
Lk12:35-40 YLT "Let your loins be girded, and the lamps burning, ... become ye ready, because at the hour ye think not, the Son of Man doth come.'"
Note: let's go back to:
Ch.10 "Hosanna to the God of David
["Hosanna to the Son of David" (Mt21:9&21)]"
"Son of David" is a favorite title in GMatthew (Mk = 3, (Q = 0), Mt = 10, Lk = 4, Jn = 0). "Matthew" had Jesus called David's Son by (only in GMatthew) blind men (9:27), a crowd (12:23), a Gentile Canaanite woman (15:22) and children in Jerusalem temple (21:15). So it is very predictable he would have Jesus also acclaimed as "Son of David" by the crowd during the all important "triumphal entry" (21:9).
Therefore, the expression "Hosanna to the ... of David" originated most likely from GMatthew (with "Matthew" getting the very odd word 'hosanna' (Hebrew for "save") from Mk11:9). And with the wording extracted from GMatthew, "Son" was substituted by "God" in the Didache. It looks the author did not like Jesus being called "the Son of David": that would be most understandable from an Ebionite's viewpoint!
c) See here for more of my comments on the Didache
A passage of the last chapter is most unflattering for the title of "Son of God":
Ch.16 "... and then shall appear the deceiver of the world as a son of god [also translated as "the Son of God" but ancient Greek has no capital letters], and shall do signs and wonders
[in Mt24:24, "great signs and wonders" will be given by false christs & false prophets, right before the "end"]
` and the earth shall be given over into his hands and he shall commit iniquities which have never been since the world began [Mt24:21].
... And then shall appear the signs of the truth: first, the sign of an outspreading in heaven, then the sign of the sound of the trumpet [Mt24:31]. And third, the resurrection of the dead"
Here, a "son of god" is Satanic and the quoted 1st part of the passage is in the same frame of mind as elements of 'Revelation', with the "beast" and its "false prophet" (Rev19:20).
The "deceiver" is most likely emperor Domitian (81-96C.E.), the one of the great tribulation of 93-96: Domitian asked to be called "lord and god" during his rule. Also, he was the son of Vespasian, deified earlier (80C.E.) by Titus.
Suetonius (69-122), Roman historian, 'The Lives of the Caesars', Book VIII, Domitian XIII:
"With no less arrogance he [Domitian, early in his reign] began as follows in issuing a circular letter in the name of his procurators, "Our Lord and our God [Latin: 'Dominus et Deus noster'] bids that this be done." And so the custom arose of henceforth addressing him in no other way even in writing or in conversation."
So "deceiver of the world" and "son of god" are most justified for Domitian (from a "Didachee" point of view!).
Because the "end" (and Kingdom) was supposed to be in the days of this great deceiver, it appears the Didache (the one with chapter 16 and minus a few later interpolations) was published then, that is before Domitian's death (Sept. 96C.E.).
PS: these interpolations (probably made around 140-170C.E. in order to christianize/"update" the ebionistic tract) would be:
- Whole of chapters 7, 12, 14 & 15
- Part of verses 9:9 ("through Jesus Christ", with "power" & "glory" reversed), 10:2 ("and immortality") and 10:5 ("and eternal life")
(chapter & verse according to J.B. Lightfoot's translation)
For translations and commentaries, go to Peter Kirby's page on the Didache
7. The epistle of Barnabas, dependency and dating:
The epistle of Barnabas is in reality anonymous. The author never called himself "Barnabas" (a contemporary of Paul and also an apostle to the Gentiles) or even pretended to be an early Christian missionary. He was against Jewish Christians:
Barnabas12:10 "Behold again it is Jesus, not a son of man, but the Son of God, and He was revealed in the flesh in a figure. Since then men will say that Christ is the son of David, David himself prophesied being afraid and understanding the error of sinners ... David called Him Lord, and called Him not Son [of David]."
His letter to Gentile Christians was written after the temple & Jerusalem destruction (in 70C.E.):
Barnabas16:4-5 "... for because they went to war it [the temple] was pulled down by their enemies. Now also the very servants of their enemies shall build it up. Again, it was revealed how the city and the temple and the people of Israel should be betrayed."
The uncanonical long epistle is very much in line with the earlier one, 'to the Hebrews', but much more extreme in its "allegories", with noticeable lack of logic & clarity.
Note: chapter & verse according to J.B. Lightfoot's translation
For more translations and commentaries, go to Peter Kirby's page on the Epistle of Barnabas
Dependency on GMatthew:
The epistle has numerous quotes from the scriptures and also allegedly from Jesus, which are not known from any other early Christian texts. However, it is likely "Barnabas" knew about bits & pieces of GMatthew, probably by mouth to ears or recollection from past readings. Let's review the evidence:
- Barnabas7:3 "But moreover when crucified He had vinegar and gall given Him to drink ..."
Only in GMatthew, Jesus is given a mixture of vinegar and gall at his crucifixion:
Mt27:34 "they gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink."
Note: the gall is not necessary for the argument developed by "Barnabas" in 7:3-5.
- Barnabas4:14 "as the scripture saith, many are called but few are chosen."
It appears "Barnabas" was confused about the origin of this citation, not appearing in the O.T. But in the N.T., it shows in GMatthew and only here:
Mt22:14 "For many are called, but few are chosen."
Furthermore, the saying is typically Matthean, and about the treatment of undesirables:
Mt7:21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven"
Also, the saying fits very well into the heavily "colored" all-Matthean ending (22:11-14) of the parable of the wedding banquet. More about Matthew's undesirables here.
7.3 Other dependencies:
a) 'Barnabas' and GMatthew or GMark
- Barnabas7:9 "... Is not this He, Whom once we crucified and set at nought and spat upon;"
Jesus is spat upon only in Mk15:19 & Mt27:30
- Barnabas5:9 "He came not to call the righteous but sinners"
Mk2:17 & Mt9:13 "... I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners ..."
b) 'Barnabas' and the gospels (generally):
- Barnabas5:8 "... He preached teaching Israel and performing so many wonders and miracles ... He chose His own apostles who were to proclaim His Gospel"
- Barnabas 12:10-11 "... David himself prophesies ..."The Lord said to my Lord sit thou on my right hand until I make thy enemies thy footstool." ... See how "David calls him Lord" and does not say Son."
This is very similar to:
Lk20:41-44 "... How can they say that the Christ is the Son of David? Now David himself said ...: 'The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool."' Therefore David calls Him 'Lord'; how is He then his Son?" (see also Mk12:35-37 and Mt22:42-45)
- Barnabas6:6 "What then saith the prophet again [about Jesus]? ... For My garment they cast a lot." as in:
Mt27:35: "And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots;" (see also Mk15:24, Lk23:34 & Jn19:23)
c) 'Barnabas' and GLuke?
Barnabas15:8 "... the eighth day [Sunday] for rejoicing, in the which also Jesus rose from the dead, and having been manifested ascended into the heavens."
This is according to GLuke (24).
d) 'Barnabas' and 'Acts':
Barnabas7:2 "... the Son of God, who is Lord all things, and who will judge the living and the dead ..."
Ac10:42 "He [Jesus] who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead."
As we saw already, the epistle was written after the fall of Jerusalem in 70C.E.
Can we determine a more accurate dating?
Barnabas4:3-4 "The last offence is at hand, ... For to this end the Master has cut the seasons and the days short, that His beloved might hasten and come to His inheritance.
[the end" was expected soon, as also in 4:9 "... let us take heed in these last days ..." and 21:3 "The day is at hand ...". This is typical of 1st century Christian writings]
` ... Ten reigns shall reign upon the earth, and after them shall arise another king, who shall bring low three of the kings under one."
Do these ten and three kings make sense in a 1st century context?
The three kings might be the Flavian dynasty
(Vespasian and sons Titus & Domitian).
It was ended by the accession to the Roman
throne by Nerva (96-98), the same day of
Domitian's murder. Nerva may have been thought
to be the king who brought low the previous
Also, in chapter 16, "Barnabas" attacked the inadequacy of any man-made God's temple, past or future: did some Jewish Christians (or/and Jews) think Nerva, not from the same family of the ones who destroyed it (Vespasian & Titus), would allow its rebuilding? It is probable:
Barnabas16:1 "Moreover I will tell you likewise concerning the temple, how these wretched men being led astray set their hope on the building, and not on their God that made them, as being a house of God."
What about the other seven kings?
This series of kings, obviously Roman emperors (as the following four ones, Vespasian to Nerva), had just to make some sense in order to be believed as part of a fulfilled prophecy. Who are the candidates?
1) Julius Caesar (49-44)
2) Augustus (44-14)
3) Tiberius (14-37)
4) Caligula (37-41)
5) Claudius (41-54)
6) Nero (54-68)
7) Galba (Jun68-Jan69)
8) Otho (Jan69-Apr69)
9) Vitellius (Apr69-Dec69)
Out of these nine "kings", two of them never got to be emperor ("princeps"): Julius was dictator for life and Vitellius took only the title of consul for life.
Or one might keep Julius Caesar, the true founder of the imperial system, and remove Otho & Vitellius, the short-lived inept usurpers.
PS: Clement of Alexandria provided two lists of Roman emperors in 'Stromata', I, XXI. The first one excludes Julius, Otho and Vitellius; the second includes the three of them:
"And nothing, in my opinion, after these details, need stand in the way of stating the periods of the Roman emperors, in order to the demonstration of the Saviour's birth. Augustus, forty-three years; ... Galba, one year; Vespasian, ten years; ...
Some set down the dates of the Roman emperors thus: Caius Julius Caesar, three years, four months, five days; after him Augustus ... Galba, seven months and six days; Otho, five months, one day; Vitellius, seven months, one day; Vespasian ..."
Map showing the most likely location of writing for each of the four canonical gospels: