Why Four Gospels?

         The historical origins of the gospels

March 31, 2011

Dave Black Answers Some Questions

6:57 PM This morning somebody emailed me a couple of questions about my book Why Four Gospels. Here are his questions, along with my answers.


I did have a couple of questions on your book, if you would be so kind. In naming your/Dr. Orchard’s hypothesis the “Fourfold-Gospel Hypothesis,” you compare it back to the “Two Gospel Hypothesis” advocated by Dr. Farmer, et al., which I take is similar to the original Griesbach. Would you say that review and analysis of the Patristic and historical data is the main differentiation between the two?


Yes. The Farmer group appears to have given the external evidence a back seat. Some of them even date the Gospels much later than I would. Then again, the term “Fourfold-Gospel Hypothesis” reflects our desire to show that in the earliest church there was only ONE Gospel that was passed on in four different versions. Why there are 4 (and only 4) such accounts is a major question we sought to answer.


On page 22 you identify the 3 evaluation arguments as: i) the external evidence in the light of modern research; ii) the internal comparison of the gospel texts to discover their sources and their interconnections; and iii) show that no emergent hypothesis is credible unless it is viable in light of the know history of the church and the Roman Empire at the time. The first and third sound similar? The second sounds pretty much like the standard textual critical approach?


Indeed we feel that the internal evidence is important, but only to corroborate what has already been established on the basis of the external evidence, which (as you can see) overwhelmingly supports the priority of Matthew’s Gospel. For example, we believe that the zigzagging effect is compatible with our theory – though it doesn’t prove it.

Let the discussion continue!

(From Dave Black Online. Used by permission. David Alan Black is author of Energion titles The Jesus Paradigm, Christian Archy, and Why Four Gospels?.)

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