The M+G+R Foundation
A Brief Historical Background (1)
As an overall background of our two part document on Biblical
Literalism or Symbolism (2) we
are publishing below a concise but clear history about by whom,
where , when and under what conditions the Four Gospels were
written. This will will serve to further cement the Faith in God
and His Word as transmitted to and through man.
Gospel of Matthew
[Written ca. 40-50 A.D.]
Little is know about the life of
Matthew, known earlier as Levi. He was a publican, that is, a tax
collector for the Roman Empire at Capernaum until the day Jesus called
him to the discipleship, by simply saying to him: "'Follow Me.' So he arose and followed
Him." [Matthew 9:9]
His apostolic life started in Palestine, with the other Apostles; later
on he may have preached in Ethiopia, where there is indication that he
suffered martyrdom. His body is venerated in the Salermo Cathedral
(Italy); his feast day is celebrated on September 21st.
Matthew was the first one to
write the Good News in book form, somewhere between the years
40-50 A.D.. He wrote it in aramaic for the Jews in Palestine who used
that language. Later on this Gospel, whose original text in aramaic was
lost, was translated to Greek.
Matthew's objective was to demonstrate that Jesus was indeed the
promised Messiah because in Him all the prophecies of the old Prophets
had been fulfilled. For his particular audience this was the best
proof. Even today one can still feel the overwhelming power of
such confirmation as we read Matthew's Gospel.
of Mark [Written ca. 50-60 A.D.]
Mark, surnamed John, was the son of
that Mary in whose house the Lord's Disciples used to meet [Acts 12:12]. It is quite
probable that the same house also served as the setting for other
Sacred Events such as the last Passover Meal and Pentecost.
With his cousin Barnabas, Mark accompanied Paul in his first
Apostolic Journey as far as the city of Perga in Pamphylia [Acts 13:13]. Later on,
somewhere between the years 61-63 A.D., we find him again with Paul
during his captivity in Rome.
Peter calls Mark "my son" [1
Peter 5:13], which leads us to believe that he was
baptized by Peter himself. The earliest tradition unanimously confirms
that in Rome Mark transmitted to others what his spiritual father
(Peter) taught him, thus, writing in the years 50-60 A.D. his Gospel; a
Gospel which would be more accurately called the Gospel of ' Peter and
Recorded by Mark'.
The purpose that the second Evangelist tried to fulfill was to
demonstrate that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that everything in
nature - even demons - are subjected to Him. Therefore, he makes a
point of reporting about the miracles as well as the exorcisms
performed by Jesus.
The Gospel of Mark, the briefest of the four Gospels, presents in
synthesis and in his own style, many of the same events that appear in
the other Gospels as well as reports events which are missing
from them. This allows a better and deeper understanding of the other
Mark died in Alexandria - the seat of the Patriarchate which he headed.
The city of Venice claim him as its Patron and his body is
venerated in its cathedral.
Luke [Written ca. 62-63
the beloved physician" [Col.
4: 14] was as Syrian
born in Antioch in a pagan family. He had the fortune of conversion to
Christianity and to meet Paul, becoming his loyal companion and
disciple for many years - even sharing prison with him in Rome.
According to his own testimony [Lk
1: 3] , Luke "having
had perfect understanding of all
things from the very first" recorded it to leave behind a
record of the oral tradition "that
you may know the certainty of those
things in which you were instructed." [Lk 1: 4]. Without a doubt,
one of his main sources was Paul himself and is very probable that he
also received information directly from Mary, Jesus Most Holy Mother;
especially regarding the childhood of our Lord since it is only Luke
who gives certain details about it.
Because of his news about the Child and His Mother, he was called the
Evangelist of the Virgin. It is because of this that legend has it that
Luke "painted" the first portrait of Mary. He obviously did, but with
words and not brushes.
Luke is also called the Evangelist of Mercy since the parables of the
Prodigal Son, the Lost Drachma, the Good Samaritan, and others related
only appear in his Gospel.
This third Gospel was written in Rome towards the last captivity
of Paul - that is - somewhere between the years 62 and 63 A.D.
His Gospel was addressed to the Christians of the churches founded by
the Apostle of the Gentiles - Paul. This is why the Gospel
of Luke contains a more accurate and complete portrait of the
life of Jesus and directed at us, Christians of Gentile roots.
of John [Written ca. 95-100 A.D.]
John, a native of Bethsaida of Galilee,
was the brother of James the Great, both children of Zebedee and
Salome, sister of the Virgin Mary. Having been first a disciple of John
the Baptizer and looking with all his heart for the Kingdom of God, he
followed Jesus; later on becoming His favorite disciple. From the
Cross, the Lord entrusted His Most Holy Mother to him, who, henceforth
took care of as if She were his own mother.
John was that disciple "whom Jesus loved" and who in the last Passover
Meal "was leaning on Jesus' bosom" [John 13: 23]
, as a friend
of His Heart and intimate witness of His Love and Sorrows.
After the Resurrection, John stayed in Jerusalem as one of the
"pillars" of the Church [Gal
, and later on went to Ephesus (in today's Turkey).
Banished by Emperor Domician (81-95
to the island of Patmos, he wrote then the
Book of Revelations. At Domician's death he was able to return to
Ephesus. The date and details of his death are unknown in the West
although some details have been handed down throughout the centuries in
Ephesus and surrounding communities. [John 21:23]
In addition to the Book of Revelations and the three Epistles, that is,
about thirty years after the
fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple, John
wrote this Gospel
with the intent of strengthening the faith in
the Messiahnism and Divinity of Jesus, while, at the same time,
complements the earlier Gospels - most specially from the spiritual
point of view. He has been called the Evangelist of Love.
His language is the most sublime found in the Holy Scriptures, as the
prologue clearly shows - a supernatural sublimity that has no equal in
Originally Published on January
Copyright 2006-2014 by The M+G+R Foundation. All rights
(1) Main source: El Nuevo Testamento -
Dr. Juan Straubinger - Doctor Honoris Causa por la Universidad de
Müenster (Alemania) - 1969
Literalism - Part I
Literalism - Part II
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