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The New Testament is the second half of the Christian Bible.

It is composed of 27 books, which lay out the basic tenets and claims of Christianity. Perhaps the most important of those 27 books are the first four -- the books known today as the "Gospels." The first four books are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The credibility of these Gospels is key to Christian doctrine, since all four of the Gospels purport to cover the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

When Were the Gospels Written?

All four of the canonical Gospels were written after the crucifixion of Jesus (most likely A.D. 30 or 33). This puts their earliest composition in the third decade of the first century. In fixing the outer limit to the composition time frame, consider the following:
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Ignatius, the Bishop of Antioch, makes indirect references to the Gospel of Matthew as early as AD 110. Polycarp, a famous early church leader, quotes Acts (as well as several other New Testament books) in a letter dated to about A.D. 110. If Luke and Acts are a two-volume set written by the same author (and most conservative scholars and many moderate scholars believe this), then this puts the Gospel of Luke earlier than A.D. 110. A papyrus fragment of the Gospel of John (containing portions of John 18) has been dated to between A.D. 110 and 160, thus confirming (beyond all doubt) that John was written no later than A.D. 160.

Establishing the time frame of the Gospels' composition is important to determining their authors. It's clear from the evidence above that all four Gospels were written sometime between A.D. 30 and A.D. 160. This time-frame is endorsed by virtually all New Testament scholars. Conservative scholars go even further, pointing out that the book of Acts was almost certainly written before the martyrdom of Paul and Peter in the mid-60s A.D. and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70. Since Acts and the Gospel of Luke were apparently written as a two-volume set (Luke first and then Acts), it therefore stands to reason that if Acts was written before the mid-60s A.D., so was Luke. If Mark was written before Luke (see below), then at least two of the Synoptic Gospels were written before the mid-60s A.D.

Who Wrote the Gospels?

Placing the composition in the period between the third decade of the first century and the middle of the second century enhances the credibility of early church attribution. And if you place it between the 30s A.D. and the mid-60s A.D., then the early church attribution is virtually a slam dunk. And what is that attribution? A general review follows:

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The First Written Translation of the Gospel Divisions of the New Testament Bible: How the Bible is Arranged Who Was Peter's Successor? Gospel of Matthew - The strongest evidence attesting to Matthews authorship is the fact that four ancient sources (Papias of Asia Minor, Irenaeus of Gaul, Pantaenus, and Origen of Alexandria and Caesarea) specifically attribute the Gospel of Matthew to Matthew, the disciple of Jesus. Gospel of Mark - Early church figures, including Papias, Irenaeus, Origen, Clement of Alexandria, and Jerome of Palestine all attribute Mark's Gospel to Mark. There's little reason to believe the early church would falsely attribute this Gospel to Mark, who was a second-tier church figure at best. Gospel of Luke - Evidence associating Luke with his Gospel (as well as the book of Acts) includes the Muratorian Canon (c. A.D. 180-200) as well as the writings of Irenaeus, Clement, and famed early church historian Eusebius. Gospel of John - The evidence is thinner for John than the others, but Irenaeus and Polycarp (according to Eusebius) both attribute the fourth Gospel to John.

There is strong evidence to affirm traditional attribution of the Gospels. However, in the 1800s and 1900s, New Testament textual critics began advancing literary theories that call this attribution into question. Which Gospel Came First In the 1800s, the placement of Matthew as the first Gospel was challenged by German scholars, including Christian Hermann Weisse and Heinrich Julius Holtzmann. These scholars claimed that Mark was the first Gospel, and was one of two sources used to then craft Matthew and Luke. Their theory, called the "two-source hypothesis," soon gained wide acceptance. While there are

variations of the two-source hypothesis today, including one arguing for four original sources, the vast majority of New Testament scholars agree that Mark was the first Gospel. If the Gospel of Mark was written first (and the authors of Matthew and Luke utilized Mark as a source), many textual critics argue that this disproves Matthew and possibly Luke as well as the authors of the Gospels bearing their names. This claim, however, is not justified, for three possible reasons: 1. It's possible that Matthew wrote Q (the theoretical source of Jesus sayings that Luke arguably alludes to at the beginning of his Gospel and which scholars believe predated and influenced all four Gospel accounts). If this is so, then Mark used Matthew's "Q" notes to write his Gospel. 2. Many scholars believe that Peter influenced the writing of Mark. If so, Matthew would logically want to benefit from Peter's memory and insight. 3. If Matthew found Mark's Gospel to be accurate, why would he "reinvent the wheel"? Why not use parts of Mark to help him put together a finished copy of his own Gospel? The bottom line is, even if one agrees to Markan priority, this does not disprove the disciple Matthew as being the author of the Gospel of Matthew. It certainly does not disprove Luke. While there are some questions concerning the attribution of John (there were several Johns in the early church period), there's little reason to overturn the testimony of the early church when it comes to attribution.

Read more at Suite101: Who Wrote the Gospels: Identifying the Authors of the First Four Books of the New Testament | Suite101.com http://suite101.com/article/who-wrote-the-new-testamenta76038#ixzz1wDT24Fkq

The Gospels
Main article: Canonical gospels
Each of the four gospels in the New Testament narrates the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Since the 2nd century, they have been referred to as "The Gospel of ..." or "The Gospel according to ..." followed by the name of the supposed author. Whatever these admittedly early ascriptions may imply about the sources behind or the perception of these gospels, they appear to have been originally anonymous compositions.[7]

The Gospel of Matthew, ascribed to the Apostle Matthew. This gospel begins with a genealogy of Jesus and a story of his birth that includes a visit from magi and a flight into Egypt, and it ends with the commissioning of the disciples by the resurrected Jesus. The Gospel of Mark, ascribed to Mark the Evangelist. This gospel begins with the preaching of John the Baptist and the baptism of Jesus. Two different secondary endings were affixed to this gospel in the 2nd century. The Gospel of Luke, ascribed to Luke the Evangelist, who was not one of the Twelve Apostles, but was mentioned as a companion of the Apostle Paul and as a physician.[8] This gospel begins with parallel stories of the birth and childhood of John the Baptist and Jesus and ends with appearances of the resurrected Jesus and his ascension into heaven. The Gospel of John, ascribed to John the Apostle. This gospel begins with a philosophical prologue and ends with appearances of the resurrected Jesus.

The first three gospels listed above are classified as the Synoptic Gospels. They contain similar accounts of the events in Jesus' life and his teaching, due to their literary interdependence. The Gospel of John is structured differently and includes stories of several miracles of Jesus and sayings not found in the other three. These four gospels that were eventually included in the New Testament were only a few among many other early Christian gospels. The existence of such texts is even mentioned at the beginning of the Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:1-4). Other early Christian gospels such as the so-called "Jewish-Christian Gospels" or the Gospel of Thomas, also offer both a window into the context of early Christianity and may provide some assistance in the reconstruction of the historical Jesus