How many gospels?

Written by Darren Hewer

Teabing paused to sip his tea and then placed the cup back on the mantel. “More than eighty gospels were considered for the New Testament, and yet only a relative few were chosen for inclusion – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John among them.” Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code

Was Jesus’ life really “recorded by thousands of followers across the land” as Teabing suggests? Were there really eighty gospels considered?

The answer is no. While there were other writings about Jesus, these other “gospels” were written much later than the four traditional gospels, and most were never given even a hint of consideration by early Christians.

Mark, the earliest of the four biblical gospels, is usually dated to around 60 AD (60 years after the birth of Christ, 27 years after his death). By contrast, even the most liberal scholars date the two non-biblical gospels Teabing quotes from, the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Philip to, at the earliest, at 120 AD and 180 AD respectively. Unlike the biblical gospels, of which we have literally thousands of early copies, most non-biblical gospels exist in only a few manuscripts. The Gospel of Philip, for example, exists in only one manuscript which is incomplete.

Why should we seriously consider writings that were not only written much later than the biblical gospels, but were also passed by as inaccurate by the people who lived closest to the time Jesus lived?

7 Responses to “How many gospels?”

  • Jason says:

    there are many reasons that people questio faith and beliefs, the main reason i see is that there are to many inconsistencies in the works submitted by the church. why should one not include different writings of jesus was that not his view that we are all the same and can be saved. who is to say that jesus’s true writings were not kept by the meekest in the world like those who wre to be saved. people should truly look to researching for themselves to help find and finite their beliefs.

  • bil says:

    Look The Contraictions In Holy Bible;

    Who incited David to count the fighting men of Israel?

    (a) God did (2 Samuel 24: 1)

    (b) Satan did (I Chronicles 2 1:1)

    EDIT: . . . several more followed . . .

    Note: This post was edited by the admin. The reasons why this post was cut short include: It was off-topic to the original post, it was far too long to be considered a reasonable blog comment, and most importantly the text was cut ‘n pasted from another website, so not only is it unoriginal, we cannot be sure that the rights of the original author have been followed. If you are interested in this topic, please visit both links below to read the same list originally copied in this comment (the original source), and also a rebuttal to the supposed contradictions listed, in order to see both sides of this issue. Thank you.

    List of supposed biblical contradictions: http://www.islaminfo.com/new/detail.asp?ID=20

    Rebuttal for each listed above: http://debate.org.uk/topics/apolog/contrads.htm

  • Gary J Sibio says:

    gereld eastwood said: it is just fiction, as a Christian i in no way feel threatened

    As a Christian I am not threatened by TDVC either but I am concerned about how others will be deceived by it.

  • Jason says:

    The only reason “why” is that people love conspiracy theories and this claims to be one of the biggest conspiracies ever. Of course as most people with common sense know, the vast majority of conspiracy theories carry no substance. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

  • Paige says:

    It seems to me that the author of The Da Vinci Code is milking his piece of fiction for all it’s worth. It appears to me that he doesn’t care to represent truth to the people of the world. If he is adamantly insisting his fictional work is all fact, as the post mentions, then he has suceeded in deluding himself to think this is okay, that there will be no personal consequences. At what cost is he prepared to represent fiction as fact? This phenomenon surrounding the book is a great sounding board for christians to find out why they believe what they believe and what is their faith reallyl based on. Anyone can take some facts from history and some legends and produce a fictional work. (A legend is just that- a legend, ie. stories that may have been based on fact at one point and told through centuries of generations until they become merely a legend.) Christians base their beliefs on facts, not legends. This writer is taking advantage of weak people who don’t know what they believe or why they believe it. The only thing that really, really bothers me about what’s been happening with this book is that apparently, the writer keeps insisting it is based on fact (somehow he is able to justify this). Not every person is capable of researching history, theology, evidencial facts, how legends get started, and the list goes on. They are being severely mislead if they are prepared to trust any opinion or thought of any person just because it appeals to their particular fancy or idea of what lines up with their own imagined reality. The fact is truth is based on facts, and there are qualified people who have spent many years of their lives researching and studying all the different legends in The Da Vinci Code. This is their particular job description. These people, and their findings, all taken together, can and should be trusted, not a writer of fiction out to make a buck by taking advantage of the uninformed and uneducated. It may not have been his intention, but it appears that he isn’t interested in stating the truth because, obviously, if he does, sales will drop immediately. Plus, he won’t be able to write a trilogy.

  • Doug says:

    Gerald,

    As a Christian, you should not feel threatened. You have your salvation. I think the root of concern for those who are concerned about books such as The Da Vinci Code is that, if not addressed, they can draw those who do not have their salvation further away from Christ. The problem is that too many Christians are not concerned about the salvation of those around them and walk through life so comfortable in their own salvation that they forget their are others that are dying and going to hell. While I agree that Christians need to be carefule not to get too caught up in the hype as to turn people away from meaningful discussion, we also cannot lose sight of our mission to win souls and make disciples. The reality is, according to George Barna, over 2 milliion Americans have been caused to turn from their faith because of this book while many, many more have had their own disbelief in Christianity strengthed by this book.

    Yes it is a fictional novel, but Dan Brown has done a great job of making people believe that the historical foundation of the book is based on solid accepted research when it is not. When asked by Matt Lauer; ?How much of this is based on reality in terms of things that actually occurred?? Dan Brown responded: ?Absolutely all of it. Obviously, there are – Robert Langdon is fictional, but all of the art, architecture, secret rituals, secret societies, all of that is historical fact.? Similarly, in an interview with ?Good Morning America? when asked: ?if you were writing it as a nonfiction book, how would it have been different?? Dan Brown responded: ?I don?t think it would have. I began the research for The Da Vinci Code as a skeptic. I entirely expected, as I researched the book, to disprove this theory, and after numerous trips to Europe and two years of research, I really became a believer.?

    We must not take such claims about our Lord and Saviour so lightly. It’s time for Christians to stop sitting idly by. If this same book had been written with Muhammed as the central figure, Muslims would be up in arms, and rightfully so. We are not talking about slandering a politician, but the Creator of the Universe.

    In His Service
    Doug

  • gereld eastwood says:

    it is just fiction, as a Christian i in no way feel threatened

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