A Brief Historical Background
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.
INDEX of Introductory Notes
Matthew (Written ca. 40-50
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
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.
to King James Bible: Matthew
to Douay-Rheims Bible: Matthew
Index of Introductory
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
. 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
, 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
to King James Bible: Mark
to Douay-Rheims Bible: Mark
Index of Introductory
Gospel of Luke
(Written ca. 62-63 A.D.)
the beloved physician" [Col.
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
, Luke "having
had perfect understanding of all things from the very first"
recorded it to leave behind a written 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.
to King James Bible: Luke
to Douay-Rheims Bible: Luke
Index of Introductory
Gospel of John
(Written ca. 95-100
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
John was that disciple "whom Jesus loved" and who in the last Passover
Meal "was leaning on Jesus' bosom"
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 A.D.) 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
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
to King James Bible: John
to Douay-Rheims Bible: John
Index of Introductory
(1) Main source: El
Nuevo Testamento -
Dr. Juan Straubinger - Doctor Honoris Causa por la Universidad de
Müenster (Alemania) - 1969
Literalism - Part I and Biblical
Literalism - Part II
Originally Published on January
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