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Question 106.

Hi Fr Christopher,
I would like to know which of the 4 Gospels was written 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Just because the gospel of Matthew is the first one in the New Testament, does that mean it was the first to be completed? How, where and by whom was it decided that the Gospels should be structured in a particular order?
Regards, John

Answer to Question 106.


Dear John
The Church believes that the first Gospel is that of Matthew's and the last that of John. Whether Mark is older than Luke or vice-versa is not verified. The order in which the books are placed today is the accepted order handed down during the first four centuries by Holy Tradition and after various proposals by local synods and individual fathers, the Church finalized which books should be in the canon of the Bible and in which order they should be placed during the Quinisext Ecumenical Synod in 691.
In recent years the order of which Gospel was written first has been challenged by modern biblical scholars. Many claim that the Gospel of Mark came first and that Matthew had a copy of this and wrote his Gospel by supplementing certain details, especially on the Nativity of Christ. Modern scholars also disagree on when the Gospels were written.
The Church says that Matthew's Gospel was written between 42- 62AD, modern scholars vary between 70 -100AD.
Mark according to the Church was written before the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70AD, modern scholars agree and place it between 65-70AD.
Luke according to the Church was written before the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70AD but also before the martyrdom of the Apostle Paul in 64AD otherwise he would have mentioned Paul's death in the Gospel or in the Acts of the Apostles as he was his closest companion. With this in mind some place it around 56-60AD. Modern scholars place Luke between 80-100AD.
John according to the Church was written between 85 95AD, modern scholars place it between 90 100 with some placing it around 110AD.
In truth modern scholars are so diverse in their dating and interpretation of the Gospels that I give them little credence.

Yours in Christ
Fr. Christopher Klitou