The Gospel and the Apostles

Table of Contents

The Gospel and the Apostles:

A - The Synoptic Problem:

B - The Gospel of John:

C - The Apostolic Letters:

Communal Truth:

Appendix - Page 2

Patristic Evidence

The testimony of the early church fathers regarding the writing of the Gospels is presented here in chronological order. Sources for the translations are indicated in each case. The original Greek sources are quoted by Stephen C. Carlson on the Synoptic Problem Website.


Ante-Nicene Fathers

For the more important texts, the original Greek is included on the left with its corresponding translation on the right, otherwise only the English translation is given.

Papias (c. 60 - 130)

Papias was bishop of Hierapolis, near Colosse in Asia Minor. He wrote a series of five books known as Interpretations of the Oracles of the Lord, probably between about AD 95 and 110. None of Papias’ works survive except in quotes by other authors, most notably in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History (written about AD 300). Following are excerpts from Eusebius, Book 3, Chapter 39 [translated by Kirsopp Lake and J. E. L. Oulton]:

1 τοῦ δὲ Παπία συγγράμματα πέντε τὸν ἀριθμὸν φέρεται, ἃ καὶ ἐπιγέγραπται λογίων κυριακῶν ἐξηγήσεως. τούτων καὶ Εἰρηναῖος ὡς μόνων αὐτῷ γραφέντων μνημονεύει, ὧδέ πως λέγων· ταῦτα δὲ καὶ Παπίας ὁ Ἰωάννου μὲν ἀκουστής Πολυκάρπου δὲ ἑταῖρος γεγονώς, ἀρχαῖος ἀνήρ, ἐγγράφως ἐπιμαρτυρεῖ ἐν τῇ τετάρτῃ τῶν ἑαυτοῦ βιβλίων. ἐστιν γὰρ αὐτῷ πέντε βιβλία συντεταγμένα. 1 Of Papias five treatises are extant which have also the title of "Interpretations of the Oracles of the Lord". These are also mentioned by Irenaeus as though his only writing, for he says in one place, "To these things also Papias, the hearer of John, who was a companion of Polycarp and one of the ancients, bears witness in writing in the fourth of his books, for five books were composed by him."
2 Καὶ ὁ μὲν Εἰρηναῖος ταῦτα· αὐτός γε μὴν ὁ Παπίας κατὰ τὸ προοίμιον τῶν αὐτοὺ λόγων ἀκροατὴν μὲν καὶ αὐτόπτην οὐδαμῶς ἑαυτὸν γενέσθαι τῶν ἱερῶν ἀποστόλων ἐμφαίνει, παρειληφέναι δὲ τὰ τῆς πίστεως παρὰ τῶν ἐκείνοις γνωρίμων διδάσκει δι' ὧν φησιν λέξεων· 2 So says Irenaeus. Yet Papias himself, according to the preface of his treatises, makes plain that he had in no way been a hearer and eyewitness of the sacred Apostles, but teaches that he had received the articles of the faith from those who had known them, for he speaks as follows:
3 Οὐκ ὀκνήσω δέ σοι καὶ ὅσα ποτὲ παρὰ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων καλῶς ἔμαθον καὶ καλῶς ἐμνημόνευσα συγκατατάξαι ταῖς ἑρμηνείας, διαβεβαιούμενος ὑπὲρ αὐτῶν ἀλήθειαν. οὐ γὰρ τοῖς τὰ πολλὰ λέγουσιν ἔχαιρον ὥσπερ οἱ πολλοί, ἀλλὰ τοῖς τἀληθῆ διδάσκουσιν, οὐδὲ τοῖς τὰς ἀλλοτρίας ἐντολὰς μνηνεύουσιν, ἀλλὰ τοῖς τὰς παρὰ τοῦ κυρίου τῇ πίστει δεδομένας καὶ ἀπ' αὐτῆς παραγιγνομένας τῆς ἀληθείας· 3 "And I shall not hesitate to append to the interpretations all that I ever learnt well from the presbyters and remember well, for of their truth I am confident. For unlike most I did not rejoice in them who say much, but in them who teach the truth, nor in them who recount the commandments of others, but in them who repeated those given to the faith by the Lord and derived from truth itself;
4 εἰ δέ που καὶ παρηκολουθηκώς τις τοῖς πρεσβυτέροις ἔλθοι, τοὺς τῶν πρεσβυτέρων ἀνέκρινον λόγους, τί Ἀνδρέας ἢ τί Πέτρος εἴπεν ἢ τί Φίλιππος ἢ τί Θωμᾶς ἢ Ἰάκωβος ἢ τί Ἰωάννης ἢ Ματθαῖος ἢ τις ἕτερος τῶν τοῦ κυρίου μαθητῶν ἅ τε Ἀριστίων καὶ ὁ πρεσβύτερος Ἰωάννης, τοῦ κυρίου μαθηταί, λέγουσιν. οὐ γὰρ τὰ ἐκ τῶν βιβλίων τοσοῦτόν με ὠφελεῖν ὑπελάμβανον ὅσον τὰ παρὰ ζώσης φωνῆς καὶ μενούσης. 4 but if ever anyone came who had followed the presbyters, I inquired into the words of the presbyters, what Andrew or Peter or Philip or Thomas or James or John or Matthew, or any other of the Lord’s disciples, had said, and what Aristion and the presbyter John, the Lord’s disciples, were saying. For I did not suppose that information from books would help me so much as the word of a living and surviving voice."
5 Ἔνθα καὶ ἐπιστῆσαι ἄξιον δὶς καταριθμιοῦντι αὐτῷ τὸ Ἰωάννου ὄνομα, ὧν τὸν μὲν πρότερον Πέτρῳ καὶ Ἰακώβῳ καὶ Ματθαίῳ καὶ τοῖς λοιποῖς ἀποστόλοις συγκαταλέγει, σαφῶς δηλῶν τὸν εὐαγγελιστήν, τὸν δ' ἕτερον Ἰωάννην, διαστείλας τὸν λόγον, ἕτέροις παρὰ τὸν τῶν ἀποστόλων ἀριθμὸν κατάτασσει, προτάξας αὐτοῦ τὸν Ἀριστίωνα, σαφῶς τε αὐτὸν πρεσβύτερον ὀνομάζει· 5 It is here worth noting that he twice counts the name of John, and reckons the first John with Peter and James and Matthew and the other Apostles, clearly meaning the evangelist, but by changing his statement places the second with the others outside the number of the Apostles, putting Aristion before him and clearly calling him a presbyter.
6 ὡς καὶ διὰ τούτων ἀποδείκνυσθαι τῆν ἱστορίαν ἀληθῆ τῶν δύο κατὰ τὴν Ἀσίαν ὁμωνυμίᾳ κεχρῆσθαι εἰρηκότων δύο τε ἐν Εφέσῳ γενέσθαι μνήματα καὶ ἐκάτερον ἔτι νῦν λέγεσθαι· οἷς καὶ ἀναγκαῖον προσέχειν τὸν νοῦν, εἰκὸς γὰρ τὸν δεύτερον, εἰ μή τις ἐθέλοι τὸν πρῶτον, τὴν ἐπ' ὀνόματος φερομένην Ἰωάννου ἀποκάλυψιν ἑορακέναι. 6 This confirms the truth of the story of those who have said that there were two of the same name in Asia, and that there are two tombs at Ephesus both still called John’s. This calls for attention: for it is probable that the second (unless anyone prefer the former) saw the revelation which passes under the name of John.
7 καὶ ὁ νῦν δὲ δηλούμενος Παπίας τοὺς μὲν τῶν ἀποστόλων λόγους παρὰ τῶν αὐτοῖς παρηκολουθηκότων ὁμολογεῖ παρειληφέναι, Ἀριστίωνος δὲ καὶ τοῦ πρεσβύτερου Ἰωάννου αὐτήκοον ἑαυτόν φησι γενέσθαι· ὀνομαστὶ γοῦν πολλάκις αὐτῶν μνημονεύσας ἐν τοῖς αὐτοῦ συγγράμμασιν τίθησιν αὐτῶν παραδόσεις. 7 The Papias whom we are now treating confesses that he had received the words of the Apostles from their followers, but says that he had actually heard Aristion and the presbyter John. He often quotes them by name and gives their traditions in his writings.
14 ἀναγκαίως νῦν προσθήσομεν ταῖς προεκτεθείσαις αὐτοῦ φωναῖς παράδοσιν ἣν περὶ Μάρκου τοῦ τὸ εὐαγγέλιον γεγραφότος ἐκτέθειται διὰ τούτων· 14 We are now obliged to append to the words already quoted from him [Papias] a tradition about the Mark who wrote the Gospel, which he expounds as follows:
15 καὶ τοῦθ' ὁ πρεσβύτερος ἔλεγεν· Μάρκος μὲν ἑρμηνευτὴς Πέτρου γενόμενος, ὅσα ἐμνημόνευσεν, ἀκριβῶς ἔγραψεν, οὐ μέντοι τάξει τὰ ὐπὸ τοῦ κυρίου η λεχθέντα ἢ πραχθέντα. οὔτε γὰρ ἤκουσεν τοῦ κυρίου οὔτε παρηκολούθησεν αὐτῷ, ὕστερον δὲ, ὡς ἔφην, Πέτρῳ· ὃς πρὸς τὰς χρείας ἐποιεῖτο τὰς διδασκαλίας, ἀλλ' οὐχ ὥσπερ σύνταξιν τῶν κυριακῶν ποιούμενος λογίων, ὥστε οὐδὲν ἥμαρτεν Μάρκος οὕτως ἔνια γράψας ὡς ἀπεμνημόσευσεν. ἐνὸς γὰρ ἐποιήσατο πρόνοιαν, τοῦ μηδὲν ὧν ἤκουσεν παραλιπεῖν ἢ ψεύσασθαί τι ἐν αὐτοῖς. 15 "And the Presbyter used to say this, 'Mark became Peter’s interpreter and wrote accurately all that he remembered, not, indeed, in order, of the things said or done by the Lord. For he had not heard the Lord, nor had he followed him, but later on, as I said, followed Peter, who used to give teaching as necessity demanded but not making, as it were, an arrangement of the Lord’s oracles, so that Mark did nothing wrong in thus writing down single points as he remembered them. For to one thing he gave attention, to leave out nothing of what he had heard and to make no false statements in them.' "
16 ταῦτα μὲν οὖν ἱστόρηται τῷ Παπίᾳ περὶ τοῦ Μάρκου· περὶ δὲ τοῦ Ματθαῖου ταῦτ' εἴρηται· Ματθαῖος μὲν οὖν Ἑβραΐδι διαλέκτῳ τὰ λόγια συνετάξατο, ἡρμήνευσεν δ' αὐτὰ ὡς ἧν δυνατὸς ἕκαστος. 16 This is related by Papias about Mark, and about Matthew this was said: "Matthew collected the oracles in the Hebrew language, and each interpreted them as best he could."


Justin Martyr (c. 100 - 165)

Justin was the first important Christian apologist, and was martyred in Rome about AD 165. The following excerpts are from his Dialogus cum Tryphone, Chapter 106 [translated by Stephen C. Carlson on the Synoptic Problem Website]:

1 Καὶ ὅτι ἠπίστατο τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ πάντα παρέχειν αὐτῳ, ὡς ἠξίου, καὶ ἀνεγερεῖν αὐτὸν ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, καὶ πάντας τοὺς φοβουμένους τὸν θεὸν προέτρεπεν αἰνεῖν τὸν θεὸν διὰ τὸ ἐλεῆσαι καὶ διὰ τοῦ μυστηρίου τοῦ σταυρωθέντος τούτου πᾶν γένος τῶν πιστευόντων ἀνθρώπων, καὶ ὅτι ἐν μέσῳ τῶν ἀδελφῶν αὐτοῦ ἔστη, τῶν ἀποστόλων, οἵτινες, μετὰ τὸ ἀναστῆναι αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν καὶ πεισθῆναι ὑπ' αὐτοῦ ὅτι καὶ πρὸ τοῦ παθεῖν ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς ὅτι ταῦτα αὐτὸν δεῖ παθεῖν καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν προφητῶν ὅτι προεκεκήρυκτο ταῦτα, μετενόησαν ἐπὶ τῷ ἀφίστασθαι αὐτοῦ ὅτε ἐσταυρώθη, καὶ μετ' αὐτῶν διάγων ὕμνησε τὸν θεὸν, ὡς καὶ ἑν τοῖς ἀπομνημονεύμασι τὸν ἀποστόλων δηλοῦται γεγενημένον, τὰ λείποντα τοῦ ψαλμοῦ ἐδήλωσεν. 1 And the remainder of the psalm shows that he knew his Father would grant him everything he asked and would raise him from the dead and urged everybody who fears God to praise God for having compassion, through the mystery of him crucified, on all kinds of people who believe; and that he stood in the midst of his brothers, the apostles (who repented of their abandoning him when he was crucified, after he rose from the dead and after they were persuaded by him that, before his suffering he told them that he must suffer these things, and that these things were announced beforehand by the prophets), and when spending time with them he sang praises to God, as shown in the memoirs of the apostles.
3 καὶ τὸ εἰπεῖν μετωνομακέναι αὐτὸν Πέτρον ἕνα τῶν ἀποστόλων, καὶ γεγράφθαι ἐν τοῖς ἀπομνημονεύμασιν αὐτοῦ γεγενημένον καὶ τοῦτο, μετὰ τοῦ καὶ ἄλλους δύο ἀδελφούς, υἱοὺς Ζεβεδαίου ὁντας, ἐπωνομακέναι ὀνόματι τοῦ βοανεργές, ὅ ἐστιν υἱοὶ βροντῆς, σημαντικὸν ἧν τοῦ αὐτὸν ἐκεῖνον εἶναι, δι' οὗ καὶ τὸ ἐπώνυμον Ἰακὼβ τῷ Ἰσραήλ ἐπικληθέντι ἐδόθη καὶ τῷ Αὐσῇ ὅνομα Ἰησοῦς ἐπεκλήθη, δι' οὗ ὀνόματος καὶ εἰσήχθη εἰς τὴν ἐπηγγελμένην τοῖς πατριάρχαις γὴν ὁ περιλειφθεὶς ἀπὸ τῶν ἀπ' Αἰγύπτου ἐξελθόντων λαός. 3 And when it is said that he changed the name of one of the apostles to Peter; and when it is written in his memoirs that this so happened, with the nicknaming of others, two brothers, the sons of Zebedee, to Boanerges, that is sons of thunder; this was a sign that it was through him that Jacob was nicknamed Israel, and Hoshea called Jesus (Joshua), under whose name the surviving people those who left Egypt were led into the land promised to the patriarchs.


Irenaeus (c. 130 - 200)

Irenaeus was bishop of Lyons (now in France). His most important work was Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies) was written about AD 180. The following quote from Book 3, Chapter 1 is from Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, Book 5, Chapter 8 [translated by Stephen C. Carlson on the Synoptic Problem Website]:

2 ὁ μὲν δὴ Ματθαῖος ἐν τοῖς Ἑβραίοις τῇ ἰδίᾳ αὐτῶν διαλέκτῳ καὶ γραφὴν ἐξήνεγκεν εὐαγγέλιου τοῦ Πέτρου καὶ τοῦ Παύλου ἐν Ρώμῃ εὐαγγελιζομένων καὶ θεμελιούντων τὴν ἐκκλησίαν· 2 So Matthew, among the Jews in their own dialect, brought forth a gospel writing when Peter and Paul in Rome were evangelizing and founding the church;
3 μετὰ δὲ τὴν τούτων ἔξοδεν Μάρκος, ὁ μαθητὴς καὶ ἑρμηνευτὴς Πέτρου, καὶ αὐτὸς τὰ ὑπὸ Πέτρου κηρυσσόμενα ἐγγράφως ἡμῖν παραδέδωκεν· καὶ Λουκᾶς δέ, ὁ ἀκόλουθος Παύλου, τὸ ὑπ' ἐκείνου κηρυσσόμενον εὐαγγέλιον ἐν βίβλῳ κατέθετο. 3 but after their departure Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, he too handed what was preached by Peter down to us in writing, and Luke, the follower of Paul, set forth in a book the gospel that was preached by him.
4 ἔπειτα Ἰωάννης, ὁ μαθητὴς τοῦ κυρίου, ὁ καὶ ἐπὶ τὸ στῆθος αὐτοῦ ἀναπεσών, καὶ αὐτὸς ἐξέδωκεν τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, ἐν Ἐφέσῳ τῆς Ἀσίας διατρίβων. 4 Then John, the disciple of the Lord and also the one who leaned against his chest, also put out the gospel when residing in Ephesus of Asia.

The following quotes from Adversus Haereses, Book 2, Chapter 22 and Book 3, Chapter 3 respectively are from Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, Book 3, Chapter 23 [translated by Christian Frederick Cruse, 1850]:

And all the presbyters of Asia, that had conferred with John the disciple of our Lord, testify that John had delivered it to them; for he continued with them until the times of Trajan.
But the church in Ephesus also, which had been founded by Paul, and where John continued to abide until the times of Trajan, is a faithful witness of the apostolic tradition.


Pantaenus (died c. 200)

Pantaenus founded the Catechetical School of Alexandria about AD 180. The following reports are from Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, Book 5, Chapter 10 and Jerome’s De Viris Illustribus, Chapter 36, respectively [quoted by John Wenham in Redating Matthew, Mark and Luke, page 117]:

3 It is said that he [Pantaenus] went to the Indians, and the tradition is that he found there that among some of those there who had known Christ the Gospel according to Matthew had preceded his coming; for Bartholomew, one of the apostles, had preached to them and had left them the writing of Matthew in Hebrew letters.
He [Pantaenus] found that [in India] Bartholomew, one of the twelve apostles, had preached the coming of the Lord Jesus according to the Gospel of Matthew, which, written in Hebrew letters, he brought with him when he returned to Alexandria.


Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 - 215)

Clement succeeded Pantaenus as head of the Catechetical School of Alexandria. The following texts come from two different writings, Adumbrationes ad I Peter 5:13 and Hypotyposeis, the second of which is mentioned in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, Book 2, Chapter 15 [quoted by John Wenham in Redating Matthew, Mark and Luke, pages 141-142]:

Mark, the follower of Peter, while Peter was preaching the gospel publicly at Rome in the presence of certain of Caesar’s knights and was putting forward many testimonies concerning Christ, being requested by them that they might be able to commit to memory the things which were being spoken, wrote from the things which were spoken by Peter the Gospel which is called According to Mark.
‘But a great light of religion shone on the minds of the hearers of Peter, so that they were not satisfied with a single hearing or with the unwritten teaching of the divine proclamation, but with every kind of exhortation besought Mark, whose Gospel is extant, seeing that he was Peter’s follower, to leave them a written statement of the teaching given them verbally, nor did they cease until they had persuaded him, and so became the cause of the Scripture called the Gospel according to Mark. And they say that the Apostle, knowing by the revelation of the spirit to him what had been done, was pleased at their zeal, and ratified the scripture for study in the churches.’ Clement quotes the story in the sixth book of the Hypotyposeis, and the bishop of Hierapolis, named Papias, confirms him. He also says that Peter mentions Mark in his first Epistle, and that he composed this in Rome itself.

The following quote is from Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, Book 6, Chapter 14 [translated by Stephen C. Carlson on the Synoptic Problem Website]:

5 Αὖθις δ' ἐν τοῖς αὐτοῖς ὁ Κλήμης βιβλίοις περὶ τῆς τάξεως τῶν εὐαγγελίων παράδοσιν τῶν ἀνέκαθεν πρεσβυτέρων τέθειται, τοῦτον ἔχουσαν τὸν τρόπον· προγεγράφθαι ἔλεγεν τῶν εὐαγγελίων τὰ περιέχοντα τὰς γενεαλογίας, 5 But again in those very books Clement presented a tradition of the original elders about the disposition of the gospels, in the following manner: He said that those gospels with genealogies were openly published,
6 τὸ δὲ κατὰ Μάρκον ταύτην ἐσχηκέναι τὴν οἰκονομίαν. τοῦ πέτρου δημοσίᾳ ἐν Ρώμῃ κηρύξαντος τὸν λόγον καὶ πνεύματι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἐξειπόντος, τοὺς παρόντας, πολλοὺς ὄντας, παρακαλέσαι τὸν Μάρκον, ὡς ἂν ἀκολουθήσαντα αὐτῷ πόρρωθεν καὶ μεμνημένον τῶν λεχθέντων, ἀναγράψαι τὰ εἰρημένα· ποιήσαντα δέ, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον μεταδοῦναι τοῖς δεομένοις αὐτοῦ· 6 but Mark had this procedure: when Peter was in Rome preaching in public the word and proclaiming the gospel by the spirit, those present, who were many, entreated Mark, as one who followed him for a long time and remembered what was said, to record what was spoken; but after he composed the gospel, he shared it with anyone who wanted it;
7 ὅπερ ἐπιγνόντα τὸν Πέτρον προτρεπτικῶς μήτε κωλῦσαι μήτε προτρέψασθαι. τὸν μέντοι Ἰωάννην ἔσχατον, συνιδόντα ὅτι τὰ σωματικὰ ἐν τοῖς εὐαγγελίοις δεδήλωται, προτραπέντα ὑπο τῶν γνωρίμων, πνεύματι θεοφορηθέντα πνευματικὸν ποιῆσαι ευ0αγγέλιον. τοσαῦτα ὁ Κλήμης. 7 when Peter found out about it, he did not actively discourage or encourage it; but John, last, aware that the physical facts were disclosed in the gospels, urged by friends, and inspired by the Spirit, composed a spiritual gospel. So much for Clement.


Tertullian (c. 160 - 225)

Tertullian was a Christian apologist from Carthage. The following excerpt is from Adversus Marcionem (Against the Marcionites), Book 4, Chapter 2 [translated by Peter Holmes in The Ante-Nicene Fathers]:

4 Luke, however, was not an apostle, but only an Apostolic man; not a master, but a disciple, and so inferior to a master - at least as far subsequent to him as the apostle whom he followed (and that, no doubt, was Paul ) was subsequent to the others.


Origen (c. 185 - 254)

Origen was the student of Clement of Alexandria and succeeded him as head of the Catechetical School of Alexandria. The following report is from Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, Book 6, Chapter 25 [translated by Stephen C. Carlson on the Synoptic Problem Website]:

3 Ταῦτα μὲν οὖν ἐν τῷ προειρημένῳ τίθησι συγγράμματι· ἐν δὲ τῷ πρώτῳ τῶν εἰς τὸ κατὰ Ματθαῖον, τὸν ἐκκλησιαστικὸν φυλάττων κανόνα, μόνα τεσσάρα εἰδέναι εὐαγγέλια μαρτύρεται, ὧδέ πως γράφων· 3 Now he puts these things in the previously mentioned work; but in the first of his [commentaries] on Matthew, defending the Church canon, he testifies of knowing only four gospels, writing something like this:
4 ὡς ἐν παραδόσει μαθὼν περὶ τῶν τεσσάρων εὐαγγελίων, ἃ καὶ μόνα ἀναντίρρητά ἐστιν ἐν τῇ ὑπὸ τὸν οὐρανὸν ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ, ὅτι πρῶτον μὲν γέγραπται τὸ κατὰ τόν ποτε τελώνην, ὕστερον δὲ ἀπόστολον Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ Ματθαῖον, ἐκδεδωκότα αὐτὸ τοῖς ἀπὸ Ἰουδαϊσμοῦ πιστεύσασιν, γράμμασιν Ἑβραϊκοῖς συντεταγμένον· 4 as learned by tradition about the four gospels, which alone are uncontested in the church of God under heaven, that, first, written was Matthew, once publican but later apostle of Jesus Christ, who published it for the believers from Judaism, composed in Hebrew letters;
5 δεύτερον δὲ τὸ κατὰ Μάρκον, ὡς Πέτρος ὑφηγήσατο αὐτῷ, ποιήσαντα, ὃν καὶ υἱὸν ἐν τῇ καθολικῇ ἐπιστολῇ διὰ τούτων ὡμολόγησεν φάσκων, Ἀσπάζεται ὑμᾶς βαβυλῶνι συνελεκτὴ καὶ Μάρκος ὁ υἱός μου· 5 but second, Mark, who composed as Peter led him, whom he avowed as son in the catholic epistle, saying as follows: "She who is in Babylon, chosen together, sends you greetings and so does my son Mark."
6 καὶ τρίτον τὸ κατὰ Λουκᾶν, τὸ ὑπὸ Παύλου ἐπαινούμενον εὐαγγέλιον τοῖς ἀπὸ τῶν ἐθνῶν πεποιηκότα· ἐπὶ πᾶσιν τὸ κατὰ Ἰωάννην. 6 and third, Luke, who has composed for those from the Gentiles the gospel praised by Paul; after all of them, John.


Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers

Only a few selected texts from later church fathers are included, since their value as witnesses is limited.

Eusebius (c. 260 - 340)

Eusebius was bishop of Caesarea and was a participant in the Council of Nicaea. He is considered the “father of church history” for his Ecclesiastical History, in which many of the traditions of the early church are recorded. In addition to his quotes of earlier writers already listed above, Eusebius reports the following in Book 2, Chapter 16 and Book 2, Chapter 24 respectively [quoted by John Wenham in Redating Matthew, Mark and Luke, page 174]:

They say that this Mark was the first to be sent to preach in Egypt the gospel which he had also put into writing, and was the first to establish churches in Alexandria itself.
In the eighth year of the reign of Nero, Annianus was the first after Mark the Evangelist to receive charge of the diocese of Alexandria.

The following quote is from Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, Book 3, Chapter 24 [translated by Christian Frederick Cruse, 1850]:

Of all the disciples, Matthew and John are the only ones that have left us recorded comments, and even they, tradition says, undertook it from necessity. Matthew also having first proclaimed the gospel in Hebrew, when on the point of going also to other nations, committed it to writing in his native tongue, and thus supplied the want of his presence to them, by his writings. But after Mark and Luke had already published their gospels, they say, that John, who during all this time was proclaiming the gospel without writing, at length proceeded to write it on the following occasion. The three gospels previously written, having been distributed among all, and also handed to him, they say that he admitted them, giving his testimony to their truth; but that there was only wanting in the narrative the account of the things done by Christ, among the first of his deeds, and at the commencement of the gospel.

The following texts come from two different writings, On the Discrepancies of the Gospels, Ad Marinum, Question 2 and Theophania 4.7 respectively [quoted by John Wenham in Redating Matthew, Mark and Luke, pages 118, 174]:

[on the phrase οψε του σαββατου (Matthew 28:1)]: It has been written by him who translated the scripture, for the evangelist delivered it in the Hebrew tongue.
[The churches] that are in Egypt and in Alexandria itself, did he [Peter] again, not by his own means, but by those of Mark his disciple, erect, he made his disciple Mark the teacher and fisherman of those in Egypt.


Epiphanius (c. 315 - 403)

Epiphanius was Metropolitan of Cyprus and a Christian apologist. The following quotes are from his work Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies), Book 29, Chapter 9; Book 30, Chapter 3; and Book 51, Chapter 6 [quoted by John Wenham in Redating Matthew, Mark and Luke, pages 118, 175]:

[on the Ebionites and Nazareans]: They have the Gospel according to Matthew complete and in Hebrew. For this is evidently still preserved among them, as it was originally written, in Hebrew script.
[on the Ebionites]: They too receive the Gospel according to Matthew. For this they too use… to the exclusion of all others. But they call it [the Gospel] according to the Hebrews, for, to speak truthfully, Matthew alone of New Testament writers presents and proclaims the gospel in Hebrew and in the Hebrew script.
Immediately after Matthew, Mark, who became a follower of the holy Peter in Rome, was entrusted to set forth the gospel, and having written, was sent by the holy Peter to the region of Egypt.

The following quote is from Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies), Book 51, Chapter 12 [quoted by John A. T. Robinson in Redating the New Testament, page 257]:

John, refusing in his humility to write a gospel, was compelled by the Holy Spirit to do so in his old age, when he was over ninety, after his return from Patmos and after living many years in Asia.


Jerome (c. 342 - 420)

Jerome was a scholar who is renowned for his translation of the Bible into Latin, the Vulgate. The following quotes are from De Viris Illustribus (On Illustrious Lives), Chapter 2, Chapter 3, and Chapter 8 respectively [quoted by John Wenham in Redating Matthew, Mark and Luke, pages 118-120, 174]:

The Gospel called according to the Hebrews which was recently translated by me into Greek and Latin, which Origen frequently uses, records after the resurrection of the Saviour: And when the Lord had given the linen cloth to the servant of the priest, he went to James and appeared to him. For James had sworn that he would not eat bread from that hour in which he had drunk the cup of the Lord until he should see him risen from among them that sleep. And shortly thereafter the Lord said: Bring a table and bread! And immediately it is added: He took the bread, blessed it and brake it and gave it to James the Just and said to him: My brother, eat thy bread, for the son of Man is risen from among them that sleep.
Matthew, who is also Levi, from a publican an apostle, was the first to compose a gospel of Christ in Judea for the sake of those who had believed from the circumcision, in Hebrew words and letters; who it was that afterwards translated it into Greek is not sufficiently certain. Further, the Hebrew itself is preserved up to the present day in the library at Caesarea which Pamphilus the martyr very diligently collected. I had leave also given me to copy it by the Nazareans in Beroea a city of Syria who use this work. In which it is to be observed that wherever the evangelist, either in his own person or the person of the Lord the Saviour, uses testimonies of the Old Testament, he does not follow the authority of the Septuagint, but of the Hebrew.
Mark… wrote a short gospel at the request of the brethren at Rome… taking the gospel which he himself had composed, he went to Egypt and first preaching Christ at Alexandria he formed a church… He died in the eighth year of Nero and was buried at Alexandria, Annianus succeeding him.