Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How did Luke's name get attached to a gospel?

Michael J. Kruger continues his series addressing "Misconceptions about the NT Canon" with “The Canonical Gospels Were Certainly Not Written by the Individuals Named in Their Titles.” Excerpts:
One of the most commonly made claims regarding the canonical gospels is that they were not written by the individuals named in their titles. Instead, we are told that these gospels were written later in the first century by anonymous individuals outside of Palestine who were not eyewitnesses of any of the events that they record. .... ...[T]he gospel titles, it is argued, were added at a later point—probably the middle of the second century—in order to bolster the credibility of these anonymous texts. ....

Although the titles themselves don’t guarantee the authorship of a book, they are key piece of historical evidence about who early Christians understood the authors to be. So, were the titles added late in the second century as some scholars maintain? We shall argue here that there are good reasons to think the titles were included at a very early point
  1. The manuscript evidence. Although we possess a limited number of gospel manuscripts from the second and third centuries that preserve the title pages, the ones we do possess have the title present. In other words, we do not find “title-less” gospel manuscripts from this time period. ....
  2. The uniformity of the titles. Perhaps one the most compelling reasons to think the titles were added early is the fact that there is such uniformity in these titles within the early centuries of the faith. If the titles were added late, we would have expected a substantial amount of diversity to have developed. After all, the users of these gospels had to have called them something (especially if they had more than one gospel), and since they were anonymous it is reasonable to think they would have called these gospels by different names. ....
  3. The inclusion of Mark and Luke. If the titles were added in the late second century, as some suppose, then it is difficult to imagine that Mark and Luke’s names would have been included. If names were arbitrarily chosen, we would hardly expect these two. .... [more]
10 Misconceptions about the NT Canon: #9: “The Canonical Gospels Were Certainly Not Written by the Individuals Named in Their Titles” | Canon Fodder