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
Answer to Question 106.
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 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
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