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21st May
written by Jeffrey Long


The books in the Bible that tell the story of Jesus are called gospels. The titles of these books come from the names of the authors that Christian tradition attributed to them, though the authors wrote anonymously. We believe that these books originated from collections of sayings and stories that had been transmitted orally. Three of them, Matthew, Mark and Luke are called synoptic gospels because they are collections of stories and sayings that appear to have relied on common sources. In contrast, John, the fourth gospel, is almost 100% independent of these sources, and also separated by the greatest time from Jesus’ life; believed by some to have been written at least 60 years later in 90AD. Of the three, Mark is the earliest, believed to have been written about 60-70AD. Where stories and sayings overlap in Matthew and Luke that have parallels to Mark, it is understood that those gospels used Mark as a source. But Matthew and Luke also overlap in ways that are independent from Mark. Modern scholars believe that these sayings existed in a written collection that we don’t have. They call this collection “Q,” short for “source” in German.