This Bible Study is based on Series 5 of a series entitled:

Biblical Questions

A manual for High School and college students,
and for young people and adult discussion groups.
by
Rev. Rudolph G. Bandas

Nihil Obstat
Rev. George Ziskovsky, S.T.D., L.S.Sc
Censor Deputatus
die 11a Februarii, 1943
Imprimatur
Joannes Gregorius Murray
Archiepiscopus Sancti Pauli
die 12a Februarii, 1943

Introduction

The word "Gospel" comes from the Anglo-Saxon term "godspell" and, as used in the Bible, denotes the glad tidings of man's redemption. The four narratives designated by that title in the New Testament agree in all essentials and constitute one Gospel in four-fold form; the inspiration of the four Gospels in one and the same Jesus Christ. The words, "according to" in the title, "The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John," merely denote authorship. Despite this fundamental oneness, however, the standpoint of each Evangelist is different, and this explains the occasional apparent discrepancies discoverable when two or more of them narrate the same thing.

The Gospels - whether taken singly or collectively - do not give us a complete biography. St. John tells us that "there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written every one, the world itself I think would not be able to contain the books that should be written" (John 21:25). The four living creatures in Ezechiel's vision (Ezechiel 1:10; cf. Apocalypse 4:7) - which had respectively the face of a man, of a lion, of an ox and of an eagle - were from the earliest days of the Church considered as figures of the four Evangelists. The Fathers, however, were not in agreement in assigning these symbols to the Evangelists. According to the correlation proposed by St. Ambrose, Matthew, commencing with the carnal generation of Christ, portrays our Lord's humanity, and is symbolized by man. Mark pictures the regal power of Christ and is therefore symbolized by the lion. Luke opens with the vision to Zachary, the priest, and is symbolized by the sacrificial calf. John, soaring on the wings of theological contemplation even to the eternal generation of the Word, is symbolized by the eagle. This distribution of the symbols takes into account the opening words of each book rather than the individuality and whole scope of each Evangelist.

With the exception of St. Matthew's Gospel - which according to unanimous tradition was first written in Aramaic - all the Gospels were written in the Greek language.

Back