Authentic Bible history vs New Age Nonsense: Was Matthew or Mark the first written Gospel?

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For 2000 years Christians have accepted that the four Gospels provide reliable historical facts about the life of Jesus. They also accepted that the ancient historians provided reliable accounts regarding the origins of these Gospels. Borrowing had obviously taken place between the authors of Matthew, Mark and Luke, later known as: ‘The Synoptic Gospels’. Who had borrowed from whom was of little academic interest until 1764 when Henry Owen, an Anglican Vicar, proposed that Mark wrote after Luke.

Although discussed in Germany, conservative scholars rejected the idea because it contradicted Jerome’s sequence of Matthew-Mark-Luke.

But Owen had arrived at his theory by critically examining the wording used by the authors, and this prompted others to also do so. In 1838 Christian Weisse claimed that as Mark’s Gospel was in poor grammatical Greek, compared to the other two, he must have written prior to them.  His reason was that the ‘borrower’ would not deliberately turn good quality Greek into poor quality. The sequence that Mark wrote first became known as the Markan Priority Theory.

Rationalists and other non-believers in the German Universities, supported by the government, championed this theory because all the ancient historians had said that Matthew wrote first. The acceptance of Markan Priority would mean all the early Christian historians were seriously wrong so unreliable.

Also, they could argue, that as most scholars dated Mark as writing about 64 AD, Matthew and Luke must have been written much later. So, these Gospels would have been authored by anonymous individuals who had never met Christ. They would have constructed stories of Christ not based on facts but on their personal faith.

Such a lack of Scriptural reliability would devastate Evangelical Christianity. And the evidence for the historical claim, by the Catholic Church, to having been founded by Christ would be undermined.

Christians answered those promoting Markan Priority [In future here referred to as Markans], by basing their stand on the words of the historians and on the reliability of Jerome’s listing in the order of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. But although they undermined the Markan position, they failed to win the debate convincingly.

On the other side, Markans found it necessary to rely on an alleged historical document they called Q – although there was not the slightest historical evidence that it ever existed. The two sides fought each other to a stand-still.

Then, in 1965, the Second Vatican Council maintained that the historians were correct. It restated that the eyewitness Apostles and their apostolic friends had authored the four gospels. Soon afterwards, research led to a third theory emerging (or re-emerging), which would reconcile modern critical analysis with the historical evidence.

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“Ultra-left wing Jews and Catholics” have denigrated the Pope’s (Pius XII) reputation because he “typified the conservative, traditional Church”.

One of the most prominent Jewish defenders of Pope Pius XII’s actions during World War II said in a recent interview that “we’re definitely winning” the battle to restore the Pontiff’s reputation.

“Every time we do more research, we find a diamond,” said Gary Krupp of the Pave the Way Foundation. “It’s incredible, but there’s nothing on the other side, because there’s no documented foundation for any of their accusations.”

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This Week’s Ask Alice: Catholic Church Critics, Michael Voris and Real Catholic TV.



Send A Question To Alice

She’ll answer as many questions as possible,
right here, every Thursday.

Email responses will also be provided, as time permits.

Andy Asks: I liked the recent Ask Alice answer about websites critical of the Catholic Church and I was wondering what you both thought of the Michael Voris Real Catholic TV site. His videos are tough on the Bishops but he sure loves our Holy Father.

Alice Responds: Michael Voris’ Real Catholic TV reaches the minds and hearts of an enormous online audience. You refer to his videos as “tough” while I call them “truthful.” And sometimes, the truth does hurt.

Although he is tough on errant bishops, Voris is equally outspoken about any bishop, priest, religious, or lay person who does not teach, practice, uphold and defend the Catholic faith. Michael is a man who loves God and speaks the truth.

“God is Spirit, and those who worship
must worship in Spirit and truth.”
(John 4:24)

The main reason I respect Michael is because as you said, “he sure loves our Holy Father.” Michael is faithful to the Pope, i.e., the Magisterium of our Church. His Real Catholic TV programs teach about Heaven and hell, Jesus and Mary, saints and sinners, angels and demons, good and evil.

Voris urges Catholics to receive the sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist frequently. Voris’ criticisms are not leveled against the Catholic Church, but chastise individuals whose bad behavior provides a disservice to the Body of Christ.

Sometimes, there is a razor fine line between constructive and destructive criticism of human beings who serve in church ministry.

Although Voris is often critical of misdeeds done by members of the clergy, he does not engage in calumny or character defamation. He doesn’t spread rumors or half-truths. Also, Voris speaks messages of support and encouragement to bishops, priests, religious, and laity who are faithful to the Church.

Here is my personal set of rubrics
for determining the efficacy of a Catholic commentator:

1) Does the Catholic commentator acknowledge the Pope as the head of the Church, the Vicar of Christ on Earth and believe in Papal infallibility? Does the commentator respect or malign our Holy Father?

2) Does the commentator uphold the teachings of the Catholic faith?

3) Is the criticism presented by the commentator aligned with the Mind of Christ?

“You must be clever as snakes and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

4) Does the commentator exhibit a spirit of love and forgiveness? Or is he/she judgmental?

“If you want to avoid judgment,
stop passing judgment. Your verdict on others
will be the verdict passed on you.”
(Matthew 7:1-2)

5) Do the words of the commentator unite or divide the Body of Christ? Commentators who are negative and judgmental fail to nurture the Body of Christ. They spread paranoia and mistrust rather than the “be not afraid” attitude Jesus promoted.

A faithful Catholic commentator leads his/her listeners to Christ.

“You will know them by their deeds….you can tell a tree by its fruit.” (Matthew 7:16, 20)

In Christ’s Love,

Alice

Doug Lawrence adds: It’s interesting that you mention Michael Voris, since neither Alice or I rate Real Catholic TV as a “dangerous” site. Respectfully critical perhaps … but certainly not outside the bounds of Canon 212 … and always faithful to the Magisterium.

We also have a link to Real Catholic TV on our site. (Depending on your screen resolution, links appear alphabetically, either to the right of, or just below the main content window.)

As you probably know, during the last six months we’ve sponsored and promoted two different personal appearances by Michael Voris, in the Chicago area. The last one was an all-day “Majesty of the Faith” program, and it was great!

You really ought to see/hear him in person, if you get the chance.

Of course, certain Catholic bishops and/or their diocesan staff members have been known to have opinions to the contrary … but there’s not too much we can do about that.

More about Michael Voris and Real Catholic TV

Click here to see all of Alice’s other columns

Boehner’s CUA critics merely pro-abort liberal Catholics, out to make trouble.

It is ironic that this particular group of Catholic faculty members would choose to draw from the Compendium to educate the speaker on what the Church really teaches. The Compendium cautions that the first right — ahead of all other rights — is the right to life. Pronouncing abortion a “horrendous crime,” the Compendium warns about the illicitness of supporting abortion. Yet several of those signing the letter have publicly campaigned for pro-choice Catholic politicians — all Democrats — who not only promised to support a woman’s right to choose, but have consistently voted to expand abortion rights.

Catholic University professor Steve Schneck, the spokesman and organizer of the Boehner letter campaign, has actively supported several pro-abortion politicians. In 2009, he was one of 26 Catholic scholars who signed the statement “Catholics for Sebelius,” supporting President Obama’s selection of Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of health and human services. As governor of Kansas, Sebelius vetoed pro-life legislation on four separate occasions.

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Pope criticised in luminaries’ letter

Critics in the U.K. have released a letter saying the Vatican has “been responsible for: Opposing the distribution of condoms and so increasing large families in poor countries and the spread of Aids; promoting segregated education; denying abortion to even the most vulnerable women; opposing equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; failing to address the many cases of abuse of children within its own organisation”.

Let’s take these objections one at a time …

Condoms:

Despite Church opposition, condoms have been in world-wide use for generations, by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Babies continue to be born. Aids continues to spread. If condom use was the answer, the problem would already have been solved.

The Church teaches that abstinence/chastity or monogamous, marital sexuality is the only real solution to the Aids problem.  There is currently, no other solution, and all the facts bear this out.

Conversely, the Church does not view human procreation as a problem. Children are a gift from God. You can never have too many of them. To believe anything else would indicate a profound lack of faith in the providence of God.

The usual cause of widespread starvation and disease is political in nature, often the result of war, religious persecution, or acts of genocide. Artificial birth control plays no part in any of these. Man’s inhumanity to man, most certainly does.

Promoting Segregated Education:

What are these guys smoking? Catholic schools have traditionally offered the best possible education for children of every race, color, and creed, the world over. If by segregated, these guys are referring to some unknown and unfounded civil right that says homosexuality must be promoted in schools, then they better find a better word to describe it. The word morality would be good!

Denying Abortion to Even the Most Vulnerable Women:

Abortion is the institutionalized, government sanctioned murder of children … approximately half of which are female. Additionally, abortion hurts the mother (and father) and all of civilized society, as well. Exactly who could be more vulnerable than defenseless woman and children, and why should anyone have license to kill even a single one of them?

Opposing Equal Rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People:

No such rights exist, and should any government ever decide to extend such rights, they would essentially be inviting citizens to freely commit serious, grave sin, which might very well result in divine judgment and their eternal damnation.

The Church is in the business of helping people overcome immorality and sin (otherwise known as the world, the flesh, and the devil) in the hope of securing the eternal salvation of their immortal souls.

While free will is an established theological principle, the wages of sin is death, and each of us will indeed be judged for the choices we make, no matter how corrupt, earthly governments might choose to rule.

The Church has a sacred duty to clearly point this out, and to stand firm on all the eternal truths.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Chastity and homosexuality

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

Failing to Address the Many Cases of Abuse of Children Within Its Own Organisation:

As if these guys could care less about such things! The only reason they bring this up is to use it as a club, with which to “beat” the Church.

Sure, the Church acted too slowly and somewhat late, in this matter! The Vatican routinely operates in just that fashion, in virtually every matter. It always has. Blame it on God, on Italians, or on bureaucracies. Your choice

At first, nobody even believed such a thing was possible. Then, the medical/psychiatric establishment failed, by providing faulty professional advice and counsel. Finally, in their frustration, some of the bishops “flipped a coin” and made wrong decisions. Having done so, they were stuck! Only when the facts began to come out did we learn the full extent of the scandal, and precisely how badly “stuck” they were.

The simple fact is, the problem has been identified, the victims are being compensated, the offenders are being punished, and the Church is taking comprehensive steps to make reasonably certain that the problem does not occur again.

I challenge anyone to name even one other religious and/or government organization (they all suffer from abuse scandals, and in much greater numbers than the Catholic Church) that has accomplished as much.

So, in the end, the critics are opposed to the Catholic Church primarily because the Church is just about the only thing standing in the way of their secular, humanist, homosexual, socialist/communist/atheist agenda … and they don’t want Pope Benedict coming around, getting people all riled up.

Too bad!

Summary: The Pros and Cons of Christopher West’s Work

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