85 CE Around 15 years after Mark, in approximately the year 85 CE, the author known as Matthew wrote his book, drawing on a number of sources, including Mark and a collection of sayings that historians eventually dubbed "Q," for Quelle, which means source. The Gospel of Luke was written between the ages of 85 and 95, roughly fifteen years later. Both Matthew and Luke were Jews from Palestine who knew Jesus firsthand.
The book of Matthew is believed to have been written first because it is longer than Luke's gospel. Also, while Luke includes many stories about Jesus' birth, life, and teachings, these events are more extensively documented in the book of Matthew. Finally, Matthew records several important episodes in the life of Jesus that are not found in any other gospel: his baptism by John, his temptation by the devil, and his conversations with God before each of his public appearances.
Matthew wrote his gospel to explain why Jesus needed to be born into a human family and to show that Jesus was more than a good teacher but also was the Son of God who could save people from their sins. By writing this book, Matthew wanted to get this message out to as many people as possible so that they would know about Jesus and be able to find salvation through him.
According to tradition, Matthew wrote his gospel in Jerusalem.
Some scholars believe that Mark was written in the 1950s or early 1960s, and that Matthew and Luke relied heavily on it. Others believe that the Gospel's substance and early church fathers' views about Mark show that the book was written just before the fall of Jerusalem in a.d. 70. Still others point to ideas found only in Mark as evidence for its early date.
The traditional date is A.D. 70-150. But many modern scholars doubt that such an event actually occurred in history's most successful military campaign. They say the book's account of such events as the destruction of the temple and city of Jerusalem can't be correct because they would have been memorable events for anyone who lived through them.
Other problems with this traditional date are that it makes no sense that the two other gospel writers would have ignored it. And some early church fathers believed that the destruction of Jerusalem had not happened yet!
Scholars have also questioned whether Jesus was even alive at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem since the book says he died later that year. Some believe the book is incomplete and that more stories were included in an oral tradition over time. Others suggest that the author of Mark intended to write a different book about Jesus called "Mark (the Savior)" and that he changed his mind after writing only part of it.
Nonetheless, it is widely assumed that Matthew was written before A.D. 70, maybe as early as A.D. 50. Mark was not there during the events of Jesus' life. He was a follower of Peter, and it was certainly Peter who informed Mark about Christ's life and directed him in writing the Gospel that bears his name. Matthew may have been written by someone other than Mark himself; perhaps one of his disciples wrote down what he knew about Jesus' ministry.
Matthew was probably not the first book to be written about Jesus. The Gospels of Luke and John were also likely written before A.D. 70. However, these three books are the only ones that contain information about his life. Therefore, they are called "the Gospels."
Matthew was probably not intended to be published. It seems that after Jesus' death and burial, his followers decided that it would be useful for others to know about Jesus, so they compiled his teachings into a book. They may have used notes taken by themselves or others, or even an existing document such as a journal. Then they sent this book to Gamaliel, a prominent Jewish leader, so that he could evaluate its value. He would have had access to information about Jesus' activities not available to the general public, so he might have recognized possible contradictions with other stories. Based on his evaluation, they may have decided to publish the book.
The four gospels, like the rest of the New Testament, were written in Greek. The Gospel of Mark was most likely written between AD 66 and 70, Matthew and Luke between AD 85 and 90, and John between AD 90 and 110. Despite popular belief, all four are nameless, and most experts agree that none were written by eyewitnesses. Rather, they are anonymous accounts written by followers of Jesus to explain his life and teachings.
Each of the gospels is divided into chapters which mark off important events or conversations in Jesus' life. They do not necessarily follow a strict chronological order, but often combine different episodes from earlier in Jesus' career with others from later on. For example, Matthew includes many stories from the life of Jesus found in other Gospels (Luke and John), while Mark contains only those stories not included in the other two gospels.
Chapter headings provide information about the topic being discussed in the chapter. Some chapters are titled after important people who appear in them, such as "Jesus Calls His First Disciples" or "Jesus Presides at the Council of Jerusalem". Others are simply titled "Gospel", "Of Jesus Christ", or something similar. Still others use genealogies to discuss key figures in the story, such as "The Genealogy of Jesus".
The term gospel comes from the Greek word euangelion, which means "the announcement of good news". This news involves the reconciliation of humanity with God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
If Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written in the years 60, 70, 80, or 90, Thomas might have been written in the year 50, only 20 years after Jesus' death. Other researchers believe they were composed around the year 140. I believe the best estimation is approximately 90 or 100 years ago, around the period of the Gospel of John.
The Gospel of Thomas consists of seven chapters which are ascribed to different authors at different times. The first five chapters were probably written before A.D. 130. Chapter 6 appears to have been added later to bring the book up to date. Chapters 7-10 may have been written as late as 200. Although there are subtle differences in style between these early chapters and those that follow, they all seem to have been written with the aim of presenting a single coherent account of Jesus' life and teaching. They also share many similarities in content which suggests that they each derive from a common source.
Chapter 1 describes Jesus as "the son of man." This title appears frequently in Gnostic texts and may have indicated that the writer(s) believed Jesus to be a divine figure who had taken on human form. Some scholars conjecture that he used this description because it was easier for non-Jews to understand than the more esoteric meanings associated with other terms such as "Light" and "Risen One."
Chapter 2 tells of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem of Judea and his family's move to Egypt where he was raised.