Saturday, January 30, 2010

NT Pod 22: The Anonymity of the Gospels

Episode 22 of the NT Pod discusses the issue of The Anonymity of the Gospels, exploring some of the issues that surround the relative lack of "authorial representation" in the canonical Gospels, in contrast with some second century Gospels.

It is eleven minutes long. Feel free to leave your comments below.

NT Pod Episode 22: The Anonymity of the Gospels (mp3)

Key texts: Matthew 9.9; Luke 1.1-4, John 19.35, John 21.24; Gospel of Thomas Incipit; Protevangelium of James 25.1; Gospel of Peter 15.60; Apocryphon of James.

Thanks to Ram2000, Me and You, for the opening theme, released under a Creative Commons agreement.


  1. Those who reject a historical Jesus have an easy answer here: The earliest Gospels did not attribute their text to an authority eyewitness figure, because at the time the historical Jesus view was just coming into the picture and there actually was no famous apostle who was considered to be an eyewitness and a follower of a historical Jesus. Only the emergence of the first Gospels and the transformation of "the twelve" into twelve disciples of a historical Jesus made this possible.

    Is it a mere coincidence that the three names of the pillars in Paul happen to be the same as the three disciples in Jesus's inner circle? Think of the odds here.

    Bill Warrant

  2. Is it just me, or is down?

  3. Mark,

    you suggest that the degree of authorial presence correlates with date of composition. But if the gospel writers were imitating OT practices, we should expect the degree of authorial presence to correlate primarily with the familiarity of the intended audience with the OT genre vs the norms of Gentile works. Wouldn't this explain the data? The chronological correlation would then be an incidental consequence of the fact that the gnostics were not steeped in the OT. So, I am not yet convinced that your observations about the degree of authorial presence provides new evidence that Luke and John were written after Matthew and Mark. I would need more discussion of a hypothesized mechanism by which the shift occurred over time.

    John, I was able to access the pod cast by going to Mark's other web page here: and clicking on "Duke's iTunes U"

  4. John: Yes, I am afraid that seems to be down. Don't know what's going on there. Hopefully it will be back soon. Thanks for the comments, Bill and Richard.

  5. OK, the site's back. Thanks again for letting me know it had gone down. Turns out that they had not processed my "auto-renewal" payment!

  6. Mark, I can't access the sound file - it's down again?

  7. Temporary glitch; now back again. Sorry about that. Hope it's the last one of those! They couldn't find an explanation for it this time.

  8. Very thought-provoking podcast as usual. It is interesting how in one historical context the anonymity of the earliest Gospels lends them a degree of authority and resemblance to Scripture, while in a later context it is necessary to ground these texts in apostolic authority (Mark w/ Peter, Matthew, Luke w/ Paul, John) as the notion of apostolic succession became important in competing with rival Christian groups.
    - Mike