Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church (The Complete Eight Volumes in One). Amazon Kindle Edition, 2014.
Volume 1, Ch. 12, “The New Testament” Loc. 8053-12025. (continued)
§80 “Matthew” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8716).
After a brief bibliography Schaff reviews the identity of Matthew. His actions outside of the Gospels are not known with much clarity (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8733). Because of his position as a tax collector Schaff makes some inferences about his background and social standing. The Gospel is very Hebraic in nature (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8756). It has some strongly topical elements in its construction (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8778). Schaff goes on to detail the structure. The Gospel was evidently known in the patristic period (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8825). Based on Papias’ comments, Schaff concludes that a Hebrew version of Matthew’s Gospel existed before the Greek version we now have. The Greek version does not seem to be a translation from a Hebrew work (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8860).
§ 81 “Mark” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8871).
After a brief bibliography, Schaff introduces Mark as “a connecting link between Peter and Paul, but more especially a pupil and companion of Peter” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8883). Church tradition adds to the biblical information of Mark’s life that he wrote the Gospel in Rome around the time of Peter’s death, then founded a church in Alexandria (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8899). The Gospel document is brief but tends to give significant detail of incidents (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8922). The text is energetic and forceful (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8945). The doctrine is fair and balanced, with many influences of Paul and Peter (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8974). His style is not that of a polished rhetorician or author but shows excellent observation of events (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8980). Schaff concludes from the many unique details of Mark that it “is a thoroughly independent and original work” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9019). Schaff continues with notes about the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9042). After considerable commentary on different theories Schaff leaves the passage as inconclusive.
§82 “Luke” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9146).
“As Mark is inseparably associated with Peter, so is luke with Paul. There was, in both cases, a foreordained correspondence and congeniality between the apostle and the historian or co-laborer” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9168). Schaff considers Luke’s Gospel to be the most literary of the four. He identifies similarities between Mark and Luke but considers it to be due to personal acquaintance. “No doubt there was frequent conference between the two, but no allusion is made to each other’s writings, which tends to prove that they were composed independently during the same period, or not far apart” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9172). Luke refers to himself only obliquely in his writings but is treated with respect by Paul (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9178). As a physician he would have had access to a variety of people. Many suggest Luke’s origin in Antioch (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9183). Later traditions suggest that Luke lived to the age of 84, travelled a good deal, and was eventually crucified in Greece (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9198). In writing the Gospel, Schaff says, “It is certain that he had no knowledge of our Greek Matthew . . . “ (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9214). The dedication to Theophilus likely refers to a noteworthy individual, possibly a catechumen or convert (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9236). Schaff views the work to be refined and well constructed, reflecting the Greek historians (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9251). The Gospel is strongly chronological in nature (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9267). Schaff provides an outline. He then observes as main themes free grace and universal salvation (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9298). Schaff details these ideas, then identifies the tone of the writing. “Luke is the best Greek writer among the Evangelists” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9360). His tone and style vary based on the subject. The authorship, though not asserted as early as Matthew or Mark, is still ascribed to Luke early and consistently (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9386). Schaff discusses Luke’s credibility. His writing has been seen as an attempt at harmonizing various elements (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9401). Schaff considers rather that Luke was simply reporting what he saw and learned, not engaging in polemics. Schaff places the composition between 58 and 63, with publication after Paul’s death (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9417).
§ 83 “John” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9463).
Schaff refers to John’s Gospel as “the best” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9463). He describes the time and composition using picturesque language. This Gospel is later than and very different from the other accounts. “If John wrote long after the Synoptists, we could, of course, not expect from him a repetition of the story already so well told by three independent witnesses. But what is surprising is the fact that, coming last, he should produce the most original of all the Gospels” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9482). Schaff notes a different tone and content of John’s Gospel (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9492). Early witnesses affirm composition in Ephesus, at least in part as a response to the growing Gnosticism in the very late 1st century (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9511). The purpose is not a complete account of Jesus but a series of examples to inspire and confirm belief (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9539). Schaff discusses and discounts several purposes which have been assigned to John’s Gospel at various times, preferring John’s stated purpose. In light of that purpose, Schaff finds a clear plan of the Gospel. “It brings out the growing conflict between belief and unbelief, between light and darkness, and leads step by step to the great crisis of the cross . . . “ (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9577). Schaff speaks of the overall characteristics of John in glowing terms as “the most original, the most important, the most influential book in all literature” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9631). He gives a number of features distinguishing it from the Synoptics (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9641ff). The Christology is more mature in its expression. The works of Jesus show his deity and purpose very clearly. Schaff details various differences in style and language as well, both between John and the Synoptics and between the Gospel, Epistles, and Apocalypse. In general the grammar and vocabulary of the Gospel are limited but the use of repetition and parallelism is powerful (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9781). Questions as to authorship arose in the 19th century (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9800). Schaff views that battle as ended with John as the author. He goes on to detail many pieces of external and internal evidence.
§84 “Critical Review of the Johannean Problem” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9968).
“The Johannean problem is the burning question of modern criticism on the soil of the New Testament. It arises from the difference between John and the Synoptists on the one hand, and the difference between the fourth Gospel and the Apocalypse on the other” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 9968). The difference in content between the Synoptic Gospels and John are significant. There are various ways of explaining the differences. Schaff details four, then four ways of dealing with the differences in style between the Gospel and Revelation. The doubts arose in the 19th century, with attacks largely by those who had decided to consider Scripture from a viewpoint of doubt (Schaff 2014, Loc. 10044). There is little consensus among the critics. This lack of agreement makes a consistent case difficult to articulate. Schaff concludes that we should accept the 4th gospel and Revelation as from the pen of the apostle John.