I have had the opportunity to lead the Builders Sunday Morning Small Group for three weeks studying the gospel according to Mark. This question was shared during our time together.
The question of how these particular four gospels were chosen among the various compilations and writings of the stories of Jesus that were circulating among the early church. It is a multi-layered story and first want to give you some links for your own research.
- Development of the New Testament canon at Wikipedia
- How the Biblical Canon Was Chosenat umc.org
- We Rely on the Bibleat umc.org
- Bible at Wikipedia
Now I’ll give you my best take on the question. One of the reasons that other gospels were not chosen is that others were determined to be Christian heresy – for example asserting that Jesus did not really die, was not human, was not divine, etc. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John provide a rich portrait of Jesus life, teaching, death and resurrection. This portrait is one which the early church found was nuanced in a way that did not paint Jesus in black and white and also clear enough that there were some boundaries to what was to be understood as orthodox.
What do you think? How would you respond to this question?