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Early Church Acceptance as Authoritative

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How the early church emphasized the unity of the four gospel accounts in proclaiming the "one gospel," and considered them authoritative sources for the life and ministry of Jesus, as opposed to the Gnostic gospels and other writings circulated at the time.


Early Church Acceptance of the Four Gospels as Authoritative


I. The Response of the Early Church

A. The response itself

B. The reasons for this response

1. The importance of truthful history and the widely acknowledged antiquity of the four gospels.

a. Justin Martyr

b. Quotations and Allusions to the Four

c. Apocryphal Gospel Titles

i. Gospel of Peter

ii. Gospel of Thomas

2. The unity of the four gospels on the fundamental principles of the one gospel

a. Evidence that early Christians agreed on the one gospel

i. Evidence from 1 Thessalonians

ii. Evidence from Galatians

b. Evidence from the titles of the gospels

c. Explicity evidence from the second and third centuries

i. Muratorian canon

ii. Irenaeus

a) The one gospel in four

b) The importance of Acts

iii. Origen

3. The theological point of a pluriform witness

a. A pluriform witness prevents erroneous overemphasis on a certain theological themes to the exclusion of others.

b. The pluriform nature of the gospel record itself witnesses to the grandeur of the one gospel.


II. The Relevance of the Early Church’s Approach to the Modern and Post-Modern Quest for the Historical Jesus

A. The importance of history, then and now

B. The importance of the fourfold witness to Jesus, then and now

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