Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The disciples writing the Gospels

Always hoped that I'd be an apostle
Knew that I could make it if I tried
Then when we retire we can write the Gospels
So they'll all talk about us when we have died

That's a bit of Jesus Christ Superstar, of course, from the Last Supper scene. This idea of the disciples themselves writing the Gospels is an old one. It is present, for example, in the ?mid-late second century Apocryphon of James (translation here):
... the twelve disciples were all sitting together and recalling what the Saviour had said to each one of them, whether in secret or openly, and putting it in books.


Eric Rowe said...

Recently, playing Trivial Pursuit, I was given the question, "A Lion is the symbol of which of the twelve apostles?". I mentioned that I knew that Mark, the author of the Gospel, was represented by a lion, but that the answer must be someone else, since he wasn't one of the twelve. So I made some other wild guess. The answer on the card was indeed Mark.

Stephen C. Carlson said...

Eric, that's a terrible question. By the way, if you look at Felix Just's handy chart of the symbols for the four evangelists, it turns out that all four of them, at various times, had been associated with the lion. But if the answer is "Mark" in accordance with the most popular of the schemes (Jerome's), then the question should have been about the four evangelists.

Peter T Chattaway said...

Doesn't the "idea of the disciples themselves writing the Gospels" go all the way back to John 21:24? That refers to only one of the disciples, though. And yeah, neither Mark nor Luke were the product of actual disciples by any reckoning. (Admittedly, tradition does hold that Mark got his info from Peter, but it's Mark who gets the byline, so...)

Michael F. Bird said...

Mark, there are some gem quotes in Tim Rice's lyrics to JCS. I think the opening song "heaven on their minds" is Rudolf Bultmann set to music! I wrote an article on Jesus and Jewish nationalism that began with a quote from the song "Simon Zealotes". I refer to it also on a chapter about Christ's resurrection. It has a quote for all ocassions!