miriam berg
February, 2006

Gospel of Mark
Gospel of Luke
Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Thomas
Gospel of John

Who were the real authors of the gospels? Was Matthew written by the disciple named Matthew? Or Luke written by the Luke referred to in the epistles of Paul? Was Mark written by the Mark also referred to in the epistles of Paul? But most of all, was John written by the disciple John, one of the two sons of Zebedee? And finally, was the gospel named after the disciple Thomas, which many scholars hold to be on a par with the other four as an authentic record of the sayings of Jesus, written by that disciple or not? I shall try to answer each of these questions, as having paramount importance as to the validity of the stories about Jesus, or Yeshua as I prefer to call him.

The Gospel of Mark. The first historical reference to Mark as a gospel is by Papias, who lived about 70 C.E. to 140 C.E. He described it as having been written by Mark based on the teaching of Peter. He further quotes someone he calls the "elder John" as saying that it was not written "in order", which could mean either chronological order or logical order of ideas. The elder John apparently went on to tell Papias in effect that it was not reliable for that reason, but that it was Peter's fault, not Mark's. Modern scholars have wondered whether or not this elder John wasn't trying to debunk Mark's gospel in favor of the gospel of John, which is completely different in its tone and content from the other three gospels.

Nothing else is known about the "elder John". Tradition has it that it was the disciple John; but this may be doubted since elsewhere Papias distinguishes between the "disciples" and the "followers" of the disciples. May we not conclude therefore that the "elder" John was a "follower" of the disciples and not actually one of the disciples? If so, where did he get his authority? Was he a follower of the disciple John? Unfortunately we don't know the answer to these questions.

Nonetheless, the gospel named after Mark was then and remains one of the most popular narratives about the life of Jesus, because of the warmth and humanness which the author portrays. Despite the fact that it was observed very early to be almost entirely contained within the gospels named after Matthew and Luke, it seemed clearly authentic enough for it to be "canonized" in 423 C.E. at the second Council of Nicea. This fact had led both Origen and Augustine in previous centuries to conjecture that Mark might have been written as an attempt to conflate Matthew and Luke. A close examination of the parallel passages between the three gospels however shows that it is more likely that Matthew and Luke copied from Mark rather than Mark copying from both of them, for the following reasons:
a) For the events reported almost identically by Mark and Luke, Luke and Mark have the same order of those events, even where Matthew differs in the order of those events.
b) The order of events in Matthew is the same as that in Mark except chapters 8, 9, amd 10 of Matthew. Why would Mark have rearranged only those events? If we assume that he was following the order of Luke for some reason, what could that reason be when Luke does not contain all of those events?
c) For the events reported almost identically by Matthew and Mark, as well as for the events reported almost identically by Luke and Mark or by all three Matthew and Luke almost always are briefer, omitting many details found only in Mark, as if they had been edited by the editors of Matthew and Luke. If Mark was conflating Natthew and Luke, how can we explain where Mark got these additional details? Is it not more likely that Matthew and Luke omitted them from the copy of Mark they were using, than that Mark inserted them from somewhere?
d) Mark is primarily a narrative gospel. Mark reports only two extended discourses: the parables of the kingdom of God, and the "little apocalypse" in chapter 13, both of which are much shorter than the same discourses in either Luke Matthew or Luke. Nor does Mark include as many parables as does Matthew in the same discourse. Therefore we may ask, Why would Mark have omitted so much of the actual teaching of Jesus, if he was trying to write a combined gospel?

For these and other reasons based on a close examination of the verbal differences between Matthew and Luke compared with Mark, the conclusion seems inescapable that Matthew and Luke each had a copy of Mark, and each selected the events from Mark which he wanted to include, and edited them into a briefer form since each of them was reporting so much more of the actual words of Jesus than Mark had.

This does not answer the question of whether the Mark referred to in the epistles of Paul was the author of the gospel bearing that name. However, it seems much more important to recognize that the gospel named Mark was the older gospel, and accepted as authoritative by both the editors of Matthew and of Luke. Tradition has it that the "young man" who "fled naked" referred to in Mark 14:51-52 was Mark himself since this detail was omitted by both Matthew and Luke, and it could have been of no importance to anyone other than the author of that gospel to recall that detail. It is plausible but there is no direct evidence; and we can wonder why Mark is never referred to as an actual follower of Jesus although the story would put him into the direct presence of Jesus. Furthermore, if Mark was an associate or follower of Paul, how could he have also been a follower or scribe of Peter, since they did not travel in the ministry together?

The Gospel of Luke. The gospel named after Luke states quite plainly that many narrative documents had already been written and that he would write a better one:

Luke 1:1-4. Since many have tried to write a narrative of the events of the life of Jesus, just as they have been told by his disciples and followers and those who have carried the message far and wide, it occurred to me also, since I have researched everything from the beginning, to write a definitive report so that you, dear reader, may know the facts about what happened in those historic days. (free translation by miriam berg)

We cannot know if the gospel of Mark was one of the narratives which Luke is here telling us about, but in view of the verbal and chronological similarities between the events in Mark and their parallels in Luke, this preface by the author of Luke supports the hypothesis that Luke knew of Mark and made use of it. Those events in which Luke and Mark are parallel are shown in a table on the next page. These parallels all fall into three sections of Luke; there are no parallels of Luke with Mark in Luke 6:20-8:3 or 9:51-18:14. After Luke 21:36, the editor of that gospel appears to be using a different source than Mark.

Except for the incidents in Luke which are starred, everything is in the same order in both Luke and Mark. How is this possible, unless one of them was copying from the other? Suppose you knew 46 anecdotes about someone, and someone else knew the same 46 anecdotes, how likely is it that you would each write out the same 46 anecdotes in the same order? This unlikelihood tends to confirm the conclusion reached above on the basis of Mark, that Luke copied from Mark. Or does it seem more likely that Mark copied selected anecdotes from the three different sections of Luke, and added details of his own?

If we now compare the gospel of Luke with the gospel of Matthew we find that nearly all of the material which is found in both Luke and Matthew but NOT in Mark or John is contained in the sections which are between the sections where Luke and Mark are in parallel: 6:20-8:3 and 9:51-18:14. There is a smattering of material before verse 3:21 in Luke which is also found in Matthew; and some of the events reported identically by Matthew and Mark are reported differently by Luke: the visit to his hometown, and the call of the first disciples; and also the accusation of being in league with Satan and the woman who washed Jesus' feet. This material found in both Matthew and Luke but not in the others is called the "sayings" gospel, or document Q, from the German word "quelle" meaning "source".

Luke           Event Mark




The baptism of Jesus
Jesus preaches in Capernaum and cures a madman
Jesus heals the mother-in-law of Simon
Jesus heals many who come to Simon's house
Jesus prays in the desertK
Jesus teaches in all the villages
A leper is healed and sent to the priests
Jesus is criticized for healing a paralytic
Jesus calls Levi (Matthew) to be a disciple
Levi (Matthew) gives a great feast
Jesus retorts when accused of not fasting
Jesus is criticized for eating on the sabbath
Jesus is criticized for healing on the sabbath
Crowds come from all over to hear Jesus
Jesus names twelve disciples

Jesus tells parables about the kingdom of God
Jesus' family comes to get him
A storm quiets down after the disciples' panic
Jesus visits Gergesa (not Gerasa; Gergesa is on
          the shoreline, Gerasa is not, nor Gadara)
A woman is healed in his presence
Jesus arouses a comatose child
The disciples go out and preach
John the Baptizer is killed by Herod
The disciples return
5,000 are miraculously fed
Simon calls Jesus the messiah
Jesus preaches about discipleship
Jesus, Peter, James, and John go up Mt Hermon
Jesus heals an epileptic youth
Jesus teaches about humility

Jesus welcomes the children
Jesus teaches about riches
Jesus predicts his death
Jesus heals a blind man in Jericho
Jesus enters Jerusalem as a popular leader
Jesus drives the moneychangers from the temple
Jesus is challenged by the chief priests
Jesus tells a parable against the priests
Jesus tells them to give Caesar his tribute
Jesus rebuts them about the resurrection
He challenges the Davidic ancestry of the messiah
Jesus criticizes the Pharisees
He comments on the widow's donation to the temple
He predicts the destruction of Jerusalem
("There shall not be left here one stone upon another")
He elaborates on the prediction
He tells them to watch and pray



12:35-37 12:38-40 12:41-44 13:1-19

13:24-31 13:33-37

But the most striking fact is that in Luke's chronology all of the material from Luke 9:51 to 18:14 is wedged between Mark 10:1 and 10:2, and their parallel in Matthew at verses 19:2 and 19:3. Mark 10:2-12 and Matthew 19:3-9 contain the anecdote about the dispute over divorce, for which there is no parallel in Luke, so that the three gospels come together again in the story about Jesus welcoming the children (Mark 10:13, Luke 18:15, and Matthew 19:13). So here we are faced with the possibilities that document Q, whatever it was, was in the order as given by Matthew, or it was in the order as given by Luke, or it was in some other order and both editors selected the material and rearranged it to suit themselves.

Traditionally, scholars have assumed that both Luke and Matthew selected and rearranged Quelle to suit themselves. However the simplest explanation is that it was in the order as found in Luke, where the sayings are often without any context whatever, and that Matthew distributed it throughout his gospel in the other events and discourses where they seemed appropriate whereas Luke included it in toto. Or must we believe that Luke took material from document Q which was in some sort of logical or chronological order and slapped it all randomly inbetween verses 9:51 and 18:15 of his gospel, which are so nearly parallel to verses 10:1 and 10:2 of Mark, paying no attention to context or location or order of events? Why would Luke have done that? It does not make any sense, and violates Ockham's razor by attributing all kinds of incomprehensible editorial activity to Luke. The same reasoning applies to the portion of Luke between 6:20 and 8:3, which has no parallels in Mark, but which Matthew includes in the same order but omits some events.

Thus we can see that the author of Luke used both the document written by Mark and the document known as Q and put them together more or less as they were, with the legends about the birth and resurrection and perhaps a different version of the events during the final week in Jerusalem. However, we cannot determine whether this person was Luke the companion of Paul, except for the time consideration. This suggests that it was not the same person, because it is most likely that the gospel was not written until after the fall of Jerusalem, because of the difference between the prediction of that destruction as given by Luke on the one hand and by Mark and Matthew on the other, in the heart of that discourse:

(Mark 13:14) But when you shall see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not (let the reader understand),

then let them that are in Judea flee into the mountains;
(Matt. 24:15) When therefore you see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let him that readeth understand),
(Matt. 24:16) then let them that are in Judaea flee into the mountains.
(Luke 21:20) But when you shall see Jerusalem compassed by armies then know that her desolation is at hand.

(Luke 21:21) Then let them that are in Judea flee unto the mountains;

Note that Matthew 24:15-16 is almost identical with Mark, except for adding that the source of the expression "abomination of desolation" is the book of Daniel. So apparently here the author of Luke rewrote Mark to describe the event as it actually had happened in 70 C.E. when Titus and the Roman armies surrounded Jerusalem and destroyed it, while Matthew remained faithful to his source document. It is possible that Luke the physician was still alive in 80 or 90 C.E., but unlikely.

The Gospel of Matthew. In the discussion of Mark and Luke we have seen that Matthew must have used Mark as a source document, and in the discussion of Luke we have seen that there must have been another document called Quelle which was used by Luke in its entirety but distributed throughout his gospel by the author of Matthew. Matthew also contains a number of parables and discourse passages not found in any other gospel, which it is reasonable to assume must have come from another document which none of the others had. To corroborate this, we also find in Papias a reference to Matthew, which reads as follows:

(Papias) Matthew wrote the Logia in Hebrew, and each one translated (or interpreted) it as best he could.

The word "Logia" can be translated as "sayings", so that it probably was not the gospel named after Matthew. However, no gospel in Hebrew has ever been found, and the so-called "Aramaic" gospel seems to be a translation from the Greek back into that language. Some scholars equate this "logia" with the gospel named after Thomas especially since many of the sayings by Jesus found only in Matthew are also found in Thomas. This is unlikely because of the number of sayings from Thomas found in Luke but not in Matthew. We could also argue that Matthew would not have written a document containing sayings by Jesus and then attributed it to Thomas, since Matthew was a disciple himself. And if we suppose that the "logia" attributed by Papias to Matthew was actually the gospel named after Thomas, and that therefore Papias or the elder John didn't quite have their attributions straight, that is just supposition piled on supposition, and proves nothing.

The portions of Matthew which are unique are shown on the next page, arranged as Legends, Sayings by Jesus, Sayings about Jesus, and Editorial commentary. The editorial commentary can be dismissed, and probably the legends also, since they are not found in any other gospel. The sayings about Jesus should be examined closely as should the sayings by Jesus. And any study of the sayings by Jesus found only in Matthew shows clearly a coherence which implies a written document, which Matthew alone had and distributed throughout his gospel. This document may have been that to which Papias was referring as the "logia" of Matthew, but there is no certainty of this, since neither Papias nor Eusebius who quotes several passages from Papias quote anything from this lost document.

From these passages we can see that the author of Matthew had several literary tendencies, including:
1) He liked to include quotations from the Old Testament, and label them as predictions of the events in Jesus' life.
2) He sometimes appended additional verses to parables giving them a more severe interpretation than was warranted by the parable.
3) He had a concept of a "church" founded by Jesus, of which Peter was the head as told in 16:17-19 and 18:16-20. The Greek word "church" is found in no other gospel. This proves that Matthew was written quite late, when there was already a hierarchy of authority existing in the Christian community.
4) Matthew was very skillful at weaving together his documents into events and discourses which are logical and unified. The best example is the so-called Sermon on the Mount, which was woven together out of portions of both Quelle and Matthew's unique document, plus some other minor Matthean sources. Chapter 18 of Matthew is another good example, being woven together out of Mark, Quelle, Matthew's document and his editorial commentary.

Again, though, what confidence can we have that the gospel named after Matthew was indeed written by the disciple Matthew? This seems highly unlikely, in view of the fact that so much of that gospel was copied from Mark (95% of Mark is contained in Matthew, all but about 40 verses and 3 episodes) and if it was really Matthew the disciple writing it, why wouldn't he have written it in his own words instead of the words of someone who wasn't a disciple? Or someone who, at best, was reporting the story in the words of Peter?


Matt. 1:18-23
Matt. 2:1-12
Matt. 2:13-23
Matt. 14:28-31
Matt. 17:24-27
Matt. 28:16-20

Matt. 5:7-10
Matt. 5:13-20
Matt. 5:21-24
Matt. 5:27-30
Matt. 5:33-37
Matt. 5:38-42
Matt. 5:43-45
Matt. 6:1-18
Matt. 7:6
Matt. 7:13-14
Matt. 7:15-20

Matt. 11:28-30
Matt. 12:36-37
Matt. 13:24-30
Matt. 13:36-43
Matt. 13:44-53
Matt. 15:13
Matt. 16:12
Matt. 18:23-34
Matt. 20:1-16
Matt. 21:28-32
Matt. 22:11-14
Matt. 23:2-3
Matt. 23:8-33
Matt. 25:31-46

Matt. 3:16-17
Matt. 16:17-19
Matt. 18:16-20
Matt. 21:10-11
Matt. 21:15-16
Matt. 27:3-10
Matt. 27:19-25
Matt. 27:51-53
Matt. 27:62-66

Matt. 1:1-17
Matt. 4:13-17
Matt. 8:17
Matt. 9:13
Matt. 12:7
Matt. 12:17-21
Matt. 13:14-15
Matt. 13:35
Matt. 18:35
Matt. 21:4-5
Matt. 21:43
Matt. 24:10-12
The angel appears to Joseph in a dream
The Eastern magi
The flight into Egypt
Peter tries to walk on the water and fails
Jesus tells Peter to find money in a fish's mouth
The Great Commission and the "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost"
      (the only reference to the Trinity in the New Testament)

Additional beatitudes not found in Luke
Additional sayings not found in Luke
Anger equated with killing
Lust equated with adultery and disease
Vows equated with falsehood
Striking back or resistance is evil
Love of enemies and oppressors
Teachings about alms, praying, and fasting
Casting pearls before swine
The narrow gate
False prophets

Come unto me all ye weary
Judgment of words
Parable of the wheat and the tares
Interpretation of the parable of the wheat and the tares
Parables of the pearl,the treasure,the fishnet,the disciples
Plants not planted by God being rooted up
Comparison of the teaching of the Pharisees to leaven
The parable of the unmerciful steward
The parable of the householder and the servants
Parable of the two sons
The man ejected from the marriage feast
Obey the scribes
Condemnation of the Pharisees
Parable of the sheep and the goats

John's recognition of Jesus
Jesus tells Peter he will be the Rock of the church
Jesus tells them where two or three are gathered in his name
Jesus, the prophet of Galilee
Out of the mouth of babes
Judas gives back the betrayal money
Sayings about Pilate and his wife
Earthquakes and ghosts at the crucifixion
The guards tell Pilate that the disciples stole the body

The genealogy of Jesus (Matthew's version)
Quotation from Isaiah
Another quotation from Isaiah
Quotation about mercy and sacrifice (Hosea 6:6)
Quotation about mercy and sacrifice again (Hosea 6:6)
Quotation about chosen servant (Isaiah 42:1-4)
Quotation about having ears (Isaiah 6:9-10)
Quotation about uttering parables (Psalms 78:2)
God will punish unforgiving persons harshly
Quotation from Isaiah and Zechariah
The kingdom of God shall be taken away from you
Stumbling because of false prophets

The Gospel of Thomas. In 1945 a complete text of the lost gospel according to Thomas was discovered in a sealed jar in Egypt. It had been known about because it is referred to by Eusebius and other church fathers, but no copy had ever been found. It contains many sayings and parables and a few events which are parallel to passages in both Mark, Quelle, and the Matthean document. Its greater length than any other fragmentary known gospel plus the parallels it displays has given it stature today equal to the four canonical gospels. The question is, was it actually written by the disciple Thomas, about whom the first three gospels tell us nothing except that he was one of the disciples, but about whom John gives us tiny fragments?

On the basis of the parallelism between many sayings and parables by Jesus reported in Thomas, nothing can be surely decided. Many scholars, however, have concluded that Thomas is at least as old as Mark or Quelle, and possibly older. The gospel definitely has a more mystical tinge than the first three gospels, with many paradoxical statements and statements for which it is hard to determine the meaning. Perhaps the most significant episode in Thomas is the incident where Jesus asks his disciples to describe him, and Thomas replies that his mouth cannot do that, and Jesus praises him as much as the gospel named after Matthew reports as having been given to Peter. The episode concludes, however, with the mysterious statement that if Thomas told the others what Jesus had told him, they would stone him and fire would come from the stones and burn them up (Thomas 13). Thus, Matthew seems to tell us that Peter was the greatest of the disciples, Thomas seems to tell us that he is the most enlightened of the disciples, and John (as we shall see) tells us that HE is the most beloved of the disciples. Maybe each of the disciples thought that he was the most special to Jesus!

It is more useful to compare the parables and sayings which are found in both Thomas and one or more of the other gospels and try to determine which form of those sayings came earlier. On the next two pages is a list of the parallel sayings and stories between Thomas and the others. In general we can observe the lack of clarity in many of these statements when compared with Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but that does not really help us to decide which form is more original with Jesus. This examination seems to show, however, that Thomas came later, when the influence of the Greek Gnostics and Persian mystics had come to be felt in the Christian churches near the beginning of the second century (100-130 C.E.) It could easily be, however, that whoever wrote the "sayings" of Jesus in their present form as the gospel named after Thomas was basing them on a still older "sayings" document which could have been the Logia of Matthew.

Thus it is difficult to conclude that the author of the gospel named after Thomas was actually written by Thomas Didymus the disciple. The report that Jesus told Thomas something that he didn't tell the others is difficult to prove and useless anyway if we don't know what those three sayings were. The early Christians were fond of ascribing their own writings to ancient worthies, so it is easy to suppose that it happened with the book of Thomas as well. Or perhaps to grant the book a tinge of authority we could conjecture that the author was a disciple of Thomas who wrote down what he remembered his teacher to have reported that Jesus said. In which case we still have only Thomas' interpretation of what Jesus said, and not the clearly expounded thought of Jesus himself.




Seeking and finding
Lying and what you dislike
Heaven and earth
Casting divisions on earth
The thief at night
The mote and the beam
Proclaim from the housetops
The lamp under the bushel
The blind leading the blind
Binding the strong man
No care for clothing
The Pharisees and the keys
Be wise as serpents
He who has and he who has not
Grapes and thistles
Good words and bad words
John greatest of the prophets
Two masters
Happy are the poor
Leaving your family behind
One will die, one will live
Filled with light or darkness
Parable of the great feast
Happy are you when pursued
Happy are the pursued
Happy are the hungry
The harvest is plentiful
Treasure which endureth
What did ye seek in the desert
The outside of the cup
Seek and ye shall find
Seeking and knocking
Give to those who can't repay
Parable of the leaven
Abandoning your parents
Preparing against a thief
Parable of the lost sheep
Fasting, prayer, and alms
Parable of the wise fisherman
Fasting, prayer, and alms
Three gods with two or one
A city upon a hill
Plants not planted by God
The wheat and the tares
Right and left hand
Parable of the pearl of great price
Come unto me all ye who labor
Don't give to dogs and swine
Parable of the treasure
The kingdom is within you
Casting fire on the earth
Days will come
Old and new wine
Parable of the rich man
Who made me a divider over you
The breasts that suckled you
Blessed are the barren
The foxes have holes
When will the kingdom come
Becoming as a little child
That which is hidden
That which is hidden
Parable of the sower
Jesus questions the disciples
Disciples travelling in the ministry
What you eat
He who was not begotten of
Parable of the mustard seed
Parable of harvesting the grain
Suffer the little children to come
Love your brother
A prophet in his home town
He who has and he who has not
Who blasphemes the Spirit
Old and new wineskins
Patches on old and new clothes
Moving mountains
The mysteries of the kingdom
Who hath ears to hear

Parable of the husbandmen
The rejected stone

Destroy the temple
His family come to get him
Give unto Caesar & God & me
On fasting
Never taste death
The man of light
I am the all
(Luke 11:9-13; Matt. 7:7-11)
(Matt.5:33-37; Luke 6:31; Matt.7:12)
(Luke 16:17; Matt.5:18)
(Luke 12:51-53; Matt.10:34-36)
(Luke 12:39; Matt.24:43)
(Luke 6:41-42; Matt. 7:3-5)
(Luke 12:3; Matt.10:27)
(Luke 11:33; Matt.5:15)
(Luke 6:39; Matt.15:14)
(Matt.12:29; Luke 11:21-22)
(Matt.6:31; Luke 12:29)
(Luke 11:52; Matt.23:13)
(Luke 10:3; Matt.11:16)
(Luke 19:26; Matt.25:29;
(Luke 6:43-44; Matt.7:17-18)
(Luke 6:45; Matt.12:34-35)
(Luke 7:28; Matt.11:11)
(Luke 16:13; Matt.6:24)
(Luke 6:20b; Matt.5:3)
(Luke 14:26-27; Matt.10:37-38)
(Luke 17:34; Matt.24:40)
(Luke 11:34; Matt.6:22-23a)
(Luke 14:16-24; Matt.22:2-5,8-10)
(Luke 6:22; Matt.5:11)?
(Luke 6:23; Matt.5:12; cf.Thomas 68)
(Luke 6:21a; Matt.5:6)
(Luke 10:2; Matt. 9:37-38)
(Luke 12:33; Matt.6:19-20)
(Luke 7:24-25; Matt.11:7-8)
(Luke 11:39-40; Matt.23:25-26)
(Luke 11:9-10; Matt.7:7-8; cf.Thom 2)
(Luke 11:9-10; Matt.7:7-8; cf.Thom.2)
(Luke 6:30,35; Matt.5:42)
(Luke 13:20-21; Matt.13:33)
(Luke 14:26; Matt.12:37)
(Luke 12:39; Matt.24:43)
(Luke 14:3-7; Matt.18:12-14)
(Matt.6:1-8,16-18; cf.Thomas 6a)
(Luke 17:20-21)
(Luke 12:49-50)
(Luke 17:22)
(Luke 5:39)
(Luke 12:16-20)
(Luke 12:13-14)
(Luke 11:27-28)
(Luke 23:29)
(Luke 9:58)
(Luke 17:20-21; cf.Thomas 3)
(Mark 10:15; Luke 18:17; Matt. 18:3)
(Mark 4:22; Luke 8:17;12:2 Matt. 10:26)
(cf. Thomas 5 and parallels)
(Mark 4:3-8; Matt.13:3-9; Luke 8:5-8)
(Mark 8:27-33;Luke 8:18-22;Matt.10:16-23)
(Mark 6:7-11; Matt.5-15; Luke 9:1-5)
(Mark 7:14-19; Matt.15:10-11,15-20)
(Mark 9:2-7;Matt.17:1-7;Luke 9:28-35;
      John 1:14)
(Mark 4:30-32;Matt.13:31-32;Luke 13:18-19)
(Mark 4:26-29)
(Mk 10:13-16; Lk 18:15-17; Mt.19:13-15)
(Mk 12:31; Mt.22:39;Lk 10:27;Jn 15:12)
(Mark 6:4; Matt.13:57; Luke 4:24; John 4:44)
(Mark 4:25; Matt.13:12; Luke 8:18)
(Mark 3:28-29; Luke 12:10; Matt.12:31-32)
(Mark 2:22; Matt.9:17; Luke 5:37-38)
(Mark 2:21; Luke 5:36; Matt. 9:16)
(Mark 11:22-23; Matt.21:21)
(Mark 4:11; Matt.13:11; Luke 8:10)
(Mark 4:9; Matt.13:9; Luke 8:8b;
      Luke 14:35; Matt.11:15)
(Mark 12:1-8; Matt.21:33-39; Luke 20:9-15)
(Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; Matt.21:42a;
      (cf. Ps.118:22-23)
(Mark 13:2; Luke 21:6; Matt.24:2; John 2:19)
(Mark 3:31-35; Matt.12:46-50; Luke 8:19-21)
(Mark 12:13-17; Mt.22:15-21; Lk 20:20-25)
(Mark 2:19-20; Matt.9:15; Luke 5:34-35)
(John 8:51)
(John 1:9)
(John 8:12a)

These parallels have been arranged according to how many gospels the parallels are found in. Thus, there are 38 parallels of Thomas with Quelle, 10 more passages which are parallel only between Thomas and Luke, which may have been part of Q, 13 parallels between Thomas and document M (Matthew alone), and 27 parallels of Thomas and Mark, and 3 with the gospel named after John plus 4 more with both Mark and John.

From this exhibit we can conclude that Thomas was not the same as the Matthean Logia, nor was it the same as Quelle. There are more parallels with Mark than with Luke or Matthew alone. And since the wording in the parallel passages is so different most of the time, we can conclude that neither Matthew, Luke, or Mark could have been copying from Thomas. That alone is enough to establish Thomas as an independent source even if it was not written by Thomas.

The Gospel of John. It does not seem possible that the gospel named after John could have been written by the disciple John, for the following reasons:

1) The gospel named after John is not written in the first person, and it several times refers to John as the "beloved disciple". These two facts alone would seem to cast doubt on whether this gospel could have been written by a disciple. It would have been most immodest for the author to have called himself "the beloved disciple", whereas it would have been natural for a follower of John to refer to his teacher that way.
2) The author also portrays Jesus as bragging that he is the son of God, the light of the world, the living water, the bread out of heaven, and the door of the kingdom. None of these conceited concepts are reported in any of the first three gospels, where all of Jesus' parables are about homely subjects such as fish and farming and making bread and people interacting with each other, and never a single one about himself; and all of his sayings have to do with righteousness or kindly behavior, or forgiveness, or mercy, which topics never appear in the gospel named after John. The author of John, in fact, reports Jesus as saying that "some of you are not of my fold" and says nothing about love of enemies, or love of all people, which teaching is prominent in Quelle. It is the absence in John of ANY of the principles taught in what is called the Sermon on the Mount that make me doubt whether the author of John had ever heard Jesus at all. Even Paul, who admittedly never knew Jesus while he was alive, preaches these principles of behavior.
3) There are only four (4) miracles reported in this gospel, all of them claimed as signs by Jesus; but there are twenty-one healings and miracles reported in Mark Matthew, and Luke, NONE of which is claimed as a sign, but after which Jesus tells the person, "Your faith has healed you" and "Do not tell anyone about this"; and in one parable he concludes that "if you cannot learn from Moses and the prophets, you would not be persuaded even by someone rising from the dead"! Furthermore, both Mark and Quelle tell us that Jesus refused to give a sign (Mark 8:1-3; Matt. 16:1,4; Luke 11:29-32; Matt.12:38-42) except to compare his warning them about the coming destruction of Jerusalem as the "sign of Jonah". The fact that the author of John thinks of Jesus as giving signs to prove that he is the "son of God", whereas the first three tell us Jesus refused to give a miraculous sign, suggest that this author failed to understand Jesus' purpose at all.
4) There are NO parables in the gospel named after John; but there are thirty-two parables reported in the gospels of Mark, Luke, and Matthew, twelve of which are also found in the gospel named after Thomas. Mark goes further; he tells us that Jesus "spoke many things to them in parables" and "without a parable spake he not unto them" (Mark 4:2,33-34; Matt.13:3,34). John must not have been listening or maybe he didn't understand them anyway and decided that they weren't important.

Many other facts about the gospel named after John could be cited to show that the author could not have been a disciple, but these four would seem to be enough to demonstrate that conclusion. For example, John reports three Passover visits to Jerusalem, whereas the first three report only one; John never names all the disciples and names one as Nathaniel, who does not appear in the Synoptics; John does not report any exorcisms, whereas the Synoptics report several; there is no report of his scathing condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees for their self-indulgence and hypocrisy (John reports his criticism of them as simply because they didn't accept him as the "son of God"); and there is no report of his prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, which was the occasion on which he spoke the statement for which he was tried and condemned, the destruction of the temple.

For all these reasons, and more, we conclude that the gospel named after John was not written by John the disciple, the son of Zebedee, but was most probably written around the turn of the first century (100-110 C.E.) by a group in Ephesus who held the belief that Jesus was not human but divine and that the only requirement of his teaching was to believe that.

Summary. For compelling reasons, therefore, we must conclude that NONE of the gospels (including Thomas) were written by the person to whom they are attributed.

1) Mark could not have been written by John Mark the associate of Paul, nor could that Mark have been the associate of Peter.
2) Luke might have been written by Luke the physician referred to in Paul's letters, but even if that had been so, that gospel was based on both the earlier gospel attributed to Mark and another older document called Quelle or Q for which no authorship has ever even been suggested.
3) Matthew could not have been written by Matthew the disciple, firstly, because it too is based on Mark and the older document Q plus a third document known as document M or Mattheus and secondly, it is inconceivable that a disciple would write a book in his own name based on the writings of two NON-disciples.
4) Thomas could not have been written by Thomas the disciple, because its tone and vocabulary shows a later, more highly developed theology than the first three gospels, and is closer to the Greek Gnostic sect and the Persian mystics than the gospels are.
5) John could not have been written by John the disciple, because it refers to John as the "beloved" disciple and puts him always ahead of Peter; because it omits ALL of the teaching reported by Mark, Luke and Matthew about ethical, moral, and humanitarian behavior and substitutes only an egotistical view of himself as the "son of God" (a concept foreign and repugnant to Judaism) and blind belief in him as that son of God as a requirement for salvation, whatever that means; because it does not report a single parable; because it portrays Jesus as claiming that his miracles were "signs" in contradiction to the plainly stated message of Mark Luke, and Matthew that he refused to give any sign; and many other reasons. (For a complete analysis of the gospel attributed to John, see "The Refutation of John" written by miriam berg in 1979.)

To paraphrase and modify Thomas Paine (from The Age of Reason) into a single sentence:

The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Thomas were not written by the persons to whom they are attributed and are therefore anonymous and without authority; but they may be still entitled to credit, insofar as they corroborate one another as to the activities and sayings of Yeshua.

NOTE: As a last comment is that i consider the so-called "sayings" gospel known as document Q to have been two separate documents: one the material between Luke 6:20 and Luke 8:3, plus Luke 3:1-19, Luke 4:1-30, and Luke 5:1-11, which is called the Galilean document or document G, since it reports events centered around the sea of Galilee; and Luke 9:52-18:14 plus Luke 19:1-28, which is called the Perean document or document P since it reports the time Yeshua was travelling through Perea on the eastern side of the Jordan on his way to Jerusalem. The material in these two parts of Luke has a different style justifying considering them to be separate documents an hypothesis first published by Ernest DeWitt Burton in 1898 and taught by Henry Burton Sharman and Elizabeth Boyden Howes but virtually unknown to scholars today. But this distinction makes no difference to any of the arguments herein presented regarding the authorship of the gospels as we have them.