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The first four historical books of the New Testament are supplied with titles (, etc.), which, however ancient, do not go back to the respective authors of those sacred writings.
The Canon of Muratori, Clement of Alexandria, and St.
Thus, "the Gospel Mark" designates the same Gospel history in another form, viz, in that in which St. Their names, as given by Harnack (Chronologie, I, 589 sqq.), are as follows: — Despite the early date which is sometimes claimed for some of these works, it is not likely that any one of them, outside our canonical Gospels, should be reckoned among the attempts at narrating the life of Christ, of which St. Most of them, as far as can be made out are late productions, the apocryphal character of which is generally admitted by contemporary scholars (see APOCRYPHA).
It is indeed impossible, at the present day, to describe the precise manner in which out of the numerous works ascribed to some Apostle, or simply bearing the name of gospel, only four, two of which are not ascribed to Apostles, came to be considered as sacred and canonical.
Thus, Eusebius (died 340), when sorting out the universally received books of the Canon, in distinction from those which some have questioned writes: "And here, among the first, must be placed the holy III.25).This was, of course, the sole meaning connected with the word, so long as no authentic record of the glad tidings of salvation by Christ had been drawn up.In point of fact, it remained the only one in use even after such written records had been for some time received in the Christian Church: as there could be but one Gospel, that is, but one revelation of salvation by Jesus Christ, so the several records of it were not regarded as several Gospels, but only as distinct accounts of one and the same Gospel.The saintly Bishop of Lyons, Irenæus (died 202), who had known Polycarp in Asia Minor, not only admits and quotes our four Gospels, but argues that they must be just four, no more and no less.He says: "It is not possible that the Gospels be either more or fewer than they are. The living creatures are quadriform, and the Gospel is quadriform, as is also the course followed by the Lord" ( III.11.8). Irenæus gave this explicit testimony to our four Gospels, the Canon of Muratori bore likewise witness to them, as did also the Peshito and other early Syriac translations, and the various Coptic versions of the New Testament.