“Gospel Origins”: A Reply To J. W. Wenham -- By: Douglas Moo

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 02:1 (Spring 1981)
Article: “Gospel Origins”: A Reply To J. W. Wenham
Author: Douglas Moo


“Gospel Origins”:
A Reply To J. W. Wenham

Douglas J. Moo

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

In the Fall, 1978 fascicle of the Trinity Journal (old series 7 [1978] 112-134), J. W. Wenham published an article in which he gave a refreshing new review of the evidence regarding the origins of the gospels. It will be helpful at the outset to reproduce Wenham’s own summary of his conclusions:

Put crudely, my belief is that Acts was written by Luke in Rome at the time where its story ends, about AD 62. (See Chronological Table). Luke’s gospel was written in Greece in the early fifties. Luke used both Mark and the Greek Matthew. Mark was written in Rome about AD 44 and is based on Peter’s oral teaching. The gospel as a literary form was invented by Matthew, whose gospel appeared first in Aramaic or Hebrew. It may well have been composed during the persecution following Stephen’s martyrdom when the apostles stayed together in Jerusalem, and it was probably published with their collective approval. It was translated into Greek following the successful publication of Mark, and the translator used Marcan turns of phrase when it served his purpose.

Furthermore, I believe that Luke was a Hellenistic Jew and is to be identified with Lucius of Cyrene, church leader at Antioch and kinsman of Paul. I think that Luke was brought up in Cyrenaica in North Africa; did his medical training at Tarsus and practiced in Judaea; was one of the seventy; was the unnamed disciple of the Emmaus road; and was one of the band of Cypriots and Cyrenians who first evangelized the Gentiles. He certainly worked at Antioch with Paul and became his travel companion.

Mark’s father, I believe, also came from Cyrene. He was cousin to Simon Peter’s wife, and he possibly owned the garden of Gethsemane. Mark was closely associated with Peter, at least from the time when he ran away naked at Jesus’ arrest [Mk 14:51, 52]. It was to his home that Peter first escaped in AD 42. Peter then went on to Rome, and Mark assisted him in the work there.

The fourth gospel was written in Ephesus in the early sixties by John the apostle, Jesus’ cousin and closest friend. John extracted from his own oral teaching matter which supplemented the other three.

I believe that Matthew, Luke and John made first-hand records of Jesus’ words and deeds, which they later incorporated in their gospels.

Wenham admits that he holds these views with differing degrees of certainty and, noting that this reconstruction represents only an “interim account,”...

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