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THE FOUR GOSPELS

Here's a humorous mnemonic rhyme learned by Chris Young of Woking, Surrey as a child, that recalls the names of the four Gospels of the New Testament Bible in correct order:

"Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
went to bed with their trousers on!
"

The Gospels are the first four books of the New Testament. The names of the four Gospel saints should not be confused with any of the twelve apostles who were chosen by Jesus Christ to preach on his behalf, and who included John (a fishermen) and Matthew (a publican). None of the apostles wrote any of the books of the Bible.

Perhaps the first rhyme has its origins in the following bed-time prayer taught to people like Dinah Hobbs when she was a child:

"Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
Bless the bed that I lie on
And if I die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take"

The Gospels were written in colloquial Greek and only describe the life, work and teachings of Jesus Christ. They are not oldest books of the New Testament but were written some years after St Paul's letters to the Galatians and the Thessalonians (A.D.53) for example. Furthermore the writers of the first three Gospels (ie. St.Matthew, St.Mark and St.Luke) are all thought to have borrowed some of their material from a first century A.D. source document (called "Q", now lost).

The oldest Gospel is actually that of St.Mark (an interpreter for St.Peter the Apostle, who spoke no Greek), written in about A.D.65. Soon afterwards the Gospel of St.Luke (a Gentile or non-Jew) retold much of the earlier Gospel with additional material (such as the birth of Christ). St.Luke also wrote the Acts of the Apostles, which described the earliest history of the Christian Church.

Finally, near the end of the first century the remaining two Gospels appeared. That of St.Matthew combined St.Mark's Gospel with many of Christ's discourses (such as the Sermon on the Mount), while St.John's Gospel seems to have been written from an original perspective, and was by a little-known elderly man of great spiritual wisdom.

 

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