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Naming the Gospels: AD c.150

At some time during the second century the four Gospels acquire the names by which we now know them. Until this time they have been anonymous, thought of simply as the word of God.

The names chosen for the evangelists ('bringers of good news' in Greek) are those of people who feature in the New Testament and who therefore knew or may have known Jesus personally.

Only in the case of Luke is the attribution likely to be correct. He features in Acts as a companion of Paul during some of his journeys, including the final one to Rome, and scholars believe that he was the author both of Acts and of the Gospel attributed to him.

John and Matthew were apostles and Mark plays a minor role in Acts, but it is improbable that they wrote the Gospels now known by their names.

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