The Gospels Notes by Dr. Honora M. Finkelstein Scholarship has determined that the first Gospel written was the one attributed to Mark, whose text was probably circulated AD 66-70 during the First Jewish War. The others were written at 10- to 15-year intervals after the first, with the Gospel of Matthew appearing about AD 80, Luke about AD 90-95, and John about AD 110. Most likely they were not written by the actual apostles. Looking at the metaphysical aspects of the New Testament, we see clearly the mystical and magical appeal of the story of Jesus. There are angelic visitations, confrontations with devils, miracles of all kinds, descending doves and tongues of flame—and of course, the physical resurrection of Jesus. (Would you believe this story if you heard it about somebody today? Well, you should, because millions of people all over the planet have had such resurrection experiences, currently known as “near death experiences,” or NDEs.) All of these appealed to a cultural need for something to inspire and uplift human consciousness. And all of Jesus’s message was permeated with the idea of LOVE: pure, unwarranted, and unconditional. Consider the story of his going into the desert by himself for 40 days and being confronted with the devil’s temptations. Clearly, his experience, like that of so many individuals we’ve already encountered, was an example of “ego death,” and it was absolutely necessary that he experience this before beginning his ministry. And the Sermon on the Mount is probably the most beautiful example in all of world literature of what it means to respond to one’s fellow humans with unconditional acceptance. Among the other apostles and followers of Jesus, you need to remember St. Peter, who (once James the Just had been dispatched and the Jerusalem Church disbanded) was considered the first Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. The Apostolic Succession of the Catholic Church is based on Jesus’s supposedly saying to Peter, “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church” (though as noted above, this may have been added to the canonical New Testament way after the fact). Hence, Peter is considered to have been the first Pope of the Roman Catholic church. The other apostles were considered to be the first bishops, etc. All of the higher clergy of the Catholic Church since that time are considered to be in the “Apostolic Succession.” (Mary Magdalen, who from all accounts was part of Jesus’s inner circle, didn’t get credit either in the Gospels for her role and didn’t get acknowledgment from the orthodox church.) Also remember St. Paul, who was an educated Greek-speaking Jew from Tarsus named Saul, and who converted and changed his name after he had a vision of Christ on the road to Damascus. He was able to assist with the spreading of the word about Christianity. His speaking and persuasive abilities made him the perfect public relations person for this new religion. (See Og Mandino’s book, The Greatest Salesman in the World.) Whatever else may be said of St. Paul, who does appear a bit misogynistic in his writings, his Epistles to the various churches of the ancient world were the glue that bound the newly formed church together. And his letter on love (agape) is among the most profound writing in history on human purpose, though as noted elsewhere on this website, The Essene Gospel of Peace places this lovely lesson in the mouth of Jesus. Also remember the Council of Nicaea, which in AD 325 formed the basis of the Nicene Creed, still used today in most Christian churches, and which determined that God and Jesus the Christ were co-equal, not just similar in nature. Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily