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Matthew (The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries) (Volume 26) Paperback – March 1, 1995
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Albright and Mann immediately get off on the wrong foot. In their discussion on the canonicity of our four gospels, they apparently try to establish the superiority of the four gospels to justify their inclusion in the New Testament. This leads to a discussion about why noncanonical gospels are not really gospels. They conclude other apocryphal writings "were slanted to a form of belief about the person and work of Jesus which finds no expression in the pages of the New Testament" (xix).
This approach is very problematic. It puts the cart before the horse by making the canonical works an arbitrary standard to judge other claimants retroactively. It assumes a uniformity of belief of the New Testament authors that does not exist. Finally, the New Testament authors were hardly objective themselves; their portrayal of Jesus is just as slanted as any of the other gospels. As Albright and Mann point out, orthodoxy was not something that jumped up from nowhere. What we now call Christianity today was more akin to a cauldron of various Jesus movements often competing with each other. Most of these groups wrote about their ideas about Jesus. These writings influenced each other. It is from this cauldron "orthodoxy" emerged. Our four gospels were among the earliest.Read more ›