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This group became ‘orthodox,’ and once it had sealed its victory over all of its opponents, it rewrote the history of the engagement – claiming that it had always been the majority opinion of Christianity, that its views had always been the views of the apostolic churches and of the apostles, that its creeds were rooted direcdy in the teachings of Jesus.The books that it accepted as Scripture proved the point, for Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all tell the story as the proto-orthodox had grown accustomed to hearing it.

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In the chapters which follow we’ll look at the major arguments of these and other scholars and test them against the evidence.

We’ll review the fascinating papyrus discoveries of the last century-and-a-quarter and see what can be learnt from the study of the codices (early ‘book’ manuscripts, as opposed to scrolls) which contain the Gospels.

The educated reader of today may already have come to the conclusion that the story was attended with a good bit of bullying, intrigue, and skullduggery.

Many perhaps picture councils of bad-tempered bishops voting on which books to include in the Bible one minute, and voting to execute heretics the next.

a valuable book.’ Church of England Newspaper Cover images The Four Gospels Brass rubbings from the tomb of Gijsbert Willemsen de Raet, Art Marcy A Hill, Photo Charity R. Hill, The Johannine Corpus in the Early Church (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004, corrected, paperback edition, 2006)OECT Oxford Early Christian Texts WUNT Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament‘Who chose which gospels to include? Since there were once many other Gospels besides the four now in the Bible, why should we simply assume that the church chose the best ones?

Hill ISBN 978–0-19–964029–4 Jacket Illustration: The Four Gospels. Shouldn’t we in fact presume that the church simply selected the Gospels that best promoted its own causes to the detriment of its competitors?

I owe special thanks to Sean Hill for reading the manuscript and offering his valuable comments, to Charity, Jamie, and Megan Hill for their artistic consultation, and to Marcy Hill for her great patience and for her inspiration to attempt an ‘accessible’ book.

This book is lovingly dedicated to Marcy – cara et amica.

I wish to thank Tom Perridge and Elizabeth Robottom at OUP for all their helpful guidance and suggestions, and the Oxford readers who in many ways made this a better book.

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