Notes on theSynoptic Gospels The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are similar in their style and share much of the same contents. They are called synoptic (from a Greek word that means “seeing the whole together”) Gospels. It is likely that Mark was written first and the authors of Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source in creating their own Gospels. The Gospel of John is quite different from the synoptic Gospels. It was written later and is more symbolic in its expression of who Jesus is. The Acts of the Apostles is a continuation of Luke’s Gospel. However, it is not itself a Gospel. Gospel of Matthew Inspired Author: unknown; traditionally associated with the Apostle Matthew. Community: A Jewish Christian community in Antioch, Syria. Date Written: approximately AD 85, after Romans had destroyed all of Jerusalem, including the Temple of Herod. Audience: Christian Jews Image of Jesus: the greatest prophet, who brings the New Law. Teacher and prophet like Moses, Son of God, Son of Man, Messiah, and Lord. The Gospel of Matthew emphasizes Jesus as the promised Messiah of the Jewish people. Jesus is portrayed as the greatest prophet teaching the New Law and calling people to be faithful to God. Gospel of Mark Inspired Author: a Gentile Christian, traditionally thought to be a disciple of Peter named John Mark. Date Written: from approximately AD 65 to 70; this was the first written Gospel. The Romans subdued armed Jewish rebellions. Christians experience persecution from Rome. Audience: non-Jewish Christian (in Rome?) who were experiencing persecution because of their belief in Jesus. Image of Jesus: healer and miracle worker who accepts suffering as the cost for following God’s will. Suffering servant, Son of God, Son of Man. Jesus shows that the suffering in our lives can be a source of grace when united to the sufferings of Christ. This Gospel also contains the Messianic Secret ( Mk 3:12 He warned them sternly not to make him known.). Gospel of Luke Inspired Author: a Gentile Christian named Luke, traditionally thought to be a disciple of Paul. Traditionally Luke the physician and Paul’s travelling companion. Date Written: from approximately AD 80 to 90. Written when the persecution of Christians was intensifying Audience: Gentile (Greek) Christians represented by Theophilus ( meaning lover/friend of God who possibly represents any Christian. Image of Jesus: great healer, merciful, compassionate, with a special love for poor people, women, and non-Jews. Jesus heals long-standing divisions among people. He calls his followers to have a special compassion for those excluded from wealth and power.