How Do Scholars Know the Occasion and Audience of a Gospel?

Posted By on December 8, 2011

I recently came across this short but interesting piece by NT scholar Ben Witherington entitled, “Latinisms, Western Diction, and the Provenance of Mark’s Gospel.” Despite the jargon-loaded title, certainly not designed to attract any lay people’s interest, it’s worth a read by non-specialists since it provides a succinct description of the kinds of clues scholars detect in biblical books that provide guidance in discerning the circumstances of a book’s authorship, occasion, and audience.

Most Bible students have heard or read things like “the gospel of Mark was intended for a Gentile, not Jewish, audience.” It’s easy for the lay person to wonder what oracle was consulted for that sort of information. But the reality is that texts do drop distinct hints that shed light on such things, or rule out certain possibilities. Not all biblical books have useful information as to authorship or audience or circumstances, but some do. The gospels fall into that category.

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3 Responses to “How Do Scholars Know the Occasion and Audience of a Gospel?”

  1. kennethos says:

    I believe the appropriate phrase here is, “stinkin’ sweet!” 😉
    Thanks, Mike.

  2. Patrick says:

    I have felt for some time each Gospel account likely had a specific audience and accounts for some of the apparent confusion.

    Mark to the Romans, Luke to the Greeks, Matthew to the Jews and John universally to mankind.

    Might not be accurate, that’s what I have felt for years now based on research like this.

  3. Jonnathan Molina says:

    I enjoyed reading–as well as learning–about this topic.

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