Was the Gospel written when Hz. Isa was alive? Did a book called the Gospel exist? If yes, what happened to it? Why is no record of such a book seen in any historical document?

The Details of the Question

It is known that the Gospel that exists today was written in about 60-100 AD.  Therefore, nobody claims that the Gospel was sent down or written by Hz. Isa. The Quran also mentions the Gospel as a book; where is that book and what happened to it? For instance, the Torah was also distorted but they have a book that they claim to be original. Was there a book called the Gospel in the past?  If yes, what happened to it? Why is no record of such a book seen in any historical document?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The Gospel was not compiled as a written book when Hz. Isa (Jesus) was alive as it was the case for the previous prophets. For, the period of Hz. Isa’s prophethood was short and the conditions of that age were not suitable for it. The earliest Gospel was written after 70s AD. Therefore, the truths that Hz. Isa conveyed to people could not be written at the same moment they were sent down; human statements were included in the Gospels that were written afterwards; thus, the original Gospel was distorted.

There are four Gospels accepted by the church today: The Gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They are accepted to have come from the apostles and to be sound. The first three of them – despite some differences – are close to one another in terms of issues and chapters. They are called "Synoptic Gospels" meaning "written with the same viewpoints". Those three gospels were written before the fourth Gospel. (G. Thomas)

It is said that the Gospel of Mark is the oldest one and that the Gospel of Matthew and Luke were based on it and the lost Gospel called “it”. The Gospel of John, which is the fourth Gospel, was written later and its mystic aspect is dominant. (Schimmel ibid, s. 118; Bucaille, ibid, p. 96)

The four Gospels and their writers are as follows:

The Gospel of Matthew has 28 chapters. Matthew is one of the apostles; he died in Abyssinia, where he settled in order to spread Christianity, in 70 AD. He deals with the messianism of Hz. Isa in the Gospel.

The Gospel of Mark: Mark is a student of Peter, who is the leader of the apostles. He died in Egypt, where he settled in order to spread Christianity, in 62 AD. His Gospel consists of 16 chapters and mentions the life of Hz. Isa.

The Gospel of Luke: Luke, who is said to be a doctor or an artist, is a student of Paul; he is not an apostle. He wrote his Gospel in 60 AD; it has 24 chapters. He mentions the life of Hz. Isa and the things he conveyed to people.

The Gospel of John: It has 24 chapters; the writer of this Gospel is thought to be a student of John. It is insistently stated in this Gospel that Hz. Isa is the son of Allah. In fact, the Gospel we have today have 23 Gospels apart from those 4 Gospels; it consists of 27 Gospels. However, the Gospel that Allah sent to Hz. Isa is only one. (Ahmet Kahraman, Dinler Tarihi, İst. 1968, p. 189)

According to the determinations of a scientist, the purpose of today’s Gospels is to report Hz. Isa’s words and deeds, and the instructions he wanted to give to people when his prophethood on earth was completed. It is bad luck that the writers of the Gospel were not witnesses of the incidents that they reported. The Gospels consist of the narrations of the spokespeople of various Jewish and Christian congregations about the information that has been lost today and that was kept in oral or written form, playing the role of an intermediary between the oral narrations and final texts. (Maurice Bucaille, ibid, s. 369)

The Quran mentions the heavenly books and the Gospel as follows:

"It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong). Then those who reject Faith in the Signs of Allah will suffer the severest penalty, and Allah is Exalted in Might, Lord of Retribution." (Aal-i Imran, 3/3-4)

"Then will Allah say: ‘O Jesus the son of Mary! Recount My favour to thee and to thy mother. Behold! I strengthened thee with the holy spirit, so that thou didst speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. Behold! I taught thee the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel and behold! thou makest out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My leave, and thou breathest into it and it becometh a bird by My leave, and thou healest those born blind, and the lepers, by My leave. And behold! thou bringest forth the dead by My leave. And behold! I did restrain the Children of Israel from (violence to) thee when thou didst show them the clear Signs, and the unbelievers among them said: ´This is nothing but evident magic.’" (al-Maida, 5/110)

(see Şamil İA, item İncil)

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