Who Wrote the New Testament?
The New Testament has 27 individual books, of which the majority, 21, is a collection of letters to certain individuals, particular churches or the body of Christ in general. Most of the epistles follow a style common in those days, placing the name of the writer at the beginning (exceptions to this are Hebrews and 1,2, and 3 John). In addition, Revelation has several explicit claims to authorship by John the apostle. Thus most of the epistles and Revelation are quite unambiguous as to the identity of the author. We only need to verify whether the name indeed refers to the person we think it is (the absence of surnames makes that a little harder), and that this epistle is genuine and not a forgery.
The gospels and Acts, however, do not mention an author by name. Fortunately, there are early church traditions as well as a number of indications in the documents themselves to give us pointers and clues towards the identity of the writer.
Authorship and date are closely linked. As we have seen, the main criterion for canonizing books in the NT was authorship by either a personal disciple/apostle of Jesus or by somebody closely associated with one of these. The date for the book obviously would need to be within the lifetime of the claimed author. So we will investigate both together.
In contrast to the OT, all NT books were written within one generation. Likely all the writers knew one another; some very well (as Peter and John), some only distantly (as Paul and James). Perhaps some never met in person, but still each would have known about the others.
Logically the books can be divided into the following groups:
From the perspective of evidence the most important books are the gospels, Acts and Paul’s letters, so we will limit our discussion to these.
Who Wrote the Gospels?
The gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) – regarded by many as the most sacred Christian writings – proclaim through dramatic narrative, recorded sayings, and theological dogma, the story of Jesus and the significance of His life, death, and resurrection. The gospels are largely regarded the authoritative record of Jesus' words and deeds. They are recollections of original disciples (as Matthew and John), or of close associates to the apostles (as Mark and Luke).
But, who wrote the Gospel of Matthew? The obvious answer is Matthew, but not everyone agrees. Many scholars insist there is no convincing evidence that any of the gospels was actually written by the one whose name is attached. The name might have been associated later by some unknown person in an effort to increase the credibility of the text. These claims are made by liberal scholars who reject the miracles recorded in the gospel and insist the story of the resurrection is only a myth. One can only wonder what evidence could convince such critics. Scholarship does not ensure objectivity and clearly many knowledgeable scholars have personal agendas. Once again, this shows the importance of investigating all the evidence on both sides of each dispute.
Information about authors comes from two sources:
External evidences: Statements made about this gospel by sources outside the Bible, this includes the Early Church Leaders as well as tradition.
Internal clues: What clues does the gospel itself give us about the author?
Timeline of the Writing of the New Testament
Read on about: (2) Exhibit #11: Synoptic gospels and Acts
 Homilies on Joshua, just before Origen ’s death.
Read on about: The Lost Books of the New Testament.
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