Four different Gospels?
“Why are their four different gospels?”
God does not want blind faith, uncritical, unthinking acceptance—he chooses to present his truth in a way that gives sufficient evidence to skeptics as well. Four separate eyewitness accounts make the evidence for Jesus’ miracles, message, death and resurrection four times as hard to deny. One can doubt or question the testimony of one eyewitness account, but multiple accounts are harder to question.
The Torah left the Jews with an important principle: “a matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses” (Deuteronomy 19:15). To convince the Jews according to Torah principles, there needed to be multiple eyewitness accounts. We know from both the Qur’ān and Bible that Jesus himself was the “Kalimatullah”, the Word from God, and the Injīl scriptures are simply the inspired testimony of Jesus’ message and works.
A final reason for four gospels is that different perspectives are more enlightening/insightful than one homogenized harmony, as each eyewitness account emphasizes or brings out a new dimension of Jesus’ ministry.
In 180 AD, Irenaeus wrote of the fourfold Gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John):
It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For, since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is scattered throughout all the world, and the “pillar and ground” of the Church is the Gospel and the spirit of life; it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and vivifying men afresh. … For the living creatures are quadriform, and the Gospel is quadriform, as is also the course followed by the Lord.1
This Irenaeus was the “spiritual grandchild” of John, for he was trained by Polycarp, who was trained by John himself, the beloved disciple of Jesus and author of the Gospel of John.
- Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.11