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Catholic Dictionary




One of the four authentic accounts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, which the Church teaches have been divinely inspired. They are the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Several stages in the use of the term "Gospel" may be distinguished. In the Old Testament are predictions of the Messianic "Good News of Salvation" (Isaiah 40:9, 41:27, 61:1). The Gospels themselves speak of the "Good News" from the angelic message at Bethlehem (Luke 2:10) to the final commission to the Apostles (Mark 16:15). Beyond the four narratives of the Evangelists the entire New Testament speaks at length, in detail, and with a variety of nuances of the "Gospel of Jesus Christ." Prior to the original, inspired Gospels there was an "Oral Gospel," or tradition, on which the written narratives were based. And after the canonical Gospels were produced, numerous counterfeit Gospels were also written. There is record of twenty-one such apocryphal Gospels. (Etym. Anglo-Saxon g_dspel: god, good + spel, tale.)