Judas died and was replaced by Matthias. There were at least eleven intimate disciples of Jesus Christ who could write the genuine life of Christ. But we have only 4 books which record the life of Christ. Moreover, only Matthew and John are of the 12 disciples of Jesus.

Is there any historical reason why the other disciples did not write the Life of Christ?

Are there any other less authentic books which record the Life of Christ?

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    This is a good question. I think a thorough answer would include reasonings behind the canonization of the 4 gospels and not "other gospels" (Stephen, Peter...). – David C. Jun 29 '13 at 11:37
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    Peter may have been a primary source for the Gospel of Mark; if so, that might count as Peter's gospel. Given how busy the Apostle's were (implied in Acts 6:2) and how late the canonical gospels were written (Mark perhaps AD 60-70), it might not be surprising that the Apostles did not take time to compose narratives from the stories and sayings they shared in a more piecemeal fashion. Very little remains of what one might guess would be a large volume of Apostolic speeches/sermons, so the lack of an extended narrative might not be surprising. – Paul A. Clayton Jun 29 '13 at 11:39
  • the answer is a bit more complex - first of all, there are other gospels. those 4, are part of the canon, there are others. I would start here for a brief overview en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel – Greg Balajewicz Jun 29 '13 at 13:05
  • Because there were three main ethnic-religious groups in the first century: Jews, Gentiles, and Hellenized Jews. Matthew addresses the former, Luke the second, and John the latter. Mark writes for commoners, which constitute the largest part of humanity, so we might say that his Gospel is meant for humans in general. John, on the other hand, is very deeply steeped into Greek philosophy, so his is the Gospel of the elites or intelligentsia of late antiquity. – Lucian Oct 30 '19 at 11:49

Way more than four people wrote about the life of Christ. Literally hundreds of 'gospels' included stories about Jesus of Nazareth—from the Gospel of Thomas to the Epistle of Barnabas to Gospel of Judas to Marcion in his own Gospel. The only difference is that the early church either didn't trust the veracity of those 'gospels' or else they found them to be not as good as these four.

Additionally, we have external sources such as Flavius Josephus and Tacitus who record stuff about Jesus. But those are strictly 'historical' not even religious in nature.

As such, the early church said that the four Gospels we have are the best ones, not the only ones.

  • The four Gospels are the Catholic Church's Gospels, as distinct from the Gospels of the other Christian Churches during the 2nd. cent. As Affable Greek has said, and as I have written elsewhere, there were lots of Gospels. And we don't know how many people were involved in actually writing the four we have in our NT. The Catholic Bishop Iranaeus of Lyons in the 2nd. cent. chose the four we have. – Waeshael Jun 30 '13 at 16:29
  • In the Introduction to the Good News Translation - New Testament 1992 by the American Bible Society: The Most Reverend John F. Wheaton S.T.L., S.S.L. says: "The Gospels and the entire New Testament were written in the Church, for the Church, by members of the Church." – Waeshael Jun 30 '13 at 16:40

Could they write?

The first, and perhaps most obvious answer may very well be that they didn't know how to write. Recall that most of the disciples were—by and large—peasants. Even the tradition that Peter was the source behind Mark doesn't affirm that Peter wrote the gospel, only that someone else (named Mark) wrote it down according to Peter's "memoirs" (or whatever; I don't really buy this theory, personally)

Did they need to?

A second reason is linked to early Christian eschatology(-ies). It seems to have been commonly believed (perhaps because Jesus said it: Mk 13:30, Mt 24:34, Lk 21:32) that Jesus would be returning within the lifetime of his earliest followers. It is supposed that this concern is what is at the root of 1 Thess 4:13-17:

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.* For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord for ever.

People were dying and Jesus had yet to come back. So the question is, if these early Christians believed in the immediate return of Jesus, why would they write a book about him?

On the other hand, the Gospels generally hail from the end of the 1st century CE (though Mark, perhaps 67 CE and John perhaps as late as the 2nd century CE). In other words, when these Christian communities were coming to realize that it would be important for them to record and pass down their faith tradition to the next generation

Other Gospels

Yes there are many other "gospels" that were written about Jesus. Sometime if you really want an eye-opener you should find a copy of The New Testament Apocrypha. It's a two-volume set edited by Hennecke and Schneemelcher. Lots of good stuff in there, but most all of it is pretty late.

The only "controversial" non-canonical "gospels" are Q (the putative source behind the material common to Matthew and Luke not found in Mark) and the Gospel of Thomas. However, neither of these are "gospels" in any meaningful sense, since they are both just collections of sayings. Q is only controversial in the sense that a growing number of scholars have become suspicious of its existence, and Thomas, because some scholars want to claim that it's just as early as the canonical gospels. I'm not convinced, but I'll let you decide for yourself.

  • Asserting that the believe in Jesus' imminent return made them to neglect writing about the life of Jesus is unbelievable. – Mawia Jul 1 '13 at 4:35
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    If you were a first century Christian who believed that at any moment, Jesus would return and time would cease, you would take time to write a book? – jackweinbender Jul 1 '13 at 14:09
  • Wouldn't God make sure that such important truths are recorded for posterity? He must have known that in the 20th century there will be bible-thumpers and skeptics, so I'm sure He would want the record to be straight? – justbelieve Jul 3 '13 at 7:51
  • I like your answer though, I'd like throw out some food for thought regarding the disciples being peasants. Consider Jesus's inner circle Peter, James and John. They were fishermen, perhaps members of the merchant class, and most likely tri-lingual. They would have spoken Aramaic to each other, Hebrew during religious occasions, and Greek in the market place, and perhaps maybe have had some written literacy as well. Matthew the tax collector most likely would have been able to read and write. – aceinthehole May 14 '14 at 22:50
  • It is noted in Acts that many of the first Christians themselves were Pharisees (Acts 15:5). It is certainly possible that many of his followers during his lifetime, could have been members of this highly literate group as well. And consider Jesus himself, was in Greek, a Tekon, traditionally a carpenter, however this term could have been applied to any number of skilled artisans. This profession, although does not require one to be literate, is not a peasant either. – aceinthehole May 14 '14 at 22:51

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