Origen on the Four-Fold Gospel and other gospels

In Origen’s first homily on Luke he says

…You should know that not only four Gospels, but very many, were composed. the Gospels we have were chosen from among these gospels and passed on to the churches. We can know this from Luke’s own prologue, which begins this way: Because many have tried to compose an account.’ The words have tried’ imply an accusation against those who rushed into writing gospels without the grace of the Holy Spirit. Matthew, Mark, John, and Luke did not try” to write; they wrote their Gospels when they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Hence, Many have tried to compose an account of the events that are clearly known among us.’

The Church has four Gospels. Heretics have very many. One of them is entitled According to the Egyptians, another According to the Twelve Apostles. Basilides, too, dared to write a gospel and give it his own name. Many have tried’ to write, but only four Gospels have been approved. Our doctrines about the Person of our Lord and Savior should be drawn from these approved Gospels. I know one gospel called According to Thomas, and another According to Matthias. We have read many others, too, lest we appear ignorant of anything, because of those people who think they know something if they have examined these gospels. But in all these questions we approve of nothing but what the Church approves of, namely only four canonical Gospels.

We have said all this because the beginning of the Gospel reads, Many have tried to compose an account of the evens that have been accomplished among us.’ Those other authors have attempted and have tried” to write about these events, but for us they are clearly established

Origen most likely gave his homilies on Luke around 233 AD (xxiv)

Origen in Homily 1 (p. 5) of Homilies on Luke translated by Joseph T. Lienhard in The Fathers of the Church series. 1996.

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