[Editor’s note: These are two questions of a similar nature from the same questioner, so are being put together in one article.]


Why does it appear that Matthew’s version of the last supper was copied from Mark? They’re so similar and it wouldn’t make sense for Matthew to copy Mark for the last supper since Matthew was at the last supper.


If your assumption were true, then this would be a good question!  However, whoever told you that Matthew “copied” Mark’s account of the Last Supper was giving you false information.  We need to be a bit more skeptical than this.  I ask you to simply do this:  Read Matthew 26:17-30 and Mark 14:12-26.  They are not the same. I did not do a word count, but it is not clear that even half of the two accounts are the same.  There are several parallels, but also many differences.  As I have said before, it is not even clear whose gospel was written first–Mark or Matthew, although scholarly opinion weighs somewhat strongly toward Mark writing before Matthew.
The fact is that, for about two decades before either gospel was written, there was an oral tradition about the life of Jesus which was circulating and being used in the churches.  Exactly how much Matthew relied on his own recollection, exactly how much he relied on the orally passed tradition, and, if Mark was already written, exactly how much he relied on Mark is uncertain.  What I can say for sure is that neither Mark copied Matthew nor did Matthew copy Mark.  This event happened.  If what Matthew recalled was what Jesus actually said, and what Mark recounted is what Jesus actually said, then there is good reason for the accounts to be similar, but not identical.  This is in fact the case. The four gospels are independent accounts of the events, which accounts both for the similarities and for the differences.
John Oakes


 Is 2 Peter a forgery? The reason I’m asking is because some early church fathers doubted it and it is very similar to Jude.
By definition, a forgery is a faked copy of something done by a genuine author/artist.  It is a work by a less famous person which is falsely created so as to appear to be from the more famous person.
Scholars are unanimous about this:  They are not certain if Peter wrote this letter. Some are fairly confident Peter wrote it, but will admit it is possible he did not.  Others feel fairly strongly that he did not, but will admit he may have.   Any honest New Testament scholar will admit that there is some doubt about the author.  It is entirely possible Peter wrote this, but it is possible that it was written by someone else, and later, attributed to Peter.  We simply cannot know.  That is the end of the story.
If it was not written by Peter (which is not my personal opinion), then it is likely that someone at a much later date added the first line:  Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ.  If the book was written by Peter (my personal view as the most likely possibility), then it is obviously not a forgery.  If it was written by someone else, but, much later, someone else added the first line of the letter, then it also was not a forgery.  I am not sure which is the case, but anyone saying that the book is a forgery is almost certainly not correct, and is possibly being disingenuous.  They would be claiming that, first of all, Peter did not write it, and second, that the original writer included the first line in the original copy.  This seems very unlikely.
Of course, to a Christian, all that matters is that 2 Peter is canonical and that it is inspired by God.  I trust God to be sufficiently powerful and attentive to giving us a New Testament that is from Him to believe, by faith, that 2 Peter is inspired by God.  But this is a biased opinion of a Christian, so should be taken for what it is worth.  Clearly, the very early church believed, by consensus, that 2 Peter was inspired by God (even if a minority were not certain Peter wrote it), and it is God who gave to the early church the job of setting the New Testament canon.
About Jude, the similarity is in style, not in content. The themes are somewhat similar, but there is very little overlap in content. This is a red herring argument in my opinion. My suggestion is that you look at the books themselves, and that you be skeptical about the critics.
John Oakes



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