Our four canonical gospels are four versions or representations of the one and the same Gospel. All of them deal with the person of Jesus Christ, his ministry, his passion, death, and resurrection. But no gospel was written during the life time of Jesus. In fact, the first gospel was written some 35-40 years after the events it records have taken place.
How did our gospels come to be written? (As the gospel according to John has a different formative history, here we shall discuss only the formation of the Synoptic gospels.)
The gospels have a history behind them. It is a history that spans over some seventy years. We can distinguish three stages or periods in the process of the formation of the gospels: – the time of Jesus, the life of the Church, and the role of the evangelists.