From Jesus to Us: Six Stages in the Transmission of the Gospel Tradition (Box 3.2)



Stage One: Historical Jesus

Jesus says and does things that are considered remarkable.

Stage Two: Early Tradition




People remember what Jesus said and did and share these memories with others.


People write down brief accounts of things that Jesus said and did.


Stage Three: Composition of the Gospels

The Gospel writers compile their books, drawing on both oral tradition and early written sources to form narratives of Jesus’s life and work.

Stage Four: Preservation of Manuscripts

People make copies of the Gospel narratives and distribute them.

Stage Five: Translation

Scholars translate copies of the Gospel narratives into other languages, including, eventually, our own.

Stage Six: Reception

In modern editions of the Gospels we hear or read about what Jesus said and did.