Then the surviving Acts of Timothy which tells mostly the same story:John was reported to have read the accounts that served as the basis of the Gospels, to have re-ordered them, and to have assigned them to the three other evangelists:
It is interesting that the materials, on the basis of which John purportedly performed his redactional work, are said to have been “in different languages,” presumably in reference to Greek and Hebrew/Aramaic (this being attested at least for Matthew in the tradition analyzed above), and less probably, to Latin. The material support of these first-century writings is correctly identified with papyrus rolls, which suggests an early date for the origin of this tradition.At that time he received papyrus rolls, from people who kept bringing them to him. These papyri recorded, in different languages, the salvific Passion of the Lord and his miracles and teachings. He put them in order, articulated them into a structure, and attributed to each of them the name of one of the three evangelists.
Origen may be another witness to the tradition reported by the Martyrdom of Timothy and the Muratori Fragment concerning the work done by John on various narratives of the life of Jesus, including the detail, as attested in the Fragment,of the early composition of the Gospel of John.Some followers of the disciples of the Lord, not knowing how to put in order certain papyri which were written in different languages and put together in random fashion by these disciples and which dealt with the miracles of the Lord Jesus which had taken place in their time, came to the city of Ephesus and by common consent brought them (the papyri) to John the renowned theologian. He examined them thoroughly and taking his cue from them, after he had put in order the three gospel narratives and entitled them Gospel of Matthew, Gospel of Mark, Gospel of Luke, assigning their proper titles to the gospels, he himself theologized upon the things they had not narrated ..., filling up also the gaps they had left, in their accounts of the miracles especially, and then he set his own name to this compilation or gospel.
According to Rauer's edition,32 Origen claims in his homilies on Luke in fragment 9 commenting on Luke 1:1–2,33 as he also does in his first Homily on Luke (1.1), that the church has received only the four canonical Gospels, while rejecting the others. In this connection, he retrojects this choice to John the Evangelist himself:
Λόγος ἐστὶ Ἰωάννην ἔτι περιόντα βίῳ ἐπὶ Νέρωνος τὰ συγγεγραμμένα εὐαγγέλια συναγαγεῖν καὶ τὰ μὲν ἐγκρῖναικαὶἀποδέξασθαι ὧνοὐδὲνἡ τοῦδιαβόλου ἐπιβουλὴ καθήψατο, τὰ δὲ ἀπολέξασθαι καὶκαταργῆσαι, ὅσα μὴ τῆς ἀληθείας ἐχόμενα συνέγνω.
There is a tradition that John in his lifetime, during the reign of Nero, collected the gospels that had been composed, and approved of and received some, those of which the devil's deceitful assault had not taken possession, while he refused and rejected others, those which he recognized as having no truth in themselves.