Dating and authorship of the gospels Bible apologetics and education

dating and authorship of the gospels

Dating the gospels is very important. to the gospels, their early authorship as well as apostolic authorship becomes even more critical. Unfortunately, the questions of New Testament authorship and dating are not cut and . The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke show dramatic similarities. The Dating of the Synoptic Gospels. Author(s): Warren J. Moulton. Reviewed work(s). Source: Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 37, No. 1/2 (), pp.

But Ignatius died around A. Therefore Matthew had to be written before he died. Nevertheless, it is generally believed that Matthew was written before A. Mark Mark was not an eyewitness to the events of Jesus' life. He was a disciple of Peter and undoubtedly it was Peter who informed Mark of the life of Christ and guided him in writing the Gospel known by his name.

Luke Luke was not an eyewitness of the life of Christ. He was a companion of Paul who also was not an eyewitness of Christ's life.

Daniel Wallace on Dating and Authorship of the Four Gospels –

But, both had ample opportunity to meet the disciples who knew Christ and learn the facts not only from them, but from others in the area. Some might consider this damaging to the validity of the gospel, but quite the contrary.

Luke was a gentile convert to Christianity who was interested in the facts. He obviously had interviewed the eyewitnesses and written the Gospel account as well as Acts. Notice how Luke speaks of "them," of those who had personal encounters with Christ. Luke is simply recounting the events from the disciples. Since Luke agrees with Matthew, Mark, and John and since there is no contradictory information coming from any of the disciples stating that Luke was inaccurate, and since Luke has proven to be a very accurate historian, we can conclude that Luke's account is very accurate.

As far as dating the gospel goes, Luke was written before the book of Acts and Acts does not mention "Nero's persecution of the Christians in A.

The John Rylands papyrus fragment 52 of John's gospel dated in the year contains portions of John 18, versesThis fragment was found in Egypt. It is the last of the gospels and appears to have been written in the 80's to 90's. Most scholars say it was written in the early 90's. This means that the time span between the original writing of John and its earliest copy fragment is approximately years.

John does not mention the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 A. I have noted that they do well in offering generalities, but never get down to the specifics of how Joe Gentile could have managed to pull off such a hoax on the church as a whole. Is there any parallel to this in secular history, where an enormous group at large was bamboozled by and continued to be bamboozled by not just one forgery, but four, attributed in a couple of cases to members of an inner circle, in widely separated places and times?

dating and authorship of the gospels

Mark could not be recognized as authoritative until it was known what source it came from; yet if the critics are right, "Mark" was considered authoritative enough to use not by just one, but by two others working independently of one another.

One way around this scenario is to hypothesize Christian "prophets" through whom these works might have been received and recognized; for a response to this, see below. At the beginning of the second century, there would have been first-generation Christians alive who recalled the apostles and their teaching, and many more second-generation Christians who would have had information passed directly to them.

We have early witnesses to the authorship of some of the Gospels. Papias wrote aroundand he surely did not design the authorship of Matthew and Mark on the spur of the moment. That being so, how could anyone have dared to attribute the Gospels to anyone other than the genuine authors with these first- and second-generation witnesses still alive? Believers in the 70ss, when critics suppose that the Gospels were authored anonymously, would have known of no works of Matthew and the others; believers after the 90s who descended from this generation and lived into the lifetime of Papias would have had no tradition of such documents.

With these general considerations, we now offer these mini-essays: Matthew -- this is the version from our resource Trusting the New Testament, featured above.

Are parts or the whole of the NT products of the Church's faith rather than recorded historical events? This is an issue that we touch upon in several places, but generally speaking, we may ask in reply: Why would the church have created such a difficult faith to follow?

Certainly they could have made things much easier on themselves by, for example, permitting sacrifices to the Emperor of Rome as the Jews did - or perhaps making the difficult passages easier to understand.

When Were the Gospels Written?

Why are there no passages relevant to later church issues like circumcision? We will discuss this in more detail shortly. Some of the material critics understand as late, simply is not. A favorite cite of critics, for example, is from Matthew But the word used here is ekklesia, and it was used to refer to "official meetings of the people of Israel" [Kiste.

GCS, 83] - in other words, any worship assembly, including the synagogue. Furthermore, a late date is also only assumed upon the circular assumption that Jesus wasn't trying to found a new movement -- something that is assumed rather than proved. Thus, these verses cannot be used as evidence of lateness or cited as ad hoc creations.

dating and authorship of the gospels

Material in the Gospels does not reflect the creativity of a "community. INP, ] expresses it well: The New Testament witnesses to virile, expanding Christian communities, it is true, but also to confused and immature ones.

It is more likely that the thrust, the creativity, the originality which lies behind the Gospel tradition of the works and words of Jesus should be credited to him rather than to the body of Christians. The kind of penetrating insight preserved in the Gospels points not to communities - mired and often muddled in their thinking - but to a supreme source in a single person, Jesus Most importantly, eyewitnesses would not permit such creation.

This point is made by several authors. We begin with John P. One would think get the impression from such theories that throughout the first Christian generation there were no eyewitnesses to act as a check on fertile imaginations, no original-disciples-now-become-leaders who might exercise some control over the developing tradition, and no striking deeds and sayings of Jesus that stuck willy-nilly in people's memories.

Form critics call into question the integrity of the disciples. The disciples had seen and heard Jesus. They had even been a part of his ministry. Yet, if the form critics are correct, they did not control the accuracy of the tradition Is it conceivable that in its own discussions and disputes the early church would not have examined doubtful statements concerning Jesus' ministry?

If the church, in fact, did not scrutinize such statements, why is there such close agreement as to the nature and details of that minsitry? A community that was purely imaginative and lacking in discrimination would have found it impossible to form a consistent tradition.

Grant said of the New Testament [Gran. The early church did not grow up in isolation, in some corner, but in the full glare of publicity in the great cities of the Roman Empire. And finally, Glenn Miller notes: It should also be pointed out that even the earliest church had 'controls' in place, that would naturally 'keep the tradition in line'.

There are several indications that the early church had a surprising amount of information exchange and 'feedback loops'. The early church had a center Jerusalem and leaders apostles 2.

dating and authorship of the gospels

When the church expanded into Samaria, there was interaction with the leaders of the founding church Acts 8. When the church expanded into Antioch, we see the same pattern occur Act When the issue of circumcision came up, the church in Antioch appointed Paul and Barnabas "to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question" Acts The first church council was held at Jerusalem Act Paul accepted the importance of the Jerusalem center Gal 2.

dating and authorship of the gospels

I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain.

Paul was welcomed and sent to the Gentiles Gal 2. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

Paul a native of Tarsus! The leading apostles and evangelists had traveling ministries, bringing them into contact with churches and believers everywhere. The early churches did NOT live in a vacuum. They corresponded with each other cf. I Clement, a letter from Rome to Corinth, a. The point should be clear--the early church had a significant amount of information exchange, among the leadership, and therefore had major 'feedback controls' which would have corrected significant aberrations early.

Vincent Taylor notes in the same light [Tayl. FGT, 41], in terms that apply as much to the Jesus Seminar today as they did to Bultmann in his time: If the Form Critics are right, the disciples must have been translated to heaven immediately after the Resurrection.

As Bultmann sees it, the primitive community existed in vacuo, cut off from its founders by the walls of an inexplicable ignorance Unable to turn to anyone for information, it must invent situations for the words of Jesus, and, put onto his lips sayings which personal memory cannot check.

dating and authorship of the gospels

All this is absurd; but there is a reason for this unwillingness to take into account the existence of leaders and eyewitnesses By the very nature of his studies the Form Critic is not predisposed in favor of eyewitnesses; he deals with oral forms shaped by nameless individuals, and the recognition of persons who could enrich the tradition by their actual recollections comes as a disturbing element to the smooth working of the theory.

He is faced by an unknown quantity just where he has to operate with precise 'laws of the tradition. One especially wonders how the surviving eyewitnesses to Jesus who were undoubtedly still around, eyewitnesses who must have exercised some influence within these communities, responded to Mark's supposed rewriting of history.

One must ask how Mark could have thought that he could get his piece of historical fiction past these eyewitnesses. And, finally, how could this fabrication not only be accepted, but serve to motivate the followers of Jesus to the point where they quickly took this "new" Gospel and risked their lives evangelizing the entire Mediterranean world? CSSG, ] Such a presupposition, as we have said before and elsewhere, requires a "high threshold of gullibility" in the early Christian circles.

Indeed, upon what basis is it said that the church simply created things for Jesus to say? Q, ], for one, appeals to the Hellenistic practice of attributing "speech-in-character" to people who did not necessarily say the things attributed to them, but "would have" in the opinion of the attributers, because such things were within the quoted person's character to say. We may answer briefly by noting: Mack along with the Jesus Seminar greatly overemphasizes the influence of Hellenism on Jesus and the Gospels.

Mack, who sees Jesus in the mode of a Greek cynic sage, must hypotheize that Matthew and the other Gospel writers "actually buried Q in the fiction of Jesus as a Jewish sage. Much of critical NT scholarship is now returning to this point of view. For a brief, but thorough, refutation of the idea of Jesus as a Cynic sage, see [Boyd. Mack's theory is implicated by his constant appeals to the community imagination, and that of the early church.

Mack's book is full of phrases such as "one needs to imagine Q, ], and elsewhere"a lengthy period of creative, intellectual labor," "explosion of intellectual energy," "an astonishing interpretation of the Christ myth for Macedonians to have managed by the year 50 CE," "astounding imagination," "an early achievement in Christian mythmaking," "Matthew's gospel appeared in the late 80s and comes as a complete surprise," etc. WhoNT, 80, 90,] Everywhere in Mack's book, we are surprised, shocked, confused, or bewildered by the development of early Christianity.

Mack's theory requires so much imagination because, quite frankly, it has so little proof behind it. Mack's and similar theories require, as Blomberg puts it: Blomberg further notes that there is no parallel in the history of religion to such a radical transformation of a famous teacher or leader in such a short time, "and no identifiable stimulus among the followers of Jesus sufficient to create such a change. PG, ] describes the methods of Mack and other critics of his persuasion: A good deal of New Testament scholarship, in fact, and within that a good deal of study of Jesus, has proceeded on the assumption that the gospels cannot possibly make sense as they stand, so that some alternative hypothesis must be proposed to take the place of the view of Jesus they seem to offer.

It has been assumed that we know, more or less, what Jesus' life, ministry and self-understanding were like, and that they are unlike the picture we find in the gospels. But hypotheses of this sort are always short on simplicity, since they demand an explanation not only of what happened in the ministry of Jesus, but also of why the early church said something different, and actually wrote up stories as founding 'myths' which bore little relation to the historical events.

And thus it is that we have Mack's fictional "Q community" to explain everything; thus it is that the matter of eyewitness testimony friendly and hostile is ignored; thus is it assumed that there were no restraints to this creativity in the early church.

We are obliged to ask: Was it just luck that no texts, no histories, and no evidence from these other communties of Mack's survived? You can believe that if you want - and if you have the requisite faith.

Even beyond Mack's specific "speech in character" theory, however, there are many critics who presume that the church created sayings of Jesus to fit certain occassions. Most appeal to the idea that there were Christian "prophets" who spoke the word of the Lord, and that these words were taken to be the words of the living Jesus. In general, we may reply that: Much of what is in the Gospels is not relevant to the early church.

When were the gospels written and by whom? |

If there are passages that were created and put on Jesus' lips, and were therefore products of the early church, why are they absent teachings of Jesus on subjects critical to the early church? If the church felt free to invent Jesus' sayings, why not some sayings on these issues? Strong oral tradition guards against such fabrication. If the oral tradition in the church was solid as indicated above and this is even stronger if Jesus' sayings were also written somewherehow did anyone get away with creating new sayings of Jesus?

Anything not in accord with what Jesus said on earth would have been rejected. See here for an introduction. Such sayings should be seen as recollection and selection, not creation. Much of what critics assign to the post-Easter church is just as easily interpreted as arising from Jesus Himself - making the material a recollection for the occassion, rather than a creation.

As Patzia expresses it: The interpretive purposes for which the early church used stories about Jesus affected the selective process. Those stories which spoke most directly to questions that were being asked, those narratives which seemed to call forth the clearest understanding, were the stories used most frequently. Stories less relevant, Nickle asserts, were retold less, and were thus forgotten.

It is much more probable that the interests of the early Christians led them to select, interpret, and apply stories of Jesus, than that the same interests led them to create stories Or what of sayings in the same Gospels which seemingly compromise the conceptions of Christ's person which prevailed when the Gospels were written? While we may suppose that the sayings of Jesus were applied in settings that were different from the original - as would happen anyway, since no two situations are exactly alike!

The idea of "prophets" in the church has no historical evidence.

Historical reliability of the Gospels

What we do know for a fact—admitted even by the Catholic Encyclopedia—is that the titles attached to the gospels, "The Gospel According to Matthew," etc. Indeed, the term "according to" in the original Greek—kata—could be interpreted to suggest that the texts were understood to be relating a tradition of these individuals, rather than having been written by them.

In reality, none of the evangelists identifies himself as a character in the gospel story. As one glaring example of this detachment, it is claimed that Matthew was recording events he himself had witnessed, but the gospel attributed to him begins before he had been called by Jesus and speaks of Matthew in the third person….

This subject of attribution is extremely important, because, as Tenney asserts, "if it could be shown that any of the books of the New Testament was falsely attributed to the person whose name it bears, its place in the canon would be endangered.

As another example, regarding Jesus's body being stolen, Matthew's gospel claims that "this story has been spread among the Jews to this day. In fact, we do not have any mention in the historical record of the story of Christ's body being stolen having been spread among the Jews until the second century.

It is possible that this particular verse was not added until that time, which means that it is not original to the gospel and that Matthew certainly is not its author.

Also, Luke's gospel discusses an apparent myriad of preceding gospels written "by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses…" The phrase "from the beginning" likewise implies a passage of time, as does the fact that there were "many" who preceded Luke in writing gospels.

Irenaeus, "Father of the Catholic Canon. In fact, prior to the end of the second century, there is no clear evidence of the existence of the canonical gospels as we have them. Church Father and Bishop Papias Christian apologetics for the early gospel dates rely on the slimmest of evidence, including a very late third-hand testimony of a late second-hand testimony that "Mark" had written a narrative, supposedly based on the experiences of Peter as related by the apostle himself. In the fourth century, Church historian Eusebius quoted early Church father and bishop Papias of Hierapolis c.

According to Eusebius—in disagreement with Irenaeus, who suggested Papias had known the apostle John—Papias had no direct acquaintance with any of the apostles: Are we supposed merely to take Papias's word on what else he was told by these "former followers?

Moreover, Papias only speaks about a narrative by Mark, which by no means conclusively refers to the canonical Mark as we have it. Nor, as we have seen, is the Aramaic gospel of Matthew the same as the canonical Matthew…. Justin Martyr As proof of the existence of the gospels prior to the end of the second century, it is claimed that Church father Justin Martyr c.

In the first place, there appears nothing prior to Justin Martyr c. In fact, virtually all of the numerous quotes purportedly from the New Testament listed in the Catholic Encyclopedia, [9] for example, as found in earlier Christian writings constitute sayings that may have been transmitted orally or in other source texts such as the Aramaic Gospel of Matthew or Q. Next, upon close inspection, the material from Justin Martyr—such as the "Memoirs of the Apostles"—does not correspond well enough to that found in the canonical gospels and is likely from another common source text or texts.

Indeed, renowned biblical scholar Tischendorf only managed to find two pertinent quotations in Justin Martyr's works that could possibly come from the gospel of Matthew, for example.

Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled. The Rylands Papyrus Aside from various sayings within the writings of the Church fathers that resemble those found in the gospels but may well come from common source texts, the only widely accepted evidence that places the emergence of any of the canonical gospels before the end of the second century is a small scrap of papyrus called the "Rylands fragment" or P52, which contains several dozen letters scattered across four verses of John's gospel The presumed dating of P52 to the first half of the second century has been called "sensational" and seems untenable.

One significant argument against the early dating of P52 is that the fragment was part of a codex, or book, rather than a scroll, and there are few examples of such books in existence at such an early date.

The same may be said of the other early papyri fragments, P90 Jn Late Dating of the Gospels?