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CHAPTER ELEVEN

THE DATES OF THE ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS

OF NEW TESTAMENT

Now we come to the New Testament Documents and their original dates.   We have already noticed that since the gospels were written at least before the year 70 A.D., it is proper and logical to assume that they were written by the disciples of Jesus themselves or who were close to them.  Who else would know the details of the ministry and miracles and teachings of Jesus better?   At any rate if there were any mytholization or fabrication on the part of the writers, some eyewitness would have certainly questioned them.

 

Luke and Acts

 

Born to pagan Greek parents, and possibly a slave. He was certainly not an Apostle but was one of the earliest converts to Christianity. He was a Physician, studying in Antioch and Tarsus and was probably a doctor on board of ships for travelers.  Legend has that he was also a painter who may have done portraits of Jesus and Mary. He met Saint Paul at Troas, and evangelized Greece and Rome with him, and was with Paul during his shipwreck and other perils of the voyage to Rome.  He stayed behind in Rome for during Paul‘s two years of prison to serve him.  He wrote the Gospel According to Luke, much of which was based on the teachings and writings of Paul.    He seems to have done a large amount of historical research ("I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write" Luke 1; 1-3) interviewing people connected with Jesus before writing his Gospel.  He also wrote the first history of the early Church in the Acts of the Apostles.

 

Luke the Evangelist is mentioned in three of the Pauline Epistles including Colossians where he is described by Paul as "Our dear friend Luke, the doctor" Eusebius, Saint Jerome, Saint Irenaeus and Caius, a second-century writer, all refer to Luke as a physician. Early Church Fathers such as Jerome and Eusebius claimed that he was the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles and this is the traditional Christian view today.

 

None of the gospels or the Acts of the Apostle mention the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 A.D. 

 

If the Gospels and the Acts were written after this period, they would have certainly referred to it as it was prophesied by Jesus in his last days.   See Luke 21:6, Matt. 24:1; Mark 13:1).  

 

 Acts does not include the accounts of:

 

l        The destruction of the Temple (A.D 70)

l        the death of  Peter (A.D. 65)

l        Nero's persecution of the Christians (A.D. 64)

l        the death of Paul (A.D. 64),

l        the death of James (A.D. 62),

It would mean that Acts of Apostle was written before A. D 62.

 

Acts 1:1-2 indicates that Acts was written by Luke who wrote the Gospel and that Gospel of Luke was therefore written before the Acts of Apostle.  This will give us some idea of the dates.

 

Act 24:27  But when two years were completed, Felix was relieved by Porcius Festus as his successor; and Felix, desirous to oblige the Jews, to acquire their favour, left Paul bound

 

"At the earliest, Acts cannot have been written prior to the latest firm chronological marker recorded in the book—Festus’s appointment as procurator (24:27), which, on the basis of independent sources, appears to have occurred between A.D. 55 and 59." (Mays, James Luther, ed., Harper’s Bible Commentary, New York: Harper and Row, 1988.)

 

 

 

 

 

So we can be sure that the Acts of Apostle was written after A.D  55 or may be 59 may be sometime between A.D 59-62

 

Gospel of Luke must have been written before that says A.D 50-55.  Luke was written within 25 years of resurrection.

 

Early writings of Q must have been in existence by then.

 

 

MARK

 

Mark the Evangelist is mentioned some eight times in the New Testament.

 

l        He is the cousin of Barnabas (Col. 4:10).

l        When the Apostle Paul writes his letter to the Colossians from his prison in Rome, he mentions that Mark is there with him (Col. 4:10).

l        He also mentions in his letter to Philemon that Mark is one of his fellow workers (Phiemon 24). 

l        Peter addressed him as "my son Mark" (1 Peter 5:13).  It is very likely that Peter was the one who brought Mark to conversion and raised him up in the faith. 

 

Mark was probably the scribe and personal secretary of Peter and likely wrote his gospel in Rome where Peter was based. Mark wrote it in Greek.  It was likely written for Gentile readers in general, and for the Christians at Rome in particular. The gospel is usually dated between 55 and 65 AD.  Peter was martyred in Rome in 64 AD

 

This was probably the first Gospel to be written since all but 31 verses of Mark are found in the other three Gospels. Hence Mathew, Mark and Luke are called synoptic gospels. It starts with the announcement; The “gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1)

 

We have several early confirmations about these.

 

Clement of Alexandria, (88-97 AD) relying on the authority of "the elder presbyters", tells us   "As Peter had preached the Word publicly at Rome, and declared the Gospel by the Spirit, many who were present requested that Mark, who had followed him for a long time and remembered well what he had said, should write them out.  And having composed the Gospel he gave it to those who had requested it.  When Peter learned of this, he neither directly hindered nor encouraged it." (Fragments of Clement, Eusebius CH 6.14.5-7)

 

The conclusion drawn from this tradition is that the Gospel of Mark largely consists of the preaching of Peter arranged and shaped by Mark (see note on Ac 10:37).

 

Tertullian (160-220) says: "The Gospel which Mark published (edidit) is affirmed to be Peter's, whose interpreter Mark was" ("Contra Marc.", IV, v);

 

Jerome, (347-420) says in one place that Mark wrote a short Gospel at the request of the brethren at Rome, and that Peter authorized it to be read in the Churches ("De Vir. Ill.", viii), and in another place that Mark's Gospel was composed, Peter narrating and Mark writing (Petro narrante et illo scribente--"Ad Hedib.", ep. cxx).

 

Eusebius records Origen’s statement in his Commentary on Matthew in Eusebius Church History 6.25: “Likewise Origen says of it: ‘The second is that according to Mark who composed it, under the guidance of Peter, who therefore, in his Catholic Epistle acknowledged the evangelist as his son.’"

 

In every one of these ancient authorities Mark is regarded as the writer of the Gospel, which is looked upon at the same time as having Apostolic authority, because substantially at least it had come from St. Peter. It can practically be called the Gospel According to Peter.

 

                        

   

The Griesbach hypothesis suggests that the Gospel of Matthew was written first. The Gospel of Luke was written using Matthew as a source. Then the Gospel of Mark was written using both Matthew and Luke.

 

The Streeter's Four Document Hypothesis

 

 

 

Such presentations are based on the analysis of the materials contained in the three Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke which has lot of common materials.  These Gospels are therefore called Synoptic Gospels. The term synoptic comes from the Greek syn, meaning "together", and optic, meaning "seen". According to the majority viewpoint, Mark was the first gospel written. Matthew and Luke then used Mark as a source, as well as a hypothetical sayings gospel known as Q. Matthew and Luke also included unique material, and the sources for this material are designated M and L, respectively.

 

The Synoptic Gospels are the primary source for historical information about Jesus.  Here is a graphic representation of the analysis. 

 

 

Essentially the principle remains as the process we have mentioned earlier.  Every hypothesis is an elaboration and suggestion of the basis process of  Event -> Oral Tradition -> Written Tradition -> Documentation.


MATHEW

 

 

The Gospel of Matthew is historically attributed to Matthew the Tax collector. 

The text does not specifically name Matthew as its author.  This is normal in ancient times.  They normally remain anonymous. 

 

But we have the early fathers' testimony to the Matthian authorship.

 

Bishop, Papias of Hierapolis, about 100–140 AD, wrote: "Matthew collected the oracles (logia—sayings of or about Jesus) in the Hebrew language (Hebraïdi dialektōi—perhaps alternatively "Hebrew style") and each one interpreted (hērmēneusen—or "translated") them as best he could."  On the surface this implies that Matthew was written in Hebrew and translated into Greek.  The Syrian Churches maintain that the original was in Aramaic. 

 

Clement of Alexandria (150 -215) (Stromata III.13) speaks of the four Gospels that have been transmitted, and quotes over three hundred passages from the Gospel of Matthew, which he introduces by the formula, en de to kata Matthaion euaggelio or by phesin ho kurios.

 

Tertullian (160-220 AD) (Adv. Marc., IV, ii) asserts that the "Instrumentum evangelicum" was composed by the Apostles, and mentions Matthew as the author of a Gospel (De carne Christi, xii).

 

Again, in Church History VI.25.3-4, Eusebius tells us that Origen, in his first book on the Gospel of St. Matthew, states that he has learned from tradition that the First Gospel was written by Matthew, who, having composed it in Hebrew, published it for the converts from Judaism. According to Eusebius (Church History III.24.6), Matthew preached first to the Hebrews and, when obliged to go to other countries, gave them his Gospel written in his native tongue. St. Jerome has repeatedly declared that Matthew wrote his Gospel in Hebrew ("Ad Damasum", xx; "Ad Hedib.", iv), but says that it is not known with certainty who translated it into Greek.

 

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, St. Epiphanius, St. John Chrysostom, St. Augustine, etc., and all the commentators of the Middle Ages repeat that Matthew wrote his Gospel in Hebrew.

 

Erasmus was the first to express doubts on this subject: "It does not seem probable to me that Matthew wrote in Hebrew, since no one testifies that he has seen any trace of such a volume." This is not accurate, as St. Jerome uses Matthew's Hebrew text several times to solve difficulties of interpretation, which proves that he had it at hand. Pantaenus also had it, as, according to St. Jerome ("De Viris Ill.", xxxvi), he brought it back to Alexandria. However, the testimony of Pantaenus is only second-hand, and that of Jerome remains rather ambiguous, since in neither case is it positively known that the writer did not mistake the Gospel according to the Hebrews (written of course in Hebrew) for the Hebrew Gospel of St. Matthew. However all ecclesiastical writers assert that Matthew wrote his Gospel in Hebrew, and, by quoting the Greek Gospel and ascribing it to Matthew, thereby affirm it to be a translation of the Hebrew Gospel.

 

 

 By the end of the 2nd century the tradition of Matthew the tax-collector had become widely accepted, and the line "The Gospel According to Matthew" began to be added to manuscripts. Some scholars believe that the gospel was written around 60-80 A.D by scholarly Jewish Christian following the collection of Jewish oral and written tradition connected with the disciple Matthew. 

 

The beginning of Matthew in Minuscule 484

 

Again we see Matthew being quoted by most early fathers.

 

l        In the Epistle of Polycarp (110-17), we find various passages from St. Matthew quoted literally (12:3 = Matthew 5:44; 7:2 = Matthew 26:41, etc.).

l        The Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles (Didache) contains sixty-six passages that recall the Gospel of Matthew; some of them are literal quotations (8:2 = Matthew 6:7-13; 7:1 = Matthew 28:19; 11:7 = Matthew 12:31, etc.).

l        In the so-called Epistle of Barnabas (117-30), we find a passage from St. Matthew (xxii, 14), introduced by the scriptural formula, os gegraptai, which proves that the author considered the Gospel of Matthew equal in point of authority to the writings of the Old Testament.

l        In his "Dialogue" (xcix, 8), St. Justin quotes, almost literally, the prayer of Christ in the Garden of Olives, in Matthew 26:39-40.

l        In his Plea for the Christians 12.11, Athenagoras (177) quotes almost literally sentences taken from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:44).

l        Theophilus of Antioch (Ad Autol., III, xiii-xiv) quotes a passage from Matthew (v, 28, 32), and, according to St. Jerome (In Matt. Prol.), wrote a commentary on the Gospel of St. Matthew.

l        The Greek text of the Clementine Homilies contains some quotations from Matthew (Hom. 3:52 = Matthew 15:13); in Hom. xviii, 15, the quotation from Matthew 13:35, is literal.

 

St. Irenaeus (Adv. Haer., III, i, 2) affirms that Matthew published among the Hebrews a Gospel which he wrote in their own language.

 

Eusebius (Church History V.10.3) says that, in India, Pantaenus found the Gospel according to St. Matthew written in the Hebrew language, the Apostle Bartholomew having left it there.

 

See http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10057a.htm

Various estimates have placed the date of Matthew’s composition and they vary from AD 50 - to AD 100.  Since Matthew has quoted Mark to over ninety percent of Mark.  Hence we can reasonable conclude that it was written later than the writing of Mark which places it after 55 A. D.  The upper limit is set by the destruction of the temple in AD 70, since it is not mentioned.  Thus it is safe to date it between Ad 55 and 60.   

Matthew wrote from the point of view of the Jews and for the Jewish Christians.   The general understanding of scholars therefore is that Matthew wrote the gospel either in Palestine or Syria  where the early Christians from Jerusalem were in dispersion (Acts 11:19, 11:27) and the earliest reference to Matthew’s Gospel was found in Ignatius’ (the Bishop of Antioch) Epistle to the Smyrnaeans (ca. 110).  For that matter it is quite possible that his first gospel was written in Hebrew and later wrote another in Greek.

 

 


 

 

 

PAULINE EPISTLES

There are thirteen Pauline epistles, in the New Testament books which have the name Paul as the first word, hence claiming authorship by Paul the Apostle. Among these letters are some of the earliest extant Christian documents. Just as the research publications include the name of the Professor in those days it was common for the disciples to write under the name of their Teacher or Rabbi.  Hence we have the conflict.

The Pauline epistles are usually placed between the Book of Acts and the General epistles. In minuscules 175, 325, 336, and 1424 the Pauline epistles are placed at the end of the New Testament.

"Paul's letters are the oldest Christian documents we have. The first of them was written within 25 years of Jesus' death, and the last may have been written before any of the gospels."

It lists the following letters in the New Testament as Paul's:
Romans,
1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians,
1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.

The order of these letters in the New Testament is based on their length not on chronology. 

These are the books:

1.  Romans 

2.  First Corinthians

3.  Second Corinthians 

4.  Galatians  

5.  Ephesians

6.  Philippians

7.  Colossians

8  First Thessalonians

9.  Second Thessalonians

10.  First Timothy

11.  Second Timothy

12.  Titus

13.  Philemon

The Epistles are not placed in the bible in any chronological order, but are arranged according to their significance and magnitude of their circulation, and by the relative importance of the Church and its people to whom they are addressed.

The Epistles to the three individuals follow those Epistles to the seven Churches.

14.  The Epistle to the Hebrews is last because it was the last to be authenticated.

Usually, Apostle Paul's Epistles are separated into two groups:
1) Epistles of a general Christian nature and
2) Pastoral Epistles.

There are indications to show that some of the epistles are lost to us.  See 1 Cor. 5:9, and Col. 4:16. For example the correspondence with a philosopher Seneca, brother of pro-consul Gallio (as mentioned in Acts 18:12) is attributed to Paul.

Higher Criticism

Fourteen of the twenty-one letters in the New Testament have been traditionally attributed to Paul. One of these, the Letter to the Hebrews, does not claim to be the work of Paul but it was added later and attributed to Paul.  The other thirteen identify Paul as their author, but various scholars believe that some of them were actually written by his disciples in the school of Paul either under the supervision of Paul or in the strain of Pauline teachings.  This was actually the practice of the Prophetic tradition from the Old Testament times.

These are the 7 letters that are considered by scholars as undoubtedly Pauline.

·         Romans (ca. 55-58 AD)

·         Philippians (ca. 52-54 AD)

·         Galatians (ca. 55 AD)

·         Philemon (ca. 52-54 AD)

·         First Corinthians (ca. 53-54 AD)

·         Second Corinthians (ca. 55-56 AD)

·         First Thessalonians (ca. 51 AD)

These letters are quoted or mentioned by the earliest of sources, and are included in every ancient canon, including that of Marcion (c. 140 AD)  The epistles all share common themes, emphasis, vocabulary and style; they exhibit a uniformity of doctrine concerning the Mosaic Law, Jesus, faith, &c. All of these letters easily fit into the chronology of Paul's journeys depicted in Acts of the Apostles.

The letters thought to be pseudo-epigraphic by the majority of modern scholars include

·         Pastoral epistles

o        First Timothy

o        Second Timothy

o        Titus

·         Ephesians

The letters on which modern scholars are about evenly divided are: 

·         Colossians

·         Second Thessalonians

An anonymous letter that nearly all modern scholars agree was probably not written by Paul is:

·         Hebrews

Unlike the thirteen epistles above, the Epistle to the Hebrews is internally anonymous. Moreover, scholars have noted the differences in language and style between Hebrews and the other Pauline writings.

In considering the authorship we should remember that most of the time Paul used a scribe to write down what he has to say.  As a result the style and presentation will be the edited by the scribe and will differ from the personal style of Paul. It was the practice in that case to add an end greeting by the original writer to give authenticity.  We can see this in 1 Corinthians 16:20-23

“All the brethren send greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.  I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand.  If any one has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come!  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.”

 This is the reason why most of the critical analysts see variations in style and dictum.  However all through the collection the underlying theological emphasis are identical. 

Then also this could be the result of the school of thought started by Paul.  It is this school that started the movement in the first place, extending the field of work beyond the Jewish religion to the Gentile world.  So any of these people could as well have written some of these epistles.  It was the common practice of the School of Prophets from the ancient past to write in the name of the founder prophet as the writing represented the thought pattern of the major prophet.  Even today when a student publishes an original research work, it is usual to add the name of the Professor under whom the student worked.

    Ephesians

    Colossians

    Second Thessalonians

 

The book of Hebrews does not claim to be of Pauline origin but are usually assigned to him.

 http://www.bombaxo.com/paulchron.html  



 

www.freebeginning.com/new_testament_dates/index.htm

 

N.T. Book

Author

Earliest

Latest

Most Likely

Galatians

Apostle Paul

A.D. 48

A.D. 50

A.D. 48

1 Thessalonians

Apostle Paul

A.D. 50

A.D. 52

A.D. 51

2 Thessalonians

Apostle Paul

A.D. 50

A.D. 52

A.D. 51

Mark

Mark

A.D. 45
 John Wenham /
 John A. T. Robinson

A.D. 60
 A. Harnack

A.D. 48-55

1 Corinthians

Apostle Paul

A.D. 55

A.D. 55

A.D. 55

2 Corinthians

Apostle Paul

A.D. 56

A.D. 56

A.D. 56

Romans

Apostle Paul

A.D. 57

A.D. 57

A.D. 57

James

James
 (half-brother of Jesus)

A.D. 38

A.D. 62

A.D. 50-60

Luke

Luke

A.D. 57-62
 

A.D. 57-62
 

A.D. 57-62

Ephesians

Apostle Paul

A.D. 60-62

A.D. 60-62

A.D. 60-62

Philippians

Apostle Paul

A.D. 60-62

A.D. 60-62

A.D. 60-62

Colossians

Apostle Paul

A.D. 60-62

A.D. 60-62

A.D. 60-62

Philemon

Apostle Paul

A.D. 60-62

A.D. 60-62

A.D. 60-62

Acts

Luke

A.D. 62-63

A.D. 62-63

A.D. 62-63

Titus

Apostle Paul

A.D. 62

A.D. 63

A.D. 63

1 Timothy

Apostle Paul

A.D. 62

A.D. 64

A.D. 63

2 Timothy

Apostle Paul

A.D. 64

A.D. 64

A.D. 64

1 Peter

Apostle Peter

A.D. 63

A.D. 68

A.D. 64-67

2 Peter

Apostle Peter

A.D. 64

A.D. 68

A.D. 65-68

Hebrews

Unknown

A.D. 40

A.D. 69

A.D. 50-68

Matthew

Apostle Matthew

A.D. 40
John Wenham /
 John A. T. Robinson

A.D. 110
 Paul Minear

A.D. 65-70

Jude

Jude
 (half-brother of Jesus)

A.D. 60

A.D. 85

A.D. 65-80

John

Apostle John

A.D. 60's
 F. Lamar Cribbs

A.D. 90's
 

A.D. 90's

1 John

Apostle John

Unknown

A.D. 98

A.D. 90's

2 John

Apostle John

Unknown

A.D. 98

A.D 90's

3 John

Apostle John

Unknown

A.D. 98

A.D. 90's

Revelation

Apostle John

A.D. 68

A.D. 97

A.D. 95-97