Dating of gospels

For the sixth edition of my New Testament textbook I have written twelve new “boxes.” These are side-line discussions of interesting and relevant (if a bit tangential) issues of some importance for various aspects of the study of the New Testament.

I will post several of these, including these two here.

But the key point to notice is that Ehrman uses this relative date of Mark (relative to the other gospels) to assert that Ehrman is presenting the standard dating method found in most basic texts that treat the subject.

What are the most accurate dates for the canonical gospels in the New Testament as we have them?

The book no longer survives, except as it is occasionally quoted by later church writers.

In one of our surviving quotations, it is clear that Papias loved hearing oral accounts about Jesus from people who were expected to know the truth — more than reading books about him.

Or when we see Acts end with the imprisonment of Paul in Rome with no comment about the outcome of the imprisonment, we can assume that Acts was completed after Paul was arrested but before he was martyred ( 64), and extrapolate back to an even earlier date for the Gospel of Luke (who wrote Acts as a sequel).

For instance, when we see a prediction in Matthew that the Temple will be destroyed (Matthew 24:1– 2), with no mention of that prophecy’s fulfilment, this can be taken as evidence that the document was written before the Temple was destroyed.

”), that the gospels were written decades after the resurrection? There are debates as to when the Gospels were written; some would like to date them earlier, and some a bit (or much! The dates I cited in my article are somewhat mainstream / conservative estimates for the authorship of the Gospels (and from major in-depth commentaries), but one can find people who date Mark in the late 50’s When we see a prediction in Matthew that the Temple will be destroyed (Matthew 24:1–2), with no mention of that prophecy’s fulfilment, this can be taken as evidence that the document was written before the Temple was destroyed. there—even knowing the Apostles themselves, and passing on a lot of reliable accounts for early Church history.

Their testimony is not infallible (especially when, as in the case of the tradition about Mark, the tradition is recorded over a century after the Gospel was written), but it serves as a valuable starting point when we are looking for information about the Gospels’ authors and dates, and shouldn’t be dismissed lightly.

Dating Mark Again with Mark’s gospel, Ehrman offers logical reasons, underlying evidence, for dating Mark after Paul, and some time from 70 c.e. He does not delineate the reasons here for believing Mark was written before the other gospels, and that is fine.

It would be too complex a discussion in this context, and it is enough that Ehrman has at least stated that there are “reasons” and it is not just a whimsy.

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