Dating the Gospels


#1

So there are questions about when the gospels were written, which were written first, which are based on which etc.

About Mark:

Traditionally, the gospel is said to have been written shortly before A.D. 70 in Rome, at a time of impending persecution and when destruction loomed over Jerusalem. … Modern research often proposes as the author an unknown Hellenistic Jewish Christian, possibly in Syria, and perhaps shortly after the year 70.” usccb.org/nab/bible/mark/intro.htm

About Matthew:

The ancient tradition that the author was the disciple and apostle of Jesus named Matthew (see Matthew 10:3) is untenable because the gospel is based, in large part, on the Gospel according to Mark (almost all the verses of that gospel have been utilized in this), and it is hardly likely that a companion of Jesus would have followed so extensively an account that came from one who admittedly never had such an association rather than rely on his own memories. The attribution of the gospel to the disciple Matthew may have been due to his having been responsible for some of the traditions found in it, but that is far from certain.

The unknown author, whom we shall continue to call Matthew for the sake of convenience, drew not only upon the Gospel according to Mark but upon a large body of material (principally, sayings of Jesus) not found in Mark that corresponds, sometimes exactly, to material found also in the Gospel according to Luke. This material, called “Q” (probably from the first letter of the German word Quelle, meaning “source”), represents traditions, written and oral, used by both Matthew and Luke. Mark and Q are sources common to the two other synoptic gospels; hence the name the “Two-Source Theory” given to this explanation of the relation among the synoptics.

In addition to what Matthew drew from Mark and Q, his gospel contains material that is found only there. This is often designated “M,” written or oral tradition that was available to the author. **Since Mark was written shortly before or shortly after A.D. 70 (see Introduction to Mark), Matthew was composed certainly after that date, which marks the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans at the time of the First Jewish Revolt (A.D. 66-70), and probably at least a decade later since Matthew’s use of Mark presupposes a wide diffusion of that gospel. The post-A.D. 70 date is confirmed within the text by Matthew 22:7, which refers to the destruction of Jerusalem. ** usccb.org/nab/bible/matthew/intro.htm

About Luke:

Among the likely sources for the composition of this gospel (Luke 1:3) were the Gospel of Mark, a written collection of sayings of Jesus known also to the author of the Gospel of Matthew (Q; see Introduction to Matthew), and other special traditions that were used by Luke alone among the gospel writers. Some hold that Luke used Mark only as a complementary source for rounding out the material he took from other traditions. Because of its dependence on the Gospel of Mark and because details in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 13:35a; 19:43-44; 21:20; 23:28-31) imply that the author was acquainted with the destruction of the city of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70, the Gospel of Luke is dated by most scholars after that date; many propose A.D. 80-90 as the time of composition.usccb.org/nab/bible/luke/intro.htm

About John:

Critical analysis makes it difficult to accept the idea that the gospel as it now stands was written by one person. John 21 seems to have been added after the gospel was completed; it exhibits a Greek style somewhat different from that of the rest of the work. The prologue (John 1:1-18) apparently contains an independent hymn, subsequently adapted to serve as a preface to the gospel. Within the gospel itself there are also some inconsistencies, e.g., there are two endings of Jesus’ discourse in the upper room (John 14:31; 18:1). To solve these problems, scholars have proposed various rearrangements that would produce a smoother order. However, most have come to the conclusion that the inconsistencies were probably produced by subsequent editing in which homogeneous materials were added to a shorter original.

The final editing of the gospel and arrangement in its present form probably dates from between A.D. 90 and 100. Traditionally, Ephesus has been favored as the place of composition, though many support a location in Syria, perhaps the city of Antioch, while some have suggested other places, including Alexandria.
usccb.org/nab/bible/john/intro.htm

In light of this, the disagreement between the gospels on the matter of the founding of a Church becomes even more important: forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=97368 i


#2

Have any of you ever wondered why there are no contemporary accounts of Jesus’ ministry? Why no one wrote about him around 30AD?


#3

[quote=askeptic]Have any of you ever wondered why there are no contemporary accounts of Jesus’ ministry? Why no one wrote about him around 30AD?
[/quote]

They believed the second coming would be much sooner. They began to write as they realized he wouldn’t come again in their lifetimes.


#4

[quote=Aaron I.]They believed the second coming would be much sooner. They began to write as they realized he wouldn’t come again in their lifetimes.
[/quote]

But that doesn’t completely make sense. After all, Paul, who as far as I know thought the would would soon end, nonetheless wrote more than any other writer of the New Testament. Paul’s writings predate the gospels by some 20 years.

Unfortunately I have not read everything Paul wrote, and can’t comment on it. But I would be interested to know if Paul ever mentions the founding of the Church upon Peter.


#5

[quote=askeptic]Have any of you ever wondered why there are no contemporary accounts of Jesus’ ministry? Why no one wrote about him around 30AD?
[/quote]

Because Jesus told them (Matthew 28:18-20):

Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

If Jesus had commanded the disciples to go and write books about Him, then I’m sure they would have.


#6

[quote=Catholic2003]Because Jesus told them (Matthew 28:18-20):

If Jesus had commanded the disciples to go and write books about Him, then I’m sure they would have.
[/quote]

But he didn’t tell them not to write books.

It seems like Jesus deliberately chose to leave as little evidence as possible.

Is that fair? Most people in the world are not Christian, and I bet they would be if there was sufficient evidence of the truth of Christianity.


#7

[quote=askeptic]So there are questions about when the gospels were written, which were written first, which are based on which etc.

In light of this, the disagreement between the gospels on the matter of the founding of a Church becomes even more important: forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=97368 i
[/quote]

The Catholic church has always held that Matthew was written first. It now seems that there is new evidence supporting this and many Protestant Biblical experts are re-thinking their position. The Greek version of Matthew was written after Mark, but the Original Aramaic/Hebrew was written before Mark.


#8

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