Is this common apologetic argument ...completely invalid?


I was wondering if you could answer this question.

A common argument that the new testament was written early after Jesus death is that no where in the new testament does it mention the destruction of the temple in 70AD. This sounds like a good argument.

However, can you tell me if any of the gnostic gospels (written 100’s of years later) mention the destruction of the temple in 70AD? If they do, it would help back up the idea that the new testament was likely written very early (because it never mentions this destruction).

However, if the gnostic gospels dont mention it, it would likely invalidate the argument (ie that the new testament was written early because it doesn’t mention the destruction of the temple) …and render it useless.

In short, can you tell me if any of the gnostic gospels mention the destruction of the temple of 70AD?


First, the New Testament is a series of many different books and letters, not all of which were written at the same time. Even those advocating early dates for most of the NT still date John and Revelation after 70.

I’m not familiar with the gnostic gospels enough to say whether or not they include it, but one wouldn’t expect any of the gospels to mention the destruction of the Temple as they end with Christ’s Resurrection and Ascension. The reason it makes for a compelling argument in favor of earlier dating is mostly because of Acts of the Apostles (which one would think would mention it) was also clearly written after Luke. And most put Matthew and Mark before Luke in terms of dating.

This is just an argument, though. It’s not irrefutable proof. But it is reasonable. What the Gnostic gospels do or do not contain does not really change that. Not for me anyway. :shrug:

Well, the Synoptics mention the destruction in a prediction:

Then he asked them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”

Matthew 24:2

It would seem that in any “gospel” written 100s of years after the Resurrection, hence most likely not written by a Jew, the destruction of the Temple would not be a big story for them. Whereas a Jew living at the time of the destruction of the single most important aspect of their religion, most certainly would have mentioned it, especially since Jesus predicted it.

After the Temple was destroyed, his followers recalled him saying this. [Matthew 24:3 (original)]

Dang, I’m low on ink. [Anonymous 3[sup]rd[/sup] Century copyist]

Maybe i exaggerated slightly when i said “100’s”. I think some of these gnostic gospels were written in the 100-200AD period. Though i dont know alot about them.

I’m just trying to establish if its ok for me to be using the argument that the new testament books must have been written early since they don’t mention the destruction of the temple in 70AD.

I’m kinda getting the feeling that this is an argument i shouldn’t be using any more. Even though it seems odd none of these books (new testament or gnostic) mentions the destruction of the temple in 70AD even though Jesus predicted it. Was it just so obvious that they never wrote about it?

After a quick scan of the gnostics I do not even see where the destruction of the Temple would be mentioned in their texts, dealing with the infancy of Jesus and his growing up while another deals with Pilot and his story. Admittedly I have not done a close reading of the gnostics so there may be a mention of the Temple destruction. In other words I don’t know?:shrug:

Actually, According to Scott Hahn in his book “The Lord’s Supper,” the Book of Revelation documents the destruction of the temple in 70AD and that Revelations is more or less a guidebook on how Christians should worship following the temple’s destruction.

I don’t think you need to discard it entirely. Just be aware of the limitations (as we should be for any argument used in apologetics). It’s no “silver bullet”, but it is evidence. For me, it is the most compelling in dating the book of Acts. And I know some view Jesus’ predictions as evidence that the Gospels were obviously written after 70 AD (because, you know, Jesus couldn’t have actually predicted the future :p).

I think, in most cases, the dating of each book should be looked at on its own. We don’t need to try to say that all the NT was written before 70. But when was this book written?

Ultimately, though, I don’t get overly concerned with the dating. Regardless of when they were written, we know they are part of Sacred Scripture and are thus inspired and inerrant. Debates over when each book was written can be interesting and (at times) illuminating, but aren’t essential to understanding the text.

Good to know.

Good question. Anyone?

Well, St. Paul may have alluded to it indirectly in these verses for surely there were poor in other areas Paul visited who could have used their aid:

Rom. 15[26] For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem…

1Cor.16[3] And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem.

It may refer to the believers suffering after the destruction of Jerusalem. I don’t say that it does, only that it is a possibility.

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