Luke and Romans


Is there internal evidence in the New Testament that tells us which work was written first?

Was the Gospel written first?

Was Romans written first?

Or were they written at the same time?

I am wondering about internal evidence.



You’ve posted 3500 times on this forum- what do YOU think is answer is?


As far as gospels go, modern scholars say Mark, but I agree with nearly all the Fathers of the Church who say it was Matthew. Particularly Hebrew Matthew (which I think is a candidate for the Q gospel). The first Gospel written would not have been to the Gentiles as Marks was. Considering the expense to issue a gospel it would have been “to the Jew first and then to the Greek”.



I have read Luke and Romans many times.

I also know what some modern scholars hold as their opinion.

I do not know.

When I read Luke and Romans, I was always looking for other things.

From memory, I cannot recall any evidence. I guess Acts might have some evidence.

In my opinion, which is a belief, Matthew and John wrote early, then Luke, then Mark. However, I think that Mark got to the people earlier than Luke.


Patrick, time for that diagram!

And taking Luke and Acts somewhat literally, both were written during the period A.D. 63-64 in Rome, and just before the persecutions of Nero- in which both Luke and Paul probably perished.


Well, there’s really little to no internal evidence in the gospels and Acts which suggest their date - that’s why people disagree on which gospel was written first and when they were written. Acts is really the only work that might give a clue as to its possible date of composition, and even then, it’s a very shaky clue: its lack of any mention of St. Paul’s death. Now some claim that the reason why Luke did not mention what eventually happened to Paul is because he had not died yet at the time of writing, which would, in turn, put Luke-Acts somewhere before AD 64-67, the traditional date for Paul’s death. And because of the whole issue of the synoptic problem, the date one believes Luke-Acts could have been written would also affect the dates of Matthew and Mark. (John is really the only stand-alone work here.)

However, at the same time I need to point out that the ‘Luke didn’t mention Paul’s death so he would have written it before that happened’ argument is hardly strong - at least, not as strong as some of its proponents make it out to be. Luke could conceivably have other reasons to not write about Paul’s death, even if it had already happened. One theory I personally like points out the fact that Acts is not a biography or a martyrology of Paul, although Paul is arguably one of the central characters of the book; it is the story of how the gospel spread beyond Judaea. Ending with Paul’s eventual fate would have distracted readers from this; in fact, one could imagine that Luke was aware that Paul was becoming too large a character by the last part of the book, since he shifts focus away from Paul at the ending (somewhat abruptly) and turns it towards the message he was conveying. In any case, Luke already has Paul where he wanted him - at Rome, the heart of the Empire. It is the message, not the messenger, that is important.

As for Paul’s letters, Romans is not really the first chronologically by the usual estimates - that’s 1 Thessalonians. (The order we see Paul’s letters arranged in our Bibles is based on order of length than chronology; Romans has the most word count, so it comes first.) In fact, Romans would have been one of the later epistles.

Guess what? Our dating of Paul’s letters actually rely more on a reading of Acts, since there’s also not much within the letters themselves that may suggest the exact dates the letters were written either. Take for example Philemon. In that letter, Paul refers to himself as a prisoner, implies that he is in his old age, and asks for a room in Philemon’s house (Colossians 4:9 and 17, which mention an Onesimus and an Archippus, seems to imply that Philemon lived in Colossae - since Paul also mentions people with the same names in the letter).

And here’s the problem: while we know that Paul was imprisoned in Rome toward the end of his life (hence some people think that Philemon could have been written during that time), that was hardly the only time Paul was ever imprisoned. Acts 24 mentions him in prison in Caesarea for two years, not to mention that there could be some circumstantial evidence that he was briefly imprisoned while at Ephesus (1 Corinthians 15:32; 2 Corinthians 1:8-11). On top of that, Paul himself speaks of his many ‘imprisonments’ (2 Corinthians 11:23). So conceivably, Paul could have written the letter during one of these prison periods of his. As for the age thing, Paul was probably already an old man by 1st century standards by the 50s AD, so that’s hardly a helpful clue: he could have easily considered himself ‘old’ when he was in Caesarea in the mid-50s just as when he was at Rome in the 60s. So while some date Philemon during Paul’s Roman imprisonment, there’s nothing to prevent one from thinking that it could have been written while Paul was in Caesarea instead, or in Ephesus, or in some other place where he was imprisoned.

Philemon shows just how little we have in lieu of a self-sustained internal evidence for the dating of Paul’s letters. The best we can say is that the seven undisputed (i.e. the ones whose Pauline authorship is not questioned by most scholars) letters - 1 Thessalonians, Philippians, Galatians, 1-2 Corinthians, Romans, Philemon - were all probably written during the 50s, maybe up to the early 60s (a very broad time range), mostly based on inferences from Acts. But that’s about it.

I don’t see what that diagram has to do with this topic. :cool: That just shows the percentage of shared material between the three synoptics. Doesn’t have anything about the date.




What about the Delphic Inscriptions?

Discovered last century, his gives historic credence to Gallio. Gallio in ACTS was a major figure and called the Governor of Achaea (Greece). The only evidence for him being the governor was in ACTS, until the inscriptions turned up.


I don’t see what Gallio has to do with the dating of the NT books, either. Sure, it may help us pin a date on Paul’s ministry, but it really plays little to no role in determining the dates of Paul’s letters. I mean, nobody really questions the general time range the epistles were written (50s-early 60s). We just don’t know which were written when and which exactly came first.


A lot of “modern” scholar have a real problem dating anything from the NT in the first century. So every bit of veracity helps.

Of course, the “scholars” will either ignore the evidence or do a convoluted work-around.


I don’t know what “‘modern’ scholars” you’re referring to here. Your idea of what they think would be true for the 19th century-early 20th century, but today, nobody seriously dares to put most NT books than the late 1st-early 2nd century (I’m exaggerating here, but really, only a minority seriously considers this.) In other words, you’re thinking of ‘pre-modern’ scholars, specifically, a segment of pre-modern scholars: the Tübingen school of the 1830s, which tried to date many of the NT books as late as the 3rd century. (Of course, this was before manuscripts which predate the 3rd century were found.)

Most modern scholars nowadays are content to date many of the NT books to the last half of the 1st century up to the beginning of the 2nd (the 50s-100s, 120s at the latest). AFAIK the only NT book where scholars still hold out a date well within the 2nd century is 2 Peter, usually considered to be the last NT book to be written (of course, this assumes that the author really was not Peter the apostle but someone else writing under his name).

The reason why they consider 2 Peter to be the latest (laying its claims to Petrine authorship aside for a moment) is because (1) the letter seems to consider Paul’s writings as scripture - which could imply that it was written after Paul’s letters were collected together and became regarded as scripture (3:15b-16 “So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures”), (2) it seems to refer to the apostles as being of a past generation - the first generation of Christians had already died but the Second Coming did not occur yet (2:2b; 3:4), not to mention that (3) 2 Peter shows a literary relationship with the epistle of Jude (which is dated to the 70s-90s); 2 Peter 2:1-18 and 3:1-3 closely resemble Jude 4-13 and 16-18, which either means that both drew from a common source or that one used the other.

This relationship between 2 Peter and Jude could actually affect how one dates those two works. You could conceivably think that it was actually the other way around (Jude actually used 2 Peter, rather than 2 Peter using Jude), which would make 2 Peter earlier.

Many scholars nowadays would tend to date the NT books like this. Notice that even if some letters are dated after their supposed authors had already died (i.e. these are considered to be pseudepigraphical) most of them still fall within the AD 50-100 range. 2 Peter is really the odd man out.

Undisputed letters of Paul (1 Thessalonians, Philippians, Galatians, 1-2 Corinthians, Philemon, Romans): AD 50-60
2 Thessalonians: AD 50-100
Colossians: AD 50-80
Hebrews: AD 50/60-95
Pastoral Epistles (1-2 Timothy, Titus): AD 60-100
Jude: AD 65-80
Synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke-Acts): AD 65-90
James: AD 70-100
1 Peter: AD 70-90
Ephesians: AD 80-100
Revelation: AD 81-96 (somewhere during the reign of Domitian)
Johannine literature (Gospel of John, 1-3 John): AD 90-120
2 Peter: AD 80-160


I should have said pre-revolt instead of first century. Sorry.

As I have posted, read the NT carefully, and it makes perfect sense and fits right in with what we know of pre-Jewish Revolt history.


The Sadducees, Pharisees, and Scribes and mentioned in the four Gospels and Acts. They are not mentioned further, if I did my search correctly.

Is there a connection to that and the destruction of the Temple in 69-70?

What are the ideas of the scholars on this point.

I do not have a clue.




Perhaps the answer has something to do with to whom the letters were written.

If there weren’t pharisees in Rome, Corinth or other cities, then they would not be mentioned.

On the other hand, the Gospels include them, thus I believe that they were still around when the Gospels were written.


In The Hebrew Christ, Franciscan Herald Press, 1989, Claude Tresmontant makes a strong case for the writing of Mathew, John and Luke, before the first letters of Paul.

Real evidence continues to build to support much of the work of Fr Jean Carmignac and Claude Tresmontant, for in a New Book Claims Four Gospels Written Before Fall Of Jerusalem, (February 13, 1997, The Wanderer) Paul Likoudis refers to the substantial evidence revealed.

On Matthew writing first, a German scientist, Carsten Peter Thiede, director of the Institute for Basic Epistemological Research in Paderborn, with Matthew D’Ancona, is about to dash to pieces the Bultmann- built edifice of modernist exegesis.

Their book, *Eyewitness To Jesus: Amazing New Manuscript Evidence About the Origin of the Gospel *(Doubleday, 1996), is about a small piece of papyrus held at Magdalen College, Oxford, which is the oldest fragment of St. Matthew’s Gospel in existence today.

Even Adolf von Harnack, a rationalist historian of high repute among Rationalists and Protestants, wrote that the Synoptic Gospels were written before 70 A.D. – before the fall of Jerusalem, and accepted the tradition that St Luke derived his information on the infancy of Jesus from Mary His Mother. Theologische Quartalsch, Tubingen 1929, IV, p 443-4].
[See* Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine, Sheehan/Joseph, St Austin Press, 2001, p 89, 93]


Abu, I really should make a thread about Thiede’s claims.

To explain in simple terms (well, as simple as I can make it): Thiede’s thesis centers on the claim that a particular manuscript of Matthew - the Magdalen Papyrus (aka Papyrus 64-67) - is much older than it is thought to be. The Magdalen papyrus - which is really more a set of papyrus fragments than a ‘complete’ manuscript - is conventionally dated to the late 2nd/3rd century, which is not really that unique or special; we have many papyrus manuscripts of the NT that date from that time. Thiede claims however is notable in that in his view, P64 may actually date to the 1st century, much earlier than any NT manuscript that we know of. Not surprisingly, his idea was picked up by the press at the time - well, it was sensational - and he even had a book written about it (Eyewitness To Jesus).

Thiede supposedly arrived at the theory by comparing the handwriting of the Magdalen papyrus with actual 1st century fragments from different areas (Qumran, Naḥal Ḥever, Herculaneum). He claims to see similarities of script which ‘could point towards a first century date’ for the Magdalen papyrus. But I think the one problem with Thiede’s theory is this: are the scripts really as similar as he believes them to be?

Here are three actual 1st-century Greek manuscripts: the Minor Prophets scroll from Nahal Hever, the Greek Leviticus manuscript from Qumran, and a Greek papyrus from Herculaneum. It doesn’t really take a scholar to see that there’s not much similarities between the scripts of P64 and these two fragments. The thing is, Thiede only focused on the supposedly similar shapes of a few letters between P64 and these manuscripts - problem though, is that even some of those letters where Thiede claims to see a similarity are not really that identical when you look closely. P64 actually shows more similarities in handwriting style with 2nd-3rd century Greek manuscripts - which shows that there’s really nothing that could question the conventional date given to this manuscript: late 2nd-3rd century.

Here’s a rebuttal of Thiede’s claims which goes more into depth than I ever could here.


Not necessarily. I mean, Josephus mentioned the Sadducees and the Pharisees, but he wrote his works in the same decade in which most of the Jewish groups (save the Pharisees) were wiped out and then a couple more after that. Josephus first wrote The Jewish War in Aramaic around AD 75 - later producing a Greek version of it (possibly between AD 75-79). Antiquities, meanwhile, was written about twenty years later, in the thirteenth year of Domitian’s reign - AD 93-95. Not to mention that the Mishnah (which wasn’t codified until the 2nd century) also mention Sadducees and their rivalry with the Pharisees.

The thing is, I don’t think the mere mention of the Pharisees or the Sadducees in the gospels and Acts is necessarily indicative of a pre-70 date. Or the lack of any mention of their being already extinct (“Oh, the Sadducees do not exist right now”). That, I think, is reading our modern preconceptions of what these types of literature should read. The mention of the ‘Sadducees’ could simply mean that Christian tradition had handed down the name of this particular group, just as the mention of the Sadducees in the Mishnah could be attributed to the Rabbinic (Pharisaic) tradition handing down the name of that group.


Most people don’t give credit to them, but you know where we ultimately get the idea of dating the gospels to the 60s and later from? The Church Fathers, St. Irenaeus specifically.

Indeed Matthew, among the Hebrews in their own dialect, also bore forth a writing of the gospel, Peter and Paul evangelizing in Rome and founding the church. But after the exodus of these men Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, himself also delivered to us in writing the things preached by Peter, and Luke also, the follower of Paul, set down in a book the gospel preached by that man. Afterward John, the disciple of the Lord, who also leaned upon his breast, himself also published the gospel, passing his time in Ephesus of Asia.

Irenaeus dates Matthew’s gospel to the time when “Peter and Paul evangelizing in Rome and founding the church” (which on a literal sense is not entirely accurate, since there were already Christians in Rome - Paul even wrote a letter to them!) If we go by Christian tradition here, it might suggest Irenaeus believed Matthew was written maybe in the late 50s-early 60s. But at the same time he also suggests that Mark and Luke were written after the ‘exodus’ of Peter and Paul. The word ‘exodus’ is ambiguous: it could simply mean that Peter and Paul had left Rome, or (as the word is more commonly used in Christianity) Peter and Paul were dead. Many people tend to go with the latter interpretation, so in that reading Irenaeus claims that Mark and Luke would have written their gospels somewhere after AD 64-67, the traditional date of Peter and Paul’s death.

Though many people nowadays believe Mark wrote first, you can still see a survival of Irenaeus’ idea in the tendency to place Mark in or near the 60s-70s.

In any case, it’s not as if some scholars are not willing to think that some written biographical material about Jesus could have predated the Jewish Revolt: some of them do postulate hypothetical sources which the gospels could have made use of. (Note that I don’t necessarily accept these as true; I’m just reporting them.) There’s the controversial Q of course (which I don’t believe in). There’s also this hypothetical Passion Narrative, a written account of Jesus’ death (and possibly also the resurrection) that could have been written somewhere between the time after Jesus’ death and AD 70, which the gospels could have used as a source.

Oh yeah, and there’s also the proposed ‘first edition’ of the gospel of John, which is usually dubbed ‘the Signs Gospel’ or the ‘Signs Source’ (Semeia-quelle, SQ in German), which as the name implies, showcases the ‘signs’ or miracles Jesus performed to demonstrate His messianic status. In this idea, this SQ, which could have been the original gospel written by the beloved disciple (John?), was probably written and circulated before AD 70; later, someone - maybe one or more of John’s disciples - took SQ and redacted it, which resulted in our canonical gospel of John. I’ll admit, I’m open to this possibility (of a pre-70, SQ-like work behind the canonical John).


I don’t fully understand this connection you’re making.

Why is Irenaeus being inaccurate if there were some Christians already in Rome when Matthew wrote or when Peter and Paul were evangelizing together? Peter and Paul did not arrive at Rome at the same time.

As you mentioned, Paul writes to Christians in Rome, and even makes mention of another apostles foundation[Peter] already being their. Peter may not have been mentioned by name perhaps because Paul wrote the letter to the remnants that existed when Peter and all the Jews were expelled under Claudius on account of “Chrestus” which looks all too much like Christus.

“And I have so preached this Gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man a foundation.”
Rom 15:20

So if there were Christians already there, the most likely candidate for their evangelisation was Peter before Paul’s arrival.


The thing is, it would seem that Christianity in Rome was not the result of missionary activity, but rather due to the immigration of (Jewish) Christians from Palestine and Syria. There was actually a writer (Ambrosiaster in the late 4th century) who claimed that the Romans “accepted faith in Christ without seeing miraculous works or any apostle.” It’s true that St. Peter (and Paul) were associated with Rome, but AFAIK I’m not aware of any tradition that explicitly claims Peter was the founder of the Church in Rome aside from this quote.

It’s true that Acts 12 mentions Peter going “for another place” after his miraculous escape from prison, and Eusebius does claim Peter was to Rome during AD 42 (History 2.14.6), but few people today really agree with Eusebius. They think it’s more likely that this ‘another place’ was Antioch (cf. Galatians 2:11-14). In any case, around 48-50, Peter was (back) in Palestine in time for the Council of Jerusalem, just around the same time the Chrestus controversy you mention happened under the emperor Claudius. If Peter went to Rome, it would have first been during the mid-50s, which is where we have slightly more firmer ground.

I think it’s better to understand Irenaeus as meaning that Peter and Paul ministered to and were martyred in Rome, not that they literally planted Christianity there. (Even if Peter’s case is more unclear, everybody agrees that Paul had nothing to do with the actual founding of the church there.) One other possible interpretation I could think of would point out Irenaeus’ interests here: in the same book, he was emphasizing Tradition, its reliability, and apostolic succession. He could have used the traditional connection between Peter and Paul and Rome to his advantage, presenting them as if they were the literal founders of the Roman church to stress what he wanted to stress. In other words, he was not so much just stating dry fact but was speaking rhetorically. Put bluntly, one could say he stretched a truth a bit to make his point.

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