Friday, May 03, 2019

Late (post AD 70) dates for the Gospels: The Evidence Examined

College students at secular universities are frequently informed that the accounts of Jesus Christ in the Gospels are late compositions that are a result of a significant period of evolutionary development.  This is the standard anti-supernaturalist attempt to explain away the portrait of Christ as the Divine Son of God.  The synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) are said to originate between A. D. 70-100 (the position, for example, taken by Shabir Ally in my debate with him, as he was following standard theological liberal argumentation).

I have provided below every known ancient historical source from the first 1,000 years after the death and resurrection of Christ that provide these sorts of late dates for the Gospels:

In case you missed them, I will provide the comprehensive list of all the extant ancient historical sources that provide post A. D. 70 dates for the synoptic Gospels one more time:

So if there are no ancient historical sources at all that affirm these late dates--a fact kept hidden from impressionable students at secular universities--why do advocates of theological liberalism affirm them?  They do so because of their bias against the supernatural.  Matthew, Mark and Luke all record Christ's plain prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, a prediction which was fulfilled in A. D. 70:

And when [Christ] was come near, he beheld the city [Jerusalem, Luke 19:28], and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. . . . And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass? . . .  But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom . . . And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. (Luke 19:41-44; 21:1-24; cf. Matthew 24; Mark 13; Daniel 9:24-27)

Anti-supernaturalists assume predictive prophecy is impossible, so Christ's statements could (allegedly) not really have been spoken by Him, much less written down in the Gospels, prior to A. D. 70.  Such an assumption among anti-supernaturalists is widespread enough that “Adolf von Harnack . . . the leading liberal scholar of his day” (Stanley E. Porter and Jason C. Robinson, Hermeneutics: An Introduction to Interpretive Theory [Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 2011] 216) could write:  “The critics of our days . . . are practically unanimous in assigning . . . [the] gospel, to the time after the destruction of Jerusalem. The majority of them do not even think that they are in these days called upon to take any special trouble to prove this point” (Adolf von Harnack, New Testament Studies: The Date of the Acts and of the Synoptic Gospels, trans. J. R. Wilkinson, vol. 4, Crown Theological Library [New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1911] 117).  Indeed, “there are no other reasons for a later [post A. D. 70] date . . . [than] a vatinicium post eventum” (ibid, 121, 124); nothing but the assumption that predictive prophecy is impossible impels a late date.   No evidence is allegedly needed, and all contrary evidence can be ignored—predictive prophecy must be impossible, so the Gospels must post-date A. D. 70.

The actual extant ancient historical evidence, as I demonstrate in my study on archaeological and historical evidence for the New Testament, indicates that Matthew was written c. A. D. 40, Mark c. A. D. 42, Luke c. A. D. 48, and John c. A. D. 50-65.  No evidence at all exists for dating the synoptic Gospels after A. D. 70--nothing favors a late date other than anti-supernaturalist presuppositions that predictive prophecy is impossible.  Late dates are held despite the ancient evidence, not because of it.


1 comment:

Daniel said...

Wow! The evidence has convinced me!