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When were the gospels written
Latest revision as of 09:44, 2 October 2011
Estimates for the dates when the canonical gospel accounts were written vary significantly; and the evidence for any of the dates is scanty. Because the earliest surviving complete copies of the gospels date to the 4th century and because only fragments and quotations exist before that, scholars use higher criticism to propose likely ranges of dates for the original gospel autographs. Scholars variously assess the consensus or majority view as follows:
- Mark: c. 68–73, c 65-70
- Matthew: c. 70–100. c 80-85. Some conservative scholars argue for a pre-70 date, particularly those that do not accept Mark as the first gospel written.
- Luke: c. 80–100, with most arguing for somewhere around 85,, c 80-85
- John: c 90-100, c. 90–110, The majority view is that it was written in stages, so there was no one date of composition.
Traditional Christian scholarship has generally preferred to assign earlier dates. Some historians interpret the end of the book of Acts as indicative, or at least suggestive, of its date; as Acts does not mention the death of Paul, generally accepted as the author of many of the Epistles, who was later put to death by the Romans c. 65. Acts is attributed to the author of the Gospel of Luke, and therefore would shift the chronology of authorship back, putting Mark as early as the mid 50s. Here are the dates given in the modern NIV Study Bible (for a fuller discussion see Augustinian hypothesis):
- Mark: c. 50s to early 60s, or late 60s
- Matthew: c. 50 to 70s
- Luke: c. 59 to 63, or 70s to 80s
- John: c. 85 to near 100, or 50s to 70
Such early dates are not limited to conservative scholars. In Redating the New Testament John A. T. Robinson, a prominent liberal theologian and bishop, makes a case for composition dates before the fall of Jerusalem.
- . 1.0 1.1 1.2 Raymond E. Brown. An Introduction to the New Testament.
- . 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985.
- . C K Barrett, among others.
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