When Were the Gospels Written? Internal Evidence Suggests < Peter and Paul's Martyrdoms

A person who calls himself “Amateur Exegete” has devoted significant attention to my blogs and book, often referring to me as a “pop apologist” and other condescending terms. I thought I’d respond to a portion of one of his articles because his views appear to be erroneous. This article will cover the topic of the dating of the Gospels, which I believe is earlier than he asserts.

Amateur Exegete:

“And the consensus view of New Testament scholars concerning when the Gospel of Mark was written is sometime during the Jewish War (66-73 CE), likely after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE. This means that both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles were written after 70 CE, perhaps in the 80s or as late the early second century.

But what about the lack of any mention of the death of Peter or Paul or of the destruction of the Temple? Aren’t these indicative of a date before 70 CE? In reality, this is a red herring as we would not expect an author, writing about a specific period, to write explicitly about events not in his purview. Thomason has indicated in another tweet that she accepts a date of 90 CE for the writing of the Gospel of John yet it never mentions Peter’s or Paul’s death or the destruction of the temple in explicit terms. If the lack of such elements is a sign of pre-70 authorship, then surely the Gospel of John was written before 70 CE. Yet few New Testament scholars – evangelical or otherwise – accept such reasoning. Apparently, neither does Thomason.”

SJ Thomason

Scholars who have observed the following inclusions and exclusions from the book of Acts would discount his assertions. Luke wrote Acts after he wrote the book of Luke, claiming to have written “orderly” accounts for Theophilus. In the book of Acts, Luke details the stoning of Stephen and the way James, the brother of John, was killed by a sword. Acts devotes significant attention to its primary characters, Peter and Paul, yet no mention is made of the martyrdoms of either, though we have evidence that Paul was beheaded by Nero between 62 and 64, while Peter was crucified upside down in the 60s as well. No mention of the martyrdom of James, Jesus’ 1/2 brother, is offered either, though Josephus has indicated James was martyred in Jerusalem in the 60s.

Acts 7: 54-60 documents the stoning of Stephen, while Acts 12:2 documents the way Herod Agrippa put James, the brother of John, to death by the sword. Paul was also stoned, beaten, jailed, which he documented in his New Testament books. His beheading by Nero was documented by Origen, Tertullian, and Dionysius of Corinth (Habermas & Licona, 2004). The martyrdom of Jesus’ half- brother James was documented by Josephus, Hegesippus, and Clement of Alexandria (Habermas & Licona, 2004). Peter was crucified upside down, as confirmed by Eusebius, the first church historian, in his book “Ecclesiastical History” and also by Dionysius of Corinth, Tertullian, and Origen.

Given the fact that Peter and Paul were the main characters in the book of Acts, their exclusion strongly suggests dating of Acts prior to their martyrdoms, which further dates Luke to before that. Since the scholarly consensus is that Mark and Matthew were likely written prior to Luke, one could assert that these  were all written prior to the 60s. Forensic investigator and author of Cold Case Christianity J. Warner Wallace has also offered this line of reasoning.

Additionally, Luke referred to himself in the first person starting in Acts 16 when he traveled with Paul. It is conceivable that he wrote Acts while traveling with Paul, which obviously occurred prior to Paul’s martyrdom. Recording his travels in an orderly and accurate way would best occur if done in real time (rather than years later) when memories are most fresh.

The book of John is considered the last book in the Gospels. This book documented Jesus’ life, ministry, crucifixion and resurrection. The book did not document the history of the early church, which is why it excludes both mention of the fall of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 A.D. and Christianity’s martyred apostles.

In conclusion, we have internal evidence to support earlier dating for the Synoptic Gospels. Refuting this dating requires an assessment of WHY the martyrdoms of Peter, James (Jesus’ 1/2 brother) and Paul were not mentioned anyplace in Acts or the other writings that detailed the travels of Jesus’ earliest apostles and disciples.

Thank you for your time.

References:

Habermas, G.R. & Licona, M.R. (2004). The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

Wallace, J.W. (2013). Cold-case Christianity. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook.

Click here for Amateur Exegete’s full article: https://amateurexegete.com/2018/12/28/on-sj-thomasons-argument-for-dating-the-gospels-early/#more-11692

2 Replies to “When Were the Gospels Written? Internal Evidence Suggests < Peter and Paul's Martyrdoms”

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