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Old 02-10-2001, 03:58 PM   #11
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Two questions raise themselves when looking at attempts to determine a reliable date for when the codex (book) first began to replace the scroll. The first is when did the tradition of the nonmina sacra (Sacred Names) first come into use in Christians writings, and the second is very simply, when was the codex first mentioned in ancient times. Traditionally, as I have noted earlier, scholars have tended to see the codex as a 2nd Century invention, but evidence has led us to learn that it was, in fact, a 1st Century invention.

One of the most important issues that needs to be addressed, is when, exactly, was the nomina sacra first used. Quite simply, the nomina sacra was the tradition of scribes to abbreviate the names and titles given to God. These words were abbreviated by using only the first and last letter of each word, thus pneuma (Spirit) became PN, Ieusus (Jesus) became IS, theos (God) became GD, and so on. The German scholar Ludwig Traube, in his book Nomina Sacra (Munchen, 1907) determined that there were 15 words in total given this special treatment.

As to when this tradition first took root amongst Christians, it was Colin Roberts who first proposed the first Christians in Jerusalem as the most probable candidates for such a move. His reasoning was quite simple, and convincing. Jews, as a tradition, and even to this day, when writing the words God, or Lord, have always abreviated them to GD and LRD respectively. Since the very first Christians were, themselves Jews, it stands to reason that they would continue this tradition in their own writings, although in a slightly different manner. Rather than simply removing the vowels from these sacred names, Christian scribes would use only the first and last letter of the appropriate word.

Using this reasoning, …Roberts suggested that the nomina sacra were first introduced by the Jerusalem community before its dispersion-or rather its voluntary escape-prior to the Jewish revolt against the Romans, which began in A.D. 66… “the holy names… (were) the embriotic Creed of the first Church.”
C.P. Thiede and M. D’Ancona, Eyewitness to Jesus, (Doubleday, 1996), pg. 144, quoting from Colin Roberts, Manuscript, Society and Belief in Early Christian Egypt (London 1979), pg. 46.


Thus, we find a papyrologist, namely Roberts, that concludes that there is no compelling paleographical reason to reject first century works simply because they contain nomina sacra.

Now for the codex itself, and when we first learn about it. Interestingly, it is not first mentioned in a Christian source as we might expect, but a rather plain Roman, and Latin one.

If you want to take my books with you, wherever you go,
So that they may accompany you on long journeys,
Go and buy those small-size paperback editions.
Others fill your bookshelves, but mine are handy.
However, do not be ignorant and do not look in vain
All over Rome. I tell you where to go and find them:
Go straight to Secundus who once served under the leaned Lucensis.
You will find him behind the Temple of Pax, at the Palladian market.
Thiede, EJ pg. 104, quoting the Roman poet Martial, Epigrams 1.2, 86 A.D.


Thus it is from an advertisement in 1st Century Rome that the codex (book) was already in circulation, but it was by this remarkable invention of the book, that eventually came to replace the scroll entirely that we are able to see Christians creating and preserving their own Scriptures, and doing so at an extraordinarily early date in their history.

”The spread of Christianity was also assisted by a special literature, such as was produced by no other ancient Church except that of the Jews. The teaching of Jesus, which was first preserved by oral tradition (this long survived), was soon set down in written records (probably in Aramaic) as early as the middle of the first century, and was then expanded in Greek by the authors of the first three Gospels from their own knowledge and that of the disciples…
By c. 130 the Four Gospels and thirteen Epistles by St Paul were generally accepted as a New Testament Canon, comparable with the books of the Old Testament which had formed the first scriptures of the earliest Christians…
A History of Rome Down to the Reign of Constantine, M. Cary and H.H. Scullard, MacMillan Press, 1979, pg. 485.


In my next post I will return to the discussion of dating the Gospels.

Nomad

[This message has been edited by Nomad (edited February 10, 2001).]
 
Old 02-10-2001, 07:31 PM   #12
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I just want to thank Nomad for this thread. Whether I'll agree with his conclusions or not remains to be seen, but I think it is well reasoned and is certainly helping me learn more about the NT. I wish more theists would present themselves like this; at least it gives atheists something to work with.
 
Old 02-10-2001, 08:37 PM   #13
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by not a theist:
I just want to thank Nomad for this thread. Whether I'll agree with his conclusions or not remains to be seen, but I think it is well reasoned and is certainly helping me learn more about the NT. I wish more theists would present themselves like this; at least it gives atheists something to work with.</font>
I agree with "not a theist" here! As a Christian myself, I am often disheartened by the shallow, immature ways many (but not all) theists conduct themselves with skeptics. In fact, I have found the dialogue on this board to be much more civil and academic in nature as opposed to the Existence of God board, where basically most are just mercilessly ganging up on the theists without regard to quality of argument. Truly a welcome change here.

not a theist: If you'd like, I know of a Christian apologetic website where the author (Glenn Miller) deals with (tough)questions in this same respectful yet very detailed and thoughtful manner. In case you're interested, that's at www.christian-thinktank.com.

Good day.

 
Old 02-11-2001, 01:47 PM   #14
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As we can see from my previous post, the Gospel of Mark is almost certainly the first, at least of the Synoptics. Also, given that Mark served as a source for Luke and Matthew, and that these two authors wrote independently and unaware of the other’s work, it is reasonable to assume that they wrote within a similar time frame. Theologians have traditionally assumed that it would have taken 5-10 years for Matthew and Luke to gain access to a copy of Mark, and also that the time between the publication of Matthew and Luke would have been less than 5 years. These assumptions appear to be reasonable to me, and I have not seen any reason to challenge them, so this and future posts will work from this set of assumptions.

The best place to begin this discussion is probably by giving the general scholarly consensus on the dates for the Gospels, we can then look at the arguments that support this consensus, as well as counter arguments for a earlier set of dates (please note that I give no credibility to the arguments that any of the Canonical Gospels were 2nd Century inventions, but if someone wishes to pursue this argument, please let me know).

Mark 66-70AD
Matthew 75-85AD
Luke/Acts 75-85AD
John 90-100AD

I am going to set aside discussion of John for the moment, since the arguments for dating his Gospel are independent of a discussion of the Synoptics.

DATING MARK

Since the assumptions about the dating of Matthew and Luke are so firmly entrenched (that they were published within 5 years of one another, and at least 5-10 years after Mark), it is critical to understand the reasoning behind the dates for Mark.

There are several reasons for giving Mark the date range of 66-70AD:

1) The Olivet Discourse (Mark 13:1-36/Matthew 24:1-51/Luke 21:5-36)

Mark 13:1-2
As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!" "Do you see all these great buildings?" replied Jesus. "Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."

A lot of the debate surrounding the dating of the Synoptics hinges around whether or not Jesus could have made this prophecy so long before the events that led to the actual destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in the Jewish War 66-70AD. After all, Palestine and Judaea were relatively peaceful up to Jesus’ time, so a prediction of the destruction of Herod’s Temple, if made in the late 20’s-early 30’s would appear to be pretty spectacular. For this reason, the majority of scholars argue that Jesus did not make this prophecy, and that it was a later addition by Mark, when it became obvious that the Jewish revolt would be put down by the Romans, and in traditional Roman style, Jerusalem would be leveled, so Mark was not really going out on a limb in making this forecast, even if he did make it at the beginning of the War (66AD).

There is a serious problem with this argument however, and one that leaves those arguing for this relatively late date in a bit of a dilemma. If we assume that it was the author that added this prophecy later on (when it was relatively safe to do this), why did he also then add the other parts of the prophecy that clearly had not happened (and have still not happened) by the late 1st Century. Worse yet, why would Matthew and Luke put them into their works, especially if these prophecies would embarrass Christians, and possibly expose Jesus to the charge of false prophecy?

Let’s look at the prophecies:

(a) Major wars would break out (Mark 13:8), with “nations rising against nation”. The Jewish War was quite regional in nature, and certainly did not bring on any kind of world wide conflagration (especially by the 80’s, when it would have been obvious to Luke and Matthew that the Jewish rebellion was going to have no long lasting impact behond Palestine itself).
(b) The Gospel must be preached to all nations first (v. 10). None of the Evangelists could have believed that all of the nations of the world had heard the Gospel by 80-85.
(c) In verse 14 we are told of the “`the abomination that causes desolation' standing where it does not belong”, and it is hard to imagine that even Mark would see this as taking place. Luke and Matthew certainly would not, especially if they were written before the fall of Jerusalem. In the words of Donald Guthrie, “the key item in the internal evidence is the reference in Mark 13:14 to the ‘abomination that causes desolation.’ . . . If it be admitted that Jesus himself predicted the event, Mark 13:14 would cease to be a crux . . . The phrase used to describe the event is of such vagueness . . . that it is even more reasonable to assume that it belongs to a time well before the actual happenings.” (D. Guthrie, New Testament Introduction, pg. 86-87.
(d) Finally, we have a cataclysmic prophecy of the end of the world found in verses 19-26. If Mark (as well as Luke and Matthew) are going to endorse such a prophecy, it makes very little sense to assume that Mark invented it himself, then attributed it to Jesus, especially since it had not come true by the late dates of 80-85 commonly ascribed to Luke and Matthew. It seems much more likely that they believed that Jesus had said it Himself. And if Jesus said these prophecies, then why would He not have also said the others? And if Jesus did say these prophecies, then the reasoning used from verses 1-2 to give Mark a date of 66-70AD collapses.

The argument that Mark would have used these images of suffering and destruction in the late 60’s because of the persecutions by Nero after the great fire in 64AD has some merit. After all, this was the first great mass persecution of Christians, and it was taking place in the heart of the Empire, at what Christians were already coming to see as the “Whore of Babylon”. Apocalyptic beliefs and literature abounded at this time as well, both in the Christian and Jewish communities. And if Mark was written in Rome at this time (as is commonly supposed), then perhaps we have our answer as to why Mark would record such warnings, and attribute them to Jesus. For Oxford New Testament Studies Professor R. Griffith-Jones, this is the most compelling argument both for Mark’s authorship taking place in Rome, and for the tone of his Gospel to be so bleak and apocalyptic. In his words, the Great Fire of 64AD was “Mark’s Crucible… [W]hen fear was in the air, when troops were searching the streets and Tigellinus was hungry for culprits, how many Christians sought safety for their families and themselves with names of old opponents and long-resented “apostates”? IT is no coincidence that Mark’s Jesus warns his pupils, “And brother will betray brother to death, and father his son, and children will rise up against their parents and kill them. And you shall be hated by all on account of my name.” (Mark 13.12-13). (Robin Griffith-Jones, The Four Witnesses, Harper Collins, 2000, pg. 63)

The problem, of course, is that these persecutions were a distant memory to Luke and Matthew, if they wrote in the early 80’s. Why would they keep these messages in their own Gospels, or at least soften them or offer alternative explanations for them? This question is especially troublesome if they did not believe that they came from Jesus Himself. Griffith-Jones never tells us what he thinks on these questions, nor, to my knowledge, do any other scholars that subscribe to the late dating of Mark, and believe that the Olivet Discourse was a Marcan invention.

For classical historian, and confirmed atheist, Michael Grant, there is no question that these prophecies came from Jesus Himself. For Grant, the coming of the Kingdom of God was THE central message of Jesus ministry, and the case he builds is quite convincing (see Michael Grant, Jesus, London, 1977, pgs. 7-29). [i]”…every thought and saying of Jesus was directed towards subordinated to one single thing, …the realization of the Kingdom of God.” (Grant, Jesus, pg. 10). To Grant the ideas of Jesus flowed naturally from the apocalyptic worldview of other Jews, like those at Qumran. ”And he (Jesus), like the people of Qumran, was convinced that this expected end of the world was going to come avery soon (emphasis in original)… on occasions he explicitly declared that the Kingdom of Heaven has ‘come near’ (engiken)”, (Ibid. pg. 18-19 and citing Mark 13:20, 32). In fact, for Grant it was the fact that these prophecies did not come to pass that proved that Jesus’ ministry failed, and he was mistaken in his belief that the end of the world was at hand. ”When the evangelists attribute the same view (that the world was about to end) to Jesus we must believe them since they would not have included a forecast which remained unfulfilled unless it had been a part of an authentic, ineradicable tradition.” (Ibid. pg. 19).

Now Grant is an historian, and setting aside the theological implications of his above stated argument, the implications of his argument for dating the Synoptics is very clear. If Jesus Himself spoke the Olivet Discourse, then Mark can be literally dated to ANYTIME after the death of Jesus. At the very least, the argument that the Olivet Discourse was a Marcan invention must be thrown out, and with it the assumption that it had to have been created when Jerusalem’s fall was certain in the aftermath of the Jewish War 66-70AD.

Finally, it need hardly be said that if Mark had little reason to use this prophecy of Jesus, except to tie it in with the suffering of the Christians in Rome c. 65-69AD, then Matthew and Luke, supposedly writing much later, would have even less reason. Grant goes so far as to postulate that the Evangelists may have actually softened Jesus message regarding the coming of the Kingdom of God out of embarrassment that it had not yet occurred! Grant, of course, was not interested in the debate of the dating of the Gospels, but if we are to take his argument seriously (and I see no reason not to) that Jesus Himself was the source of the prophecies of the Olivet Discourse, then a lot of assumptions about dating Mark are going to have to be discarded.

2) Using Nero’s Persecutions (65-68AD)

We have already seen Griffith-Jones use the argument that Nero’s persecution of the Christians in Rome served as a perfect backdrop for Mark’s Gospel. William Lane, in his book, The Gospel of Mark
tells us that ” “the production of the Gospel of Mark must have an effective cause.” (Lane, Mark, pg. 17), and while this is true, why MUST it be Nero’s persecutions? Without a doubt, the persecutions of 65-69 would have made Mark’s message especially meaningful to his Christian community, but that can hardly be used as the best reason to date Mark to the late 60’s. After all, how often do we see people from one period of time drawing comfort and wisdom from past writings? Just because Mark’s message would have had a great deal of meaning to the Roman Christians of this time does not mean that it was written specifically for them, or to them.

Christians had very likely suffered at least one earlier persecution, albeit with their Jewish fellows under the emperor Claudius, when he expelled them in 49AD. We also know from the writings of Tacitus, that many already considered them to be “notoriously depraved Christians (as they were popularly called) . . .” (Tacitus, Annals 15.44), thus confirming that Christians were being persecuted even before 64AD.

Finally, we must not forget that in 62AD, James, the “brother of Jesus” had already been killed by stoning, and the early persecution of Christians by Saul of Tarsus was also underway.

3) Peter as Mark’s Source

Since even by the most conservative estimates, Mark could be dated to as late as 66AD, and most scholars agree that Rome was the probable location for where it was written, it is not hard to imagine that Peter (who died c. 65-67) could have been at least one of Mark’s sources.

But this probability only makes more complex when fixing a firm date for Mark’s Gospel. The reality of persecutions in Rome were hardly needed to give Peter reason to talk about such things in any Gospel he might influence. From Dr. D.B. Wallace, Prof’s SoapBox, note 19:

if Mark truly derived his gospel in large measure from Peter, then the tone of eschatological urgency should hardly be surprising, regardless of when this gospel was written. In Peter’s Pentecost address, the core of the message may be viewed as essentially that of eschatological urgency (Acts 2:14-39; cf. especially his use of Joel 2); in his first epistle, too, there is such a tone (1 Peter 1:5, 11, 13, 20; 2:12; 4:5, 7, 12-19; 5:4); and especially in 2 Peter do we see this (2 Peter 3:1-13). It would hardly be an overstatement in fact to speak of Peter as belonging to an apocalyptic-type of Christianity since the twin themes of suffering and eschatological urgency go hand in glove throughout his sermons and letters, stretching from 33 CE to 65 CE. Yet, if Peter wrote the two letters that bear his name, he must have done so before the Jewish War began. Thus what may first appear as a difficulty for a mid-50s date for Mark turns out to be very much for this view, provided that Peter stands behind the gospel.

Concluding remarks

To me the arguments for a late 60’s dating of Mark are not overwhelming. I recognize that the majority scholarly opinion has come down on this conclusion, including a good number of scholars I respect a great deal. But I do not find their arguments very compelling. Interestingly, I find the arguments put forward by the atheistic historian, Michael Grant, especially regarding the Olivet Discourse and the coming Kingdom of God to be very convincing in that they almost certainly came from Jesus Himself. So, while I disagree with the rest of Grant’s theological arguments on this point, I find it hard to believe that the authors of the Synoptics would have included this prophecy if it was not believed to have come directly from Jesus. And if it did come from Jesus, then the argument that the Olivet Discourse points to late authorship of Mark collapses.

On this basis, I have concluded that while it is not certain that Mark was written in the mid-50’s to early 60’s, I do not think that this possibility can be discounted. And on that basis, dating Matthew and Luke to the early to mid-60’s is also a very real possibility.

I invite questions on this post, after which I will turn my attention to possible dates for Matthew, and especially Luke/Acts in my next post.

Nomad

[This message has been edited by Nomad (edited February 11, 2001).]
 
Old 02-11-2001, 05:25 PM   #15
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The problem, of course, is that these persecutions were a distant memory to Luke and Matthew, if they wrote in the early 80’s. Why would they keep these messages in their own Gospels, or at least soften them or offer alternative explanations for them? This question is especially troublesome if they did not believe that they came from Jesus Himself. Griffith-Jones never tells us what he thinks on these questions, nor, to my knowledge, do any other scholars that subscribe to the late dating of Mark, and believe that the Olivet Discourse was a Marcan invention.</font>
Why must we assume that if Mark fabricated the Olivet Discourse 'Matthew' and Luke must have known it was fabricated? Would it not be conceivable that Mark fabricated it but 'Matthew' and Luke believed it to be true and therefore included it?
 
Old 02-11-2001, 08:47 PM   #16
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Although the Jewish revolt was localized it is also important to note that after Nero's assassination, there was a civil war in Rome from 68-69--this was in the midst of the Jewish Revolt which lasted from 66-70. So it was indeed conceivable in the writer of Mark's mind that nation would rise against nation--they were.

The "abomination that leads to desolation" refers to a part in the Book of Daniel that refers to the placing of an altar of Zeus in the temple. It is interesting to note that when Mark talks about "the abomination that leads to desolation," he refers to "the abomination" as a "he" (Mk. 13:14). It seems to me that it is a reference to Titus entering the Temple and then destroying it. (Gentiles were not allowed to go outside the Gentile court--this was certainly an abomination). It is also important to note that Mark says, "Let the reader understand..." So Mark was making a reference to something the reader would know about.

And it is also important to keep in mind that while the persecution of Nero was a memory, if Luke and Matthew were written in AD 80-90, Domitian was emperor at that time--and he was no friend of Chrisitans. So it is not inconceivable that at that time Christians would be recalling times of past persecution and hoping for the destruction of Rome by God.
 
Old 02-11-2001, 10:01 PM   #17
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by not a theist:

Why must we assume that if Mark fabricated the Olivet Discourse 'Matthew' and Luke must have known it was fabricated? Would it not be conceivable that Mark fabricated it but 'Matthew' and Luke believed it to be true and therefore included it?</font>
Hi not a theist.

And thank you for you comments and your question as well (also, thank you to Rew).

Clearly it is possible that Mark created this particular prophecy and attributed it to Jesus, but as Grant notes, it's character and the apparent lack of fulfillment of all of the components of the prophecy make it highly unlikely that Mark would have wanted to risk so much if he did not believe that Jesus Himself said it.

As for Matthew and Luke, they almost certainly must have believed it was from Jesus. The persecutions of Domitian (81-96) were extremely mild by comparison to what Mark's community would have faced in Rome in the late 60's.

"The evidence for any serious Domitianic persecution (of Christians) is very slight: even Tertullian says Domitian soon changed his mind annd recalled those whom he had exiled, but some Christians probably came under his ban on the spread of Oriental religions (Isis worship being excepted) and the measures taken against proselytising Jews and judaising Gentiles.
(M. Cary, H.H. Scullard, History of Rome Down to the Reign of Constantine, (London 1979), pg. 412)


Cary and Scullard note a likelihood of greater persecution in Asia Minor during this period, especially reflected in the apocryphal Book of Revelation.

"During the first hald-century after the crucifixion of Jesus, the Roman governors in the eastern provinces took no active measures against the Christians, but in the closing years of the first century they executed a suffcient number to create a precedent for their persecution.
(Ibid. pg. 487)


All of that said, the fact that Pliny was writing to Rome for further instructions as to how to treat Christians (c. 110AD), and that Trajan's basic response was not to hunt the Christians down, but to make them invoke and sacrifice to the gods and emperor to prove their loyalty seems to indicate that widespread persecutions were not yet the norm. "Anyone who denied that he was a Christian and sacrificed to the gods should be pardoned, even if his past was suspricious." (Ibid. pg. 487).

Any serious reader of Mark 13:1-36 is hard pressed not to conclude, at least at first blush, that Jesus' words look not only apocalyptic (like John in Revelation), but also quite definitive that these prophecies were to take place within Jesus' own generation.

Mark 13:21, 24-27, 30 At that time if anyone says to you, `Look, here is the Christ!' or, `Look, there he is!' do not believe it.
"But in those days, following that distress, "`the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' "At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.
I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.


For Matthew (who reproduces the passages almost verbatum Matt 24:22-34) and Luke (who shortens the account, but retains the critical idea that 'this generation (or race)' will not pass away before all of these things come to pass, see Luke 21:23-32) to both buy into this vision independently of one another tells us that the words had the authority of powerful oral tradition standing behind them, and that the early Church believed that they did, in fact, come from Jesus.

Nomad
 
Old 02-11-2001, 10:23 PM   #18
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Le pede:

Although the Jewish revolt was localized it is also important to note that after Nero's assassination, there was a civil war in Rome from 68-69--this was in the midst of the Jewish Revolt which lasted from 66-70. So it was indeed conceivable in the writer of Mark's mind that nation would rise against nation--they were.</font>
There is little question that the Year of the Four Emperors (as 69 came to be known) was pretty traumatic, but there was not widespread civil war in the Empire. And I also do not want to minimize the very real trauma being felt by the Christians in Rome at this same time. Nero almost certainly did look like the Anti-Christ to these people. His memory was not soon forgotten, even by the Romans themselves.

The problem isn't really with the first few passages of the Olivet Discourse as it is with the later ones, and while Mark might have thought all of them were coming true, they certainly had not by the time his gospel was published. Remember that there is a very real risk in offering false prophecies and attributing them to Jesus when He did not actually make them. I think it is a very big stretch to argue that Mark would have done this on his own, or even with the authority of Peter behind him.

On the other hand, I do find it interesting to note the similarity in visions of the end of the world found in Mark in chapter 13, and that offered in 1&2 Peter. If Peter's epistles can be dated to around this same timeframe, then this would go a very long ways towards making the dating of 66-70AD much more credible.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The "abomination that leads to desolation" refers to a part in the Book of Daniel that refers to the placing of an altar of Zeus in the temple. It is interesting to note that when Mark talks about "the abomination that leads to desolation," he refers to "the abomination" as a "he" (Mk. 13:14). It seems to me that it is a reference to Titus entering the Temple and then destroying it. (Gentiles were not allowed to go outside the Gentile court--this was certainly an abomination).</font>
I have heard this theory put forward before, and certainly the entrance of a Roman general into the Holy of Holies would have been the greatest of shocks to Jews (Christian or not). At the same time, I can't help thinking that this is reading a bit much into the passage in question. A personification of the 'abomination' need not mean that the author of Mark actually had a specific individual in mind.

Further, if this is what Mark did mean, and Luke and Matthew (writing much later presumably) would have known that Mark meant this individual, then it would be pretty reasonable to expect them to mention this "fulfillment" of the prophecy in their own Gospels.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> It is also important to note that Mark says, "Let the reader understand..." So Mark was making a reference to something the reader would know about.</font>
Yes, but why wouldn't Matthew or Luke expand on this statement and show that it was Trajan that fulfilled this part of the prophecy?

Quite simply, we cannot know, based on what we have from the Gospels themselves, what Mark meant, or even what he thought about these prophecies. It seems more reasonable to assume that he is simply relating the prediction as it has been passed down to him, most likely in the oral tradition.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">And it is also important to keep in mind that while the persecution of Nero was a memory, if Luke and Matthew were written in AD 80-90, Domitian was emperor at that time--and he was no friend of Chrisitans. So it is not inconceivable that at that time Christians would be recalling times of past persecution and hoping for the destruction of Rome by God.</font>
As you can see in my response to not a theist above, I don't think we can make the case that the Church of the 80's felt especially persecuted by the Empire. The strand of apocalyptic writings that began with the Jews, and continued with the Christians remained strong, but the faithfulness with which Matt and Luke reproduced this particular prophecy, couple with the fact that neither elaborated on its explanation beyond what Mark tells us in the original, suggests that it was believed to be a prophecy from Jesus.

Basically, the argument that the Olivet Discourse could ONLY have been produced by a later redactor, but was never first spoken by Jesus looks pretty weak. On that basis, using it to give Mark and the Synoptics a late dating like c. 70AD seems highly suspect.

Thank you for the comments.

Nomad
 
Old 02-12-2001, 02:01 AM   #19
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There is another dating issue that applies to the whole New Testament that I'd like to follow up. Perhaps Nomad himself will have some input on this.

People talk about the strange silence of Paul about the historical Jesus. Layman has already demonstrated that he isn't that silent but there is another silence in the NT that is even stranger.

Why is it that not a single book in the NT explicitly mentions the fall of Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple?

Now this is very odd indeed. This seminal event must have prayed heavily on the minds of every Jew and Christian in the years after 70AD and yet all we get is a possible disputed prophecy in Mark and an off hand remark in 2 Thes. The great scholar JAT Robinson suggested that the best answer to this silence was that the entire NT was written before 70AD.

What are the alternatives?

It's not mentioned because everyone knew about it. Of course the opposite is alleged about Paul's silence but never mind. I think a lack of reference in Luke and Matthew when they are dealing with the Temple is just bizarre. At the very least they might have made the prophecies closely reflect what actually happened.

They didn't think it mattered much. This is also weird. Any Christian would have pointed to the destruction of the Temple, as many later apologists did, as punishment for the Jews rejecting Jesus but this is nowhere in the NT.

The NT was written before the Temple fell. This would be by far the most logical explanation so we have to ask what solid evidence there is for books being written after 70AD. Perhaps someone could enlighten us.

Yours

Bede

Bede's Library - faith and reason
 
Old 02-12-2001, 05:15 AM   #20
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Bede --

Your argument from silence about the lack of mention in the NT of the destruction of the Temple is interesting. It raises some mysterious issues.

-- We know that the Gospels contain later interpolations. Why wasn't the destruction of the Temple inserted at a later time? Could it in fact be part of the secret tradition oftimes alluded to, but not preserved? Could it have been excised for reasons not apparent to us now? After all, we know the Gospels we have contain many changes from their first writing.

Papias attests to the strong oral tradition regarding Jesus, still going at a point well into the second century. Perhaps the oral tradition was the carrier of this information.

How do you deal with argument that Luke contains material from Josephus Jewish Antiquities and thus must be later than 94?
Carrier has a summary of this in his writings in the library.

How would you account for the long silence about the Gospels, with no undisputed references until the mid-second century?
If they date before 50, as you allege, it would mean that 100 years passed before they "emerged."

Michael Turton
turton@ev1.net

 
 

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