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Old 07-27-2001, 11:22 PM   #1
matt
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Post A Little Excercise in NT Studies

I'd like to start a project on this thread: coming up with our own chronology of the NT. In general, I would like it if we could limit ourselves to just two resources: 1) The New Testament, and 2) Our own current knowledge of Christian/Secular History and the OT/Jewish cultural backround of Christianity. Of course, you can always use reference books for specific dates and such, but what I don't want is for this thread to become a book review where one person reads through an entire book on NT Chronology and simply summarizes the authors views for us. That wouldn't be fun at all; where's the challenge in that?!? Any contributions are welcome, and they can be as specific as "The book of _____ must be dated after __ A.D., because it refers to [some event], which occured in __ A.D." to as vague as "John seems to describe Joseph of Arimathea a little bit more flatteringly than does Matthew, so I think that John came later." Oh, and one more thing: PLEASE give verse references for EVERYTHING!!! Let's see if we can create our own SecWeb list of the NT books in chronological order w/o any help from others. Have fun!
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Old 07-28-2001, 12:01 AM   #2
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I haven't spent much time on it so far, but here's what I've gotten:

The synoptics should probably be dated after 70 A.D., the year in which the Romans destroyed the temple, since all 3 of them contain prophecies of Jesus concerning the destruction of the temple (Mt. 24:1,2; Mk. 13:1,2; Lk. 21:5,6). Mark does not say explicitly that it is the stones of the temple which will all be "thrown down", but only that all the stones of the "great buildings" which his disciples pointed out to him will be thrown down. It does, however, say that Jesus and his disciples were leaving the temple when they had this exchange, so almost certainly they were referring to the temple buildings. If, however, they were not referring specifically to the temple buildings, then it could be that Mark was before 70 A.D., and that Matthew and Luke, writing after 70 and having seen the destruction of the temple, edited the prophecy recorded in Mark, making the "great buildings" specifically the "temple's buildings" in their own gospels. As far as I could find, John does not record this prophecy or anything like it.

Luke's gospel seems to be very primitive tradition in at least one sense, and that is that it repeatedly credits Jesus' power and wisdom to the Spirit rather than to Jesus himself (2:40; 4:1,14,18; esp. 5:17).

2 Peter 3:15,16 calls the writings of Paul the Apostle "Scripture". I happen to know that the Gk. word translated into English as "scriptures" means something like "writings"...so, did the writer of 2 Peter really mean to call Paul's writings "God-breathed", on par w/ the OT? Probably, considering that he adds that those who twist or distort the meanings of Paul's letters and the other comparable "scriptures" face condemnation for doing so. This strikes me as something which would date 2 Peter extremely late, as I can't believe that any NT writings, and especially epistles, were considered to be on par w/ the OT until very late, probably not until after all or most of those who knew the apostles had died off.

I Timothy should probably be dated after the synoptic gospels, or at least Luke, since it quotes Luke along with Deuteronomy as though the two are equally inspired (5:18). As I said before, I don't think that the NT was considered to be "inspired" until pretty late. Also, the writer of 1 Tim. rebukes Gnosticism (6:20, 21). He says to shun what is "falsely called knowledge"--the Gk. word for knowledge is "gnosis", from which Gnosticism is derived. I could be wrong, but I don't think that Gnosticism formed until pretty late, and I don't think that it gained any real influence until the second century. But check me on that.

Matt

P.S. - In case you think that I cheated to find the "Gnosis" clue in 1 Tim. or the "Scriptures" clue in 2 Peter, since both require a knowledge of Gk., I didn't. I've never taken a Greek learning course, but I just happen to know a few words like "knowledge" and "scriptures".
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Old 07-28-2001, 06:06 AM   #3
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The Synoptics must be dated into the period of about 115-130, based on Ellegard's arguments. For John, I am open to an earlier date for the the most primitive kernels, but the last redaction must be around 130 as well.

Ellegard's argument is that the Gospels are dependent on Ignatius, or at least, that they are later than him. Ellegard bases this on the large number of sayings in the seven authentic letters of Ignatius that are closely related in wording and idea to sayings in the gospels. For example:

Ignatius, Letter to Polycarp 2:2 he exhorts "be in all things wise like the serpent, and always harmless like the dove." In Mt 10:16 Jesus says "Be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves."

There are a great many of these.

Whenever Ignatius speaks one of these sayings, he says them as though he is saying them, or they are general knowledge. Not once does he ever attribute one to Jesus, at least according to Ellegard.

Ignatius is the first place we hear of Mary and Pilate, davidic descent, and virgin birth. However, Judas goes unmentioned, and Peter is not mentioned as a companion of Christ, but as a leader in his own right, with followers, and as someone who has seen the Resurrection. Pilate is mentioned, but only to mark a time, and is not connected with Jesus' death. Ignatius never mentions any disciples of Jesus, but instead calls himself a disciple -- mathetes -- and uses that word to refer to his community as well.

Ignatius does refer to the "gospel," but seems to mean the passages from the OT that have been used by Paul and the others in an allegorical way to interpret the teachings of Jesus. For example, Phil 5:2, he says "Let us love the prophets, for they too have announced the gospel."

I can see a couple of problems here. The letters were written about ~100 as Ignatius is on his way to be executed by the Romans.
Some date them as early as 95, others as late as 111. Since Jesus is connected with Pilate in the famous passage in Tacitus of ~ 110, it seems like there may not have been enough time for the story to spread. On the other hand, while I think it highly unlikely that any Roman record of an execution of Jesus would have been available to Tacitus, it is well within the bounds of probability that a record of Ignatius' execution, which had happened only a few years before Tacitus was published (maybe even while he was writing it) would have been accessible to Tacitus.

A second reason I would prefer the later date for the gospels is that Luke seems to have read Josephus, who came out in 94-95.

A third reason Ellegard likes the early second century dating is the use of the word "synagogue" to refer to the house of worship. That word is never used in first-century Christian texts, only in second century.

Counterarguments I would love to hear.

Michael
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Old 07-28-2001, 11:21 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by turtonm:
<STRONG>Ignatius is the first place we hear of Mary and Pilate, davidic descent, and virgin birth. </STRONG>
Two things:

1) Ignatius is the "first place" we hear of Mary and Pilate? Are you begging the question or do I misunderstand you?

2) If I am correct, then Luke's gospel is the only one which records the virgin birth; I don't know if that changes anything, but it may.

I hope you'll all understand that when I attribute gospels to their traditional authors I'm not really suggesting that I believe them to be necessarily written by them.

Matt
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Old 07-28-2001, 12:23 PM   #5
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Kysar also observes on the dating of John: "The earliest date for the gospel hinges upon the question of whether or not it presupposes the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. Most agree that it does, although there have been persistent attempts to argue otherwise. The reasons for positing a post-70 date include the view of the Temple implicit in 2:13-22. Most would argue that the passage attempts to present Christ as the replacement of the Temple that has been destroyed." (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, v. 3, p. 918) Note also the irony of 11:48: "If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place [i.e. temple] and our nation." Finally, there is no mention of the Sadducees, which reflects post-70 Judaism. The retort that there is also no mention of scribes misses the mark, as the Pharisees represented the scribal tradition, and the Pharisees are mentioned.

On the evidence that Luke-Acts is dependent upon Josephus, see:
http://www.infidels.org/library/mode...djosephus.html

This gives the Gospel of John a date sometime after 70 CE and the compendium Luke-Acts a date sometime after 100 CE.

Stevan Davies writes (Jesus the Healer, p. 174): "Luke wrote at least sixty years after Pentecost and perhaps closer to a century after that event. Scholarship on the subject presently vacillates between a late first century and an early to mid-second century date for Luke's writings."

Udo Schnelle writes, "the extensive linguistic and theological agreements and cross-references between the Gospel of Luke and the Acts indicate that both works derive from the same author" (The History and Theology of the New Testament Writings, p. 259).

Since the Gospel of Luke was used in some form by Marcion for his Gospel of the Lord c. 140 CE, that sets the latest possible dating for Luke-Acts.

Since the fragment p52 attests to the Gospel of John and is dated paleographically c. 120-130 CE, that sets the latest possible dating for the Gospel of John.

By the way, you might find more material here:
http://home.earthlink.net/~kirby/writings/

Best of luck,
Peter
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Old 07-28-2001, 01:40 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by matt:
<STRONG>2) If I am correct, then Luke's gospel is the only one which records the virgin birth; I don't know if that changes anything, but it may.</STRONG>
Matthew reports a virgin birth as well (1:18).
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Old 07-28-2001, 04:09 PM   #7
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Does Marcion's Gospel of the Lord still survive? And does he himself say that he stole from Luke? It seems at least logically possible that Luke-Acts could be later than that, with borrowings from Marcion. Why isn't this possible, Peter?

Michael
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Old 07-28-2001, 05:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by turtonm:
<STRONG>Does Marcion's Gospel of the Lord still survive? And does he himself say that he stole from Luke? It seems at least logically possible that Luke-Acts could be later than that, with borrowings from Marcion. Why isn't this possible, Peter?

Michael</STRONG>
There are no manuscripts of Marcion's Gospel of the Lord. However, we can attempt to reconstruct it from the references and quotations by the heresiologists Tertullian and Epiphanius. A couple of the attempts to do this can be seen here.

http://home.earthlink.net/~kirby/writings/marcion.html

I do not know whether or not Marcion says himself that he is dependent upon "Luke."

Your question is not really so much about the dating of "Luke" but rather the contents of Luke. That is, whether Marcion cut down on the Gospel of Luke, or whether later redactors expanded on the Gospel of Luke. I have not said that expansion is impossible - to quote Huxley, I am too much of a skeptic to deny the possibility of anything. However, we might be able to come up with a likely answer based on closely examining Marcion's Gospel and canonical Luke, thinking about the possible motives for Marcion to abridge, and thinking about the possible motives for catholic editors to expand, and giving it all some good hard thought. I don't know what the outcome of such an exercise would be.
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Old 07-28-2001, 05:58 PM   #9
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pk: Since the fragment p52 attests to the Gospel of John and is dated paleographically c. 120-130 CE, that sets the latest possible dating for the Gospel of John.

P52 is about the size of a credit card and contains only a few words from the narrative attributed to a person named "John." Also, P52 could date to around 150 CE.

The fact that this tiny fragment exists DOES NOT necessarily prove the NT narrative was written BEFORE the middle of the second century. There could have been a much shorter version of "John" written around the beginning of the second century. The NT narrative could very well have been written AFTER 150 CE.

rodahi
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Old 07-28-2001, 07:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by rodahi:
<STRONG>pk: Since the fragment p52 attests to the Gospel of John and is dated paleographically c. 120-130 CE, that sets the latest possible dating for the Gospel of John.

P52 is about the size of a credit card and contains only a few words from the narrative attributed to a person named "John." Also, P52 could date to around 150 CE.

The fact that this tiny fragment exists DOES NOT necessarily prove the NT narrative was written BEFORE the middle of the second century. There could have been a much shorter version of "John" written around the beginning of the second century. The NT narrative could very well have been written AFTER 150 CE.

rodahi</STRONG>
Of course I know about this objection, but I consider it to be ad hoc, short of a demonstration that there was an earlier source of John that contains the material from this chapter of John almost exactly. Of the texts that we do know, the fragment matches canonical John, again until a proto-John is shown to exist with this same material. If a proto-John is posited here merely to avoid the conclusion that John was written before this fragment, surely this is bad science?

Although paleographical dating is admittedly non-exact, for my records could you please point me to the paleographers who date p52 to 150 CE? Thanks.
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