Tag Archives: Date of gospels

The Gospels Not the Best Place to Look for the Origins of Christianity

Finally, it is worth pointing out that the NT as we have it, and especially the gospels, is entirely dependent on that branch of Jesus’ disciples, gathered around Peter (and Paul), which is centered on the kerygma of the resurrection. Acts has preserved a few traces of other groups: Apollos and the disciples at Ephesus, who know only the baptism of John, represent at least one other current, which must have lived on with its own teaching; a similar observation could be made on the subject of James, to whom even Peter gives an account of himself. Little is known about the Jewish-Christians, but their biography of Jesus (the “Gospel of the Hebrews”), which was apparently not published, would have presented a rather different picture from the one we know, even if the facts related were more or less the same. Traces there certainly are in the NT, but they have been almost obliterated by a final redaction which has a different orientation. Similar traces are to be found also in the Eastern Churches, which regard themselves as the heirs of Jude, Thomas, etc., although nothing in the NT would lead us to suspect that. . . . .

. . . .

From what has been seen in the previous section, it is clear that the gospels are not the best place to look for the origins of Christianity, that is to say, for what happened immediately after Jesus left the scene.

Nodet, Étienne, and Justin Taylor. 1998. The Origins of Christianity: An Exploration. Collegeville, Minn: Liturgical Press. (pp. 38, 39)

Nodet and Taylor cite two reasons for that conclusion: 1, the long delay from the time of Jesus until the “publishing” of the gospels; 2, “the almost total silence regarding rites.”

Now the NT, by and large, gives no information about how to perform any rites, despite numerous allusions to them. Even more: in the gospels Jesus institutes nothing.115 In other words, many things to be observed remained unpublished. (p. 39)

Aesop / 2, a Guide to a Late Gospel of Mark Date

Justin Martyr

Sleepy me forgot to include the main thought that led to the argument of the previous post. Reflecting on Hägg’s point about the Life of Aesop being produced at a time when interest in Aesop was the fashion of the day, the question I was asking myself was:

  • When do we see an interest in the pre-crucifixion earthly life-events of Jesus emerge in the record? When does that particular literary vogue begin?

Now that’s less subtle than an argument based on Paul’s influence on the Gospel of Mark.

The second century Pastoral epistle 1 Timothy speaks of Jesus testifying before Pilate.

Ignatius is among the earliest witnesses to an interest in biographical details of Jesus with his specifications of Mary’s pregnancy and Pilate’s role in the crucifixion. Though Ignatius’s martyrdom (and letter writing date) is said by Eusebius to be in the tenth year of Trajan (108 CE), we have reasons to think that the letters may really have been composed considerably later. As Roger Parvus writes:

Eusebius, in the fourth century, was the first to claim that the letters were written in the reign of Trajan (98 – 117 CE). A number of scholars have recognized that his dating is untrustworthy, and that the letters should be dated later. To give some recent examples:

  • Allen Brent says “we can…, if we like, place Ignatius’ work towards the end of Hadrian’s reign (AD 135)” (p. 318 of his 2006 book Ignatius of Antioch and the Second Sophistic.
  • And Paul Foster, in his chapter on Ignatians in The Writings of the Apostolic Fathers (2007), placed their composition “sometime during the second quarter of the second century, i.e. 125 – 50 CE, roughly corresponding to Hadrian’s reign or the earlier part of Antoninus Pius’ period in office” (p. 89).
  • Timothy Barnes, in a 2008 article in The Expository Times (“The Date of Ignatius”), concluded that the letters were written “probably in the 140s” (p. 128).
  • And Richard Pervo, in his The Making of Paul published in 2010 says “A date of c. 130 – 140 is the preferable date for Ignatius” (p. 135).
  • Earl Doherty too, in his Jesus: Neither God Nor Man, does not have a problem with dating the letters to the third decade of the second century. (p. 296).

Justin Martyr of the mid-second century, discussed in the previous post, is also the earliest of the Church Fathers to show a detailed interest in writing about events in the earthly life of Jesus. Most of his discussion is an attempt to prove that the Old Testament writings were prophesying cryptically about Jesus. Again, see the table I have posted on vridar.info.

Interestingly the literary focus on the life of Jesus first appears to gain wider traction around the same time as the interest in and heated controversy over Paul.

Sure we can date the gospels to the last decades of the first century, but by doing so we have to wait some decades (and Justin does not even appear to know any of the gospels in their final canonical form) before we find anyone appearing to take any notice of their contents or sharing their interest in Jesus’ life.

Justin is said to be the first witness to the existence of the gospels but we need to keep in mind that Justin also said that fire (presumably a spiritual fire) engulfed the Jordan when Jesus was baptized, that the infant Jesus was found in a cave, that Pilate conspired with the Jews to crucify Jesus, and indicates that he had no concept of any Judas character or betrayal of Jesus by a disciple.

Is it not interesting that “the church”, or at least the “proto-orthodox” side of Christianity, first appears to take an interest in writings about the earthly life of Jesus at the same time as heated arguments over the teachings of Paul?

The two interests, the teachings of Paul and the earthly life of Jesus, first appear in the wider record around the same time.

Justin, as we saw in the previous post, is certainly one of the more hostile of the “fathers” towards Paul and he it is who is the first to show a strong interest, most unlike Paul, in interpreting the Old Testament as a string of prophecies about the earthly Jesus.

I don’t think the Gospel of Mark was originally written as a literal testimony to the pre-crucifixion life of Jesus, though. The narrative is far too patently (in my view) symbolic to think that it was written with a mind to be read literally. The author does not attempt to proof-text his narrative in the same way the author of the Gospel of Matthew did by saying “Jesus did or said such and such so that the scripture might be fulfilled.” (The only exception in English translations of Mark is in fact a gloss.) The Gospel of Mark was actually first associated with heretics (as was Paul) — with the followers of Basilides — though I suspect that Basilides’ followers knew of a kind of ur-Mark, not the form of the gospel we have today in our orthodox canons.

It is the Gospel of Matthew who is closest to the sort of narrative of Jesus that so engrossed Justin. Another point I find interesting is that the Gospel of Matthew, with its anti-Paul message and its focus on Jesus fulfilling passages in the OT, that was the most influential gospel in the second century while the Gospel of Mark was scarcely noticed among the proto-orthodox.

The point is that the mainstream view holds that the gospels were written between 70 and 90 and then forgotten or largely ignored until the mid second century.

Why not prefer to date them to a time when we find there was a more general interest in the sorts of things they write about?

 

How To Date Early Christian Texts

A new post has appeared on the Weststar Institute’s blog, 8 tips for dating early Christian texts. It covers considerable detail for both relative and absolute dating.

My earlier post, Scientific and Unscientific Dating of the Gospels, was a summary of Niels Peter Lemche’s explanation of valid methods to arrive at an absolute date range for the gospels. The Westar Institute post by Cassandra Farrin gives much more detail — most of it applicable to relative dating.

Her headings — but you must read her post to grasp the full meaning of each:

1. Does the writer refer to any historical figures and events?

2. What other texts does the writer know and refer to?

3. What is the earliest known reference to this text in other sources?

4. Does the text contain special terms or words that changed in meaning from one era to another?

5. Does the text copy the mistakes or variations of other, earlier texts?

6. Is the text concerned with questions or themes that were also popular in other texts of a certain historical period?

7. What genre is this text? Is it a letter, a gospel, an apocalypse? In what sorts of wider contexts was this style of writing useful and popular?

8. Is there any archaeological, socio-cultural, or paleographic research to back up your best guess?

The post links to another set of interesting ones, including one titled 5 Quick and Dirty Rules for Interpreting Paulread more »

Scientific and Unscientific Dating of the Gospels

It seems obvious to most scholars that our estimate of the age of a certain book . . . must be founded on information contained in the book itself and not on other information, and the estimate should certainly not be based on the existence of a historical background that may never have existed.

The above passage is from a chapter in Did Moses Speak Attic? by Professor Niels Peter Lemche of the University of Cophenhagen. The . . . omitted words were “of the Old Testament” but I omitted them in order to suggest that the same logic applies equally to books of the New Testament, in particular the Gospels.

The passage continues:

Although seemingly self-evident, this method is not without fault, and it may easily become an invitation to ‘tail-chasing’, to quote Philip R. Davies. By this we intend to say that the scholar may soon become entangled in a web of logically circular argumentation which is conveniently called the ‘hermeneutical circle’ . . . .

I have outlined Davies’ straightforward arguments for circularity at http://vridar.info/bibarch/arch/davies2.htm

There is another key and closely related point that is, I believe, at the heart of the dating of the Gospels.

Another points is that it is also supposed that the reading of a certain piece of literature will automatically persuade it to disclose its secrets — as if no other qualifications are needed. read more »

How to date the gospels

Four Evangelists, miniatures from the Gelati (...
Image via Wikipedia

One who identifies himself as an Irish Anglican here has asked me if I would like to address the arguments of John A. T. Robinson in Redating the New Testament. While I have had such an exercise on my list of “to-do” items for some time, it is unlikely that I will get around to doing anything in depth for quite some time. I would have thought, from the fact that Robinson’s arguments for early dates seem to have made little significant impact on mainstream scholarship, we can see the arguments have not been overwhelmingly persuasive — apart from the more apologetically inclined who have a theological interest in seeing the gospels dated as early as possible to the events they narrate. (But not being a part of academia I might be misinformed on this point.)

As if the narrative is itself some external historical reality and not, indeed, just a lot of creative words making up the theological parable or story. Sound historical method, at least as found practiced outside the sheltered ranks of historical Jesus studies, and as well recognized by the likes of Albert Schweitzer himself, requires that there be some indisputable reference point or control that is external to the narrative itself before one can rightfully assume any narrative has some historical basis. But Schweitzer lost that battle and it appears that today many mainstream believers in the historical Jesus can only respond with insult in place of reasoned argument when challenged with this basic premise. That’s understandable. There is no reasoned rebuttal available to them.

Well, let’s see. I’m digressing. Back to dating the gospels.

There is one simple reason John A. T. Robinson’s dating arguments fail. There are a number of more detailed reasons. But one overall methodological reason undermines his entire effort. read more »

Why early Christians would create the story of Jesus’ baptism – and more evidence the gospels were very late

John the Baptist baptizing Christ
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The historicity of Jesus’ baptism is asserted on grounds that the event would not have been told unless it were true, because it implies views of Jesus that no Christian would invent:

  1. that John was up till that point superior to Jesus,
  2. and/or that Jesus had sins to be buried in the Jordan River.

This is hardly a solid method to determine whether or not an event is historical or not, especially when reasons do exist that could indeed explain why Christians might invent the story.

I have usually given just one of these possible reasons in other posts, and that is that the author of the Gospel of Mark viewed Jesus as an ordinary man until the moment of his baptism when he was possessed by the Spirit of God and declared at that moment, God’s Beloved Son. Such a view is supported by this Gospel’s depiction of Jesus as far more human than the way he is shown in later Gospels, and also by Mark’s description of the Spirit possessing and driving Jesus into the wilderness. It was this lowly view of Jesus that the later evangelists attempted to re-write: Matthew declaring that John protested that he should not baptize Jesus; Luke only indirectly implying that John baptized Jesus; and John not mentioning the baptism at all.

But there is another evident reason that this scenario might have been invented. This was to fulfill prophetic expectations held among the Jews. One criterion that some scholars (e.g. Robert Funk in “Honest to Jesus”) use to cast doubt on the historicity of any passage in the Gospels is that of intended prophetic fulfillment. If a passage appears to have been written in order to fulfill some “prophecy” of Christ, then the historian must at the very least accept the possibility that it was invented for that purpose.

G. A. Wells in The Jesus Myth alerts us to the evidence that the Jews were expecting the Messiah to be anointed by Elijah. And Mark’s Gospel specifically identifies John the Baptist with Elijah, and that at least one early Christian did point to Jesus’ baptism as another proof that Jesus was the Christ. read more »

Okay, just one more early-dating of Mark critique, but quickly

Handwashing
Image by Toban Black via Flickr

(response to recent comments on earlier post Dating Mark Early)

Crossley presents three specific arguments to date Mark before 40 ce:

  1. the way he wrote about the disciples plucking corn on the sabbath could be interpreted by the unwary to mean that Jesus was abolishing the sabbath; but since other arguments “establish” this was not the case, the ambiguity in Mark’s narrative “demonstrates” that he wrote at a time when all Christians would have understood that Jesus plainly did not abolish the sabbath — and therefore at a time when all Christians were taking sabbath keeping for granted — i.e. before 40 ce.
  2. the way he worded Jesus’ saying in the divorce controversy appears on the face of it to mean that divorce is not allowed under any circumstances; but since it can be argued that Mark’s Jesus was always a stickler for the biblical law, and the biblical law did allow for divorce, it is “clear” that Mark did not mean his audience to read his words literally, but to assume that Jesus “meant” to allow for divorce for “the obvious reasons” anyway — and this also “proves” that Mark wrote very early before any divorce discussions arose in the church — i.e. before 40 ce.
  3. the way Mark chose his words in describing the handwashing controversy left it open for later readers to think that Jesus was declaring all foods clean, thus abolishing the biblical food laws; but since on other grounds it can be argued that Mark’s Jesus always observed biblical laws on principle, we can infer that Mark was writing at a time when his audience took this for granted and understood Jesus was not abolishing the food laws at all. — i.e. even earlier before 40 ce.

Any one of these arguments, Crossley admits, may not be persuasive for all readers, but together they become an argument of “cumulative weight” and therefore much stronger. The maths proves it: 0+0+0=3.

In one place in his book, The Date of Mark’s Gospel, he says that the first two arguments are the strongest case; but elsewhere he says the third is the strongest. I’ve dealt with one part of #1 here, and will deal with #3 in this post. read more »

Dating Mark early

Rob did not read the rules
Image by mizinformation via Flickr

In order to know how to interpret a document it is very often helpful to know when it was written. Maurice Casey (Aramaic Sources of Mark’s Gospel) and James Crossley (The Date of Mark’s Gospel), however, turn this around and use their interpretation of the Gospel of Mark to determine when the Gospel was written. They date this gospel to within ten years of the supposed death of Jesus.

They begin by falling in line with the untested and unquestioned assumption of their peers that assumes that the gospels are based on a historical Jesus. There is no evidence for this proposition, so biblical scholars proceed by means of a circular methodology to discover the evidence they need to support it by analyzing different parts of the gospel texts. Cultural tradition and contemporary public and institutional support for this process enables it to flourish unquestioned, and give licence to its practitioners to ignore or ridicule any attempts to expose their circularity. Words of practical advice from Schweitzer and Schwartz to Hobsbawm and Thompson are dismissed. Discussions by Elton and Carr on historiography are misrepresented. They have learned nothing from the exposure of the same methodological flaws at the root of Albrightianism. All this has been addressed in previous posts and comments.

One passage addressed by Casey and Crossley in support of their case that the Gospel of Mark was written before 40 c.e. is Mark 2:23-28

And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.
And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?
And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him?
How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?
And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:
Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.

Even though there is no historical evidence for a strong presence of Pharisees in Galilee until after the Jewish war and the fall of Jerusalem in 70; and even though we have no evidence that the laws of Leviticus were widely practiced in Galilee in the time of Jesus; and even through Casey and Crossley concede there is no evidence that there was any sabbath law regarding the picking of grain until late rabbinic times, and even though there is evidence that the Pharisees were in fact far more lenient towards the poor and did not make crushing burdensome rules for them and were popular among the poor, Casey and Crossley, and many of their peers, are convinced that scenes like this are historical.

Importance of an Aramaic source read more »

How the Gospels are most commonly dated (and why?)

From Bart Ehrman’s Jesus, Interrupted, pp. 144-145 (number formatting is mine):

  1. Even though it is very hard to date the Gospels with precision, most scholars agree on the basic range of dates, for a variety of reasons . . . .
  2. I can say with relative certainty — from his own letters and from Acts — that Paul was writing during the fifties of the common era . . . .
  3. [H]e gives in his own writings absolutely no evidence of knowing about or ever having heard of the existence of any Gospels. From this it can be inferred that the Gospels probably were written after Paul’s day.
  4. It also appears that the Gospel writers know about certain later historical events, such as the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 ce . . . That implies that these Gospels were probably written after 70.
  5. There are reasons for thinking Mark was written first, so maybe he wrote around the time of the war with Rome, 70 ce.
  6. If Matthew and Luke both used Mark as a source, they must have been composed after Mark’s Gospel circulated for a time outside its own originating community — say, ten or fifteen years later, in 80 to 85 ce.
  7. John seems to be the most theologically developed Gospel, and so it was probably written later still, nearer the end of the first century, around 90 to 95 ce.
  8. These are rough guesses, but most scholars agree on them.

Here we have in a convenient nutshell the basic reasons behind the widely accepted dates for the Gospels. Bart Ehrman explains he is not going into details here, and one can find in the literature more nuanced arguments for relative and other dates assigned to the gospels. But with these dot points we can say we are looking at the trunk of the tree.

Dating Paul

The grounds stated for dating Paul to the 50’s seems reasonable enough. The only problem is that there is no external attestation for Paul’s letters till the second century. Ditto for the book of Acts. It is unknown until Irenaeus cites it in the latter half of the second century. That leaves only the letters of Paul themselves. How certain can we be about a date that relies solely on the self-witness of the documents themselves? Especially when we know that at the time Paul’s letters do appear they are simultaneously embroiled in controversies over forgeries and interpolations. (Marcionites accused “orthodoxy” of interpolating Paul’s letters; the letters themselves warn of forgeries, and many scholars believe the Pastoral letters are forgeries.)

But the point here is that Ehrman does supply the reasons, the evidence, for dating Paul the way most do.

Dating Mark read more »

Why so long before the first gospel narrative?

The answer I have most commonly heard to this question is that the earliest Christians were too much on edge expecting the return of Jesus any day to be bothered or to see any need to write down the things they supposedly heard Jesus did and said.

But the odd thing about this explanation is that so many scholars like to date the Gospel of Mark as early as 70 c.e., in the midst of the Jewish-Roman war, during the siege of Jerusalem. That is, precisely at the time when the return of Jesus would have been the MOST expected any day or hour.

Some even like to date this first gospel earlier, to the 40’s c.e. when Caligula attempted to have his statue placed in the Jewish temple. Again, one would have expected even more apocalyptic fervour that much sooner after the supposed events of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

It’s not as if there were no literates among the converts all those decades. If we take the letters of Paul at face value then we see evidence of a number of individuals with scribal skills.

Given the astonishing deeds and sayings earlier believers attributed to Jesus, it beggars belief that no-one would not have been interested all those decades to be among the first to commit them to writing.

The little apocalypse of Mark 13 – historical or creative prophecy?

The “little apocalypse” or “Olivet prophecy” of Mark 13, Matthew 24 and Luke 21 is often cited as a key passage for dating the gospels. The idea is to match the events described in this passage with what seems to be the best fit historically.

Others have questioned whether we are right to attempt to match the specific events listed (wars, famines, etc) to historical occurrences at all. See, for example, eklektekuria’s comment on another post here.

Picking up from that latter thought I have listed below the OT quotations, allusions and influences on Mark 13 as analyzed by Howard Clark Kee in his chapter titled The Function of Scriptural Quotations and Allusions in Mark 11-16 (1975).

Red are the quotations

Purple are the allusions

Blue are the influences

I also think it is very significant that a common literary trope in epics and novels was to precede a climactic scene involving a hero’s contact with death with a detailed point by point divine prophecy. This was the case with Odysseus just prior to a crisis in which he was to lose his entire crew before reaching his final destination (one comparative summary of this here). Sibyl likewise delivered a step by step prophecy to Aeneas before he descended into Hades. Hellenistic romances (popular novellas such as the story of Jason and the Argo) often included the same. (Would give more examples from the turn of the century era but I’m away from my library at the moment.)

Question: If this passage that obviously refers to the historical destruction of Jerusalem is nested so profusely in literary allusion and with scant attention to anything necessarily drawn from historical memory, would not such a “literary fabrication” suggest a date of composition that is long after the event, when personal historical memories were no longer?

Another question, and one implied by Kee: The extent of literary allusion in this passage is comparable to the OT allusions that make up the Passion Narrative and the preceding chapters 11-12. This would argue for this whole section, 11-16, being the creative work of the one mind. Is it not special pleading to suggest that the literary allusions in Mark 13 are evidence of a separate composition that was squeezed in to the gospel with some minor editing here and there?

Mark 13

[1] And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!

[2] And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

Micah 3:12 Zion shall be ploughed like a field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, and the mountain of the temple like the bare hills of the forest.

Jeremiah 26:6, 18 And I will make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth. . . . Zion shall be ploughed like a field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, and the mountain of the temple like the bare hills of the forest.

[3] And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,
[4] Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?

Daniel 12:7 (LXX) And one said to the man clothed in linen, who was over the water of the river, When will be the end of the wonders which thou has mentioned?

Daniel 12:6; 8:19 And one said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long shall the fulfilment of these wonders be?” . . . . And he said, “Look, I am making known to you what shall happen in the latter time of the indignation: for at the appointed time the end shall be.”

Daniel 12:8 (LXX) Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, “My lord, what shall be the end of these things?”

[5] And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:
[6] For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

Isaiah 45:18 (LXX) Thus saith the Lord that made the heaven, this God that created the earth, . . . I am the Lord, and there is none beside.

Daniel 7:8, 11, 20, 25 . . . and, behold, there were eyes as the eyes of a man in this horn, and a mouth speaking great things. . . . I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which that horn spoke . . . . and concerning it ten horns that were in its head, and the other that came up, and rooted up some of the former, which had eyes, and a mouth speaking great things, and his look was bolder than the rest. . . . And he shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High . . . .

Isaiah 14:13 But thou saidst in thine heart, I will go up to heaven, I will set my throne above the stars of heaven: I will sit on a lofty mount, on the lofty mountains toward the north

Daniel 8:10; 11:36 . . . and it magnified itself to the host of heaven; and there fell to the earth some of the host of heaven and of the stars, and they trampled on them . . . And he shall do according to his will, and the king shall exalt and magnify himself against every god, and shall speak great swelling words, and shall prosper until the indignation shall be accomplished: for it is coming to an end.

[7] And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.

Daniel 11 11:1-45

1QM The War Scroll

Daniel 2:29, 45 (LXX Th) O king: thy thoughts upon thy bed arose as to what must come to pass hereafter: and he that reveals mysteries has made known to thee what must come to pass. . . . the great God has made known to the king what must happen hereafter

Daniel 2:28, 29 (LXX), 30, 45 But there is a God in heaven revealing mysteries, and he has made known to king Nabuchodonosor what things must come to pass in the last days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are as follows, O king: thy thoughts upon thy bed arose as to what must come to pass hereafter: and he that reveals mysteries has made known to thee what must come to pass. Moreover, this mystery has not been revealed to me by reason of wisdom which is in me beyond all others living, but for the sake of making known the interpretation to the king, that thou mightest know the thoughts of thine heart. . . . the great God has made known to the king what must happen hereafter: and the dream is true, and the interpretation thereof sure.

Compare the language of eschatological mystery in Daniel 9:26; 11:27 (LXX) And after the sixty-two weeks, the anointed one shall be destroyed, and there is no judgment in him: and he shall destroy the city and the sanctuary with the prince that is coming: they shall be cut off with a flood, and to the end of the war which is rapidly completed he shall appoint the city to desolations. . . . .  And as for both the kings, their hearts are set upon mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper; for yet the end is for a fixed time.

[8] For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.

Isaiah 19:2 I will set Egyptians against Egyptians; everyone will fight against his brother, and everyone against his neighbour, city against city, kingdom against kingdom.

2 Chronicles 15:6 So nation was destroyed by nation, and city by city, for God troubled them with every adversity.

Daniel 11:25; 2:40 And his strength and his heart shall be stirred up against the king of the south with a great force; and the king of the south shall engage in war with a great and very strong force; but his forces shall not stand, for they shall devise plans against him . . . . and a fourth kingdom, which shall be strong as iron: as iron beats to powder and subdues all things, so shall it beat to powder and subdue.

Sibylline Oracles 3:635 Woe, woe to thee, O Crete! To thee shall come A very painful stroke, and terribly Shall the Eternal sack thee; and again Shall every land behold thee black with smoke, Fire ne’er shall leave thee, but thou shalt be burned. (See the context for similar, here.)

4 Ezra 13:31 And one shall undertake to fight against another, one city against another, one place against another, one people against another, and one realm against another.

First Enoch 99:4 (Typo for 97:5? In those days the nations shall be overthrown) See the text here.

2 Baruch 27:7; 70:3-8 (27:6 And in the fifth part famine and the withholding of rain.) And in the sixth part earthquakes and terrors . . . .   And they shall hate one another, And provoke one another to fight, And the mean shall rule over the honorable, And those of low degree shall be extolled above the famous. And the many shall be delivered into the hands of the few, And those who were nothing shall rule over the strong, And the poor shall have abundance beyond the rich, And the impious shall exalt themselves above the heroic. And the wise shall be silent, And the foolish shall speak, Neither shall the thought of men be then confirmed, Nor the counsel of the mighty, Nor shall the hope of those who hope be confirmed. And when those things which were predicted have come to pass, Then shall confusion fall upon all men, And some of them shall fall in battle, And some of them shall perish in anguish,  And some of them shall be destroyed by their own. Then the Most High peoples whom He has prepared before, And they shall come and make war with the leaders that shall then be left. And it shall come to pass that whoever gets safe out of the war shall die in the earthquake, And whoever gets safe out of the earthquake shall be burned by the fire, And whoever gets safe out of the fire shall be destroyed by famine.

Isaiah 7:21(?); 13:13; 14:30; 19:22 Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger. . . . . And the firstborn of the poor shall feed, and the needy shall lie down in safety: and I will kill thy root with famine, and he shall slay thy remnant. . . . . And the LORD shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: . . . .

Jeremiah 23:19 Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked.

Ezra 5:12 But after that our fathers had provoked the God of heaven unto wrath, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house, and carried the people away into Babylon.

Haggai 2:6 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it [is] a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry [land];

Zechariah 14:4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which [is] before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, [and there shall be] a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.

[9] But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.

Daniel 7:25 And he shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High

[10] And the gospel must first be published among all nations.

Zechariah 2:10; 14:16 Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst, says the Lord. . . . . And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

[11] But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.

Exodus 4:1 And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee.

Numbers 22:35 And the angel of the LORD said unto Balaam, Go with the men: but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak.

Jeremiah 1:9 Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.

[12] Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.

Micah 7:2, 6 (Targ) The good [man] is perished out of the earth: and [there is] none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net. . . .  For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies [are] the men of his own house.

[13] And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Daniel 11:32 And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.

4 Ezra 5:9; 6:25 And salt waters shall be found in the sweet, and all friends shall conquer one another; then shall reason hide itself, and wisdom shall withdraw into its chamber, . . . . And it shall be that whoever remains after all that I have foretold to you shall himself be saved and shall see my salvation and the end of my world.

Jubilees 23:19 And they shall strive one with another, the young with the old, and the old with the young, the poor with the rich, the lowly with the great, and the beggar with the prince, on account of the law and the covenant; for they have forgotten commandment, and covenant, and feasts, and months, and Sabbaths, and jubilees, and all judgments.

2 Baruch 70:3 And they shall hate one another, and provoke one another to fight . . .

See Daniel 11 and 12

[14] But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:

Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11 . . . and in the midst of the week my sacrifice and drink-offering shall be taken away: and on the temple shall be the abomination of desolations; and at the end of time an end shall be put to the desolation. . . .  And seeds shall spring up out of him, and they shall profane the sanctuary of strength, and they shall remove the perpetual sacrifice, and make the abomination desolate. . . . And from the time of the removal of the perpetual sacrifice, when the abomination of desolation shall be set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.

1 Maccabees 1:54 Now the fifteenth day of the month Casleu, in the hundred forty and fifth year, they set up the abomination of desolation upon the altar, and builded idol altars throughout the cities of Juda on every side

Genesis 19:17 And it came to pass when they brought them out, that they said, Save thine own life by all means; look not round to that which is behind, nor stay in all the country round about, escape to the mountain, lest perhaps thou be overtaken together with them.

[15] And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house:
[16] And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.
[17] But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

4 Ezra 6:21 Infants a year old shall speak with their voices, and women with child shall give birth to premature children at three and four months, and these shall live and dance.

[18] And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.
[19] For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.

Daniel 12:1 (LXX-Th) And at that time Michael the great prince shall stand up, that stands over the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of tribulation, such tribulation as has not been from the time that there was a nation on the earth until that time: at that time thy people shall be delivered, even every one that is written in the book.

Joel 2:2-3 for a day of darkness and gloominess is near, a day of cloud and mist: a numerous and strong people shall be spread upon the mountains as the morning; there has not been from the beginning one like it, and after it there shall not be again even to the years of many generations. Before them is a consuming fire, and behind them is a flame kindled: the land before them is as a paradise of delight, and behind them a desolate plain: and there shall none of them escape.

First Enoch 38:2; 39:6 When righteousness shall be manifested in the presence of the righteous themselves, who will be elected for their good works duly weighed by the Lord of spirits; and when the light of the righteous and the elect, who dwell on earth, shall be manifested; where will the habitation of sinners be? And where the place of rest for those who have rejected the Lord of spirits? It would have been better for them, had they never been born. . . . Countless shall be the number of the holy and the elect, in the presence of God for ever and for ever.


[20] And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.

Daniel 12:6-7 And one said to the man clothed in linen, who was over the water of the river, When will be the end of the wonders which thou has mentioned? And I heard the man clothed in linen, who was over the water of the river, and he lifted up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and sware by him that lives for ever, that it should be for a time of times and half a time: when the dispersion is ended they shall know all these things.

First Enoch 80:2 Then I looked on all which was written, and understood all, reading the book and everything written in it, all the works of man;

4 Ezra 4:26 He answered me and said, “If you are alive, you will see, and if you live long, you will often marvel, because the age is hastening swiftly to its end.

2 Baruch 20:1 Therefore, behold! the days come, And the times shall hasten more than the former, And the seasons shall speed on more than those that are past, And the years shall pass more quickly than the present (years).

[21] And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:
[22] For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.

Deuteronomy 13:1-3 (LXX) And if there arise within thee a prophet, or one who dreams a dream, and he gives thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass which he spoke to thee, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye know not; ye shall not hearken to the words of that prophet, or the dreamer of that dream, because the Lord thy God tries you, to know whether ye love your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Linked verbally with Daniel 11:36-45 And he shall do according to his will, and the king shall exalt and magnify himself against every god, and shall speak great swelling words, and shall prosper until the indignation shall be accomplished: for it is coming to an end. And he shall not regard any gods of his fathers, nor the desire of women, neither shall he regard any deity: for he shall magnify himself above all. And he shall honour the god of forces on his place: and a god whom his fathers knew not he shall honour with gold, and silver, and precious stones, and desirable things. And he shall do thus in the strong places of refuge with a strange god, and shall increase his glory: and he shall subject many to them, and shall distribute the land in gifts. And at the end of the time he shall conflict with the king of the south: and the king of the north shall come against him with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and they shall enter into the land: and he shall break in pieces, and pass on: and he shall enter into the land of beauty, and many shall fail: but these shall escape out of his hand, Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. And he shall stretch forth his hand over the land; and the land of Egypt shall not escape. And he shall have the mastery over the secret treasures of gold and silver, and over all the desirable possessions of Egypt, and of the Libyans and Ethiopians in their strongholds. But rumors and anxieties out of the east and from the north shall trouble him; and he shall come with great wrath to destroy many. 45 And he shall pitch the tabernacle of his palace between the seas in the holy mountain of beauty: but he shall come to his portion, and there is none to deliver him.

Daniel 4:2-3 (LXX) I saw a vision, and it terrified me, and I was troubled on my bed, and the visions of my head troubled me. And I made a decree to bring in before me all the wise men of Babylon, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream.

[23] But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.
[24] But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,

Isaiah 13:10; 34:4 For the stars of heaven, and Orion, and all the host of heaven, shall not give their light; and it shall be dark at sunrise, and the moon shall not give her light. . . . And all the powers of the heavens shall melt, and the sky shall be rolled up like a scroll: and all the stars shall fall like leaves from a vine, and as leaves fall from a fig-tree.

Ezekiel 32:7, 8 And I will veil the heavens when thou art extinguished, and will darken the stars thereof; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. All the bodies that give light in the sky, shall be darkened over thee, and I will bring darkness upon the earth, saith the Lord God.

Joel 2:10, 31; 3:15 Before them the earth shall be confounded, and the sky shall be shaken: the sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their light. . . . The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and glorious day of the Lord come. . . .  The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their light.

4 Ezra 5:4 But if the Most High grants that you live, you shall see it thrown into confusion after the third period; and the sun shall suddenly shine forth at night, and the moon during the day.

Ascension of Moses 10:5 And the horns of the sun shall be broken and he shall be turned into darkness; And the moon shall not give her light, and be turned wholly into blood. And the circle of the stars shall be disturbed.

[25] And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.

Isaiah 34:4 And all the powers of the heavens shall melt, and the sky shall be rolled up like a scroll: and all the stars shall fall like leaves from a vine, and as leaves fall from a fig-tree.

[26] And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.

Daniel 7:13-14 I beheld in the night vision, and, lo, one coming with the clouds of heaven as the Son of man, and he came on to the Ancient of days, and was brought near to him.  And to him was given the dominion, and the honour, and the kingdom; and all nations, tribes, and languages, shall serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom shall not be destroyed.

Isaiah 19:1 Behold, the Lord sits on a swift cloud, and shall come to Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and their heart shall faint within them.

[27] And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.

Zechariah 2:6, 10; Ho, ho, flee from the land of the north, saith the Lord: for I will gather you from the four winds of heaven, saith the Lord, . . . . Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Sion: for, behold, I come, and will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord.

Isaiah 27:13 And it shall come to pass in that day that they shall blow the great trumpet, and the lost ones in the land of the Assyrians shall come, and the lost ones in Egypt, and shall worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.

Deuteronomy 30:4 If thy dispersion be from one end of heaven to the other, thence will the Lord thy God gather thee, and thence will the Lord thy God take thee.

Zechariah 14:5 And the valley of my mountains shall be closed up, and the valley of the mountains shall be joined on to Jasod, and shall be blocked up as it was blocked up in the days of the earthquake, in the days of Ozias king of Juda; and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with him.

Isaiah 27:12; 11:10 And it shall come to pass in that day that God shall fence men off from the channel of the river as far as Rhinocorura; but do ye gather one by one the children of Israel. . . . And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall arise to rule over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust, and his rest shall be glorious.

Ezekiel 32:9f; 39:27 And I will provoke to anger the heart of many people, when I shall lead thee captive among the nations, to a land which thou hast not known.  And many nations shall mourn over thee, and their kings shall be utterly amazed, when my sword flies in their faces, as they wait for their own fall from the day of thy fall. . . . . Yet there shall be none to terrify them when I have brought them back from the nations, and gathered them out of the countries of the nations: and I will be sanctified among them in the presence of the nations.

Psalm 106:47 (105 in LXX) Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the heathen . . .

Psalm 147:2 The Lord builds up Jerusalem; and he will gather together the dispersed of Israel.

[28] Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:

Daniel 12:8 (LXX only) And I heard, but I understood not: and I said, O Lord, what will be the end of these things?

Cf Mark 11:13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.

[29] So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.

Zephaniah 1:7, 14 Fear ye before the Lord God; for the day of the Lord is near; for the Lord has prepared his sacrifice, and has sanctified his guests. . . .  For the great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and very speedy; the sound of the day of the Lord is made bitter and harsh.

[30] Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.

Daniel 12:7 (LXX) And I heard the man clothed in linen, who was over the water of the river, and he lifted up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and sware by him that lives for ever, that it should be for a time of times and half a time: when the dispersion is ended they shall know all these things.

[31] Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

Isaiah 51:6 Lift up your eyes to the sky, and look on the earth beneath: for the sky was darkened like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and the inhabitants shall die in like manner: but my righteousness shall not fail.

Daniel 12:7 And I heard the man clothed in linen, who was over the water of the river, and he lifted up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and sware by him that lives for ever, that it should be for a time of times and half a time: when the dispersion is ended they shall know all these things.

Ezekiel 31:1ff To whom hast thou compared thyself in thy haughtiness?  Behold, the Assyrian was a cypress in Libanus, and was fair in shoots, and high in stature: his top reached to the midst of the clouds.  The water nourished him, the depth made him grow tall; she led her rivers round about his plants, and she sent forth her streams to all the trees of the field.  Therefore was his stature exalted above all the trees of the field, and his branches spread far by the help of much water.  All the birds of the sky made their nests in his boughs, and under his branches all the wild beasts of the field bred; the whole multitude of nations dwelt under his shadow. . . . Therefore thus saith the Lord; Because thou art grown great, and hast set thy top in the midst of the clouds, and I saw when he was exalted;  Therefore I delivered him into the hands of the prince of the nations, and he wrought his destruction.  And ravaging strangers from the nations have destroyed him, and have cast him down upon the mountains: his branches fell in all the valleys, and his boughs were broken in every field of the land; and all the people of the nations are gone down from their shelter, and have laid him low.

Amos 5:18ff Woe to you that desire the day of the Lord! what is this day of the Lord to you? whereas it is darkness, and not light. As if a man should flee from the face of a lion, and a bear should meet him; and he should spring into his house, and lean his hands upon the wall, and a serpent should bite him. Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light? and is not this day gloom without brightness?

Isaiah 2:12 For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and haughty, and upon every one that is high and towering, and they shall be brought down

Zephaniah 1:7 Fear ye before the Lord God; for the day of the Lord is near; for the Lord has prepared his sacrifice, and has sanctified his guests.

Zechariah 14:1 Behold, the days of the Lord come

[32] But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

Daniel 12:13 But go thou, and rest; for there are yet days and seasons to the fulfillment of the end; and thou shalt stand in thy lot at the end of the days.

cf. in Daniel 2:28, 45; 10:14; 11:20, where in LXX εσχατα των ημερων is used But there is a God in heaven revealing mysteries, and he has made known to king Nabuchodonosor what things must come to pass in the last days. . . . the great God has made known to the king what must happen hereafter . . . . and I have come to inform thee of all that shall befall thy people in the last days: for the vision is yet for many days. . . . and yet in those days shall he be broken

Zechariah 14:7 But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.

Psalm of Solomon 17:23 (=21 in LXX) Behold, O Lord, and raise up unto them their king, the son of David, At the time in the which Thou seest, O God, that he may reign over Israel Thy servant

[33] Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
[34] For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.
[35] Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:
[36] Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
[37] And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

The Date of the Canonical Gospel of Luke

As discussed in previous posts from Marcion and Luke-Acts: A Defining Struggle (Joseph Tyson), if the Book of Acts is to be dated so late, and was written as a response to the Marcionite challenge, then what of the Gospel of Luke?

  • Irenaeus wrote that the same author composed both Luke and Acts.
  • The Muratorian Canon did the same.
  • Henry J. Cadbury coined the term Luke-Acts to describe the two texts and to emphasize their common authorship.
  • Some scholars treat Luke-Acts as a single text.

In an earlier post (Did Marcion Mutilate the Gospel of Luke?) I outlined Tyson’s reasons for doubting that Marcion edited what we know as the canonical Gospel of Luke.

Nonetheless, Irenaeus and Tertullian do speak of a relationship between Marcion’s gospel and canonical Luke.

So beginning with this post I will discuss Tyson’s next chapter in which he discusses the composition of canonical Luke. He begins with the question of its date.

More than one edition of the gospel of Luke read more »

Luke denies an early (pre-70) date for the Gospel of Mark

The gospel of Mark is said by some to have been written soon after the time of Jesus, possibly as early as the 50’s or even 40’s c.e. A significant part of this argument asserts that the events sequenced in the Little Apocalypse in each (Mark 13; Matthew 24) can be found in the historical events facing the church as early as that time. Luke’s gospel re-words this prophetic speech by Jesus in a way that informs readers that its author did not believe any of the events prophesied had happened so early. Firstly, a look at the sequence of events as found in the gospels of Mark and Matthew. . . .

Mark 13:6-8; Matthew 24:5-8 (all text references are hyperlinked)

The first prophetic event attributed to Jesus is that many deceivers would come in His name claiming “I am (Him).

Arguments for an early date for the recording of this in Mark’s gospel (the earliest written) say that this could have been fulfilled by Christian leaders boasting that Christ was speaking through them (Theissen). The Samaritan prophet who led a group up Mount Gerazim in search of Temple vessels according to Josephus, and the self-promoting claims of Simon Magus, are also tossed in as possible referents. This despite the fact that there is no evidence that either of these latter two made the sort of potentially deceitful claim touted by Jesus. The earliest evidence for what Simon Magus did say, Acts 8, in fact denies absolutely that he presented himself making his proclamations in the name of Jesus.

The next event are the wars, among both “kingdoms and nations (peoples/races)”

Early daters of Mark refer here to the Antipas-Nabatean war of 36-37 c.e. and rumours of war or at least intrigues involving more distant Parthians and Armenians. Greek-Jewish riots in Alexandria led to the Roman emperor Caligula sending legions to enforce the placement of his statue in the Jerusalem temple around 40 c.e. The only actual war then affecting Judea in any way at all was the Antipas-Nabatean war, but the other events can be talked up to create the impression of a more objective state of “wars and rumours of wars among kingdoms and nations” than everyone will feel comfortable accepting.

Next, earthquakes, famines, etc.

There was a major earthquake in Antioch/Syria in 37 c.e. Some have seen agrarian tax alleviation policies as signs of famines, although there could be other reasons for these. Occupying Roman legions, for example. Besides, does one earthquake to the north of Judea and several years old justify a claim that earthquakes (plural) point to Judea being under apocalyptic threat?

All of these are the beginning of sorrows; don’t fret; the end is not yet

Both gospels of Mark and Matthew make it clear that all of these things must first happen, but that readers should take them in their stride. They will be daily news when they happen and will not themselves be signs of the end.

Luke 21:8-11 follows the same sequence as found in Mark and Matthew above.

Luke changes direction

Comparing Luke 21:12 ; Mark 13:9-13; Matthew 24:9-13

Both Mark’s and Matthew’s gospels structure the sequence of events, along with notices of what must first happen, etc, to lead readers to understand that after the above events, persecution will fall upon the church. Not only persecution, but betrayals from within.

Don’t worry, what you see is not the sign you want to see, just be careful you are not deceived. Next: persecution follows. Now it gets serious for believers. More than simply be alert to avoid deception, they must now consider whether they can endure to the very end. That’s the message of the first two gospels.

But not Luke’s gospel. Luke changes the words of Jesus to say something else, to throw the whole sequence up into the air. And there would appear this author had a good reason for this change which I will come to.

Luke 21:12

But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you . . . (The English translation accurately enough reflects the Greek here.)

In other posts I have argued (or will argue) that our gospel of Luke was a redaction of an earlier gospel, redacted by the same who authored Acts (Tyson). However that may be, many accept some form of unity of authorship or redaction of Luke-Acts. The final author of Luke worked with Acts in mind. And Acts establishes a foundational history of the church that begins, first and foremost, with persecutions. Persecutions had to come first in the words of Jesus in the gospel of Luke.

So how does this impact on the dating of the gospel of Mark?

It establishes that the author of our gospel of Luke (and Acts) either did not know of, or rejected, the so-called historical fulfilments of the sequential events in the Little Apocalypse as found in the gospels of Mark and Matthew.

To the author of our Luke-Acts, the threat of mass deception of the faithful was still an event waiting to happen in the future, specifically after Paul departed Miletus and Ephesus for the final time (Acts 20:28-30).

In other words, the very first event Jesus warned about in the Little Apocalypse is still a future event as far as the author of Luke-Acts is concerned. It was an event that the author warned would begin from the time that the events in the Book of Acts draw to a close.

The author of the gospel of Luke, by changing the sequence of the prophetic events spoken by Jesus, in fact denied that any such events had been fulfilled until much closer to the time of the fall of Jerusalem, certainly after 60 c.e. He denied that Mark’s gospel was grounded in social and political events of the late 30’s and early 40’s c.e.

Other issues arising

This post has only touched on one sliver of one facet in relation to the whole question of the dating the gospels, and of questions arising from the various redactions of the Little Apocalypse. Perhaps I’ll touch on a few more in future post discussions — one sliver at a time.

Why I like to be late when dating the gospels (and acts)

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