John Rylands Fragment
In that debate with Doug Shaver on TWeb (I published here two different speeches of mine--the debate is now over if anyone wishes to imbibe the wisdom), Doug argued for dates of the Gospels way up in the second century. It always strikes me as hilarious when I debate Jesus mythers and they are so anti-academic and so opposed to the progress of modern scientific method of Bible study because they methods have produced some results that have not disappointed believers. It's ludicrous becuase the fundamentalist inerrency position is in shambles, at least for the Old Testament, but the out look for New Testament is not so bad. It's funny becuase the mythers have reached back into the nineteenth century while the new trend even among liberals is toward earlier dates not latter ones.
No disparagement intended against Doug, who I view as a friend, but it occurred to me that he really doesn't know how scholars arrive at their views on dating so he thinks they are just spouting dogma and he said as much (if one cares to look for it). When I say a trend to earlier dating I mean it's big. Here's an example of just the early dating on Matthew:
from a site called "Dating the New Testament"
|Matthew||Peter Ainsile, D.D. A.D. 48 to 69||48||69||58.5|
|Matthew||The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary Post 70 AD||70||70||70.0|
|Matthew||An Introduction to the New Testament, D.A. Carson Ph.D. & Douglas J. Moo, Ph.D. shortly prior 70 A.D.||69||69||69.0|
|Matthew||Apologetics Study Bible, A.D. 60's is not unreasonable||60||69||64.5|
|Matthew||Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, A.D. 60's1||60||69||64.5|
|Matthew||Believer's Study Bible, W.A.Criswell, Ph.D., Editor, prior 70 A.D.||69||69||69.0|
|Matthew||Biblical Illustrator, N.T. Archbishop Thomson A.D. 58 to 60||58||60||59.0|
|Matthew||Craig L. Blomberg, Ph..D. A.D. 58to 65||58||65||61.5|
|Matthew||Blue Letter Bible, AD 55 to 60||55||60||57.5|
|Matthew||Raymond Brown, Ph.D. AD 80 to 90, give or take a decade||80||90||85.0|
|Matthew||F.F. Bruce, Ph.D. shortly after 70 AD||71||71||71.0|
|Matthew||D.A. Carson, R.T. France, and G.J. Wenham, eds. New Bible Commentary: 21 Century Edition, 80 CE||80||80||80.0|
|Matthew||Larry Chouinard, Ph.D. Likely after AD 70||71||71||71.0|
|Matthew||W.D. Davies, D.D. AD 80 to 100||80||100||90.0|
|Matthew||M. G. Easton M. A., D. D. Probably between AD 60 or 65||60||65||62.5|
|Matthew||James M. Efird, Ph.D. AD 70 to 80 ,Davies Professor of New Testament and Biblical Greek at Duke University||70||80||75.0|
|Matthew||English Standard Version Bible AD 50s or 60s||50||60||55.0|
|Matthew||David A. Fiensy, Ph.D. AD 50 to 55, yet 40 to 60 is possible.||40||60||50.0|
|Matthew||Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Ph.D. AD 75 to 80 Professor of New Testament at The Catholic University of America, Past President of the Society of Biblical Literature Chair of the Synoptic Studies Division of SBL. Author of the 2 Volume Commentary on Luke in the Anchor Bible Series. A well-known and leading Critical Scholar in New Testament Origins||75||80||77.5|
|Matthew||Norman L. Geisler, Ph.D. AD 50 to 55 Author of over 60 books and hundreds of articles. Founder of Southern Evangelical Seminary. In 2009 he co-founded Veritas Evangelical Seminary.||50||55||52.5|
|Matthew||Robert H. Gundry, Ph.D. A.D. 65 to 70||65||70||67.5|
|Matthew||Donald Guthrie, Ph.D. New Testament Introduction prior to AD 63, yet 50 to 64 is reasonable. President, formerly Vice-Principal and Lecturer in New Testament, The London Bible College||50||64||57.0|
|Matthew||Gary R. Habermas, Ph.D. A.D. 60||60||60||60.0|
|Matthew||Donald A. Hagner, Ph.D. pre AD 70||69||69||69.0|
|Matthew||William Hendriksen, Ph.D. AD 63-66||63||66||64.5|
|Matthew||A.E. Hill, Ph.D. AD 70 to 85 Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College, author Guide to Bible Data||70||85||77.5|
|Matthew||Nelsen'sStudy Bible H.Wayne House, Th.D. J.D. Editor, A.D. 50 to 60||50||60||55.0|
|Matthew||R. Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, and D. Brown, eds. AD 37 to 60, Commentary Critical and Explanatory of the Whole Bible (JFB)||37||60||48.5|
|Matthew||Howard Clark Kee, Ph.D. AD 75 to 85 Professor of New Testament at Drew University||75||85||80.0|
|Matthew||Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. AD 70's , although this date is not certain.||70||80||75.0|
|Matthew||Werner Georg Kummel, Ph.D. AD 80 to 100 Late Professor of New Testament at Marburg, Germany||80||100||90.0|
|Matthew||John MacArthur, Ph.D .A.D. 50 to 70||50||70||60.0|
|Matthew||G. Maier, Ph.D. pre AD 70||69||69||69.0|
|Matthew||K.E. Malberg, AD 49 to 51 Bible Overview Chart||49||51||50.0|
|Matthew||Bruce Metzger, Ph.D AD 75 to 85 Professor of New Testament at Princeton University, Chair of the Editorial Board for the UBS and Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. Senior Editor for the New Testament of the NRSV Translation Team. (Considered THE Dean of Textual-Critical studies today [since Aland's death])||75||85||80.0|
|Matthew||J.P.Moreland, Ph.D. A.D. mid 40's to mid 50's||45||55||50.0|
|Matthew||Leon Morris, Ph.D. perhaps the late 50s or early 60s.||58||62||60.0|
|Matthew||S.L. Peterson, AD 75 Timeline Charts of the Western Church||75||75||75.0|
|Matthew||John Nolland, Ph.D. Matthew is to be dated before the beginnings of the buildup to the Jewish war. Buildup started AD 66||65||65||65.0|
|Matthew||The Pulpit Commentary, A.D. 60 to 75||60||75||67.5|
|Matthew||B. Reicke, Ph.D. pre A.D. 70||69||69||69.0|
|Matthew||J.A.T. Robinson, Ph.D. AD 40 to 60||40||60||50.0|
|Matthew||T. Robinson, AD 85 The Bible Timeline||85||85||85.0|
|Matthew||Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Th.D., Ph.D., Ryrie Study Bible AD 50s or 60s||60||60||60.0|
|Matthew||Edward P. Sanders, Ph.D. AD 70 to 80 Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins, Duke University (Neither Mark, Matthew, or Luke show ANY sign of knowing of ANY of the events following 90 AD, hence they were written before 90.)||70||80||75.0|
|Matthew||William Smith, Ph.D. Smith's Bible Dictionary. A.D. 60 to 66||60||66||63.0|
|Matthew||H.D.M. Spenes, D.D. A.D. 60 to 75||60||75||67.5|
|Matthew||Carsten Peter Thiede, Ph.D. Prior to the mid 60s Director of the Institute for Basic Epistemological Research in Paderborn, Germany||60||63||61.5|
|Matthew||Edward J. Tinsley, Ph.D. AD 70 to 80 Retired Professor of Greek and New Testament, Cambridge University||63||63||63.0|
|Matthew||David L. Turner, Ph.D. prior to A.D. 70||69||69||69.0|
|Matthew||Joseph B. Tyson, Ph.D. AD 80 Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins, Southern Methodist University (Dr. Tyson is one of THE leading scholars in Luke-Acts, and is Chair of the Luke-Acts Division of the Society of Biblical Literature)||80||80||80.0|
|Matthew||Merrill F. Unger, Ph.D., Th.D., Aramaic A.D.40 to 45, Greek A.D. 50||40||45||42.5|
|Matthew||Robert Utley, D.Min. Possibly A.D. 60 or at least before A.D. 70, Retired Professor of Hermeneutics||60||69||64.5|
|Matthew||J. Wenham, Ph.D. AD 40||40||40||40.0|
|Matthew||Edwin Yamauchi, Ph.D. shortly after A.D. 70||71||71||71.0|
|Matthew||David Young, Ph.D. 70's||70||79||74.5|
|Matthew||Franklin W. Young, Ph.D. AD 70 to 80 Professor of New Testament at The Episcopal Theological Seminary||70||80||75.0|
|Matthew||J. Walvoord and R. Zuck AD 50 to c50 The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures||50||50||50.0|
|Matthew||Rev. A. Lukyn Williams, M.A. A.D. 60 to 75||60||75||67.5|
All Four Gospels have a huge long line of Scholars pushing early dates. New Evidence has come out for Matthew in the form of Talmudic passage that seems to quote Matthew. The thing is scholar had previously judged when the dates were for the writing of that page and that Rabbi so that is not unknown to scholarship. Thus they can be fairly certain how far back it pushes Matthew. It pushes him back to about AD 72. Not much of cousre, the traditional view is 80. Of course there's all that pre Mark reduction that I've talked bout so we are only talking about redacting the final redaction, the versions we have now as we know the texts today. The pre Mark redacation pushes it back all the way to mid century.
Dating the Gospels is a scientific project. It's not just old guy preacher men spouting their views. They use basic guides just like archaeologists use pot shards for dating. They use the paper, the ink, the material in the text, the phraseology, the sentence structure. The events are among the major giveaways. One of the major principles for dating Gospels is the proximity to the fall of the temple (determined by it's mention in the text). Here are some issues that have grounded Roman Historian Colin Hemer to push for an earlier date for Luke/Acts. This is from an rticle by super conservative Norman Geisler:
1. There is no mention in Acts of the crucial event of the fall of Jerusalem in 70.
2. There is no hint of the outbreak of the Jewish War in 66 or of serious deterioration of relations between Romans and Jews before that time.
3. There is no hint of the deterioration of Christian relations with Rome during the Neronian persecution of the late 60s.
4. There is no hint of the death of James at the hands of the Sanhedrin in ca. 62, which is recorded by Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews (126.96.36.199).
5. The significance of Gallio's judgement in Acts 18:14-17 may be seen as setting precedent to legitimize Christian teaching under the umbrella of the tolerance extended to Judaism.
6. The prominence and authority of the Sadducees in Acts reflects a pre-70 date, before the collapse of their political cooperation with Rome.
7. The relatively sympathetic attitude in Acts to Pharisees (unlike that found even in Luke's Gospel) does not fit well with in the period of Pharisaic revival that led up to the council at Jamnia. At that time a new phase of conflict began with Christianity.
8. Acts seems to antedate the arrival of Peter in Rome and implies that Peter and John were alive at the time of the writing.
He lists 15 points in his article. He points out that the discoveries at Qumran helped to demonstrate the first century nature of John. One expects a conservative to support an earlier date. On the other hand liberals are not holding back. John A.T. Robinson who was one of the leaders of the God is Dead movement in the 60s wrote a whole book dating the Gospels earlier.
Robinson wrote a revolutionary book titled Redating the New Testament, in which he posited revised dates for the New Testament books that place them earlier than the most conservative scholars ever held. Robinson places Matthew at 40 to after 60, Mark at about 45 to 60, Luke at before 57 to after 60, and John at from 40 to after 65. This would mean that one of who Gospels could have been written as early as seven years after the crucifixion. At the latest they were all composed within the lifetimes of eyewitnesses and contemporaries of the events. Assuming the basic integrity and reasonable accuracy of the writers, this would place the reliability of the New Testaments beyond reasonable doubt.(from the Geisler article)