The Real Date Of The Gospels -- By: Parke P. Flournoy

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 065:260 (Oct 1908)
Article: The Real Date Of The Gospels
Author: Parke P. Flournoy


The Real Date1 Of The Gospels

Reverend Parke P. Flournoy

Doctor Sanday, Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity in Oxford University, who is very generally regarded as among the first, if not the very first, of English scholars in New Testament criticism, asserts in his “Criticism of the Fourth Gospel” that “those who attempted to write what we wrongly call ‘Lives of Christ’ did not, as it would seem, for the most part, begin to do so, or make preparations for beginning, for some thirty years after the crucifixion” (p. 217).

This may be said to be the opinion not only of Dr. Sanday, but of nearly all of the most distinguished New Testament scholars of the present time. But, may we not ask, What is the reason for supposing that this long period of delay was allowed to pass before recording the words and deeds of Christ? —words and deeds of more importance than any others which history has preserved. In view of the great array of discoveries which show the prevalence of the practice of writing in the time of Christ and in the apostolic age 2 by unlearned people, the question is surely a reasonable one.

These discoveries have thrown a flood of light on the peculiarities of the Greek of the New Testament, showing that it is the Greek of the people and not that of classical literature. The same sort of Greek is found on the papyri and ostraka of these times. Those who have read Professor Adolf Deissmann’s articles on “New Light on the New Testament Greek,” or his lectures delivered in 190? at Cambridge University, know how general was the practice of writing in Greek at this period among all classes of society, and that this writing on all matters of business and common interest among Greek-speaking people was in a Greek very much like that of the New Testament. This being so, we naturally ask why the apostles and immediate followers of Christ should be supposed to have deferred committing to writing what they knew about Christ, and what he taught them, till more than thirty years after the crucifixion, when people of their own class were writing, all around them, on all matters which concerned them? It is true, Peter and John were considered “ignorant and unlearned men” by the Sanhedrin; but, as has been well said, this was from the standpoint of rabbinical learning. Their writings of a later date show that they were by no means unable to write, and to write with great force—one of them having written as no man, inspired or uninspired, has ever written, before or since.3 God chose the instruments for making the reco...

You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
Click here to subscribe
visitor : : uid: ()