Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BSac 135:540 (Oct 78) p. 363
Redating the New Testament. By John A. T. Robinson. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1976. xiii + 369 pp. $15.00.
Robinson, former bishop of Woolwich, England, who wrote the much-debated popular book Honest to God, has returned to Cambridge as a fellow of Trinity College and lecturer in New Testament. Again this new book promises to arouse much debate for although he claims to be of liberal persuasion (pp. 11, 356-57), he concludes that all the New Testament books were completed before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
The first chapter deals with the difficult task of dating New Testament books and the history of dating New Testament books by various scholars from the 1800s to the present. In the second chapter, “The Significance of 70, ” Robinson tries to show that since this was such a significant date in New Testament times, it seems strange that none of the Gospel writers mention it if they had written, as assumed by most New Testament scholars, after Jerusalem’s destruction. In fact, it seems that most New Testament scholars date the Gospels after A.D. 70 because of their uncritical dogmatism that the Gospels could not contain prophecies of Jerusalem’s destruction.
In chapter three Robinson attempts to date the Pauline letters. He accepts the basic historicity of Acts and tries to fit Paul’s letters into the Acts framework. He accepts the South Galatian view, namely, that Paul ministered in south and middle Asia Minor but holds a North Galatian dating, namely, late 56, in Paul’s third missionary journey. The first Pauline Epistles were 1 and 2 Thessalonians in early 50 and early 51, respectively. He dates the prison Epistles (Philippians, Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians—in that order) in A.D. 58 while Paul was imprisoned in Caesarea. Surprisingly, in that same incarceration he would place Titus
BSac 135:540 (Oct 78) p. 364
(spring, 57) and 2 Timothy (autumn, 58). First Timothy was written, according to Robinson, on Paul’s third journey in the autumn of 55. He follows Reicke in placing the pastoral Epistles within the Acts period and not after it. Most readers will not accept his view that the prison Epistles were not written in Rome. Also placing the pastoral Epistles at about the same time has some problems. Robinson minimizes the difference of tone between the prison Epistles, in which Paul anticipates release, and 2 Timothy, in which Paul does not anticipate release.
Robinson’s fourth chapter deals with Acts and the Gospels. Accepting Luke as the author of Acts and arguing that nothing is said about the deaths of Paul and James, the Lord’s brother, in Jerusalem in A.D. 62, or the destruction of Jerusalem, Robinson argues that Acts mu...
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