Dating The New Testament -- By: Frank Tyler

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 28:54 (Spring 2015)
Article: Dating The New Testament
Author: Frank Tyler

Dating The New Testament

Frank Tyler

Port Angeles, WA

I. Introduction

Some view the Gospel accounts, especially the Gospel of John, as historically unreliable, second-century documents edited by either second-century Christians or the church. Regarding the four Gospels, an Islamic scholar writes:

As such, the gospels, which purport to relate the life, history, and sayings of Jesus, were a relatively late development in early Christian literature. …In fact, throughout the first half of the second century CE, the alleged words of Jesus as recorded in the various gospels were seldom regarded as authoritative.1

A professor emeritus of Jewish studies at Oxford writes:

The four Gospels are conceived as accounts conveying the life story and the message of Jesus. In their final version, that is to say in the form in which they have reached us, the aim of these Gospels was to transmit, not the report of a chronicler, but the doctrinal message of the early church. Their purpose was primarily didactic, not historical.2

Regarding John’s Gospel this same scholar decries traditionalists who:

…cannot swallow the view that the so-called Gospel of John is something special and reflects not the authentic message of Jesus or even the thinking about him of his immediate followers, but the highly evolved theology of a Christian writer who lived three generations after Jesus and completed his Gospel in the opening years of the second century AD.3

As Christians, the certainty of our faith depends upon the utter reliability of God and His Word. The testimony of eyewitnesses in God’s Word and the Holy Spirit convinces us that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. From this conviction, we believe, or take our Lord at His Word, when He promises us everlasting life.4 Sadly, one very popular atheist dismisses the Bible “…as a reliable record of what happened in history, and I shall not consider the Bible further as evidence for any kind of deity.”5

Ever since the nineteenth century, scholarly theologians have made an overwhelming case that the gospels are not reliable accounts of what happened in the history of the real world. All were written long after the death of Jesus,

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