Dating of gospels

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(See an earlier post for details and links.) Dating Matthew and Luke Once more Ehrman gives reasons for assigning Matthew and Luke a decade or more subsequent to Mark.

No absolute dates (as for Paul in the 50’s, and knowledge of events that took place in 70 ce) are or can be independently determined here.

The assumption that each gospel was written for and confined to a geographically based community before it became more widely known can be questioned. Several scholars, some through detailed textual analysis, have published reasons for dating Luke the last of the gospels, even after John.

Some scholars have argued John is the earliest gospel.Given the pointed emphasis in the above quotation from BE to showing readers that there are “reasons” for each step of the dating process, this omission demands an explanation.I suggest that the reason is that the assumption of historicity underlying the gospel narrative, and its related model of ‘oral tradition’, demand as early a date as possible for the written gospels.The only problem is that there is no external attestation for Paul’s letters till the second century. It is unknown until Irenaeus cites it in the latter half of the second century. 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.

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