When Was the Jesus Story Written?
The original New Testament is believed to have been written in Koine Greek and entirely CAPITALIZED LIKE THIS. This was what the common people spoke in the Eastern Mediterranean, from Alexander until around 600 A.D. Letters in ancient Hebrew are all written at the same height, with five letters sometimes drawn differently when the last letter in a word. German capitalizes all nouns, while Dutch rarely capitalizes anything.
The reason for this explanation is not to discourage or confuse anyone but rather, it is wise to note that languages and cultural traditions are often quite dissimilar. The NKJV version may be the most accurate translation available, but this is an opinion rather than intended as a fact; many newer versions contain Christian bias that is inaccurate to what the Greek actually says and most likely intends.
Unlike in the middle 20th Century, currently it is the majority opinion among historians and other scholars that Jesus was a real person and that the New Testament was likely finished prior to 100 A.D. Today, virtually no serious scholar believes Jesus didn’t exist. Or, that the New Testament was written by 3rd Century monks, two common inventions of the past.
Most scholars insist all four of the narratives of Jesus were written after 70 A.D. and the book of Acts was written around 80 A.D. However, there is zero reason to believe this is true and every reason to believe it is a convenient invention by those who aren’t paying attention to the obvious evidence (as discussed below).
Many scholars claim that at least three narratives of Jesus found in the New Testament are based on an earlier common source known as “Q”. While almost anything may be possible, there is little to no historical evidence supporting such a position and thus, this remains another convenient invention rather than reliable history.
Luke hints that there were several writings about Jesus, rather than a single common source and again, perhaps either Luke or Matthew was written first and then the other was familiar with the first narrative. And then again, perhaps the author of Mark borrowed from either Matthew or Luke or both or neither, but was still written last of the three.
To be fair, all four narratives differ enough from each other as to have been independently written without knowledge of the rest. “We just do not know” is often incredibly difficult for a proud scholar to humbly conclude. Attempting to piece together chronology from many generations gone by can become a confusing enterprise of possibilities leading to rather suspect conclusions.
Most scholars assume Mark was written first and then either Matthew or Luke and lastly John. Again, there is no real historical evidence supporting this and, no one living today knows either when or in what order the four narratives were written and, perhaps our father in heaven prefers it that way. After all, according to the narratives themselves, the idea is to believe in Jesus, rather than our own narrow-minded assumptions.
From Wikipedia: “Most scholars since the late nineteenth century have accepted the concept of Marcan priority. It forms the foundation for the widely accepted two-source theory, although a number of scholars support different forms of Marcan priority or reject it altogether.” Regardless, the importance lies in the content and words and deeds of Jesus, rather than in who wrote them or in what order.
Because John refers to the Sea of Galilee also by another name “Sea of Tiberius”, this does not prove it was written last. Tiberius lived around 42 BC — 37 AD and apparently the inhabitants of the town of Tiberius (located on the shore of what John also refers to as the Sea of Galilee, as does Matthew and Mark), called it the Sea of and/or Lake Tiberius. Luke refers to it as “lake of Gennesaret”. The town of Tiberius was founded by Herod Antipas (a son of King Herod) who ruled 4 BC — 39 AD according to most sources.
If so, Jesus may have been born in 5 BC or earlier. Some sources say King Herod reigned until 1 BC, so as one can see, there is no clear agreement on what month or in what year Jesus was born. Some of the differences depend on how the dates of King Herod’s reign are calculated.
Commonly accepted historical dating today is not necessarily accurate, as dates may have been calculated using different criteria by early historians and other authors, whose methods weren’t necessarily the same among each other. As such, claiming precise historical dating for people born over 2,000 years ago remains rather suspect at best.
It is common in the Bible (and many other works) to find different names for the same places, which does not necessarily demonstrate error but rather, it only indicates that various people called various places by different names at various times. Many foreign cultures, kings and others mentioned in the Bible are known by different names in outside cultural records. This is how human language often translates across cultures and develops over time, rather than necessarily due to either error or deliberate deception.
Because Mark is shorter and most of what it contains is found in Matthew and/or Luke, this by no means proves it was written first. For all we know, John may have been written first and Mark last, although no one really knows. We do know that many biographies of famous individuals can vary significantly in length and shorter biographies of the same individual are often written after comparatively longer ones.
It is highly recommended here that one approach each narrative as an individual writing unto itself and, read it carefully to avoid confusing what the New Testament actually intends with the vast ignorance of both modern Christianity and many so-called ‘scholars’, who are often dragging an incredibly biased ax behind their confused and often silly notions.
Similar to the narratives of Jesus, some modern biographies of Martin Luther King, Jr. for example, leave out significant portions of his life, words and deeds that other biographers have chosen to include. Biographies both today and in the past are often deliberately not written in chronological order, a style of literature (and many modern films) familiar to the Greeks and, also apparently found in at least one and possibly more of the Jesus story narratives. This is not an indication of either error or deliberate deception, as some of the poorly trained wrongly assume.
Virtually all scholars assume the “gospels”, which were not originally titled as such, were written sometime after 70 A.D. Such ignorance is based solely on their assumption that Jesus could not possibly have predicted the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.
Given that a great many of the predictions found in both the Old and New testaments either have already come true or are in the process of coming true as our 21st Century global climate warms, it is absolutely certain that Jesus could have predicted the destruction of the temple. As such, all four of the narratives of the life of Jesus found in the New Testament may well have been written prior to 70 A.D.
The book of “Acts” declares itself to be a sequel to the story of Jesus found in Luke, thus Luke by any and all historical rational, was written prior to Acts. The events described in Acts all occur after the portrayal of Jesus found in the four New Testament narratives. Acts describes details about the lives of many of the early followers of Jesus, including Peter, James, Phillip and Paul, who became a follower several years after the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Acts names many other men and women followers of Jesus who are also mentioned by name in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Beginning in Chapter 16, Acts is written on and off in the first person, the author writing in reference to traveling with Paul that “we should sail to Italy” and “we sailed in an Alexandrian ship” Acts 27–28. The author was sometimes with Paul and other times not from Acts chapter 16 on; thus “we” is used on and off rather than consistently.
While written about events occurring after the four Jesus narratives, in Acts chapter 3, the temple is referenced as being still in existence several times, without even a hint of it having been later destroyed in 70 A.D: “Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms.”
One might fairly inquire of certain ‘scholars’, why such a catastrophic life-shattering event in the eyes of the First Century Jewish population isn’t mentioned anywhere in Acts as having already occurred, if this book was written in 80–90 A.D., ten or more years after the temple’s destruction, as certain ‘scholars’ claim. Why would the author expect anyone to believe him, if the temple had already been destroyed?
If the author’s goal is to convince his audience that Jesus is the Messiah, one would presume he would bend over backwards to emphasize the fact that the temple had been destroyed, just like Jesus predicted it would be. It is being far less biased and more historically fair to conclude that 1) The Book of Acts was written prior to the destruction of the temple; 2) Luke was written prior to Acts and thus likewise, written prior to the temple’s destruction and 3) Jesus is the Messiah and thus, he correctly predicted the destruction of the temple before it occurred.
John refers to the pool of Bethesda with its five porticoes as existing in the present tense (as if its existence is common knowledge to those he is writing to), which was destroyed along with the temple around 70 AD. According to historians, it was never used again after the temple’s destruction.
This is strong internal evidence that John was written prior to 70 AD. And this is significant, because if John was written prior to 70 AD, then again, Jesus correctly predicted the destruction of the temple. Also, if the other so-called “gospels” were all three written prior to John, then all four of them were written prior to the temple’s destruction. Such ‘scholars’ can’t have it both ways and expect to be taken seriously.
Consider this particular passage from the Book of Acts: “They also set up false witnesses who said, ‘this man [Stephen] does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us’ Acts 6:13–14.
Again and again, the author of Acts references the temple as existing in the present tense, as if this is common knowledge to his intended audience. How can a so-called ‘scholar’ honestly conclude that Acts wasn’t written until 80–90 AD, given the internal evidence found in Acts Chapter 6 alone?
Acts repeatedly references the temple as existing in the present and, clearly at the beginning of Chapter 1, declares itself to be a sequel to the Jesus narrative found in Luke. Since both Acts and Luke and the rest of the first five New Testament books, as well as the rest of the New Testament, were clearly intended to be circulated to the First Century followers of Jesus, how is it rational at all to pretend that all of them would lie about a no longer existing temple; if in fact they were written after the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D., as many so-called ‘scholars’ pretend?
How could the authors of the New Testament possibly expect any of their intended audience to believe them, if they ignored such a catastrophic event, as if the temple’s destruction had never happened? If these works did not include Jesus’ prophecy of the temple’s destruction, the same ‘scholars’ would more than likely conclude they were written prior to the temple’s destruction, if for no other reason than that Acts completely fails to mention it.
Modern intellectual bias of the supposedly well-educated seemingly knows no boundaries as to the comic absurdity of its conclusions. Besides taking the existence of the temple for granted, there are other clear indications found internally within Acts demonstrating that it was written prior to 64 AD.
James the brother of Jesus, who was martyred around 62 AD, is very much alive and well in Acts 15:13. While mentioning many persecutions of the early Jesus followers and the names of other Roman rulers, Acts is silent about Nero (ruled 54 thru 68 AD), who apparently began gravely persecuting the followers of Jesus around 64 AD.
Recording the murders of both Stephen and James the brother of John, Acts doesn’t name anyone martyred after 64 AD. The narrative ends with Paul still living in Rome, saying nothing about the deaths of either Peter or Paul.
So-called “scholars” who insist Acts was written 10–20 years after the temple was destroyed, would have us believe while reporting many persecutions and murders of the early Jesus followers, Acts would carelessly entirely leave out any mention of Nero’s persecution and, the deaths of three leading followers Peter, Paul and Jesus’ brother James. The overwhelmingly historically obvious conclusion is that all of them were still living when the book of Acts was written.
It is historically absurd to pretend that these narratives are an invention of later century monks or of anyone else. If Jesus didn’t exist and the four “gospels” aren’t in the main correct, one is left with no rational explanation as to where the wisdom of Jesus comes from. Albert Einstein for example, often lauded as being one of the most intelligent people of the modern era, had deep reverence and respect for the words and deeds of Jesus and, he scoffed at the idea Jesus is an invention, as also did the very learned historian Will Durant.
We do know that the story of Jesus in some form predates the destruction of the temple by at least fifteen years. We know this not only because of Acts, but elements of the Jesus story found in the gospel narratives are casually mentioned by Paul in First Corinthians, as if many of those he is writing two are already well familiar with the story. This particular letter of Paul, written sometime between 52–60 A.D., is considered authentic by virtually all of the same ‘scholars’ who claim the four gospels weren’t written until after 70 A.D.
Consider I Corinthians 11:23–25: “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which he was betrayed took bread. And when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same manner he also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’”
This same crucial part of the Jesus story noted above by Paul in I Corinthians, is also found in Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22 and John 13. This is conclusive evidence that the Jesus story existed prior to 52 AD. And even more important, it is evidence that the first four books of the New Testament were written prior to 54 or so AD, at least fifteen years before the destruction of the temple in 70 AD.
The four narratives of what has become known as “The Lord’s Supper”, differ enough to indicate they are not copied from the same common source. Rather, they indicate they were written by four different individuals recording different details of the same important event; modern biographers and even trained reporters likewise often significantly differ regarding the same events.
The destruction of the temple would have been an extraordinary occurrence to anyone living at that time and place in history, more so than the “9/11” twin towers destruction in the modern United States. Consider that it would have been an incredible fulfilled prophecy to any follower of Jesus and proof he had foretold the future.
Why then does the author of Acts fail to mention the Temple’s destruction, if Acts was written after 80 AD ? ? ? The overwhelmingly fair and honest conclusion, is that Acts and all four Jesus narratives were written prior to the temple’s destruction.
We can be quite confident that the information found in the New Testament narrative is contemporary with the actual life and times of Jesus. Consider for example, that many modern biographies of Martin Luther King, Jr., John Kennedy and other prominent individuals of the 1960’s were written less than 30 years after they died. All four of the New Testament narratives may be as contemporary to Jesus.
Paul, who knew many people who had known Jesus in the flesh (including Peter and James), apparently was born 10–20 years after Jesus, making him as contemporary to Jesus as those in America born in 1940–1950 are to King (1929). It is beyond any and all historical comprehension that Paul would not have diligently inquired concerning the personage, words and deeds of Jesus from those who had personally witnessed them.
After Jesus died, many of his thousands of followers were dispersed throughout the larger Greco-Roman world. And Paul in Second Corinthians, based on Young’s Literal Translation, mentions that some of the people he is writing to knew Jesus in the flesh, again demonstrating the story of Jesus in some form existed soon after his crucifixion.
In order to claim as some obvious liars have tried to do, that Jesus is just an invention, one would have to believe that Paul, one of the most well-traveled and educated people of his time, was completely and entirely deceived by thousands of largely uneducated common fishermen and farmers, who had no rhyme or reason for doing so and every life-threatening reason not to do so, as early followers of “the way” were horribly persecuted.
It is historically absurd to pretend that thousands of largely uneducated mostly illiterate average people with no paper, pens, phones or any other means of modern communication, could somehow keep intact what such liars claim to be a ‘myth’, just given the words of Jesus alone.
Notwithstanding, these same thousands of people, scattered throughout the Roman Empire, would have had to be willing to risk daily arrest, torture and horrific execution of both themselves and their own spouse and children, for an invented story that appeared out of nowhere within their own lifetime; something totally and completely unheard of within the known annals of human civilization.
Many scholars demonstrating incredibly sloppy research, claim that the two existing letters attributed to Peter could not have been written by him because in Acts he is said to have been uneducated. The problem with this type of ‘reasoning’ is, Peter may have become quite well-educated over the course of his life.
And even worse for such researchers of incredible bias, the first letter from Peter closes with a notation indicating, like many of Paul’s letters, that Peter (like Paul) had someone else do the actual writing down of the letter (perhaps a converted scribe): “By Silvanus, our faithful brother as I consider him, I have written to you…” I Peter 5:12. One should be wary of ‘scholars’ with a personal bias ax to grind.
While all four of the narratives about Jesus reflect each author’s own distinct perspective and insight, they are in remarkable agreement with each other, including the very different work of “John”. Likewise, both the books of “Acts” and “Revelation” and the diverse letters of Peter, John, James, Jude, the unknown author of the letter to the Hebrews and the many letters attributed to Paul, together represent a combined profound message of grace, mercy, love, hope, faith, truth, freedom, justice and peace very much in agreement with each other.
Their unparalleled influence resounds throughout the ages, reflected in the thinking and writing of names as diverse as Shakespeare, Descartes, Marx, Rousseau, Locke, Jefferson, Harriet Tubman, Albert Einstein, Albert Schweitzer, Helen Keller, Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and a very long list of prominent individuals of significant historical impact and influence themselves.
Contact author: www.FreedomTracks.com