Continued from last week….
If then the only reason to believe that the Gospels are written generations after Jesus is the prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, what reasons are there to believe that the Gospels are actually written in the first generation of Christianity?
There are quite a few.
First, we know when St. Paul was executed: 64AD. Luke and Acts are two volumes of one work that deal with the lives of Jesus and St. Paul. They seem in the view of some scholars to be some sort of legal defense of Paul. They don’t tell you anything about Paul’s death and execution. They end before his trial. If they were a biography of Paul, don’t you think they would include his death? They end before his death. In fact they end a couple years before his death. From other early Christian documents we know that Paul was acquitted at his first trial, that he went to Spain, then back to the Holy Land, and finally back to Italy where he was once again arrested and put to death in Nero’s persecution. That would put the writing of Luke/Acts somewhere around 61 or 62AD. If, as the theory maintains, Matthew and Luke are more or less contemporary and Mark is written still earlier, that would put Mark at perhaps 50 AD. which would put Q even earlier.
Dr. Peters gives us the single most original and convincing argument for the early dating of the Gospels I have ever heard. We are pretty sure that St. Paul did his writing around 55AD. He had a developed atonement theology, which says that Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for sin. The Gospel of John seems to allude to this also when it calls Jesus the Lamb of God. So, in 55AD, only 22 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection in 33AD, there is a developed theology of atonement by 55 AD. There is not a developed theology of atonement in Matthew, Mark or Luke. In other words you find the Gospel in Paul. You don’t find Paul in the Gospel. Therefore, the Gospels would reasonably predate the work of St. Paul. That puts the Gospel texts at from 45 to 55 AD and Q even earlier.
(Wait a minute. I thought Jesus was born in 4 BC at the latest because King Herod died in 4BC at the latest. That means Jesus would have been crucified in 29AD if he was thirty three years older at the time. You are once again the victim of sloppy pseudo-scholarship. We learn the date of Herod’s death from Josephus a Jewish historian. All the manuscripts used to date Herod’s death that put it at 7-4 BC are copies of one faulty manuscript printed in Geneva Switzerland in 1544. Older better manuscripts put the date at 1BC. Just when it was always thought to be.)
There are still two interesting points about Q. Q is full of sayings and miracles from Jesus’ Galilean ministry. They don’t mention His death or Resurrection. Perhaps that is because they are compiled in Galilee, by people who weren’t eyewitnesses to His death and Resurrection. Or, as Professor Peters says, perhaps they were compiled during Jesus own lifetime, before His death and Resurrection.
The second point that intrigues me is that Q, whether it is a written or an oral source, is in Greek, not Aramaic. Jesus’ first language was quite probably Aramaic, a linguistic near cousin to Hebrew. Jesus may have spoken some Greek. Galilee was a multi-lingual place, and Jesus did preach and teach on the Greek speaking side of the lake as well as the Aramaic speaking side, but His sayings, at least some or most of them would have been originally in Aramaic. Q is not Aramaic. It is Greek. How do we know this?. The Greek vocabulary and phrasing of Q is almost exactly the same in the verses shared by Matthew and Luke. Why should this be remarkable? There seems to be an authoritative source for Jesus sayings that produced the sayings in Greek. Where there is an authorized text, there is an authority. Herein lies the rub!
Late dates for the Gospels are crammed down our throats because it makes a hierarchical Church something that Jesus never intended. The Church and its pesky bishops are not found in Q whatever Q may or may not have been. If Q is the real Jesus, then the church is a power-grab by con artists a generation or two after Jesus. This is the non-sense of The DaVinci Code which would have us believe that Jesus was thoroughly modern and certainly ordained women and must have married Mary Magdalene etc. etc. Furthermore, tenured university professors at Catholic schools can claim an authority which supersedes the illegitimate authority of the bishops.
On the other hand, the Church is certainly contained in the Gospels. If the Gospels are written almost immediately after the death and Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, they are in fact, the words, the deeds and intentions of Jesus, the God-Man and the moral authority and the unbroken Apostolic Tradition of the Church are His invention.
Question what your kids are being taught at Catholic schools, from preschool to university. Read their textbooks. Ask questions. Call their teachers. After all, you’re paying for it. And don’t let them con you into submitting to their authority. They don’t really have any authority since they submit to no authority, and no one seems to be able to stop them from the secularization and corruption of young people which Mother Marianna warned us four hundred years ago. Oops! I forgot. There is no such thing as prophecy.