This is the first installment of a new blog series announced here. This new blog series is designed to help the lay believer learn some basic facts about the New Testament canon—the kind of facts that might be helpful in a conversation with a skeptic or inquisitive friend. The first of these facts is one that is so basic that it is often overlooked. It is simply that the New Testament books are the earliest Christian writings we possess. One of the most formidable challenges in any discussion about the New Testament canon is explaining what makes these 27 books unique. Why these and not others? There are many answers to that question, but in this blog post we are focusing on just one: These books stand out as distinctive because they are earliest Christian writings we possess and thus bring us the closest to the historical Jesus and to the earliest church. If we want to find out what authentic Christianity was really like, then we should rely on the writings that are the nearest to that time period. This is particularly evident when it comes to the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
The New Testament
Dating the New Testament, based on the opinions of several hundred New Testament scholars. In a court of law the testimony of one expert is considered evidence, however it is frequently offset by another expert with a differing opinion. The same thing happens in the academic community as to when the New Testament books were written. However, in the court of public opinion the testimony of several hundred New Testament scholars is strong evidence and far outweighs the opinions of radical scholars, skeptics and nonbelievers.
The latter groups seek to discredit the Gospel accounts, and create another Jesus they claim was produced by legends over a long time frame. We have provided the opinions of several hundred conservative and liberal scholars in the links below to establish the weight of scholarly evidence against all such radical views.
Dating New Testament Events – A timeline of the New Testament historical events Dating the Books of the Old Testament The most important article on the Internet regarding this subject is, The Dating of the New Testament by Dr. Norman Geisler.
The canon of the New Testament is the collection of books that most Christians regard as divinely inspired and constituting the New Testament of the Christian Biblical Canon. Canonical gospels Each of the four gospels in the New Testament narrates the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. The gospel was considered the “good news” of the coming Kingdom of Messiah , and the redemption through the life and death of Jesus, the central Christian message.
Since the 2nd century, the four narrative accounts of the life and work of Jesus Christ have been referred to as “The Gospel of Whatever these admittedly early ascriptions may imply about the sources behind or the perception of these gospels, they are anonymous compositions. This gospel begins with a genealogy of Jesus and a story of his birth that includes a visit from magi and a flight into Egypt , and it ends with the commissioning of the disciples by the resurrected Jesus.
The Gospel of Mark , ascribed to Mark the Evangelist. This gospel begins with the preaching of John the Baptist and the baptism of Jesus. Two different secondary endings were affixed to this gospel in the 2nd century. The Gospel of Luke , ascribed to Luke the Evangelist , who was not one of the Twelve Apostles , but was mentioned as a companion of the Apostle Paul and as a physician.
The Gospel of John , ascribed to John the Apostle. This gospel begins with a philosophical prologue and ends with appearances of the resurrected Jesus.
The Canon of the New Testament
Earliest Manuscript of the New Testament Discovered? This was our third such debate, and it was before a crowd of more than people. I mentioned that seven New Testament papyri had recently been discovered—six of them probably from the second century and one of them probably from the first. These fragments will be published in about a year.
These fragments now increase our holdings as follows: But the most interesting thing is the first-century fragment.
A blanket of snow covers the little town of Bethlehem, in Pieter Bruegel’s oil painting from Although Jesus’ birth is celebrated every year on December 25, Luke and the other gospel writers offer no hint about the specific time of year he was born.
Modern English Translations 1. Old Testament books of doubtful authority included in the later Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate versions, but not in the original Jewish Bible. Written mostly in the four centuries before the birth of Christ, they include: Tobit – Judith – parts of Esther – First and Second Book of Macabees – Book of Wisdom – Ecclesiasticus as distinct from the “canonical” Ecclesiastes – Baruch – parts of Daniel collected together as the Old Testament Apocrypha The term is also applied to gospels, acts, letters and apocalypse of the early Christian era that were not included in the New Testament canon Aramaic – Ancient Semitic language related to Hebrew.
It became the common language across the Middle East from the 6th century BC. Byblos was a port in Phoenicia which exported papyrus Canon – From the Greek “a rule”. However their historical value is accepted Codex – Any ancient manuscript cut and assembled to open up as a conventional book; plural “codices” Jewish Bible – The Books of the “Law and Prophets” and the “Writings” of Judaism that also became the Christian Old Testament.
Latin translation of the Christian Bible made in the 4th century by Jerome, much of it in Bethlehem. In this 50 to year period, the 27 books of the New Testament were written, completed and preserved: Although no originals have been found, more than 5, Greek manuscripts from the next few centuries – complete, in part, or fragments – still exist, a few of the oldest and most important being illustrated in the following Map.
Dating the New Testament
Presumed context All of these work together. I will explain each one and then how they go together. External evidence consists of the actual physical manuscripts of the biblical books as well as references to the books in other literature.
There is an unbroken chain of writers discussing the New Testament that goes back to soon after the Gospels were written. The writings of the church fathers are referred to as “the tradition” or as “patristic sources” in most discussions of this subject.
This simple criteria is part of a four part reliability template I describe in Cold-Case Christianity , and reflects the California jury instructions for jurors who are asked to assess the reliability of eyewitnesses on the stand. As a skeptic, I examined this issue related to the claims of the Gospel authors. Matthew and John were allegedly eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus. Mark according to the first century bishop, Papias chronicled the eyewitness account of the Apostle Peter, and Luke recorded his own investigation of the eyewitnesses.
But how early are these accounts? Could they have been written by people who were actually present during the life and ministry of Jesus? The evidence indicates the Gospels are, indeed, early enough to have been written by eyewitnesses. Here is an excerpt from Cold-Case Christianity describing the evidence for the early dating of the New Testament Gospels: The New Testament Fails to Describe the Destruction of the Temple We begin with perhaps the most significant Jewish historical event of the first century, the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in AD
Dating the Books of the New Testament
When we examine the New Testament, we find the evidence for it to be even stronger than that for the Old Testament. The oldest complete New Testament is the Codex Vaticanus. Located in the Vatican, it is believed to have been copied around A. This shows that only a few hundred years after the books of the New Testament were written, they were already being collected as a complete unit.
DATING THE BOOKS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT – OR – THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES by Jim Seghers. The majority of modern scripture scholars attribute late dates to the composition of the New Testament books in the form that we now have them.
The Authorship and Dating of the New Testament  Before we can talk about what the New Testament says, we have to justify that what it says can be trusted. We must understand as much as we can about the authors of the New Testament and when they wrote it. The authors must have clear links to the eyewitnesses or be eyewitnesses to reduce the possibility of communication mistakes. We will learn that even in the most pessimistic, but rational, reading of the data, we come to the understanding that the authors of the New Testament are close enough to the events to be able to give an accurate picture of historical events.
Much will be uncertain; but this we will know; and this is what we need in order to continue our investigation of scripture and Christian history. Much of the information we have about the authors of the New Testament comes from the church fathers, the leaders of the church in the post-apostolic age.
Dating the Bible
New Testament canon , texts, and versions The New Testament canon Conditions aiding the formation of the canon The New Testament consists of 27 books, which are the residue, or precipitate, out of many 1st—2nd-century-ad writings that Christian groups considered sacred. In these various writings the early church transmitted its traditions: In a seemingly circuitous interplay between the historical and theological processes, the church selected these 27 writings as normative for its life and teachings—i.
Other accounts, letters, and revelations—e. The canon contained four Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John , Acts , 21 letters, and one book of a strictly revelatory character, Revelation.
Dating the New Testament, based on the opinions of several hundred New Testament scholars. In a court of law the testimony of one expert is considered evidence, however it is frequently offset by another expert with a differing opinion.
When were the biblical books written? To make the Bible, sixty-six books are bound into one volume. These books are written by many people at different times, and no one knows the time or the identity of any author. While many parts of this site can stand alone, this section is uniquely dependent on the previous one. The previous question was a critical prerequisite to understanding that document dating, like archaeology, is an ongoing process of refinement.
With that understanding, we can proceed to examine what just might be the best set of dates to come out of twentieth-century study for the books of the Bible. The scholarly work herein is credited mostly to R. Harrison, Gleason Archer, and F. Of course, even their work may be subject to further refinement in the future.
False Gospels: An Approach to Studying the New Testament Apocrypha
The chief tool for assessing when a manuscript was written is paleography, the study of ancient writing. The script of the Rylands fragment, for example, bears features characteristic of handwriting during the reigns of Trajan and Hadrian Recent scholarship sets the date of the fragment closer to than to
New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures [Tony Burke, Brent Landau] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Compilation of little-known and never-before-published apocryphal Christian texts in English translation This anthology of ancient nonbiblical Christian literature presents informed introductions to and readable translations of a wide range of little-known.
Here’s Life, , p. Table 1 A brief perusal of the table indicates that for a representative sample of ancient historical works, we possess only a handful of manuscripts which are, on the average, one thousand years removed from their originals. In contrast to this, the New Testament documents have a staggering quantity of manuscript attestation. There are 8, manuscript copies of the Vulgate a Latin translation of the Bible done by Jerome from — and more than copies of Syriac Christian Aramaic versions of the New Testament these originated from — ; most of the copies are from the s.
Besides this, virtually the entire New Testament could be reproduced from citations contained in the works of the early church fathers. There are some thirty-two thousand citations in the writings of the Fathers prior to the Council of Nicea The dates of the manuscript copies range from early in the second century to the time of the Reformation. Many of the manuscripts are early — for example, the John Rylands manuscript about ; it was found in Egypt and contains a few verses from the Gospel of John , the Chester Beatty Papyri ; it contains major portions of the New Testament , Codex Sinaiticus ; it contains virtually all of the New Testament , and Codex Vaticanus —50; it contains almost the entire Bible.
Too much can be made of this evidence, which alone does not establish the trustworthiness of the New Testament. All it shows is that the text we currently possess is an accurate representation of the original New Testament documents. Most historians accept the textual accuracy of other ancient works on far less adequate manuscript grounds than is available for the New Testament. In this regard, the following statement about the New Testament by R.
Dr. Wallace: Earliest Manuscript of the New Testament Discovered?
Even when we have come to a conclusion about the date and origin of the individual books of the New Testament, another question remains to be answered. How did the New Testament itself as a collection of writings come into being? Who collected the writings, and on what principles? What circumstances led to the fixing of a list, or canon, of authoritative books? The historic Christian belief is that the Holy Spirit, who controlled the writing of the individual books, also controlled their selection and collection, thus continuing to fulfil our Lord’s promise that He would guide His disciples into all the truth.
HISTORY AND THE NEW TESTAMENT By Jack Kilmon. Jesus is born. The date of Jesus’ birth cannot be placed with certainty. One must do a little historical detective work to sort out the biblical references.
But, what should that mean to us in the 21st century? Should we believe that no one wrote anything down concerning Christian literature prior to 70 CE except for Paul during this period of oral tradition? So, other Jews, who also held to a strong oral tradition, were recording events of importance in written form. Luke seems to suggest in the opening lines of his Gospel that written material about Jesus circulated side by side with the oral tradition of the day.
Luke mentions is verse-1 above that before he even attempted to write his Gospel many had already written orderly accounts of what was believed among those of the Jesus Movement. These written records existed side by side with what Theophilus knew through oral tradition Luke 1: Notice also what Luke says about the value of the written record, however.
Please check the reference to make sure it is correct. The book you have entered was not recognized. Most of these are actual letters, but some are more like treatises in the guise of letters. The virtually standard form found in these documents, though with some variation, is dependent upon the conventions of letter writing common in the ancient world, but these were modified to suit the purposes of Christian writers.
The Dating of the New Testament. When the New Testament was written is a significant issue, as one assembles the overall argument for Christianity. Confidence in the historical accuracy of these documents depends partly on whether they were written by eyewitnesses and contemporaries to the events described, as the Bible claims.
If it can be established that the gospels were written early, say before the year A. If they were written by the disciples, then their reliability, authenticity, and accuracy are better substantiated. Also, if they were written early, this would mean that there would not have been enough time for myth to creep into the gospel accounts since it was the eyewitnesses to Christ’s life that wrote them. Furthermore, those who were alive at the time of the events could have countered the gospel accounts; and since we have no contradictory writings to the gospels, their early authorship as well as apostolic authorship becomes even more critical.
Destruction of the temple in A. This is significant because Jesus had prophesied concerning the temple when He said “As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down. This prophecy was fulfilled in A. The gold in the temple melted down between the stone walls; and the Romans took the walls apart, stone by stone, to get the gold.