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Greg Koukl has a simple, yet effective argument for dating Mark and Luke before A.D. 64. Check out “A Short Argument for the Early Dating of the Gospels” in the featured articles section on the homepage this week.
I wonder why Ben Witherington and others are not persuaded by this argument. Witherington dates all the Gospels after A.D. 70. Does anyone know why this is and what the response is to this argument?
I don’t know. I’ve been trying to get reasons for a late date, but what it seems to come back to is an anti-supernatural bias. That is, since the destruction of the Temple is predicted, therefore the Gospels must have been written after the destruction of the Temple. I haven’t been able to find a reason besides that one, but I’d be very grateful to anyone who could dig up a full argument for it.
(I should probably add that that doesn’t necessarily mean Ben Witherington has an anti-supernatural bias, merely that this seems to be the origin of the idea of a late date that’s accepted widely, perhaps without good reason.)
Thanks for your input, Amy. I do think much of the objections to the Gospels are based on an anti-supernatural bias. I wish I had the very liberal textbook from my New Testament course handy, because there are countless examples of arguments that fall apart if you remove the naturalistic assumptions. If I remember correctly, the explanation given for why Luke didn’t mention the Neronian persecution, the martyrdom of Paul, the martyrdom of Peter, etc. in the book of Acts had something to do with the audience he was writing to and a literary motive he had for omitting these events. I wish I could remember the details, but I remember that it wasn’t at all persuasive. It was much more speculative than just saying that he didn’t record these events because they hadn’t happened yet.
I suppose I am just curious why an evangelical Christian scholar like Witherington accepts the later dating and doesn’t find this argument persuasive. I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he has other reasons. Something about one of the church fathers, perhaps? Who knows?
I’m very curious, also. That explanation you gave in the first paragraph is all negative arguments against the early date, but one wouldn’t usually try to come up with convoluted reasons like that unless there’s a compelling reason to believe the later date, and you’re trying to fit the conflicting information into that later-date hypothesis.
But for the life of me, I can’t find any positive reasons to believe the later date. There just have to be some out there. I do find it hard to believe that the only reason is anti-supernaturalism.