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Why Should We Think That Mark, Luke, and Acts Were Written Before AD 62? Part 1

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

Some New Testament critics claim that all of the Gospels (plus Acts) were written after AD 70, some 40 years after Jesus’s death. While this is possible, it seems very unlikely. There are good reasons to believe that at least Mark, Luke, and Acts were written before AD 62. J. Warner Wallace, in his book Cold-Case Christianity, provides several pieces of evidence that lead to this conclusion.

Wallace starts with the failure of the NT writers to mention

perhaps the most significant Jewish historical event of the first century, the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in AD 70. Rome dispatched an army to Jerusalem in response to the Jewish rebellion of AD 66. The Roman army (under the leadership of Titus) ultimately destroyed the temple in AD 70, just as Jesus had predicted in the Gospels (in Matt. 24: 1– 3). You might think this important detail would be included in the New Testament record, especially since this fact would corroborate Jesus’s prediction. But no gospel account records the destruction of the temple. In fact, no New Testament document mentions it at all, even though there are many occasions when a description of the temple’s destruction might have assisted in establishing a theological or historical point.

Second, Wallace points out that even before the destruction of the Jerusalem temple,

the city of Jerusalem was under assault. Titus surrounded the city with four large groups of soldiers and eventually broke through the city’s “Third Wall” with a battering ram. After lengthy battles and skirmishes, the Roman soldiers eventually set fire to the city’s walls, and the temple was destroyed as a result. No aspect of this three-year siege is described in any New Testament document, in spite of the fact that the gospel writers could certainly have pointed to the anguish that resulted from the siege as a powerful point of reference for the many passages of Scripture that extensively address the issue of suffering.

Third, Luke failed to mention the deaths of Peter or Paul in the book of Acts.

Years before the siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple, another pair of events occurred that were significant to the Christian community. The apostle Paul was martyred in the city of Rome in AD 64, and Peter was martyred shortly afterward in AD 65. While Luke wrote extensively about Paul and Peter in the book of Acts and featured them prominently, he said nothing about their deaths. In fact, Paul was still alive (under house arrest in Rome) at the end of the book of Acts.

We will continue with Wallace’s analysis in the next post.


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Comments

  • Andrew Ryan

    “The apostle Paul was martyred in the city of Rome in AD 64, and Peter was martyred shortly afterward in AD 65.”

    How do we know this?

  • K Birks

    Very good points, Bill. The dating of the book of Revelation also comes into question when so many purport that it was written in the 90’s. Surely in that book, even moreso than in the gospels & Acts, it would be important to mention the destruction of Jerusalem and her temple, but rather John is told to measure the temple. Obviously the book of Revelation was also written before the destruction in AD 70.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    See this blog post by Clay Jones. It gives a good summary of the evidence.

    http://www.clayjones.net/2011/01/peter-and-paul-killed-for-proclaiming-jesus-rose/

  • Andrew Ryan

    Thanks Bill.

    “You might think this important detail would be included in the New Testament record, especially since this fact would corroborate Jesus’s prediction.”

    Perhaps it was so well known an event at the time of writing that it didn’t need to be mentioned in order for people to get that the prediction came true.

    If I was writing in 1950 about someone a hundred years earlier predicting the creation of Israel, I might well figure I didn’t need to point out that Israel had recently been created – everyone would already be thinking “Wow, he predicted that a hundred years ago?”. Likewise, in 1946 I could say “There was a guy in 1840 who wrote a book about a dictator called “Hitlers” who tried to take over the world”, and I wouldn’t need to add, “And in the 1930s a man rose to power with a very similar name who tried to take over the world!”.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    But the NT writers wrote profusely about prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus. They were constantly reminding their readers of these fulfilled prophecies, so it does seem incredibly strange that nobody would mention the destruction of the temple as a fulfilled prophecy.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Fair enough!

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    You’d have a more complete argument if you considered the glaring dissenters from these dates.

    That doesn’t mean that the dissenters are right and you’re wrong, of course, but you can make no claim to having a thorough discussion without acknowledging and perhaps discussing this.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Testament#Dates_of_composition

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