Why Should We Think That Mark, Luke, and Acts Were Written Before AD 62? Part 2

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

In part 1 we looked at three reasons that Mark, Luke, and Acts were probably written before AD 62. However, J. Warner Wallace, in his book Cold-Case Christianity, provides several more pieces of evidence.

The fourth piece of evidence is that Luke said nothing about the death of James.

Luke featured another important figure from Christian history in the book of Acts. James (the brother of Jesus) became the leader of the Jerusalem church and was described in a position of prominence in Acts 15. James was martyred in the city of Jerusalem in AD 62, but like the deaths of Paul and Peter, the execution of James is absent from the biblical account, even though Luke described the deaths of Stephen (Acts 7: 54– 60) and James the brother of John (Acts 12: 1– 2).

The fifth piece of evidence is that the Gospel of Luke predates the Book of Acts. It is clear from the introductions of these two books that Acts is the sequel to the Gospel of Luke.

The sixth point is that Paul quotes from the Gospel of Luke in his letter to Timothy.

Paul appeared to be aware of Luke’s gospel and wrote as though it was common knowledge in about AD 63– 64, when Paul penned his first letter to Timothy. Note the following passage:

“The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,’ and ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages.’ (1 Tim. 5: 17– 18)

Paul quoted two passages as “scripture” here— one in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament. “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing” refers to Deuteronomy 25: 4, and “The laborer is worthy of his wages” refers to Luke 10: 7. It’s clear that Luke’s gospel was already common knowledge and accepted as scripture by the time this letter was written. To be fair, a number of critics (like Bart Ehrman) have argued that Paul was not actually the author of 1 Timothy and maintain that this letter was written much later in history. The majority of scholars, however, recognize the fact that the earliest leaders of the church were familiar with 1 Timothy at a very early date.

We will pick up the seventh piece of evidence in the next part of this series.

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  • barry

    “The fourth piece of evidence is that Luke said nothing about the death of James.
    Luke featured another important figure from Christian
    history in the book of Acts. James (the brother of Jesus) became the
    leader of the Jerusalem church and was described in a position of
    prominence in Acts 15. James was martyred in the city of Jerusalem in AD
    62, but like the deaths of Paul and Peter, the execution of James is
    absent from the biblical account, even though Luke described the deaths
    of Stephen (Acts 7: 54– 60) and James the brother of John (Acts 12: 1– 2).”

    ————–any post a.d. 70 author would have recognized perfectly well that if they mention some event that occurred after the date they want readers to ascribe to that gospel, they will be giving themselves away. If I was going to forge a letter to make it appear it was written in 1976, I wouldn’t mention that Bill Clinton is one of the worst American presidents. That being said, not all attempts at forgery successfully covered up the truth of their late date of composition. The early church was duped into believing Matthew and Luke were earliest, but under the modern majority view among Christian scholars, that Matthew’s author copied-and- pasted most of Mark’s gospel text, it is clear that Mark was earliest.

    “The fifth piece of evidence is that the Gospel of Luke predates the Book of Acts. It is clear from the introductions of these two books that Acts is the sequel to the Gospel of Luke.”

    ————The infancy gospel of Thomas also “clearly” indicates it was written by Thomas. But you aren’t impressed by mere unsubstantiated self-serving declarations and surface appearances. You ask how reasonable it is to trust whatever a document says about itself. Probably because early Christians created a lot of fogeries, and that’s why Eusebius is forced to admit that more than 200 years after the days of the apostles, the churches still disagree about which particular books of the NT are genuine and which aren’t.

    “The sixth point is that Paul quotes from the Gospel of Luke in his letter to Timothy.
    Paul appeared to be aware of Luke’s gospel and wrote as
    though it was common knowledge in about AD 63– 64, when Paul penned his
    first letter to Timothy. Note the following passage:
    “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double
    honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the
    Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,’
    and ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages.’ (1 Tim. 5: 17– 18)
    Paul quoted two passages as “scripture” here— one in the Old
    Testament and one in the New Testament. “You shall not muzzle the ox
    while he is threshing” refers to Deuteronomy 25: 4, and “The laborer is worthy of his wages” refers to Luke 10: 7. It’s clear that Luke’s gospel was already common knowledge and accepted as scripture by the time this letter was written.

    ————But the inerrantist-agenda-driven New American Commentary says it is unlikely that Paul was quoting the gospel of Luke:

    “The second reference resembles the words of Christ in Luke 10:7. It is not likely that Paul was quoting the Gospel of Luke, a document whose date of writing is uncertain. Paul may have been referring to a collection of Jesus’ sayings, some of which appear in Luke’s Gospel”.
    Lea, T. D., & Griffin, H. P. (2001, c1992). Vol. 34: 1, 2 Timothy, Titus (electronic ed.). The New American Commentary (Page 156). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

    To be fair, a number
    of critics (like Bart Ehrman) have argued that Paul was not actually the
    author of 1 Timothy and maintain that this letter was written much
    later in history. The majority of scholars, however, recognize the fact
    that the earliest leaders of the church were familiar with 1 Timothy at a
    very early date.
    ———That’s a rather subtle way to refute Ehrman’s point. The early church being familiar with 1st Timothy doesn’t argue that Paul was its author. And given the creative license first century secretaries were given when carrying out their duty to write what the author wanted to say, it will be extremely difficult to figure out just how much material in the pastorals reflects what Paul intended to say.