Post Author: Bill Pratt
In part 4, we continue with J. Warner Wallace’s case for the early dating of Mark, Luke, and Acts, as written in his book Cold-Case Christianity.
The ninth piece of evidence is that Luke quoted Mark (and Matthew) repeatedly. Wallace explains:
Luke, when writing his own gospel, readily admitted that he was not an eyewitness to the life and ministry of Jesus. Instead, Luke described himself as a historian, collecting the statements from the eyewitnesses who were present at the time:
“Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.” (Luke 1: 1– 4)
As a result, Luke often repeated or quoted entire passages that were offered previously by either Mark (350 verses from Mark appear in Luke’s gospel) or Matthew (250 verses from Matthew appear in Luke’s account). These passages were inserted into Luke’s gospel as though they were simply copied over from the other accounts. It’s reasonable, therefore, to conclude that Mark’s account was already recognized, accepted, and available to Luke prior to his authorship of the gospel.
The tenth piece of evidence is that Mark’s Gospel appears to be an early “crime broadcast.”
Mark’s gospel bears a striking resemblance to a “crime broadcast.” When first-responding officers arrive at the scene of a crime, they quickly gather the details related to the crime and the description of the suspect, then “clear the air” with the radio dispatchers so they can broadcast these details to other officers who may be in the area.
This first crime broadcast is brief and focused on the essential elements. There will be time later to add additional details, sort out the order of events, and write lengthy reports. This first broadcast is driven by the immediacy of the moment; we’ve got to get the essentials out to our partners because the suspects in this case may still be trying to flee the area. . . .
Although Mark’s gospel contains the important details of Jesus’s life and ministry, it is brief, less ordered than the other gospels, and filled with “action” verbs and adjectives. There is a sense of urgency about it. This is what we might expect, if it was, in fact, an early account of Jesus’s ministry, written with a sense of urgency. It is clear that the eyewitnesses felt this urgency and believed that Jesus would return very soon.
Paul wrote that “salvation is nearer to us than when we believed” (Rom. 13: 11), and James said, “The coming of the Lord is near” (James 5: 8). Peter, Mark’s mentor and companion, agreed that “the end of all things is near” (1 Pet. 4: 7). Surely Mark wrote with this same sense of urgency as he penned Peter’s experiences in his own gospel.
Mark’s account takes on the role of “crime broadcast,” delivering the essential details without regard for composition or stylistic prose. Papias confirmed this in his statement about Mark’s efforts:
“Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not indeed in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but afterward, as I said, he followed Peter, who adapted his teaching to the needs of his hearers, but with no intention of giving a connected account of the Lord’s discourses, so that Mark committed no error while he thus wrote some things as he remembered them. For he was careful of one thing, not to omit any of the things which he had heard, and not to state any of them falsely.”
In part 5, we will present Wallace’s 11th and final piece of evidence for the early dating of Mark, Luke, and Acts.