Dating the books of the New Testament belief not evidence

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
Joseph D. L.
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Re: most excellent Theophilus

Post by Joseph D. L. » Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:08 pm

Steven Avery wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 5:15 pm
The strongest evidence is right in the first verses of Luke.

Theophilus was the "most excellent" high priest in 40-41 AD.
Giving us a rather precise dating.

Steven

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

Luke is unambiguously saying that there are many works and texts being written prior to his composition.

And yet, are we to believe that such a massive explosion of texts began to appear right after Jesus died? When:

1) the textual evidence does not confirm this,
2) the archaeological evidence does not confirm this,
3) the standard chronology of events (i.e. Mark composing his Gospel) outright refutes this

This is even more so apparent when dealing with Acts of the Apostles. This text details the history of the church up to (though I dispute this date) 55 ad. And you're saying it is dedicated to a man who died in 41 ad?

Theophilus is clearly Theophilus of Antioch.

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MrMacSon
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Re: most excellent Theophilus

Post by MrMacSon » Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:23 pm

Joseph D. L. wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:08 pm

Theophilus is clearly Theophilus of Antioch.

There was supposedly a Theophilus of Caesarea (†195), a bishop, and allegedly a teacher of Clement of Alexandria.

........................

otherwise,

Theophilus of Antioch (d. 181) Apology to Autolycus in 3 Books; 1st mention of notion of the Trinity, but no mention of Jesus Christ
  • supposedly born near Tigris & Euphrates rivers, so either born in Anatolia or in Persia (Apologia ad Autolycum i. 14, ii. 24.)

    [could Theophilus 'of Antioch' have been born near or in Antiochia in Commagenez (which became Samosata)]

Joseph D. L.
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Re: most excellent Theophilus

Post by Joseph D. L. » Mon Apr 16, 2018 3:41 am

MrMacSon wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:23 pm
There was supposedly a Theophilus of Caesarea (†195), a bishop, and allegedly a teacher of Clement of Alexandria.
That is also possible, however I consider Luke, chapter one, verses one to four, to be original of a Diatessaronic text, whose purpose was to bridge relations with the western church of Ephesus, and Syrian churches in the east. Antioch, being right in the middle, would be the perfect place to set up this unified church, and why Antioch is the baptism place for the new Christian religion proper in Acts of the Apostles.

The author/editor of this text--or passage, I guess--I suspect was Hegesippus/Polycarp. (Note: Peregrinus was not Polycarp.)

gmx
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Re: Dating the books of the New Testament belief not evidence

Post by gmx » Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:03 am

I asked a similar question back in 2015 (viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1713&p=38618#p38604), and I'll quote PeterK's response:
For the second century, it's almost entirely books. But there's at least one artifact. There's an inscription that looks very Christian attributed to a late second century Abercius (193-216 A.D. and yes this is precise). So, all crackpots and cranks aside, we're on fairly solid ground here. The one implies the many: not only did this Abercius exist but so did other Christians and some letters of "Paul." The word Christian/Chrestian itself (with spelling variations) appears on other third century inscriptions in the same region.
I like Peter's words in that quote... the one implies the many.

I completely understand the opening gambit of saying "we can't locate any of these Jesus/Christ documents before the 300s CE, because we have no copies of them until that time. And if they did exist in some form prior to that, what their content was is unknowable." But the OP position seems to promote an attitude that says beyond a physical ancient document with text on it that proves a sentence / passage was known at year X, we'll treat every apparent reference or tradition handed down to us as biased and unreliable. And I think taking that approach to its logical conclusion, you end up concluding that Christianity was invented and expanded upon between 180 and 300 CE, spread like wildfire, became institutionalized, and subsequently and systematically destroyed all traces of its true origins.

There is an alternative explanation, which was essentially unchallenged until the 19th century. It said Jesus was a popular, itinerant teacher who was executed under Pontius Pilate, and his disciples, believing him to be the Messiah, fostered, collated and disseminated his teachings and his life story from their point of view. All the history and tradition handed down from the earliest time when we can begin to trust the documentary record are generally cogent and in accord with this backstory, which is assumedly why it remains the majority scholarly view today.

I'm not saying the latter is my view, just that the majority scholarly view shouldn't be discarded unless you can show evidence as to why it's wrong. Ignoring all second-hand reports as biased leaves a very small evidence base, from which you can probably weave a viable story that Xenu wrote the gospels to throw the mainstream populace off the scent of the confederacy (I don't know anything about Scientology, but whatever).
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gmx
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Re: most excellent Theophilus

Post by gmx » Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:11 am

Joseph D. L. wrote:
Mon Apr 16, 2018 3:41 am
MrMacSon wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:23 pm
There was supposedly a Theophilus of Caesarea (†195), a bishop, and allegedly a teacher of Clement of Alexandria.
That is also possible, however I consider Luke, chapter one, verses one to four, to be original of a Diatessaronic text, whose purpose was to bridge relations with the western church of Ephesus, and Syrian churches in the east. Antioch, being right in the middle, would be the perfect place to set up this unified church, and why Antioch is the baptism place for the new Christian religion proper in Acts of the Apostles.

The author/editor of this text--or passage, I guess--I suspect was Hegesippus/Polycarp. (Note: Peregrinus was not Polycarp.)
Why would Luke need to go researching the historical origins of Christianity in order to prove to a bishop the certainty of the things he had been instructed in?
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Charles Wilson
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Re: Dating the books of the New Testament belief not evidence

Post by Charles Wilson » Mon Apr 16, 2018 8:13 am

Theo-Philus: God-Friend.

Herod ordered his Court on the Greek Model. Friends, Honored Friends, Guards of the Realm and Kinsmen. The NT Story "The Banquet" , where you sit with your friends until asked to move and be "honored" by your "friends" may be a reflection of this. There are other markers where "Kinsmen" is used - Acts, f'rinstance.

So...this may simply be a reference to the lowly "Friend" who is in the Royal Court. He has been assigned to serve the king/Caesar.

Steven Avery
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Re: most excellent Theophilus

Post by Steven Avery » Mon Apr 16, 2018 10:10 am

Joseph D. L. wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:08 pm
Luke is unambiguously saying that there are many works and texts being written prior to his composition. And yet, are we to believe that such a massive explosion of texts began to appear right after Jesus died?
Most definitely. Considering the magnitude of what had occurred, that would definitely be the case.
Joseph D. L. wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:08 pm
When:
1) the textual evidence does not confirm this,
2) the archaeological evidence does not confirm this,
3) the standard chronology of events (i.e. Mark composing his Gospel) outright refutes this
The standard chronology is circular to other late dating errors. For 1 and 2, you are simply making a fiat claim.
Joseph D. L. wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:08 pm
This is even more so apparent when dealing with Acts of the Apostles. This text details the history of the church up to (though I dispute this date) 55 ad. And you're saying it is dedicated to a man who died in 41 ad?
He was no longer high priest after 41 AD, and lived into the 60s. His son (or maybe nephew, I could check) was high priest in the later period.
Joseph D. L. wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:08 pm
Theophilus is clearly Theophilus of Antioch.
This is circular to late dating unbeliever paradigms that Luke was simply a liar/forger in the late 2nd century.

As you can see above, in that paradigm you can come up with all sorts of competitive theories.

However, the high priest Theophilus fits superbly with the events of 30-45 AD and Luke's excellent knowledge of the Temple. Plus, he may well have been one of the great company of priests who came to faith in Jesus in Acts 6.

Steven

Michael BG
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Re: most excellent Theophilus

Post by Michael BG » Mon Apr 16, 2018 10:22 am

Kapyong wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:47 pm
Gday Michael BG :)
Michael BG wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 5:49 am
When we discuss when a particular book in the New Testament was written we don’t have evidence we have to present an argument and each person can be persuaded or not persuaded by the argument and their conclusion is a belief but not a fact.
Well, that seems a little strong - we DO have evidence, but it is weak and inconclusive - various differing arguments are then based on that poor, and often contradictory, evidence.

But yes, it is not at all certain that the NT was written before about 130CE. It still seems possible that Marcion the Mysterious sparked off the Gospels.

Kapyong
It depends on what you call evidence. If I found a copy of The Mysterious Affair at Styles I could seek “internal evidence” to date it. It is set during the Great War. If that term is used we can assume it was written between 1914 and 1939. However, it is possible that it was written after this and it is being passed off as being written during this period. This is the problem with any “internal evidence” in the books of the New Testament and I assume in the Old Testament as well.
Steven Avery wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 5:15 pm
The strongest evidence is right in the first verses of Luke.

Theophilus was the "most excellent" high priest in 40-41 AD.
Giving us a rather precise dating.

Steven
Thank for your post. The author of Luke and Acts does not tell us who Theophilus is. I think some people will point out that the author of Luke-Acts knows the works of Josephus and therefore was written much later. Also some scholars will point out that Theophilus means friend of God and therefore could be a made up name or a nick name.

This is what I meant by lack of evidence and people having to present an argument for others to either believe or reject.
gmx wrote:
Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:03 am
I asked a similar question back in 2015 (viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1713&p=38618#p38604), and I'll quote PeterK's response:
For the second century, it's almost entirely books. But there's at least one artifact. There's an inscription that looks very Christian attributed to a late second century Abercius (193-216 A.D. and yes this is precise). So, all crackpots and cranks aside, we're on fairly solid ground here. The one implies the many: not only did this Abercius exist but so did other Christians and some letters of "Paul." The word Christian/Chrestian itself (with spelling variations) appears on other third century inscriptions in the same region.
I completely understand the opening gambit of saying "we can't locate any of these Jesus/Christ documents before the 300s CE, because we have no copies of them until that time. And if they did exist in some form prior to that, what their content was is unknowable." But the OP position seems to promote an attitude that says beyond a physical ancient document with text on it that proves a sentence / passage was known at year X, we'll treat every apparent reference or tradition handed down to us as biased and unreliable. And I think taking that approach to its logical conclusion, you end up concluding that Christianity was invented and expanded upon between 180 and 300 CE, spread like wildfire, became institutionalized, and subsequently and systematically destroyed all traces of its true origins.
I don’t think the inscription of Abericus is irrefutable evidence for the existence of Christianity before 216 CE let alone evidence that all the books of the New Testament were written by then.

I am surprised by your interpretation of my OP. My dates of 160 and 180 CE are the earliest dates when there is what I consider strong evidence that the books of the New Testament existed in some form. However, you are correct I am looking for some New Testament text which has been irrefutably dated to before 130 CE. My position is not that every part of the New Testament is “biased and unreliable”. I do believe many arguments put forward for the dating of particular books, but I know many people don’t and I am seeking better evidence.

Charles Wilson
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Re: Dating the books of the New Testament belief not evidence

Post by Charles Wilson » Mon Apr 16, 2018 11:39 am

MBG --

1. Good to see you back on the front lines.

2. "What counts as evidence?" As pointed out, oblique references to possible events does not imply hard data.

3. For my part, the fragment of John, dated to around 125-ish *may* show that some finished form may have been around then. Was there an earlier "Sign's Gospel" blended into this?

4. I started a Thread which had a simple question: "Who/what was the Holy Spirit?. I believe that the "Holy Spirit" was written around Domitian. Further, the "Empty Tomb" was written around the death of Otho and Verginius Rufus bailing out the back door. So the first Organizational Writings were after around 100 and some form was finished around 125. If John answers Mark then Mark starts around 110-ish.

5. I was all built on the Priestly Story centered around Peter and Galilee.

6. Nicholas of Damascus probably plays a role as does Mucianus. Tacitus is everywhere!:

i Corinthians 1: 14 - 15 (RSV):

[14] I am thankful that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Ga'ius;
[15] lest any one should say that you were baptized in my name.

This is from Tacitus, Histories, Book 4.

7. Teeple claims a reference in John goes back to the expulsion of Christians from the Synagogues.

And so on...

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Kapyong
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Re: Dating the books of the New Testament belief not evidence

Post by Kapyong » Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:16 pm

Gday Charles Wilson :)
Charles Wilson wrote:
Mon Apr 16, 2018 11:39 am
3. For my part, the fragment of John, dated to around 125-ish *may* show that some finished form may have been around then.
125-ish ?

P52 has been variously dated :
  • 100-199
  • 100-150
  • 125-175
  • c.200
But somehow ~125 has stuck in the popular imagination.

Kapyong

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