When was the New Testament written?

bible.jpgThere are a lot of myths and misunderstandings about how and when the Bible was formed. Some liberal historians try to date the Gospels and other New Testament writings as far from the death of Jesus as possible because it supports their hypothesis that they were largely made up. Of course, if the Gospels really were dated 70 AD or after, there is no reason they couldn’t still be the inspired Word of God. Yet a late dating obviously plays into the hands of heretics who strive to discredit the authority of Scripture.

But the facts point to all or nearly all of the New Testament books being written within 40 years of Jesus’ resurrection. Consider the following:

  1. Jesus died and rose again around 33 A.D.
  2. The Apostle Paul was killed in 64 AD. This is a well attested historical fact. All his writings obviously occurred before then, and 1 Corinthians and Romans were written well before then. Paul testified that Jesus rose from the dead, among other things, and he did so within 20-30 years of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
  3. The book of Acts, written by Luke, ends with Paul was in prison in 62 AD. Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke before he wrote Acts, so it was presumably written in the late 50’s.
  4. Most scholars agree that Luke was not the first Gospel. Therefore, the earliest Gospel must have been written no later than the mid to late 50’s. If Matthew and Luke used the ‘Q’ document (a lost early church writing) as a source, then of course ‘Q’ would have been written even closer to Jesus’ death and resurrection.
  5. If the Gospels were all written after 70 A.D., why wasn’t the destruction of Jerusalem mentioned anywhere (especially in Matthew)? This was one of the most dramatic events in history, and was predicted by Jesus.
  6. Since these accounts were written within 20-30 years of Jesus death and resurrection, it is highly unlikely that they would have been myths. There would have been too many people alive to dispute the findings. And keep in mind that many thousands of people died believing these words to be true. Martyrs will die for a lie if they think it is true, but I don’t know of anyone who knowingly dies for a lie. If Jesus didn’t really have a bodily resurrection, why would the disciples live unnecessarily hard lives and die horrible deaths for something they knew to be a lie?

Also see Debunking the DaVinci Code

Hat tip to Stand to Reason for much of the above. Click here to learn lots more about the origins of the Bible.

Ruth 1-2

This reading is Ruth 1-2.

There are many things at work in this seemingly simple story, so I’ll just pick out a few to comment on.

Naomi was obviously quite bitter about losing her husband and sons. In hindsight we can see how splendidly things worked out for her, but it is hard for us to understand the fear and pain she would have felt in that society. Widows often had no one to care for them.

Naomi had great relationships with her daughters-in-law, who had been married to her sons for over 10 years. Ruth had seen enough about the one true God that she had no desire to leave Naomi’s family.

The gleaning process was an Old Testament version of welfare, where landowners were instructed to leave some grain at the edges of the field so poor people could come pick it up. It was entirely legal to go on someone else’s property and do this.

I like how Boaz interacted with his employees. In our politically correct times, living out your faith at work is a constant challenge.

Ruth 2:4 Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The LORD be with you!” “The LORD bless you!” they called back.

It isn’t like you can walk down the hall at work passing out Gospel tracts. That would be ineffective and would shorten your career dramatically. There are many ways to encourage other Christians at work and to see where you can get involved where God is working in people’s lives, but you have to be intentional about it. I’ll write more on that on the 4Simpsons blog some other day.

Note how God in his sovereign will takes the free will decisions of humans and works them together to accomplish his mighty plans!

Feel free to comment on what stood out to you about the story.

The next reading is Ruth 3-4.

Mmmmm . . . bacon

Daughter #2 once wanted to be a vegetarian. Then I informed her that vegetarians typically don’t eat bacon or Chicken McNugget’s, both of which she loves. They also tend to like vegetables, which she does not.

One day when she was four, I was making some bacon for her after church. I pointed out that Jesus was Jewish, so He wouldn’t have eaten bacon. She paused, then thoughtfully replied, “That’s too bad, because I think He would have really liked it.”

Moral schizophrenia

This is a rerun from 2006.  Long time readers: Try to look surprised.

carenet-walk-05-55.jpgIf you haven’t seen the video and story of the boy with autism who got to play in a high school basketball game and proceeded to score 20 points in 3 minutes, you need to watch it. It is truly inspiring.

When I watched this, I couldn’t help but think about the bizarre extremes our society goes to when it comes to the disabled. Consider all the positive and noble things done for the disabled:

  • Handicapped parking spaces, accessibility to buildings, etc.
  • Celebration of their accomplishments in events like the Special Olympics and the story above
  • Countless technological aids to help them use computers and work
  • Fund raisers and ministries to find cures and to provide care and encouragement

Yet what is society’s general attitude towards unborn humans who may be disabled when born? The current climate is that it is OK, and often preferable, to kill them before they are born. For example, abortion occurs roughly 90% of the time in pregnancies where Down Syndrome is diagnosed. Some babies are even aborted for correctable problems like club feet or cleft palates.

Jocylen Elder, former Surgeon General of the U.S. said abortion “has had an important and positive public-health effect” because it reduced “the number of children afflicted with severe defects.” She pointed out that “the number of Down Syndrome infants in Washington state in 1976 was 64 percent lower than it would have been without legal abortion.” She meant this as a victory of sorts, but what message does this send to the disabled and their families?

Of course we don’t wish medical problems on anyone. There is always an element of tragedy when they occur. Yet what about all the joy and life lessons they bring? And disabled people are less likely to commit suicide, so they aren’t necessarily less happy. We may rationalize that we are “helping” them, but who are we really trying to help?

Parting thoughts:

  • How long will it be until insurance companies pressure people to abort potentially disabled humans?
  • If autism could be detected in utero as Down Syndrome is, how many fewer autistic people would be with us?
  • I know several people who were encouraged by their doctors to have abortions because problems were suspected. Yet the children in question are alive and healthy!

I wrote about prenatal testing for Down Syndrome and one of our World Vision sponsor children who has it here.

Further reading on how our culture is continuing to warp: A Perfect Child