Author Topic: Merged Topic - Historical Reliability of the Gospels  (Read 35646 times)

Offline Randy Carson (OP)

Merged Topic - Historical Reliability of the Gospels
« on: November 27, 2015, 11:31:44 AM »
I'd like to lay the foundation for future discussions by establishing the early dating of the four gospels, so let's begin!

The New Testament fails to mention the destruction of the Temple which occurred in AD 70. Since Jesus had prophesied this event (cf. Mk 13:1-2), the authors of the NT books and letters would have highlighted His prediction prominently if it had been fulfilled. This silence suggests that the New Testament was written prior to AD 70.

The New Testament fails to mention the siege of Jerusalem which lasted for three years and ended with the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. This silence suggests that the New Testament was written prior to AD 67.

Luke, the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles does not mention the martyrdoms of Peter or Paul which took place in AD 65 and AD 64 respectively. Moreover, the Book of Acts ends abruptly with Paul alive and under house arrest in Rome. This silence suggests that the Luke's accounts were written prior to AD 64.

Luke, a trained physician and a skillful historian, recorded the martydoms of Stephen (cf. Acts 7:54-60) and James, the brother of John (cf. Acts 12:1-2), but he does not mention the death of James, the "brother" of Jesus, who was martyred in AD 62. This silence suggests that Luke wrote Acts prior to AD 62.

Luke's Gospel was written prior to the book of Acts as Luke himself records:

Quote
Acts 1:1-2
In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.

This suggests that Luke's Gospel was written prior to AD 62.

In his first letter to Timothy (written ca. AD 63), Paul quotes a phrase from Luke’s gospel:

Quote
Luke 10:6-7
6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages.

1 Timothy 5:17-18
17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 18 For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,”[a] and “The worker deserves his wages.”

As we can see, Paul not only quotes the gospel written by his friend, Luke, but he refers to it as scripture!  While not all scholars accept the Pauline authorship of 1 Timothy, there’s more to be found. Paul’s authorship of the First Letter to the Corinthians (dated from AD 56) is undisputed, and in it, Paul appears to be quoting another passage written by his friend, Luke.

Quote
Luke 22:19-20
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

1 Corinthians 11:23-25
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

Although all four gospels contain accounts of the Last Supper, only Luke’s gospel contains the words, “Do this in remembrance of me.” From these examples, we can conclude that Paul was quoting from Luke’s gospel repeatedly. The dating of Paul’s epistles is generally accepted by even skeptical scholars, and the fact that Paul states what he is writing is a reminder of that which he had taught them in person previously suggesting that Luke was written prior to AD 56.

In his gospel, Luke quoted 250 verses from the gospel of Matthew and 350 verses from the gospel of Mark. This suggests that both of these gospels were known and accepted at the time Luke prior to AD 56.

In the book of Galatians (ca. AD 55), Paul reported that after his conversion (ca. AD 35-36), he traveled to Jerusalem briefly and then went to Arabia for three years. Upon his return, he went to Jerusalem to meet with the Apostles on two occasions:  the first trip occurred within three years of his conversion (ca. AD 38-39) (cf. Gal. 1:15-19) and the second trip was made 14 years later (ca. AD 52-53) (cf. Gal. 2:1).

Additionally, 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 contains what many scholars believe to be an early creed of the Church based in part upon the apparent stylistic differences between this passage and other writings of Paul. These differences suggest that the passage contains a core statement of belief of the early Church which Paul – following standard Jewish rabbinic tradition – had memorized and passed along verbatim:

Quote
1 Corinthians 15:3-8
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

Note that Paul reminds the Corinthians that he has given this basic message to them orally in the past and that he explicitly stated that what he is about to repeat in writing was received by him previously from others (presumably during one or both of his two trips to Jerusalem). This suggests that the account of the resurrection of Jesus was based upon eyewitness testimony of the apostles that can be dated possibly to within five years of the event itself and certainly no later than 23 years after the event!

The bottom line

Given that as few as five years may have passed before Paul first heard the proto-creed of the Church proclaimed in 1 Corinthians 15 and that Paul encouraged his hearers to consult with eyewitnesses of the events surrounding Jesus’ ministry, death and resurrection for corroboration of the message he preached, it is possible - but highly improbable - that the central facts concerning Jesus of Nazareth were skewed or altered by additions and embellishments.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2016, 12:20:10 PM by Jason Harvestdancer »
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Re: Merged Topic - Historical Reliability of the Gospels
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2015, 01:33:12 PM »
I believe it is pretty well established that much of the New Testament was copied from older works that all the writers would have had access to.  In fact, if memory serves, a couple of the books in the NT have exactly the same stories, word for word or close to it.  If much of it was copied from other works then all you can really do is date the older works by your methods.

And if you're trying to establish a timeline for the writings of the books of the NT for the basis of future discussions and you have to use words like "suggests" and "possibly" then you really haven't "established" anything.

Aside from that, I am not a Biblical scholar, and you are not likely to be either.  If you want to establish the approximate dates of the writing of the books of the New Testament, rather than argue a case you are not qualified to argue and I am not qualified to check, isn't it easier, better and by far more accurate to go with the dates which are generally accepted among the people who are qualified to come to such conclusions?  The answer is yes.  Yes it is.  So, rather than analyze your argument, do a bunch of research and, after many hours of checking, give you a still-unqualified opinion on your conclusions, I'm just going to refer you to the dates given by qualified historians, who are quite at odds with your conclusions.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dating_the_Bible#Table_IV:_New_Testament

So, if you would like to lay the foundation for future discussions by establishing the dating of the four gospels, the generally accepted dating, thus the dating valid for discussion, is given in the link above.  So, what discussion would you like to have?
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Offline Baruch

Re: Merged Topic - Historical Reliability of the Gospels
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2015, 04:39:23 PM »
Actual complete gospels or fragments of gospels dated by radiocarbon dating or handwriting analysis ...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_manuscript#Dating_the_New_Testament_manuscripts
The earliest complete manuscripts are 1 & 2 Timothy and 2 & 3 John ... dated to 350 CE ... from the Codex Siniaticus.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_New_Testament_papyri - usually earlier "witness"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_New_Testament_uncials - usually later "witness"

If one tries to deduce that a fragment dated earlier than a complete manuscript, as evidence of an earlier date for the complete manuscript ... that is a conjecture.  For example there may be a variant pre-John gospel that was later incorporated into the later complete John gospel ... but what their relationship is, we can't deduce, because the earlier part is incomplete.  Complete can be compared to complete, and they are ... in order to pastiche together an official "textus receptus" like the Nestle-Aland.  But that contemporary process of building an official "textus receiptus" is not objective ... it presupposes, just like a translation into a language other than NT Greek presupposes, the agenda of the comparator/translator.

Example of actual paleoepigraphy ... the pre-Constantine fragments of the Gospel of John extend from 125 - 250 CE ... this is one of them.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rylands_Library_Papyrus_P52
But this is a fragment, not the complete Gospel of John ... and its exact date is disputed of course.

Example of an actual complete NT:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codex_Sinaiticus
http://www.bl.uk/turning-the-pages/?id=b00f9a37-422c-4542-bfbd-b97bf3ce7d50&type=book ... here is the British Library portion in all its glory ...
A great codex work of the period of the Constantine church ... since earlier NT material was in the form of codexes of one or a few books, not the complete NT, let alone the complete OT + NT.

So basically, the physical evidence indicates that the pre-Constantinian orthodox community, had papyrus manuscripts of much of the NT in the time period 150 - 350 CE ... which may be earlier versions of the complete NT books (with variants) in the period around 350 CE.  And that seems quite plausible.  Extrapolating much earlier than 175 CE is an act of faith.  Also this leaves out the question ... are these the only gospels?  The factual answer is no ... and that the Church Fathers, retrospectively ... excluded some material and some variants, for their own agenda ... these Church fathers being approved by the Council of Nicea in 325 CE ... though disputes continued into the later 4th century by Bishop Athenasius et al.

This is pretty much what would be reviewed in better seminaries these days.  As to how to assess the claims of the Constantinian church, and the construction and editing of NT material both canonical and not ... will never be decisive, because it involves faith.  The arguments you reference, are one such extrapolation ... which itself is not free of agenda.

Similar scholarship can be done on the manuscripts of the OT and the Quran.  But Moses never handled a Torah scroll ... almost all of it was written long after his time, Jesus may have handled a Torah scroll but never handled any epistle or gospel of the NT ... almost all of it was written 100 or more years after his time (aside from the genuine Pauline materials).  And the genuine Pauline materials are evidence of a Jewish gnostic sect, not orthodox Gentile Christianity as it was 100 years after Paul.  A whole sequence of events, unclear to us now, over a 350 year period produced these manuscripts ... from the establishment of the Essenes around 150 BCE to the establishment of rabbinic Judaism around 200 CE.  Into that time we can only project our own agendas.  After that time we are inheritors of the survivors of the Roman wars of annihilation against the Jews, both Jewish and god-fearing Gentile.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2015, 04:49:27 PM by Baruch »
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Offline Hakurei Reimu

Re: Merged Topic - Historical Reliability of the Gospels
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2015, 05:53:28 PM »
Both Baruch and widdershins are correct. Your dating is highly dubious, Randy. Saying that some fragment couldn't have been written earlier than a certain date by pointing to an account of a dateable event is often noncontrovertial, but saying that a writing has to be written before a dateable event because it doesn't describe it is highly dubious. For instance, your example from Mark that Jesus predicted the fall of the Temple assumes that it isn't a later redaction to make Jesus's words seem more credible.

Your assertion that there was too little time for central facts of Jesus to be distorted because there was too little time to do so is absolutely false. The 9/11 conspiracy theory did not take decades to evolve. It took maybe a year from start to finish for the major pillars of the conspiracy theory to be invented. And this is in a society that has launched space shuttles and has taught almost all of its children how to read and write. If you think that the same thing wouldn't happen in ancient Judea, then I've got a bridge I'll sell you for a cool million.
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Offline Hijiri Byakuren

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Re: Merged Topic - Historical Reliability of the Gospels
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2015, 10:33:58 PM »
Randy, you seem to live in a very black and white world of "true or false." If you don't start adding a little color to your perspective, you'll never be able to see reality for what it is. :lol:

Offline Baruch

Re: Merged Topic - Historical Reliability of the Gospels
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2015, 11:09:11 AM »
Randy, you seem to live in a very black and white world of "true or false." If you don't start adding a little color to your perspective, you'll never be able to see reality for what it is. :lol:

Some Christians can see a third color ... red ... the color for the words of Jesus.  But this is in fact worse ... because then only red is seen, and the rest of the NT is ignored.

Yes, ideology is why we see black vs white on issues.  And ideology is ... not a good thing.  So is Randy passive or active in his self-limitation?
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Offline Randy Carson (OP)

Re: Merged Topic - Historical Reliability of the Gospels
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2015, 11:25:16 AM »
I believe it is pretty well established that much of the New Testament was copied from older works that all the writers would have had access to.  In fact, if memory serves, a couple of the books in the NT have exactly the same stories, word for word or close to it.  If much of it was copied from other works then all you can really do is date the older works by your methods.

If you have some evidence of this "copying", then you should provide it. As it stands, you've simply made an unsupported (and erroneous, btw) assertion.

For the record, Luke copied passages from Mark and Matthew, but there is no evidence that any of the gospel writers copied from any non-Christian sources (apart from the OT which they quoted from time to time, of course). One theory suggests a source called "Q", as well. In the prologue of his gospel, Luke notes that "many" had written accounts of Jesus' life, and that he had carefully investigated the matter himself. His aim is to write an informed, "orderly" account.

However, this is not the same as recycling old ideas from other pagan religions.

Quote
And if you're trying to establish a timeline for the writings of the books of the NT for the basis of future discussions and you have to use words like "suggests" and "possibly" then you really haven't "established" anything.



If I had used language that expressed greater confidence, you would be taking me to task for stating "facts" that cannot be proven.

If you have any objection to the timeline that I posted, please let me know what you take issue with. The silence regarding several major events speaks volumes, IMO.

Quote
Aside from that, I am not a Biblical scholar, and you are not likely to be either.  If you want to establish the approximate dates of the writing of the books of the New Testament, rather than argue a case you are not qualified to argue and I am not qualified to check, isn't it easier, better and by far more accurate to go with the dates which are generally accepted among the people who are qualified to come to such conclusions?  The answer is yes.  Yes it is.  So, rather than analyze your argument, do a bunch of research and, after many hours of checking, give you a still-unqualified opinion on your conclusions, I'm just going to refer you to the dates given by qualified historians, who are quite at odds with your conclusions.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dating_the_Bible#Table_IV:_New_Testament

I am aware of the more conservative dating offered by some NT scholars, and I'm totally okay with their dates. We don't know with certainty when some of the books were written, but the OP suggests that because of the omission of key events that would have been of great interest to the early Church, the argument can be made for dates which are much earlier than the average atheist cares to admit. Conservative scholars must also account for this silence, IMO.

And by the way, the Wiki article to which you linked suggests a date of AD 56 for Corinthians, and this is a show-stopper, because in 1 Co 15, Paul includes a proto-creed which he learned from Peter, James and John in Jerusalem during one of the two visits he made to that city after his conversion.

Bottom line? Paul heard the apostles preaching the resurrection of Jesus from the dead as early as five years after the event - certainly no more than 20 years or so. This means that those who claim that the gospels are nothing more than the result of a complex game of Telephone must explain how the gospels became so distorted so quickly. IOW, there was virtually no time for the legends and myths about Jesus to develop.

Quote
So, if you would like to lay the foundation for future discussions by establishing the dating of the four gospels, the generally accepted dating, thus the dating valid for discussion, is given in the link above.  So, what discussion would you like to have?

I have laid out my case for early dating of the gospels. Thus far, you have simply appealed to authority (which is reasonable, btw), but not all authorities agree on the dates Wiki has listed for the composition of each book. For example, the intro to Matthew in my Bible says that it was probably written some time before AD 70 - earlier than your Wiki article. Similarly, my Bible has Luke and Acts being written in the mid-60's...about 15-25 years earlier than Wiki.

The difference of two decades is significant, and those who want to dismiss the gospels as being written too late to be historically reliable are engaging in wishful thinking.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2015, 11:28:16 AM by Randy Carson »
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Offline Baruch

Re: Merged Topic - Historical Reliability of the Gospels
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2015, 01:05:45 PM »
It is standard apologetic/polemic to project the Gospels back to 26 CE or 70 CE at the latest.  But this is rhetoric, not scholarship.  It is more plausible to date the original material in the edited Pauline epistles (the ones actually by him by internal analysis) to the 50 CE time period ... because Paul would be unaware of the details of what happened post 66 CE.  The works of Philo of Alexandria also probably date before 66 CE ... and resemble the Pauline/Johanine corpus in content.  The more cautious rhetoric ... that dates the Gospels to 70 CE ... is based on the idea that the prophesy regarding the destruction of the Temple is post-facto, but near contemporary.

What isn't mentioned, is the Flavius Josephus material, minus the editing by later Christian scribes.  Also the Dead Sea Scroll material.  All of that would be required to assess just the Jewish portion of the written evidence ... not even counting the Gentile portion.  It is hard speculative work to reconstruct a lost world, even from propaganda contemporary to it.  But if one already has a conclusion in mind, then it is proof-texting on a larger scale.  Crossan has done a better than average attempt at this larger scale view ... what were the Gospels etc in context ... a context without the Church that formed after 135 CE.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2015, 01:08:04 PM by Baruch »
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Re: Merged Topic - Historical Reliability of the Gospels
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2015, 09:44:08 AM »

  The works of Philo of Alexandria also probably date before 66 CE ... and resemble the Pauline/Johanine corpus in content. 
Just for the record: Philo never mentions jesus. And the pauline christ is not a historical figure.

Re: Merged Topic - Historical Reliability of the Gospels
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2015, 12:12:46 PM »
"The New Testament fails to mention the destruction of the Temple which occurred in AD 70. Since Jesus had prophesied this event (cf. Mk 13:1-2), the authors of the NT books and letters would have highlighted His prediction prominently if it had been fulfilled. This silence suggests that the New Testament was written prior to AD 70."

 False dilemma right off the start, you didn't even consider the potential of their ignorance.
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Offline Baruch

Re: Merged Topic - Historical Reliability of the Gospels
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2015, 12:48:03 PM »
Just for the record: Philo never mentions jesus. And the pauline christ is not a historical figure.

Correct ... Philo does mention the Logos.  So Johannine pre-Christian material was about ... in the early 1st century CE.  And the Pauline Christ is a similar mythical figure, as is the probable predecessor of the Gospel of John, and the non-Pauline Homily to the Hebrews figure of an eternal High Priest.  These all work together as Hellenized Jewish gnosticism, pre-Temple destruction ... and they work even better after the Temple was destroyed, since the question of Temple corruption has been superseded by the lack of any Temple at all.  So I see part of the NT, the gnostic part, including the Epistle of James ... as pre-Christian Jewish material.  The revised Gospel of John and the three Synoptics, with the Gospel of Mark being early Christian material of the late second century ... as content.  Again nothing is physically reliable before about 175 CE ... at least because the physical material hasn't survived.  The idea of the NT is initially imagined in the 2nd century and finalized toward the early 5th century, after Christianity becomes the only licit religion in the Empire.

Early dating of full Gospel material is speculative.  Not impossible, but choosing an early vs later date ... is less scholarly conservative (which always favors later dates).  Certainly the content, if not the physical remains, of part of the NT do date to the mid 1st century (including the Q or Greek Gospel of Thomas) ... but later ideological and political struggles have obscured what happened in favor of the victors telling the story.  I see the photo-Christian movement as Hellenistic Jewish Pacifist Messianic ... though some of the Dead Sea material is mythical militancy (apocalypse).  The latest I would date this material would be 135 CE ... because from that time all the militant Jewish messianics were dead.  Only the pacifist Jewish messianics remained, and their copy-cat Gentile god-fearer communities like Paul's.  Given that the reliable parts of Josephus only mention John the Baptist, and not a historical Jesus ... and that was written 70 - 100 CE ... I have doubts that a historical Jesus existed ... as there are also alternative explanations for the mention of the Christos followers in Tacitus (in regards to the Great Fire at Rome).  Followers even as early as Nero's time, just before the start of the Jewish wars ... do not demonstrate a historical figure ... as much as a mythical one.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2015, 12:58:40 PM by Baruch »
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Offline Baruch

Re: Merged Topic - Historical Reliability of the Gospels
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2015, 12:52:09 PM »
"The New Testament fails to mention the destruction of the Temple which occurred in AD 70. Since Jesus had prophesied this event (cf. Mk 13:1-2), the authors of the NT books and letters would have highlighted His prediction prominently if it had been fulfilled. This silence suggests that the New Testament was written prior to AD 70."

 False dilemma right off the start, you didn't even consider the potential of their ignorance.

Any Jewish ignorance would be clarified within a year after the destruction of Jerusalem ... in 70 CE.  The prophecy of the destruction of the Temple would have been current, in regards to King Herod having built it (and thus non-kosher for some) even before the Jewish revolt of 66 CE.  This wasn't a hard prediction to make.  And many a written prophesy is post-facto anyway.
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Re: Merged Topic - Historical Reliability of the Gospels
« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2015, 12:37:05 PM »
If you have some evidence of this "copying", then you should provide it. As it stands, you've simply made an unsupported (and erroneous, btw) assertion.

For the record, Luke copied passages from Mark and Matthew, but there is no evidence that any of the gospel writers copied from any non-Christian sources (apart from the OT which they quoted from time to time, of course). One theory suggests a source called "Q", as well. In the prologue of his gospel, Luke notes that "many" had written accounts of Jesus' life, and that he had carefully investigated the matter himself. His aim is to write an informed, "orderly" account.

However, this is not the same as recycling old ideas from other pagan religions.

(Image removed from quote.)

You've given your own evidence.  I never said "non-Christian sources".  That was all you, buddy.  I said "older works", which includes the Old Testament, which you just said they quoted from.  So for your first response, you agree with me.  Perfect.

If I had used language that expressed greater confidence, you would be taking me to task for stating "facts" that cannot be proven. (Image removed from quote.)

If you have any objection to the timeline that I posted, please let me know what you take issue with. The silence regarding several major events speaks volumes, IMO.
I just pointed out that neither of us is qualified to come to any such conclusions, so we, by necessity of being as accurate as possible, must cast aside our own wild assertions and beliefs and defer to the judgement of experts who have made careers out of exactly this study.  What I take issue with is the ignorant belief that with a week of Googling you are better qualified to date ancient manuscripts than people who have seen, studied and tested such manuscripts and are trained to understand what it all means.

I am aware of the more conservative dating offered by some NT scholars, and I'm totally okay with their dates. We don't know with certainty when some of the books were written, but the OP suggests that because of the omission of key events that would have been of great interest to the early Church, the argument can be made for dates which are much earlier than the average atheist cares to admit. Conservative scholars must also account for this silence, IMO.
And the argument can be made that Jesus was homosexual given that he spent all his time with 12 men and showed no interest in women whatsoever.  But making that argument is counterproductive and pointless since experts studying the evidence have never come to that conclusion, making it highly unlikely.

And by the way, the Wiki article to which you linked suggests a date of AD 56 for Corinthians, and this is a show-stopper, because in 1 Co 15, Paul includes a proto-creed which he learned from Peter, James and John in Jerusalem during one of the two visits he made to that city after his conversion.

Bottom line? Paul heard the apostles preaching the resurrection of Jesus from the dead as early as five years after the event - certainly no more than 20 years or so. This means that those who claim that the gospels are nothing more than the result of a complex game of Telephone must explain how the gospels became so distorted so quickly. IOW, there was virtually no time for the legends and myths about Jesus to develop.
You are not owed any answers by any experts.  Do you have degrees in ancient languages?  History?  Antiquities?  Have you seen, touched, studied and tested these documents?  Or are you just scouring the Internet, specifically web sites of people who say what you want to hear, and pulling your beliefs from there?  On the one hand we have a consensus of the vast majority of experts who have spent entire careers looking into this.  On the other hand we have you and Google searches specifically designed to get you, not the truth, but a boost to your argument.  Let's see, who should I trust here...

I have laid out my case for early dating of the gospels. Thus far, you have simply appealed to authority (which is reasonable, btw), but not all authorities agree on the dates Wiki has listed for the composition of each book. For example, the intro to Matthew in my Bible says that it was probably written some time before AD 70 - earlier than your Wiki article. Similarly, my Bible has Luke and Acts being written in the mid-60's...about 15-25 years earlier than Wiki.

The difference of two decades is significant, and those who want to dismiss the gospels as being written too late to be historically reliable are engaging in wishful thinking.
First, it is not an "appeal to authority" (which is very much NOT ok, btw) if you are referencing the majority conclusion of experts in a field.  That's called "science", my friend.  Second, if you had read and understood what I wrote in the least you would know that I was presenting a counterargument that neither you nor I was qualified to have the argument you want to have.  You want to have a war of Google searches?  Great!  We can quickly determining who is better at using Google to find evidence to support their beliefs whether or not those beliefs are valid!  I will quickly come out as the victor!  And you will quickly come out as the victor!  I'll think I won, you'll think you won, but only after hours and hours of pointless, useless, unproductive circling.  What is the point?  You're not qualified!  I'm not qualified!  We MUST defer to the majority consensus of those who are qualified!  Why?  Because if you think you know better then you're being an idiot.  How could you POSSIBLY know better than a group of experts who have spent, collectively, thousands of YEARS studying this?  How could you POSSIBLY compete with man-hours and expertise on that scale?  What is so super special about you that, with a few weeks of research on the Internet, you can know more about these ancient manuscripts than old men who've studied them since they were young men and come to a collective agreement on their findings?  The answer, of course, is nothing.  You are not that super-special.  You are not that super-informed.  You are not that super-intelligent or enlightened.  The very fact that you believe YOU have found something in your hours of Internet searches that ALL OF ACADEMIA has overlooked in their collective thousands of years of actual study is arrogant and ignorant.

If you read nothing else thoroughly, read this part.  My argument is not "You are wrong and here's why".  My argument is that your argument is pointless.  You can present all the "evidence" you want.  It won't change the absolute fact that these are your most hopeful beliefs, in opposition to a majority of experts who have studied this, and are extremely likely to not be based in any sort of reality or facts.  Already you're using terms like "could not have" to prove your point, with your first post.  This is not a Sherlock Holmes novel where all you have to do is eliminate things you don't like until you're left with the answer you want.  This is reality, where you look at the whole of the data and come to a conclusion regardless what you, personally, would like that conclusion to be.  They have analyzed linguistics, writing styles, papyrus and ink, the locations of the finds, history of the lands and multi-million dollar pieces of lab equipment.  They have gone on-side and studied and talked and dug.  They have examined history from every source even remotely close to the time frame.  They have done about a million and one things I could not even comprehend, much less imagine them doing.  The expert consensus gives us the dates based on ALL the evidence available, not just what Google or Christian apologetic sights tell you.  They have analyzed more points of data than you can imagine to come up with these numbers.  To think that you can shatter that with "Well, it COULD NOT HAVE been then because..." is just ignorant.  That's not an insult, it's just the bare truth.  Your argument is uninformed and unproductive.  You are wrong until you prove you're right.  But you don't prove you're right to me.  Because taking an argument directly to the people is another one of those ways (aside from argument from authority) that people with bad arguments propagate them.  You have to prove you're right to a majority of experts.  You have to get your answer to be the consensus answer.  Only then will you be "right".  Even if you are absolutely correct in everything you say, you are "wrong" until it is accepted by scientific consensus.  It's just how things work.  It's how science works.  And you can be damned sure it's how it will work here, where what we want is exactly the opposite of what you want.  Even if you argue your heart out and nobody can refute you you STILL would not convince a single person here.  Why?  Because we're not experts, so we will always "know" something is wrong with your argument, even if we don't know what that thing is, until a majority of experts tell use you were right.  It's not a perfect system, but it does work pretty damned well.
This sentence is a lie...

Offline Randy Carson (OP)

Re: Merged Topic - Historical Reliability of the Gospels
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2016, 09:49:57 AM »
It is standard apologetic/polemic to project the Gospels back to 26 CE or 70 CE at the latest.  But this is rhetoric, not scholarship. 

Just as it is common among atheists to try to push the dates as late as possible, eh? Both sides have their reasons for this.

However, I laid out a reasonable timeline in the OP. Please let me know where it is in error.

Quote
It is more plausible to date the original material in the edited Pauline epistles (the ones actually by him by internal analysis) to the 50 CE time period ... because Paul would be unaware of the details of what happened post 66 CE.  The works of Philo of Alexandria also probably date before 66 CE ... and resemble the Pauline/Johanine corpus in content.  The more cautious rhetoric ... that dates the Gospels to 70 CE ... is based on the idea that the prophesy regarding the destruction of the Temple is post-facto, but near contemporary.

Perhaps the fact that Paul was martyred in Rome around AD 65-66 hindered his ability to know that happened "post 66 CE"?

Some barrels contain fish that need to be shot.

Offline Randy Carson (OP)

Re: Merged Topic - Historical Reliability of the Gospels
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2016, 09:54:49 AM »
"The New Testament fails to mention the destruction of the Temple which occurred in AD 70. Since Jesus had prophesied this event (cf. Mk 13:1-2), the authors of the NT books and letters would have highlighted His prediction prominently if it had been fulfilled. This silence suggests that the New Testament was written prior to AD 70."

 False dilemma right off the start, you didn't even consider the potential of their ignorance.

Um...no. I sure didn't.
Some barrels contain fish that need to be shot.