Is there any [strong] evidence that the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written after 70 AD? I’ve been browsing wikipedia and found that some scholars believe that those 3 gospels, specifically Luke, believe that it was dated sometime after 80 AD to maybe around 125 AD. Is there any [strong] evidence for this claim, or is just pure speculation and that the those three gospels that are traditionally believed to have been written sometime between 50AD to 67AD?

Note: I already know that the Gospel of John was written after 70AD.


The simple answer is no, there is absolutely no solid evidence that any of the three synaptic gospels was written after AD 70.  I believe the strongest argument for a post-AD 70 date is the assumption that Jesus could not have prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem, and that, therefore, it is obvious that the gospel writers are putting these words in Jesus mouth so as to increase his (undeserved) reputation as a prophet.  This is clearly a biased position to take!   Other arguments for a later date are similarly based on liberal biases.  Such arguments stake their conclusions on theories that Christianity and its picture of Jesus evolved over time.  Therefore, if you can speculate that such and such doctrine of Jesus came after the fall of Jerusalem, then the gospel which contains this idea must also postdate the destruction of Jerusalem.  Now, it may very well be true that the church’s understanding of certain doctrines evolved with time, but those who force a later date generally are make unfounded assumptions, such as assuming that the teaching that Jesus was a miracle-worker or that he claimed deity came later. 

Now, I will admit that I am biased, but my "bias" is based on a massive foundation of evidence.  Here is my bias.  I believe that the Bible is indeed inspired by God and that Jesus did, indeed, prophesy the destruction of Jerusalem.  For that reason, I believe that Matthew, Mark and Luke most likely were all written pre-AD 70.  I will admit that it is always going to be really hard to tie down a date for the initial penning of these books, but liberal biases have intimidated many scholars–even normally conservative ones.  We should not be intimidated by such scholarly excess, but should simply look at the evidence.  The fact is that Eusebius reported that the church in Jerusalem fled from the city to Pella at the time the Roman army approached the city.  He tells us that they did so because they were aware of this prophecy.  Of couse, this does not prove that Luke was written before AD 70, as many of Jesus’ sayings were very familiar to the Christians before that date.  However, it removes the chief argument that the synoptics were written after the events foretold in the gospels.By the way, I know of no really strong evidence that the book of John was written after AD 70.  In my opinion, it is likely that it was, but most of the arguments either way for the writing of this book are based largely on speculation.  There is internal evidence that John was written after at least one, and somewhat likely all three of the synoptics.  There is some pretty good evidence of a more advanced theology, particularly  in John 1:1f.  One gets the impression that John was filling in details not included in the synaptics.I do not believe any major points of doctrine or theology hang on the question of whether Luke, for example, was written before or after AD 70, although I simply cannot avoid thinking that it was written pre-AD 70, both because of the prophecy of the fall of Jerusalem and because it is the prequel to Acts, which has the story of the church only up to about AD 63.  It is logical (though not proved) that Luke wrote Acts some time shortly after AD 63, otherwise Acts ends rather abruptly.  This is not slam-dunk proof, but it is why I lean toward a date of about AD 65 for Luke, a date of 50-early 60s for Mark, and AD 50-70 for Matthew.  I put Mark first because the internal evidence for Mark being the first of the synaptics is not overwhelming, but it is fairly strong.I am only going to give brief mention to other arguments.  Many scholars propose a so-called Q document, which was the oral tradition which was written down and which formed the source material for Mark.  I think it is very likely that some of the story of Jesus was written down somewhere before Mark wrote.  It would be a bit of a surprise if he did not use any written source material at all.   Then there is the question of a second source document, sometimes called L, which was an additional source for Luke. I would say that the evidence for L is much slimmer than for Q, but I cannot rule it out (nor do I have a reason to).   Another area of research lately has been to speculate on the nature of the oral Jesus tradition which circulated from AD 30-50s when Mark was written.  What influence did the still-fluid oral tradition have on Mark, as opposed to his own personal testimony from talking to Peter and perhaps even witnessing some of the events.  We do not know, but theories about oral tradition might have an effect on when we date Mark.One more thing.  Anyone who puts Luke at AD 125 is either ignorant of the facts or is guilty of extremely poor scholarship.  We have quotes by church fathers from Luke by about AD 100.  In other words, whether we date Luke to AD 65, 75 or 85, we know that it was circulating and accepted as inspired writing by AD 100, so a date of AD 125 is absolutely and unambiguously ruled out.In conclusion, everything I know pushes me toward the following:  Mark: AD 50-65, Luke AD 64-70, Matthew AD 50-70, John more likely than not post AD 70.John Oakes


Comments are closed.