Dr. Darrell Bock, one of the world’s leading historical Jesus scholars, answers questions about when the Gospels were written.
Who wrote the Gospels:
J. Warner Wallace describes the evidence for the early dating of the Gospels. Why is this issue important to those who are examining the claims of Christianity? How does early dating contribute to the reliability of the Gospel authors as eyewitnesses? What other problem does early dating resolve?
Jim Wallace explains that the Gospels’ differences shouldn’t be a problem. Apparent contradictions in witness testimony is expected. Identical accounts are not normal.
Jim Wallace explains the New Testament Chain of Custody — how the original evidence of the New Testament was preserved.
Matthew: apostle, tax collector, wrote to the Jews
Mark: younger than other apostles, his mother was a prominent follower, likely a teenager when Jesus was in Jerusalem, traveled with the Apostle Paul, later traveled and stayed with Peter when Peter was imprisoned in Rome, known as Peter’s Greek interpreter (Peter, as a fisherman, many not have known Greek fluently); Mark reflects Peter’s interests in spreading the Gospel among the Gentiles
Luke: didn’t know Jesus personally, but was taught by Paul; left his job of physician and traveled with Paul; though not himself an eyewitness, he spoke to many eyewitnesses (says so at the start of his Gospel)
John: one of the Apostles; probably read the other Gospels before he wrote his own Gospel; wrote to members of the Church who already knew about Jesus;
William Lane Craig explains that the Gospels were likely written at nearly the same time as Paul’s epistles (1 Corinthians 15 was penned in 55 AD). The Book of Acts occurred in mid AD 60s (before James died and temple was destroyed in 70 AD). Luke was written before Acts by the same author around 57 AD. Mark’s Gospel was used by Luke, putting Mark even earlier.
The Gospels were spread orally before they were written. But, because all those writing the Gospels were so closely connected to the events (not 30 years had passed since Jesus’ death), the authors were not writing oral traditions. Instead, the 4 Gospel writers were doing oral histories — actually asking the many still-living eyewitnesses what had happened. 2 writers were apostles themselves, Matthew and John) and had witnessed many things first hand.
Jewish children were taught at home, school, and in the synagogue to memorize massive amounts of faithful information. Memorization and faithful transmission was prioritized. Jesus’ disciples surely utilized this skill. No legend. No mythology. No telephone game.