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Overview > Is the New Testament reliable? > Internal Evidence Test > When was the New Testament of the Bible written?

When was the NT written?

Summary
  1. The NT writers claimed to be eyewitnesses or to have interviewed eyewitnesses e.g. Luke 1:1-3.

  2. The dating of the NT

    • The Gospels were written between 40 and 100 AD (conservative / liberal scholars). After closer examination of the liberal scholar's dating, we find that there is no good reason to date them later than 70 AD.

    • Paul's letters (which contain all the main claims of the Gospels) were written between 49 and 65 AD

  3. The writers display intimate knowledge of Jerusalem prior to its destruction in AD 70 (Proper names, dates, cultural details, historical events, customs and opinions of the time)

  4. The NT doesn't contain any anachronisms (i.e. it does not place any person, or event in a time where it does not belong; there are no errors in dates of events, circumstances or customs)

The witness's nearness both geographically and chronologically to the events recorded, is closely linked to their ability to tell the truth. Did the New Testament writers record their accounts of the life of Jesus hundreds of years after Jesus' actual existence? Did they even come from the same geographical region as Jesus? Were the writers of the New Testament eyewitnesses (or did they relate the accounts of eyewitnesses) to the life and teachings of Jesus?

The New Testament writers certainly claimed to be eyewitnesses and to have interviewed eyewitnesses: [5 p.61]

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:1-3)

We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. (2 Peter 1:16)

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. (1 John 1:3)

The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. (John 19:35)

The New Testament documents also show an intimate knowledge of Jerusalem prior to its destruction in AD 70. The documents are full of proper names, dates, cultural details, historical events, customs and opinions of that time. [1 p. 193]

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar--when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene (Luke 3:1)

The New Testament also does not contain any anachronisms i.e. it does not place any person, or event in a time where it does not belong; there are no errors in fixing dates or referring to events, circumstances or customs. The writers of the New Testament certainly appear to have been first century Jews who were witnesses to the events. [1 p.194]

Historians, however, also has to deal with the eyewitness who consciously or unconsciously tells falsehoods, even though they are near to the event and are competent to tell the truth. [6 p. 52]

Before examining the truth of their claims, it is worth examining when the actual New Testament documents were written. The dating of the New Testament documents is greatly debated topic and the dating ranges from 40 - 100 AD (depending on liberal / conservative scholars). However, we do find that there is no good reason to date ANY of the Gospels (the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) later than 70 AD. We also find that Paul's letters, which contain all the main claims that are in the Gospels, were written between 49 and 65 AD! [9] & [5 p. 62]

We can therefore state that the New Testament was written in the same generation in which the events took place. It was circulated among the very people about whom these documents spoke, while they were still alive to deny them. Both first and second-generation eyewitnesses were alive when the New Testament was written! [2]

Let us now examine the issue of whether the writers of the New Testament recorded falsehoods.

 


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