- was based on the sufferings of Jewish martyrs in the days of the Maccabees.
It also destroyed another theory which dated chapters 24-27 of Isaiah in the reign of John Hyrcanus (135-104 B. RYLANDS FRAGMENT OF JOHN DISPROVES LATE DATE Again, when the Rylands fragment of John 18 was dated on paleographical grounds in the first half of the second century A.
First of all, because the Christian faith, unlike other major religions, is not built merely on a set of religious or ethical ideals. The heart of the gospel is that God’s Son came into the world, suffered, died and rose again for our eternal salvation. Bruce, gratefully remembered by college students of the last two decades for his New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?
Why are the dates of the books of the New Testament of such intense interest to Christians?
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If O’Callaghan’s findings lead to a major revision of New Testament critical views, it will not be the first time that uncovered ancient texts or fragments have jolted the scholars.One of the most useful is: a work must be dated sometime after the latest historical event to which it refers.Acts, for example, ends with a reference to Paul’s two years under house-arrest in Rome. Bruce explains the methods used for dating the New Testament and stresses the importance of avoiding criteria that are too speculative and subjective.Secondly, because the central fact of the Christian faith, the Incarnation—which defies human comprehension—demands solid historical support if it is to win the allegiance of sober-minded people. And we confess with him, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” But again, if our records of this pivotal event in human history cannot be trusted, our faith is vulnerable indeed. For the past century or so, New Testament critics have assumed a date of around A. But if O’Callaghan’s work holds up—and it really is too early to predict one way or the other—we will have strong evidence that Mark was in circulation in Palestine a whole generation earlier than anyone had imagined, and the suggestion of an earlier source would be pointless.
We will avoid such dubious conclusions if we rely as far as possible on more objective criteria for dating the New Testament books. But that admittedly would be both speculative and subjective—a far cry from the objective criteria I have advocated in this article! Bruce [was] professor of biblical criticism and exegesis at the University of Manchester, England, and [was] a consulting editor of ETERNITY.