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Certainly most of the New Testament was written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and The Temple in 70 AD. Jesus prophesied the destruction of the temple in the gospels: "As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down." (Luke 21:6, see also Matt. 24:2; Mark 13:2). Undoubtedly, if Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written after the destruction of the Temple, they would have included the fulfillment of Christ's prophecy in them. Since they don't, it is very strong indication that they were written before A.D. 70. The gospel written by John the apostle is written from the perspective of an eyewitness of the events of Christ's life. The John Rylands papyrus fragment 52 of John's gospel dated in the year 135 contains portions of John 18:31-33, 37-38. This fragment was found in Egypt and a considerable amount of time would have been needed for the circulation of the gospel before it reached Egypt. It is the last of the gospels and may have been written as late as the 80's to 90's.....but no later. Of important note is the lack of mention of the destruction of the Jewish temple in A.D. 70. But this is understandable since John does not mention Jesus' prophecy of the destruction of the Temple. He was not focusing on historical events. Instead, he focused on the theological aspect of the person of Christ and listed His miracles and words that affirmed Christ's deity. This may make sense since he already knew of the previously written gospels.
While the dates of the gospels are not definitely established, there are some hints and clues as to about when they were written. Early church writers, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius, and Jerome stated that each gospel, written in the canonical order found in the New Testament, served to supplement the one before it. This helps in determining the order they were written. The church fathers claimed Matthew’s gospel aimed early on to reach the Jewish audience. Papias wrote, “So then Matthew wrote the oracles in the Hebrew language, and everyone interpreted them as he was able.” Evidence of Hebrew influence can be found in the gospel which was passed down in Greek. Papias and Clement mentioned that Mark may have written his gospel while Peter was still alive. Supposedly, when Peter departed Rome, the Christians in Rome begged Mark, “the interpreter of Peter,” to write Peter’s gospel. He did and when Peter heard of it, he reportedly gave its approval. Speaking of Jesus taking three disciples into the house of Jairus, Mark wrote, “Peter, James, and John the brother of James,” Mark 5:37. The specific wording is unusual and demands an explanation. James is listed before John because he was better known as a leader in the church in Jerusalem until martyred about AD 44. John Wenham noted that Luke does not mention at all the martyrdom of James the half-brother of Jesus which was in 62. Also, in I Timothy 5:18, Paul quotes Luke 10:7 which makes the gospel of Luke early. According to tradition, Paul was referring to Luke in II Corinthians 8:18. Luke’s gospel had to be before 56. Church tradition states that John wrote his gospel while living in Ephesus. The timing of his move had to be after 46-47 when Paul ministered there, Acts 19-20. Also, John 5:2 speaks of the pool of Bethesda and the temple. The specific language of the present tense, “there is,” “is called,” and “having,” show the temple was intact until the time of John’s writing. What gives this credence is that in verse 1 before, and verse 3 after, the verbs are in past tense. So, the wording shows the temple was standing when John wrote, and it had to be before AD 70. But even more pertinent to the discussion is the 2008 discovery by Wilbur N. Pickering who found colophons at the end of the gospels in a number of f35 (sub-group of Byzantine) manuscripts. These ending inscriptions indicate the number of years the gospels were published, literally, “given out,” after the ascension of Christ: Matthew, 8 years or AD 38 Mark, 10 years or AD 40 Luke, 15 years or AD 45 John, 32 years or AD 62 Wilbur Pickering calculated that 50% of the 1,800 extant manuscripts have the colophons. These manuscripts come from a wide, diversified geographic region which adds to the validity of the notations. This amazing find might yet be the best legitimate indicator of when the gospels were precisely written.
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