Friday, December 04, 2009

New Testament Documents and Dating Versus Gnostic Gospel Dating and Place in History

The below is a second portion from my proposed book (which this and one other chapter are proving to be challenging time/mind wise -- I am editing and making sure my references are correct.  You can see a second section from this chapter here, "Which Worldview -- Modern Secular Feminism Distorts Reality."  This post would actually be prior (in order) to the linked blog I posted prior.  I think this topic is important for both the Christian and non-Christian to read about.  One reason is that it corrects bad argumentation and straw-men positions.  Another reason is is that it takes history seriously.
Nag Hammadi
For many, many years, all that was understood about Gnosticism came through primarily the writings of the early church fathers, more specifically, Irenaeus[1] (died about A.D. 200), Tertullian (died about A.D. 220), Hippolytus (died about A.D. 236),  and Origin (died about A.D. 254).[2]  This is no longer the case. A cache of Gnostic thought has recently come to light due to an interesting archaeological find at Nag Hammadi (300 miles south of Cairo in the Nile River region of Egypt, in 1945.[3]
The 52 surviving Coptic writings (pictured to the right) are firmly placed from A.D. 350-400,[4] based on the type of script, papyrus, and binding utilized.  However, some of these documents were most probably taken from earlier Greek or Coptic versions that are, as of yet, not to be found.  It is here where the scholarly consensus on the dates of these earlier Greek versions comes to an end.  The Gospel of Thomas, one of these documents found at Nag Hammadi, is by far the most well well-known “gospel” of Gnostic tradition.  This popularity can be attributed in part to the liberal Jesus Seminar,[5] and more recently to the movies Stigmata and the Da Vinci Code.  In fact, in Dan Brown’s book, The Da Vinci Code, he writes about a common assumption held by many:
Fortunately for historians ... some of the gospels that Constantine attempted to eradicate managed to survive. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the 1950s hidden in a cave near Qumran in the Judean desert. And, of course, the Coptic Scrolls in 1945 at Nag Hammadi. In addition to telling the true Grail story, these documents speak of Christ's ministry in very human terms. Of course, the Vatican, in keeping with their tradition of misinformation, tried very hard to suppress the release of these scrolls. And why wouldn't they? The scrolls highlight glaring historical discrepancies and fabrications, clearly confirming that the modern Bible was compiled and edited by men who possessed a political agenda—to promote the divinity of the man Jesus Christ and use His influence to solidify their own power base.[6]
While this work is considered fiction, Dan Brown himself believes it encapsulates real history: “One of the many qualities that makes The Da Vinci Code unique is the factual nature of the story. All the history, artwork, ancient documents, and secret rituals in the novel are accurate—as are the hidden codes revealed in some of Da Vinci's most famous paintings.”[7]  It should be pointed out here that no scholar believes the apostle Thomas wrote the Gospel of Thomas.[8]  Dating the document has proven a bit thornier however.  Scholars such as Elaine Pagels think the Gospel was written around A.D. 80-90,[9] however, the arguments with the most weight date the book to no earlier than A.D. 175.[10]  This early dating of the Gnostic gospels found in the writings of Jesus Seminar fellows like Marcus Borge,[11] Robert Funk,[12] John Dominic Crossan,[13] is important to these researchers because they undermine the Gospels accuracy.  These authors give a late date to the canonical Gospels and an early date to Gnostic writings in order to blur Jesus’ distinctive claims to Deity.
As an example, in Pagels book The Gnostic Gospels, the thesis is put forward that the second century church had a panoply of documents and theologies to choose from, saying in effect that both the Gnostic and orthodox traditions circulated alongside each other.[14]  She goes on to say that because ecclesiastical and canonical views hadn’t yet been settled, a struggle ensued and the orthodox views won out over the others and eventually became predominate.  Pagels makes the point that rather than distinguishing itself as the superior historical and theological view, orthodoxy achieved victory largely on political and social grounds.  Thus Pagels asks:
Why were these texts buried – and why have they remained virtually unknown for nearly 2,000 years? Their suppression as banned documents, and their burial on the cliff at Nag Hammadi, it turns out, were both part of a struggle critical for the formation of early Christianity. The Nag Hammadi texts, and others like them, which circulated at the beginning of the Christian era, were denounced as heresy by orthodox Christians in the middle of the second century. We have long known that many early followers of Christ were condemned by other Christians as heretics, but nearly all we knew about them came from what their opponents wrote attacking them.[15]
Is there a response to this controversy that shows the early dates for the Gospels to be acceptable? Or, are these conspiratorial positions taken by these authors that say there were historical coercions, collaborations, and cover-ups, more likely?  Only those interested in an honest, historical search and who are willing to suspend their presupposed biases or ideologies can benefit from this study.  For example, one supposition that is concurrent between all the authors mentioned above is that the Biblical Gospels were written contemporaneously with the Gnostic writings.  This has to be the case for the skeptic, “…the Gnostic holy books must be assigned such an early date that Christianity itself may be seen as no more than a ‘branch of Gnosticism.’”[16] 

Too Young to Date
A late date for the Christian documents is the one joining influence between all those who put a heavy emphasis on the Gnostic documents or mystery religions influence upon Christianity.  However, this can easily be shown to be a mistaken position.  This brings us to an archaeological find which involves some caves at Qumran, a small area off the shores of the Dead Sea in Palestine.[17]  The Dead Sea Scrolls, as they are popularly known, has shed some light on just how early the Biblical Gospels were circulating. 
Without going into much detail, I will lay out some of the reasoning (evidence) behind the rejection of the Gnostic tradition and writings while accepting the “superior historical and theological view” that orthodoxy rightly deserves.[18]  This, then, would deal a deathblow to the various interpretations about the importance of Gnosticism, not the least of which is the thesis that orthodoxy “achieved [its] victory largely on political and social grounds,”[19] which seems hard to swallow considering the emphasis in placing women in positions of authority in the church and of importance in the New Testament -- thus challenging the patriarchy in Orthodox Judaism and Roman culture (this will be elucidated on shortly). 
Not only did the Dead Sea Scrolls yield portions of, and even entire books from the Old Testament, the scrolls offered up some possible New Testament allusions hidden in the Qumran caves dated no later than A.D. 68 due to the Roman X Legion “Fretensis” overrunning the area during the Jewish rebellion.
Qumran Artifacts[20]
Mark 4:28 ~ 7Q6? ~ A.D. 50;[21]
Mark 12:17 ~ 7Q7 ~ A.D. 50;[22]
Mark 6:48 ~ 7Q15 ~ A.D. ?;[23]
Mark 6:52-53 ~ 7Q5 ~ no later than A.D. 68,[24] possibly A.D. 50;[25][26]
Acts 27:38 ~ 7Q6? ~ A.D. 60;[27]
1 Timothy 3:16; 4:1-3 ~ 7Q4 ~ no later than A.D. 68;[28]
Romans 5:11,12 ~ 7Q9 ~ no later than A.D. 68;[29][30]
James 1:23,24 ~ 7Q8 ~ no later than A.D. 68.[31][32][33]

There are also allusions to the Gospel of Luke in 4Q246,[34] which some say date to before the possible time of deposition which could place Luke to A.D. 65.[35]  There is internal evidence that dates Luke;[36] however, here I only deal with manuscript evidence.  Another little-known papyrus of Matthew has opened the trained eye as well.  The Magdalen Papyrus, named after the university that houses it, corroborates three traditions:
That St. Matthew actually wrote the Gospel bearing his name;
That he wrote it within a generation of Jesus’ death (dated to A.D. 60[-]);
And that the gospel stories are true.[37] 

This portion of Matthew is in Greek, this portion of Matthew before A.D. 60.[38]  Chuck Missler comments on this evidence:
In 1994, Dr. Carsten Peter Thiede, Director of the Institute of Basic Epistemological Research in Paderborn, Germany, used a scanning laser microscope to more carefully examine these fragments, “P.Magdalen Greek 17/P64,” as they are formally designated.
A scanning laser microscope can now differentiate between the twenty micrometer (millionth of a meter) layers of papyrus, measuring the height and depth of the ink, and can even determine the angle of the stylus used by the scribe. Dr. Thiede compared the fragments with four other known references: a manuscript from Qumran, dated to 58 A.D.; one from the Herculaneum, dated prior to 79 A.D.; one from Masada, dated between 73-74 A.D.; and one from the Egyptian town of Oxyrynchus, dated 65-66 A.D. He astounded the scholastic world by concluding that the Magdalen fragments were either an original from Matthew's Gospel, or an immediate copy, written while Matthew and the other disciples and other eye witnesses were still alive!  Matthew's skills in shorthand (an essential requirement for a customs official in a society devoid of printing, copiers, and the like) are evident in his inclusion of the extensive discourses, which he apparently was able to record verbatim!
The Magdalen papyrus discovery is distinctive in that it was dated on the basis of physical evidence rather than a literary theory or historical suppositions. This is just an example of how advanced technology can reveal discoveries in existing artifacts.[39]
It is of note to mention as well that almost all Bible critics place Paul’s first epistle at A.D. 52-57,[40] and the creed in that epistle (1 Cor. 15:3) is dated about ten years earlier than that, “Paul had not invented it but had been the one who transferred to them what he had received” (4:1).[41]  1 Corinthians 15:3-7 reads:
I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me—that Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the twelve apostles. After that, he was seen by more than five hundred of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died by now. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. (NLT)[42]
“‘Handed on to you … what I had received’ (NRSV) is the language of what scholars call ‘traditioning,’ which is when Jewish teachers would pass on their teachings to their students, who would in turn pass them on to their own students. The students could take notes, but they delighted especially in oral memorization,”[43] and became quite skilled at hymnal style[44] creedal formulations.[45]  The early Christian community had already memorized, codified, and passed on creeds within ten years of Jesus death, or, 15 years before Paul’s earliest letter[46] -- this is very important.[47] 
  • Professional Input
Paul’s Letters A.D. 50-66 (Hiebert, Guthrie, Kummel, Robinson);[48]
Matthew A.D. 55-60 (Theide, d’Ancona);[49]
Mark A.D. 50-60 (Harnak);[50]
Luke early 60s (Harrison);[51]
John A.D. 80-100 (Harrison).[52]

Evidence of this comes also from many sources, one being early Christian tombs with reference to who Jesus was understood to be at this early time, further confirming the Gospels.  One tomb I wish to focus on is one found by professor Sukenik as reported in American Journal of Archaeology:
When the ossuary with four crosses on its sides was found there was not the slightest possible doubt as to the antiquity of the cross [marks], because it was clear that these [ossuaries] had not been touched from the moment they had been placed inside until the day we took them out….  I noticed the inscription on one of the ossuaries in which the name “Jesus” was clearly discernible, followed here not by the usual [second] name, but by a description or an exclamation.[53]
After the name “Jesus,” the exclamation or dedication read “y’ho,” meaning “Yehovah” or “the Lord.”  The full inscription of the ossuary reads: “[To] Jesus, the LORD.”  In light of the A.D. 42 date for the sealing of this tomb, the presence of this dedication to “Jesus, the Lord” attests to the Christians’ acceptance of Jesus Christ as God within ten years of the death and resurrection of Jesus.[54]  Gary Habermas even drives home the idea that these texts demand an earlier date:
The most popular view among scholars is that Paul first received this very early material when he visited Jerusalem just three years after his conversion. He visited Peter and James, the brother of Jesus (Gal 1:18-19), both of whom are listed as having seen the risen Jesus (1 Cor 15:5, 7).
Stronger evidence to support this conclusion comes from Paul's use of the verb historesai in Galatians 1:18, which is usually not very helpfully translated into English. The Greek term indicates that Paul visited Peter for the purpose of investigating a particular subject. The immediate context reveals that subject: Paul's topic for discussion was ascertaining the nature of the gospel message (Gal 1:11-2:10). And Jesus' resurrection was the focus of the gospel message (1 Cor 15:3-4; Gal 1:11, 16). Without it, faith is vain (1 Cor 15:14, 17).
Critical scholars usually concede that this pre-Pauline tradition(s) originated at an exceptionally early date. For Ulrich Wilckens, this content “indubitably goes back to the oldest phase of all in the history of primitive Christianity.” Walter Kasper even thinks that this “ancient text” was possibly “in use by the end of 30 A.D.”  Perhaps surprisingly, skeptics frequently even agree. Skeptic Gerd Ludemann asserts that “the elements in the tradition are to be dated to the first two years after the crucifixion of Jesus ... not later than three years. ... The formation of the appearance traditions mentioned in I Cor 15:3- 8 falls into the time between 30 and 33 C.E.” Philosopher Thomas Sheehan thinks that this pre-Pauline formula “probably goes back to at least 32-34 C.E., that is, to within two to four years of the crucifixion.” Michael Goulder holds that this resurrection report “goes back at least to what Paul was taught when he was converted, a couple of years after the crucifixion.”
Other skeptics are often not shy about expressing their agreement. In fact, most of the critical scholars who date these events conclude that Paul received this material within just a few years after Jesus' death, in the early or mid 30s.[55]
(click to enlarge)
These are merely a few of the many evidences for an early date for the Christian faith as it is relayed to us via tradition and written form.  This is important because an historical event metamorphosing into myth needs more time than what is allotted here.[56]  The belief that Jesus was God, the fact of His Resurrection, and the early belief in this as attested to in the early evidences of Scripture and archaeology show that those who believe that the Church later added these beliefs are simply mistaken, misguided, or calculating.  How about a little honesty from skeptics:
Even Adolf Harnack, who rejects the church’s belief in the resurrection, admits: “The firm confidence of the disciples in Jesus was rooted in the belief that He did not abide in death, but was raised by God. That Christ was risen was, in virtue of what they had experienced in Him, certainly only after they had seen Him, just as sure as the fact of His death, and became the main article of their preaching about Him.”[57]

New Testament Documents vs. Ancient Documents
Another strength of the New Testament is its ability to be compared to other ancient documents, for example: the earliest partial copy of Caesar’s The Gallic Wars dates to a 1,000 years after it was written.  This is a document that is accepted by almost all historians as factual.  The first complete copy of Homer’s Odyssey dates to about 2,200 years after it was written. When the interval between the writing of the New Testament and earliest copies is compared to other ancient works, the New Testament proves to be much closer to the time of the original.   There are over 5,500 Greek copies of the Gospels; this is far and away the most we have of any ancient work.  Many ancient writings have been transmitted to us by only a handful of manuscripts, but these are accepted as reliable commentary on the events they describe (Catullus – three copies, the earliest copy being dated at 1,600 years after it was written; Herodotus – eight copies, the first being dated to 1,300 years later). Some other examples are the seven extant plays of Sophocles to which the earliest substantial manuscript in possession is dated to more than 1,400 years after the poet’s death.  The same holds true for Thucydides, Aeschylus, and Aristophanes.  Euripides has a 1,600 year interval.  (This paragraph is adapted from the following footnotes: [58][59][60][61])
Another example is from Livy’s 142 books of Roman history, “of which 107 have been lost.  Only four and a half of Tacitus’ original fourteen books of Roman Histories remain and only ten full and two partial books exist of Tacitus’ sixteen books of the Annals.”[62]  Yet, historians can use even these partial histories to confirm actual historical events.  Not only do the New Testament documents have more manuscript evidence and close time interval between the original writing and its earliest copy, but they were also translated into several other languages at an early date. Translation of a document into another language was rare in the ancient world.  This is an added plus for the New Testament as one can compare these various documents for errors and agreement.  This ability to compare and search for grammatical errors within the plethora of early New Testament text is nonexistent in other ancient documents[63] – Homer’s Iliad [somewhat] excluded. (Click images to enlarge.)

Extant Greek Manuscripts[64]
Uncials   307
Minuscules   2,860
Lectionaries   2,410
Papyri   109

Manuscripts in Other Languages[65]
Latin Vulgate   10,000 plus
Ethiopic   2,000 plus
Slavic   4,101
Armenian   2,587
Syriac Peshitta   350 plus
Bohairic   100
Arabic   75
Old Latin   50
Anglo-Saxon   7
Gothic   6
Sogdian   3
Old Syriac   2
Persian   2
Frankish   1
SUBTOTAL   19,284

The number of versions of the New Testament is in excess of 18,000-to-25,000. This is further evidence that helps us establish the New Testament text and its canonicity.  Even if we did not possess the 5,500[+] Greek manuscripts or the almost 20,000 copies of the versions, the text of the New Testament could still be reproduced within 300 years from its composition! How? Merely by the writings of the early Christians in commentaries, letters, and the like.  These ancient writers quote the biblical text, thus giving us another witness to the text of the New Testament.  Dean Burgon has catalogued more than 86,000 citations by the early Church Fathers[66] who cite different parts of the New Testament. Here we have a small portion of these quotes (I added the rough dates these early Church Fathers lived) [67]:

(Click to enlarge)

On the same page of McDowell’s book that the above graph comes from, he quotes the Encyclopedia Britannica as saying:

When the textual scholar has examined the manuscripts and the versions, he still has not exhausted the evidence for the New Testament text. The writings of the early Christian fathers often reflect a form of text differing from that in one or another manuscript... their witness to the text, especially as it corroborates the readings that come from other sources, belongs to the testimony that textual critics must consult before forming their conclusions.[68] 
Thus we observe that there is so much more evidence for the reliability of the New Testament text than any other comparable writing in the ancient world. We can reconstruct the entire New Testament just with these quotes alone, except for eleven verses. These early Church Fathers were quoting from manuscripts that were widely dispersed and written many years before their citing them, thusly exemplifying the plethora of widely distributed copies of the Gospels since these men likewise resided in a widely dispersed area....


[1] It is worth noting that Irenaeus was discipled by Polycarp, who was in turn discipled by the Apostle John. Likewise, Hippolytus was discipled by Irenaeus. This direct lineage to an apostle is important because the early church fathers were in possession of not only written records of the disciples but were also contemporaries of persons who personally knew the apostles and forwarded their understanding of the gospels and who Jesus was/is.  Josh McDowell & Bill Wilson, He Walked Among Us: Evidence for the Historical Jesus (San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life Publishers, 1988), 89. 
[2] Trent C. Butler, gen. ed., Holman Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 1991), cf. Gnosticism, 558. 
[3] Gary R. Habermas, The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ (Joplin, MS: College Press, 1996), 101. 
[4] The Nag Hammadi codices were found by an Arab peasant, though they remained obscure for several years due to several bizarre occurrences, including murder, black market sales and the destruction of some of the findings.  Habermas, The Historical Jesus, 101. 
[5] A very scholarly response to the Jesus Seminar is the book edited by Michael J. Wilkins & J. P. Moreland, Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995). 
[6] Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code (New York, NY: Doubleday, 2003), 234; found in, Mark D. Roberts, Can We Trust the Gospels? Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2007), 154-155 (emphasis added). 
[7] An interview with Dan Brown found at Book Browse and is dated at 2001.  Found at: (last accessed 9-22-09); Also found in Richard Abanes, The Truth Behind the Da Vinci Code (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2004), 9. 
[8] W.C. Campbell-Jack and Gavin McGrath, eds., C. Stephen Evans, con. ed., New Dictionary of Christian Apologetics (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), cf. Gnosticism, 290. 
[9] Lee Strobel, The Case for the Real Jesus: A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), 36. 
[10] Ibid., 38. 
[11] The God We Never Knew (San Francisco, CA: Harper San Francisco, 1997); The Lost Gospel Q: The Original Sayings of Jesus (Berkley, CA: Ulysses Press, 1996). 
[12] The Gospel of Jesus: According to the Jesus Seminar (Santa Rosa,CA: Polebridge Press, 1999); The Acts of Jesus: What Did Jesus Really Do? (San Francisco, CA: Harper San Francisco, 1998); Five Gospels: What Did Jesus Really Say? (San Francisco, CA: Harper San Francisco, 1996). 
[13] The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant (San Francisco, CA: Harper San Francisco, 1993); Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography (San Francisco, CA: Harper San Francisco, 1995). 
[14] This note is for the researcher.  Elaine co-opts some of the ideas and language conservative Christian’s use.  For instance, in an appearance on Lee Stroebel’s show Faith Under Fire, you hear Professor Pagels, who was debating Michael Licona for the show, say that her dating is the “conservative position” (follow this video link:  In another segement, she rejects the term “Gnostic” and says she doesn’t use it any longer (, and instead uses “Christian Gospels” to describe the Gospel of Thomas (  this is important, because the co-opting of language and distortions of meanings of words or concepts is a harbinger for these types of movement. 
[15] Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels (New York, NY: Vintage, 1989), xviii. 
[16] Andre Nataf, Dictionary of the Occult (Bordas, Paris: Wordsworth Editions, 1988), 37 (emphasis added). 
[17] Douglas Groothuis, Jesus In an Age of Controversy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1996), 152. 
[18] Let us dispense now with the Redeemer Myth oft mentioned by these “scholars”:
[Some] have argued that Iranian Gnostic redeemer myths influenced the formation of belief in the resurrection.’’ According to this view, prior to the New Testament there existed a full-blown Gnosticism which included a redeemer myth. This myth involved the belief in an original man (Urmensch) who fell from heaven and was ripped to shreds by demons. Parts of the original man are hidden in each man in the form of a spark of eternity. Demons attempt to put men to sleep so they will not recognize their heavenly origin, preexistent souls, and divine spark. So God sent a heavenly redeemer to come and impart secret knowledge to men about their former state. After enlightening them, the redeemer returns to heaven. Several objections make this view untenable. First, there is absolutely no evidence for a full-blown pre-Christian Gnosticism. The texts which describe a redeemer all were written after the New Testament (140 and later). So if borrowing did occur, it must have been by the Gnostics. Second, elements in the New Testament which were thought to be Gnostic are now seen to be Jewish, and some of them are rooted in the Old Testament. For example, John often talks of light versus darkness—a prevalent Gnostic theme. But this does not show he borrowed from Gnosticism. The motif could have come from the Old Testament. Further, this motif is now known to have been prominent at Qumran, a community of conservative Jewish ascetics (Essenes) which flourished just prior to and during New Testament times. The Essenes were concerned for ritual purity and were well within the mainstream of Jewish thought. Thus, the presence of such a motif in their writings was not due to Gnostic influence; the same holds true for John’s writings. For these and other reasons, most scholars today regard it a mistake to emphasize the importance of Hellenistic influences on the New Testament. Belief in Jesus’ resurrection was born on Jewish soil and propagated by men nurtured in Jewish thought.
J.P. Moreland, Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books/Academic, 1987), 182-183. [19] Habermas, The Historical Jesus, 103. 
[20] The following list uses the numbering system established for manuscripts, for example, “7Q5” means fragment 5 from Qumran cave 7. 
[21] Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books/Academic, 1999, 188. 
[22] Ibid. 
[23] Ibid. 
[24] Carsten Peter Theide and Matthew d’Ancona, The Jesus Papyrus: The Most Sensational Evidence on the Origins of the Gospels Since the Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (New York, NY: Galilee DoubleDay, 1996), 46. 
[25] Grant R. Jeffrey, Jesus: The Great Debate (Toronto, Ontario: Frontier Research, 1999), 67. 
[26] Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, 188. 
[27] Ibid. 
[28] Theide and d’Ancona, The Jesus Papyrus, 140. 
[29] Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, 188. 
[30] The early church testifies to having copies of Romans being passed between early Christians before even some of the Gospels. 
[31] Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, 188. 
[32] Jeffrey, Jesus, 66-68. 
[33] John Feakes, “The Ontario Debate,” from C.A.R.E. Ministries of Winnipeg (2-7-2009).  C.A.R.E.’s site is found here:  The article is found at:  (Last accessed 7-2-2009) 
[34] Jeffery L. Sheler, Is the Bible True? How Modern Debates and Discoveries Affirm the Essence of the Scriptures (San Francisco, CA: Harper San Francisco/Zondervan, 1999), 163-164; also see, Raymond Robert Fischer, Full Circle: The Church Returns to its True Jewish Heritage as it Discovers Yeshua and Christianity in Ancient Judaism and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Tiberias, Israel: Olim Publishers,2002), 59. 
[35] Grant R. Jeffrey, The Signature of God: Astonishing Biblical Discoveries (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1996), 100-103.  Whether this is an example of Essene knowledge about the coming Messiah or an early allusion to Luke, we may not know for quite some time. [36] Dr. Geilser makes these internal evidences apparent:
The evidence for the date of the writing points to ca. AD 60, during Paul’s imprisonment at Caesarea (Acts 23:31-35). The reasons for this are straightforward. First, it was before AD 70, since the destruction of Jerusalem is yet a future event (Luke 21:5-38). And it was written before Acts, which refers to a “former” treatise to the same person, Theophilus (Acts 1:1), and it is known that Acts (see below) was written by 61 or 62 AD. Yet Luke was written after Gentiles were attracted to Christianity (Acts 18:1-4) in about AD 54. Further, it was written after other Gospels were written (see 1:1), which could mean Matthew and Mark who wrote between AD 50 and 60. What is more, Luke 10:7 is cited in 1 Timothy 5:18, which was written about 64-66 AD. So the Gospel of Luke must have been composed before then. Finally, since it was apparently recorded just before Luke wrote Acts (being a two-part series to Theophilus), a date of ca. AD 60 is likely.
Norman L. Geisler, A Popular Survey of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books/Academic, 2007), 86 (emphasis added). 
[37] Thiede and d’Ancona, The Jesus Papyrus, back cover. 
[38] Ibid., 124-125. 
[39] Chuck Missler, “Astonishng Rediscovery: The Magdalen Papyrus,” Koinonia House (, found directly at: (last accessed 9-7-09) 
[40] Norman Geisler & Paul Hoffman, Why I Am a Christian: Leading Thinkers Explain Why They Believe (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books/Academic, 2001), 158. 
[41] D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 1 Co 15:1. 
[42] Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1997), 1 Co 15:3-7. 
[43] Craig S. Keener, IVP Background Commentary New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 1 Cor. 15:3. 
[44] D.A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo point to this:
Through stylistic and theological analysis, it is argued, we can identify within Paul’s letters various early Christian creedal formulations, hymns, and traditional catechetical material. Unusual vocabulary, rhythmic and poetic patterns, and un-Pauline theological emphases are the cri­teria used to identify early Christian traditions that Paul may have quoted.
An Introduction to the New Testament, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), 371. 
[45] In an article entitled “Creeds and Hymns,” by W.J. Porter, we find this summation:
First Corinthians 15:3-5 is one of the main NT creedal statements (see Schweizer’s comparison with 1 Tim 3:16), the essence of which is Christ died, was buried, was raised and was seen. R. P. Martin clearly sees the characteristics of a “creedal formulary” in these verses: “The four-fold ‘that’ introduces each member of the creed.... The vocabulary is unusual, containing some rare terms and ex­pressions which Paul never employs again. The preface to the section informs us that Paul ‘received’ what follows in his next sentences as part of his instruction ... now in turn, he transmits ... to the Corinthian Church what he has received as a sacred tradition” (Martin 1963, 57-58).
Craig A. Evans and Stanley E. Porter, eds., Dictionary of New Testament Background (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 234. 
[46] Ted Cabal, gen. ed., The Apologetics Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Publishers, 2007), 1 Cor 15:3, 1730. 
[47] Some commentary on this is that such an early date undermines a later formulation of Christ’s “Lordship” by supposed church revisionists if it was already believed:
That Jesus was confessed as “Lord” dates to the earliest known record of Christian kerygma. There is one telling Pauline passage that undercuts the common form-critical theory that the ascription of deity only slowly evolved and that lordship was much later to be attributed to Jesus (Bultmann, TNT I, pp. 121-33). It is a prayer of Paul’s of unquestionable authenticity: “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Marano tha” (1 Cor. 16:22a, KJV), which means: “a curse be on him. Come, 0 Lord!” (v. 22b). “That Paul should use an Aramaic expression in a letter to a Greek-speaking church that knew no Aramaic proves that the use of mar (Kurios) for Jesus goes back to the primitive Aramaic church and was not a product of the Hellenistic community” (Ladd, TNT, P. 431). Just as Jesus had been Mar (Lord) to the earliest Aramaic-speaking Jerusalem Christians, so did he quickly become confessed as Kurios among the earliest Greek-speaking Christians (1 Cor. 1:2; 1 Thess. 1:1; Mark 2:28; cf. Didache 10:6; Rev. 22:20; Rawlinson, NTDC, pp. 231-37). This Corinthian passage contains strong internal evidence that the earliest Christian proclamation attested Jesus as Kurios, confirming Luke’s report of Peter’s first sermon in Acts 2:36. This earliest Christian confession derives not from others but from Jesus himself, for in debating the scribes, Jesus made it clear that the Messiah was not merely David’s son, but David’s Lord, implying that he himself was this divine Lord (Mark 12:37; Taylor, NJ, pp. 50-51; Ladd, TNT, pp. 341, 167-68).
Thomas C. Oden, Systematic Theology: Volume Two, The Word of Life (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishing, 2006), 14-15 (emphasis Added). 
[48] Bill Wilson, ed., The Best of Josh McDowell: A Ready Defense (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1993), 91; McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, 52. 
[49] Thiede and d’Ancona, The Jesus Papyrus, 124-125. 
[50] McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, 52. 
[51] Ibid. 
[52] Ibid. 
[53] Grant R. Jeffrey, Jesus, 88-89; quote taken from Jerusalem Christian Review 7, num. 6. 
[54] Ibid., 89. 
[55] Francis J. Beckwith, William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland, To Everyone an Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 183-184 (emphasis added). 
[56] William Lane Craig quotes Oxford historian and intelligence officer A. N. Sherwin-White in regards to the time needed for a myth to evolve from the actual historical event:
Roman historian A. N. Sherwin-White remarks that in classical historiography the sources are usually biased [are] removed [by] at least one or two generations or even centuries from the events they narrate, but historians still reconstruct with confidence what happened. In the Gospels, by contrast, the tempo is “unbelievable” for the accrual of legend; more generations are needed. The writings of Herodotus enable us to test the tempo of myth-making, and the tests suggest that even two generations are too short a span to allow the mythical tendency to prevail over the hard historic core of oral tradition.
Wilkins and Morelan, Jesus Under Fire, 154. 
[57] McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, 206 
[58] McDowell, More than a Carpenter, 47-49. 
[59] John Warwick Montgomery, History and Christianity (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1965), 26-29. 
[60] Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, Answers to Tough Questions: What Skeptics Are Asking About the Christian Faith (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1993), 5. 
[61] McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, 38. 
[62] Terry L. Miethe and Gary R. Habermas, Why Believe? God Exists! (Joplin, MS: College Press, 1998), 250. 
[63] F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998), 10. 
[64] Josh McDowell, Evidence for Christianity: Historical Evidences for the Christian Faith (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 60. 
[65] Ibid., 61 
[66] The British Museum houses Dean’s sixteen thick volumes of his unpublished work which contains 86,489 quotations. McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, 45. 
[67] Ibid., 43. 
[68] Ibid.