When were the gospels written?
I. When are they quoted in a form we can recognize?
180: Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, Against Heresies
--Names all 4 gospels, plus quotes from each that we can recognize
--"Matthew was written in Hebrew while Peter and Paul were still preaching at Rome". (before 64)
--"Mark based his gospel on Peter's preachings after their departure" (after 64)
--Luke was written by a companion of Paul; John, by the apostle John
150: Justin Martyr
--Quotes sayings of Jesus from "Memoirs of the Apostles"
--The quotes combine Matthew and Luke:
"Do not fear those who kill you and after these things are not able to do anythingm but fear the one who after killing you is able to cast both body and soul into Gehenna" (Cf. Matthew 10:28, Luke 12:4-5)
--Justin does not name the gospels or distinguish them from each other
125-150: Papias, bishop of Hieropolis
"And the elder used to say that Mark became Peter's interpreter and wrote accurately all that he remembered, not in order. . . for he had not heard the Lord himself. . . Matthew collected the oracles in the Hebrew language and everyone interpreted them as best he could."
110: Didache (liturgical service)
--Quotes Matthew anonymously
90: Clement, bishop of Rome
--Quotes anonymously and conflates the gospels.
--Uses the material as though it were anonymous
II. What is the latest event of which the author shows knowledge?
1. Synoptic gospels: No reference to Domitian's persecution of the 90's, or Jewish revolts of 115 and 135
2. John: A harder call
3. All four gospels probably refer to the destruction of Jerusalem (and the Temple) in 70
4. Knowledge of James and John's deaths in the 40s and 50s (Mark 10:39)
III. Knowledge of delay of the end times
1. First generation of Christians expected it immediately and were confused when it didn't happen (cf. I Thess. 4:13-18)
2. Mark recognizes this (see 13:6-7), yet still hopes it will be soon
IV. Conclusion: Gospels probably written sometime between 65 and 100
1. At least 40 years lie between events and the written gospels
2. Probably no author was an eyewitness to the events
3. The gospels reflect the group's needs at the time they were written
4. They tell us what the group thought was important about Jesus
5. There are probably four because they were used in different communities
6. As these different groups merged into one church, they brought their books with them