There’s No Good Reason to Deny the Early Dating of the Gospels
by J. Warner Wallace
Daniel Wallace (no relationship to me, except that all us Wallace’s claim to descend from William) posted some great news today about an early fragment of the Book of Romans that was recently discovered. This fragment dates to the early third century which puts it in rare company. It contains Romans 9:18–21 and small portions of Romans 10. Wallace made news last year when he mentioned an early fragment of the Gospel of Mark that has yet to be published (the buzz is that it will be published after the first of the year). The fragment of Mark is said to be as early as the first century.
I had the great pleasure of visiting with Dan Wallace earlier this year at an event where we got the chance to examine a number of very ancient manuscript fragments. Some of these were Biblical fragments; some of these were non-Biblical ancient documents. We were the first people to examine the documents in nearly two thousand years. By the end of the day it was clear to me that there are literally thousands of fragments of ancient texts still out there to be discovered and examined. We have only touched the tip of the iceberg and as our ability to find and examine these fragments continues to improve, we’ll surely discover much more evidence that the New Testament was written very early and transmitted faithfully.
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In fact, this is the focus of my book, Cold-Case Christianity. I’ve been studying this issue from the perspective of a detective for some time now and I’ve written about the evidence for early dating and about the reliable transmission of the documents at PleaseConvinceMe.com. If the New Testament eyewitness accounts were written as early as the evidence infers, many of the objections of skeptics are impotent. Early manuscripts mean that the original witnesses to the life of Jesus were (1) available to write the documents we now have, and (2) early observers of Jesus’ life would have been available to deny the testimony of the gospel authors. The continuing discovery of early fragments of New Testament documents corroborates this early dating…
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