Is the Late First-Century Too Late for Eyewitnesses of Jesus to Have Lived?

By Brian Chilton

The more I study the New Testament documents, the more I am convinced that the documents, particularly the Synoptic Gospels, are earlier than expected. Scholars like W. F. Albright and John A. T. Robinson—both who are not necessarily conservative in their approach but respected in their field—date the NT texts much earlier than even most conservative scholars do. Norman Geisler notes,

“Known for his role in launching the “Death of God” movement, Robinson wrote a revolutionary book titled Redating the New Testament, in which he posited revised dates for the New Testament books that place them earlier than the most conservative scholars ever held. Robinson places Matthew at 40 to after 60, Mark at about 45 to 60, Luke at before 57 to after 60, and John at from before 40 to after 65. This would mean that one or two Gospels could have been written as early as seven years after the crucifixion. At the latest they were all composed within the lifetimes of eyewitnesses and contemporaries of the events. Assuming the basic integrity and reasonable accuracy of the writers, this would place the reliability of the New Testament documents beyond reasonable doubt.”[1]

Even so, most conservative scholars would date the Gospel of John, the Letters of John, and the Apocalypse (i.e., Revelation) to the latter quarter of the first-century. Is this too late for eyewitnesses to have survived? Can we legitimately expect that eyewitnesses of Jesus in the 30s lived into the 80s and 90s? Actually, the answer is a surprising and resounding, yes! New Testament scholar, Craig Blomberg, explains…

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Is the Late First-Century Too Late for Eyewitnesses of Jesus to Have Lived? – Bellator Christi