How and When the New Testament Was Written
by Craig Dunkley
Christianity is unique among world religions because it is so firmly rooted in history. Its sacred documents, collected within the New Testament (NT), are not simply the writings of a single person, nor are they just “pronouncements of divine wisdom” devoid of any historical context. Rather, the books of the New Testament are incredibly important historical documents.
They bring to us information about various peoples and societies, governments, laws, events, political conditions, and daily life during the first century. As historical documents, their accuracy can be judged against other sources from the same time period. The NT documents have been more closely scrutinized than any others in history and, contrary to some critics, they actually have a great track record for accuracy. Numerous times, critical scholars have declared them to be in error, only to be proven wrong by subsequent archeological or documentary finds.
But how did we get these documents? We’ve written quite a few articles about who wrote the gospels and other NT documents, but until now, we’ve not fully laid out the process of how the events of Jesus’ life and his teachings came to be written down.
A Game of Telephone?
Some critical scholars assert that stories about Jesus’ teachings and miracles were circulated orally in an uncontrolled manner—much like a game of “telephone”—for many decades. As a result, they say, many myths and legends evolved as people exaggerated their tales, made mistakes, or added details. Toward the end of the first century, critical scholars tell us that those myths and legends were written down in the flawed, embellished gospels and other books of the NT. As a result, we are told that we cannot trust the accuracy of those books, nor the truth of the miracles they relate…