NT Greek MSS Textual Criticism
A. Definition of Textual Criticism:
“Textual criticism is the study of copies of any
written work which the autograph (the original) is
unknown, with the purpose of ascertaining the
original text”
(Greenlee, 1, see class notes for all references in this ppt).
B. Goal of New Testament Textual Criticism:
When applied to the New Testament, it has the task of
attempting to restore the original text of the New
Testament Greek documents
(Briggs, 31).
Bible Times Book/Scroll Preparation
D. Biblical times book/scroll preparation and
1. Ancients used clay (Ezek. 4:1), Stone
(Ex. 31:18), and wood tablets, leather
scrolls (Jer. 39:23).
2. In later times they used papyrus (paper
made from papyrus reed, its inner bark
extracted and dried).
Bible Preparation
3. Also, used parchment/vellum (small animal skins),
scrolls (see II Tim. 4:13).
4. Scrolls were papyrus, leather, or parchment sheets
joined together in long rolls, about 10-12 inches wide
and up to 35 feet long with 3-4 inch columns.
Sometimes writing was on both sides (Rev. 5:1; Ezek.
5. The Codex (a book of papyrus sheets) was also used
by the mid First Century AD.
Bible Preparation
6. Writing of NT Greek MSS had very little punctuation, no
paragraph divisions, no sentence divisions, and no spaces
between words.
--This made copying without errors very difficult. Copying
mistakes were made frequently. But no errors have been
found that are theologically significant.
Examples of Types of Errors Found
--The following were facilitated by the lack of spaces
between letters and words in writing and copying the
Greek texts and could be called “sight errors”.
• Omissions (haplography)
• Duplications (dittography)
• Jumping from the “same letter or group of letters to
another” at the beginning of a word (homoioarcton), or
at the middle of a word (homoiomeson), or at the end of
a word (homoioteleuton) (McKnight, 61).
• Change of the order of words (metathesis)
Three Major
MSS Families Discovered
1. Alexandrian text witnesses: These have the
earliest and best quality of MSS and
considered by scholars to be the “best” MSS.
2. Western text witnesses have an “early but
generally unreliable form of the text”
(Green. 135)
MSS Families
3. Byzantine text witnesses “which include the vast
majority of later manuscripts, are the most
universally judged by scholars to preserve an
inferior form of the text”
(Green. 135).
King James Verson (Textus Receptus) is of this family.
The King James Debate supporters opt for this
“majority” text reading to be the inspired one. But
does majority = accuracy?
NT Text Criticism Greek MSS
John Rylands Manuscript (125-130AD).
--Found in Egypt.
--Measures “only 3.5 by 2.5 inches (8.9 by 6 cm) at its
widest; and conserved with the Rylands Papyri at
the John Rylands University Library The front
contains lines from the Gospel of John 18:31–33,
in Greek, and the back contains lines from verses
--It is important in that the Gospel of John can no
longer be dated by liberal scholars at 200AD.
They once dated it this late to account for John’s
so called “developed theology.”
(From Wikipedia)
Ancient Greek NT MSS
Codex Sinaiticus (350AD): Aleph (a)
--Contains all the New Testament except Mk. 16:9-20
and Jn. 7:53-8:11.
--It was found in 1844 in a Mt. Sinai (Traditional site)
--It was found in a waste basket where monks there had
been using old manuscripts as firewood to keep
--It was discovered by Tischendorf and is now in
Ancient Greek NT MSS
Codex Vaticanus (325-350AD): B
--Housed in the Vatican library
--contains nearly all the Bible (OT and NT) but
omits the book of Revelation.
Codex Alexandrinus (400AD):A
--It is in the British Museum.
--Contains most of the NT and OT. It does
contain Revelation.
Passing on the Text
Christians have always been a “people of
the book”
• Original documents were hand-written
• The writing was in Greek capital letters
• At a very early stage, these documents
were hand copied by laypeople
• This was inexpensive, but this lead to a
number of transmission errors
Passing on the Text
Three early developments soon
complicated this situation
• Scrolls were replaced by codexes, which
made documents much more usable
• There was an increasing replacement of
Uncial manuscripts with cursive scripts
(miniscules), which allowed manuscripts
to be copied faster
Passing on the Text
Three early developments soon
complicated this situation
• The Bible was translated into other
 People could read the Bible in their own
language, but…
 These translations were not all of very
high quality
Passing on the Text
The variety of readings in the manuscripts
that we now possess is due to:
• Accidental mistakes of the copyists
• The correcting of perceived mistakes by
later copyists
Passing on the Text
The variety of readings in the manuscripts
that we now possess is due to:
• The division of the Roman Empire into
East and West resulted in the division of
the church
 Eastern churches retained Greek as the
dominant language and Western
churches became nearly solely
dependent upon Latin
Passing on the Text
The variety of readings in the manuscripts
that we now possess is due to:
• Decomposition of most materials upon
which the documents were written
 Parchment
 Vellum (expensive parchment)
 Papyrus (some survived due to the hot,
dry climate of Egypt where they were
Passing on the Text
How many NT manuscripts do we now
• 5000 full or partial manuscripts
• 8000 full or partial manuscripts in versions
other than Greek
• This evidence dates back as far as the early
second century
Passing on the Text
The NT comes to us in the form of:
• Uncials
• Miniscules
• Lectionaries
• Ostraca
• Quotations in the writings of the Church
Passing on the Text
After the printing press...
• First printed edition of the Greek NT was
vol. 5 of the Complutensian Polyglot Bible
in Spain
 Also included the first lexicon
Passing on the Text
After the printing press...
The first published edition was by the Dutch
scholar Erasmus in 1516
• Contained many typographical errors
• Principally used two 12 Century
• Erasmus published five editions
Passing on the Text
In the wake of Erasmus...
• Robert Estienne (Stephanus) published 4
editions heavily dependent upon Erasmus
• The 3rd edition introduced the first critical
• Beza's editions (Geneva) were heavily
dependent upon Stephanus' 3rd and 4th
Passing on the Text
In the wake of Erasmus…
• King James Version was mostly dependent
upon Beza's editions
• These very similar Greek editions
eventually became known as the textus
receptus, or “received text”
• Nearly all English editions of the New
Testament before 1881 are dependent upon
the textus receptus
Passing on the Text
Textual criticism: Searching for the
original text...
• When a manuscript was written is crucial
• Which reading is most likely to have
generated all others?
• Generally, the more difficult reading is
preferred over the easier
Passing on the Text
Textual criticism: Searching for the
original text...
• External evidence – what is the quality of
the manuscript?
• Internal evidence – what in the text itself
indicates one reading over another
 Intrinsic probability
 Transcriptional probability
Passing on the Text
Because of all of this evidence…
• We can be confident in the accuracy of the
New Testament
• No doctrinal matter is in doubt because of
text critical problems
Longstanding Interpretive Traditions
Important developments, people, and
events from Church history
• Early church refused to accept
pseudonymous works
• The collection of documents into the New
Testament canon
Longstanding Interpretive Traditions
Important developments, people, and
events from Church history
• The earliest Christians were Jews
• There was a recognition by early
Christians that asserting Jesus as the
sufficient grounds of salvation meant that
some features of Judaism were no longer
Longstanding Interpretive Traditions
Important developments, people, and
events from Church history
• Christians very quickly began winning
Gentile coverts
• Theology had to be worked out in the
context of a highly pluralistic society.
Longstanding Interpretive Traditions
Important developments, people, and
events from Church history
• Within Christianity, various heretical
groups formed at a very early period
 Gal 1:6–9; 1 John 2:19
• Gnosticism became a substantial threat to
the church in the 2nd century
Longstanding Interpretive Traditions
Important developments, people, and
events from Church history
• “Critical” examination of the New
Testament was carried out by early
 Tatian's Diatesseron
Longstanding Interpretive Traditions
Important developments, people, and
events from Church history
• The Church Fathers' writings demonstrate
a profound devotion to scripture
 Most wrote commentaries
 They preached on the scriptures often
Longstanding Interpretive Traditions
Important developments, people, and
events from Church history
• Constantine's edict declaring full legal
toleration of Christians
Prior to this, Christians were often persecuted and
without legal standing
Papal power arose
The influence of the relationship between of Church
and state
“Monarchical” bishops arose as the church attempted
to settle disputes
Longstanding Interpretive Traditions
Important developments, people, and
events from Church history
• The ecumenical councils gave definitive
statements on doctrinal truths
 These “truths” were not new inventions,
but settlements of existing debates
Longstanding Interpretive Traditions
Important developments, people, and
events from Church history
• The Fall of Rome
 Literacy fell
 Latin nearly entirely supplanted Greek
and Hebrew in the West
 Monasteries—the centers of learning
 Eastern and Western churches officially
split in A.D. 1054
Longstanding Interpretive Traditions
Important developments, people, and
events from Church history
• The Middle Ages
 Four-fold senses of scripture (Literal,
Allegorical [tropological], Moral,
Analogical [eschatological]
 Led to the sense that the Bible could
only be interpreted by experts and
church authorities
Longstanding Interpretive Traditions
Important developments, people, and
events from Church history
• The Renaissance
 Invention of the printing press
 Fall of Constantinople in 1453 led to a
flood of scholars migrating to the West
 Rise of European universities
 Rise of the “humanists”
Longstanding Interpretive Traditions
Important developments, people, and
events from Church history
• The Reformation
 sola scriptura
 The Bible is the final authority for faith
and practice
 The Bible should be studied in the
original languages
 Bible should be widely disseminated
The Rise of Biblical Theology
J. P. Gabler (inaugural lecture in 1787) –
the “Father of Biblical Theology”
• The Bible should be studied inductively,
free of all dogmatic constraints
• Dogmatic theology should be built upon
this foundation
• Most of the major scholars of the
following centuries ignored this second
The Rise of Biblical Theology
Rudolph Bultmann
• Bible is theologically useful, but
historically suspect
• “Modern man” requires that the scriptures
be “demythologized” of its supernatural
The Rise of Biblical Theology
Biblical Theology Movement (1930's to
• Oscar Cullman – Salvation history
• Theological Dictionary of the New
Historical Criticism
Types of Historical Criticism
• Source criticism
• Form criticism
• Tradition criticism
• Redaction criticism
Literary Criticism
Pros and Cons
• Interprets texts as whole texts
• Can run the risk of neglecting issues of
history and truth
New Literary Criticism
• Structuralism
• Deconstructionism
• Reader-response
The Turn to Postmodern Readings
Claims of Postmodernism:
• Claims to certainty are rejected
• Truth and falsehood are products of social
• There is no definitive right or wrong way
to read scripture
The Turn to Postmodern Readings
The false antithesis of postmodernism:
• Either we can claim to know objective
truth exhaustively
• Or we accept that our finitude means that
we cannot ever really “know” reality
The Turn to Postmodern Readings
The Bible speaks of knowledge of God in a
straightforward manner
• 1 John 5:13
• Luke 1:3–4
• Phil 3:10
• John 8:32
• John 20:31
The Turn to Postmodern Readings
The Bible does not only tell a story, but a true
Approaches to Background Material
Historical Backgrounds
• The Church was born in both a Jewish and
Greco-Roman world
• Because of the breadth of background
material in both, most scholars become
experts in one or the other
Social Scientific Approaches
Types of Social Scientific Approaches
• Sociological theory
• Psychological theory
• Cultural anthropology
Language and Linguistic Approaches
Types of Linguistic Approaches
• Lexicography
• Advances in understanding of verbal
aspect in Greek
• Speech-Act theory
Concluding Reflections
How does the confessionally oriented
scholar engage the New Testament?
We must engage with the text of scripture, the
manner it is discussed in the present
generation, and with reference to the
inheritance of biblical interpretation in church
Synoptic Gospels
Oral Traditions: Form Criticism
Form Criticism
• First applied to OT by Hermann Gunkel
• Made popular in NT studies by Karl
Ludwig Schmidt, Martin Dibelius, and
Rudolf Bultmann
Oral Traditions: Form Criticism
Assumptions of Form Criticism
• Stories and sayings about Jesus circulated
orally in small independent units
• Transmission of gospel material takes
shape and is handed down within
particular communities, not by individuals
• Stories and sayings about Jesus took on
certain standard “forms”
Oral Traditions: Form Criticism
Assumptions of Form Criticism
• Form makes it possible to determine a
story's or saying's “setting in life” or Sitz
im Leben in the early Church
• Early Christian communities not only
handed down oral material, but shaped and
modified this material according to its own
• Certain criteria can be used to determine
age and historical trustworthiness
Oral Traditions: Form Criticism
Criteria of Form Critics
People tended to:
• Lengthen stories
• Add details
• Conform them to their own language
• Preserve and create only what fits their
own needs and beliefs―criterion of
Oral Traditions: Form Criticism
Evaluation of Form Criticism
• It is probable that more gospel material
was written early in transmission history
than form critics admit
• Classification of forms is provisional and
general at best
• The claim that one can determine a
saying's “setting in life” must be met with
healthy skepticism
Oral Traditions: Form Criticism
Evaluation of Form Criticism
Assumptions of form critics regarding the
nature of transmission are suspect
• There is some misunderstanding of oral
• There is far too little attention paid to
eyewitnesses and other individuals in the
transmission process
Oral Traditions: Form Criticism
Radical Form Criticism
• The claim that the early church did not
distinguish between the earthly Jesus and
risen Lord has little foundation
• The transmission of the gospel material
over the course of 20 years does not
compare well to other bodies of literature
formed over hundreds of years
Oral Traditions: Form Criticism
Radical Form Criticism
• Oral transmission does not have the
tendency toward lengthening the material
• Criterion of dissimilarity skews the
understanding of historical persons―only
accepts as historical what is peculiar about
Jesus against his fellow Jews and his
Oral Traditions: Form Criticism
Radical Form Criticism
• Failure to account for living eyewitnesses
• Underestimation of the ability of firstcentury Jews to remember and transmit
information accurately
Source Criticism: The Synoptic Problem
Major questions:
• What sources, if any, did the evangelists
• How do the gospels relate to one another?
Source Criticism: The Synoptic Problem
Main Solutions to the Synoptic Problem
• Common dependence on one original
• Common dependence on oral sources
• Common dependence on gradually
developing written fragments
• Interdependence
Source Criticism: The Synoptic Problem
Three Main Theories of Interdependence
Two-Gospel Hypothesis
• Matthew was written first
• Luke borrowed from Matthew
• Mark borrowed from Matthew and Luke
• Popularized by J. J. Griesbach in the late
18th century
Source Criticism: The Synoptic Problem
Three Main Theories of Interdependence
Two-Source Hypothesis
• Mark was written first
• Matthew and Luke independently made
use of Mark and Q, a non-extant “sayings
• Made popular in the late 19th century by H.
J. Holtzmann in Germany and in the 20th
century by B. H. Streeter in Britain
Source Criticism: The Synoptic Problem
Markan Priority
• Matthew was assumed to be the first
written gospel until the late 19th century
• Mark became recognized as the first
written gospel in Germany in the mid to
late 19th century
• Mark or even (Ur-Markus) became the
basis for much of the German historical
Jesus research
Source Criticism: The Synoptic Problem
Arguments Against the Existence of Q
• Minor agreements between Matthew and
Luke against Mark
Source Criticism: The Synoptic Problem
Proto-Gospel Theories
• Ur-Markus
• Aramaic or Hebrew version of Matthew
• Proto-Luke
Source Criticism: The Synoptic Problem
The Two-Source Hypothesis is the best
explanation for the available data, but must
be used as a working hypothesis rather than a
conclusive answer to the Synoptic Problem
Final Composition: Redaction Criticism
Seeks to describe the theological purposes of
the evangelists by examining their use of
Final Composition: Redaction Criticism
Basic Elements of Redaction Criticism
Redaction is the process of modifying
tradition as the gospel was written down
Final Composition: Redaction Criticism
Basic Elements of Redaction Criticism
Redactional activity can be seen in:
• The material included or excluded
• The arrangement of material
• The seams used to stitch tradition
• Additions and omissions to the material
• Change of wording
Final Composition: Redaction Criticism
Basic Elements of Redaction Criticism
• Redaction critics look for patterns in these
sorts of changes
• Where a pattern emerges, one can pinpoint
a theological concern of the author
• On the basis of the theological picture, one
can establish the setting for the original
Final Composition: Redaction Criticism
History of Redaction Criticism
• William Wrede – The Messianic Secret
• Günther Bornkamm (Matthew)
• Hans Conzelmann (Luke)
• Willi Marxsen (Mark)
Final Composition: Redaction Criticism
Criticisms of Redaction Criticism
• Depends on our ability to discern between
tradition and redaction
• Critics too often assume that all changes
an evangelist made were theologically
• Equation of redactional emphases with an
evangelist's theology
Final Composition: Redaction Criticism
Criticisms of Redaction Criticism
• Identification of the setting of a gospel
based on the author's theology is tenuous
• Redaction Criticism is most often pursued
in a manner that questions the
trustworthiness of the gospel accounts
• Can the evangelists be both historically
accurate and theologically motivated?
Final Composition: Redaction Criticism
Positive Aspects of Redaction Criticism
• Focuses on the final written work
• Reminds us that evangelists wrote with
more than mere historical interest
• Increases our appreciation of the
multiplicity of the gospels
Gospels as Works of Literature
Gospel Genre
• Popular Literature (Schmidt)
• Mirror of Christian preaching or
“kerygma” (Dodd)
• Greco-Roman Bios (Burridge)
• The gospels share commonality with
contemporaneous literature, but are also
genuinely unique
Gospels as Works of Literature
Criticisms of Literary Criticism
• Reaction against historical analyses and
history itself
• Loosing the text from the author often
entails no sense of a correct meaning of the
• Often attempts to anachronistically shove
the gospels into modern categories of
Gospels as Works of Literature
Criticisms of Literary Criticism
• Certain approaches (structuralism) are of
limited value to the interpretation of the
Jesus and the Synoptic Gospels
First Quest for the Historical Jesus
• Begun with the posthumous publication of
Samuel Reimarus' Fragments in which he
strongly contested the gospel accounts
• Early questers were rationalists, so they
sought reasonable explanations for
miraculous events
Jesus and the Synoptic Gospels
First Quest for the Historical Jesus
• D. F. Strauss published the first account of
Jesus that was radically skeptical of the
gospel accounts in general
Jesus and the Synoptic Gospels
End of the First Quest
• Three works called into question the
supposedly “objective” German
reconstructions of the historical Jesus
 Albert Schweitzer – The Quest for the
Historical Jesus (1906)
Jesus and the Synoptic Gospels
The New Quest
• After WWI, the critical “lives” of Jesus
waned considerably
• Ernst Käsemann, a student of Bultmann,
re-opened the quest for a critical
reconstruction of Jesus in 1953
Jesus and the Synoptic Gospels
The New Quest
• The “New Quest” was marked by the
dearth of what was considered reliable
historical information about Jesus
• More current representatives of the “New
Quest” can be found in the Jesus Seminar
(begun in 1985)
Jesus and the Synoptic Gospels
The “Third Quest”
• Distinguished by a serious attempt to place
Jesus within first-century Judaism
• Generally positive about the reliability of
the biblical gospels
Proposals for the Structure of Matthew
• Geographical movement
• The phrase “from that time on...” (Matt
4:17; 16:21)
• Matthew is structured around the five
major discourses
• Seven-part outline
Seven-part outline of Matthew
• The Prologue [1:1–2:23]
• The Gospel of the Kingdom [3:1–7:29]
• The Kingdom Extended under Jesus' Authority [8:1–11:1]
• Teaching and Preaching the Gospel of the kIngdom: Rising
Opposition [11:2–13:53]
• The Glory and the Shadow: Progressive Polarization [13:54–
• Opposition and Eschatology: The Triumph of Grace [19:3–
• The Passion and Resurrection of Jesus [26:6–28:20]
Martin Hengel's Arguments Against
• Tertullian's castigation of Marcion's
“Anonymous” Gospel
• Multiplicity of Written Gospels
• Unanimity of Second Century Writers
Fragments of Papias' work are only available
through Eusebius
• Irenaeus – Papias knew the Apostle John
• Eusebius – Papias did not know the
Apostle John
• Appears to make the claim that Matthew
was originally written in Hebrew or
• Three reasons to think otherwise:
 Quotations from the OT reflect multiple
 If Matthew used Mark, the verbal
connections make it extremely unlikely
that Matthew was written in a language
other than Greek
 Greek text of Matthew does not read as
if it were a translation
• Papias was likely wrong to assert that
Matthew was written in Hebrew or
• This does not mean that he was wrong to
assert that Matthew was the author
Other Factors Related to the Authorship of
• Only gospel to refer to “Matthew the tax
collector” (10:3)
• The other gospels use the name Levi when
referring to the character of Matthew
• Matthew's use of Mark
• Systematic vs. chronological account
Other Factors Related to the Authorship of
• Matthew's Christology
• Judaism and Anti-Judaism within the
Gospel of Matthew
Judea (Church Fathers)
Syria (most modern scholars)
Post-A.D. 70
• Matthew's relation to Mark
• Anachronistic references to the destruction
of Jerusalem and the church
• “to this very day” (Matt 27:8; 28:15)
• Tensions between Jews and Christians
Pre-A.D. 70
Arguments for post-A.D. 70 date draw unnecessary
conclusions from the evidence
If the author was the apostle, then an earlier date is
more plausible
Church Fathers were unanimous in assigning an
early date
Certain sayings indicate that the Temple was still
standing (5:23–24; 12:5–7; 17:24–27; 23:16–22;
No apparent Pauline influence
Written to Jews
Written to Gentiles
Written for all Christians
• To demonstrate Jesus to be: Messiah, Son
of David, Son of God, Son of Man,
Immanuel, and the fulfillment of OT
• To demonstrate the rejection of Jesus
• Inauguration of the Kingdom
• Continued Messianic Reign
• Foretaste of the Future, Consummated
Contribution of Matthew
• Matthew preserves large blocks of Jesus'
• Matthew complements the information
provided in the other gospels
• Matthew's use of the OT
• Matthew's treatment of the Law
• Matthew's insight into the church
• Unique elements of the Portrayal of Jesus
Mark has seven sections separated by six
transitional statements
• Transitions: Mark 1:14–15; 3:7–12;
6:1–6; 8:27–30; 11:1–11; 14:1–2
Seven Part Outline of Mark
• Preliminaries to the Ministry (1:1–13)
• First part of the Galilean Ministry (1:16–
• Second part of the Galilean Ministry
• Concluding phase of the Galilean Ministry
Seven Part Outline of Mark
• The way of glory and suffering (8:27–
• Final ministry in Jerusalem (11:1–13:37)
• The Passion and Empty-tomb narratives
• According to Papias (and echoed by
many Church Fathers), Mark wrote the
gospel from the information obtained
from Peter
• Who is Mark?
 John Mark (Acts 12:12, 25; 13:5, 13;
15:37; Colossians 4:10; Philemon 24;
2 Timothy 4:11; 1 Peter 5:13)
 Cousin of Barnabas
Who is Mark? (cont.)
• Travelled with Paul and Barnabas
• Present with Paul during his Roman
• Present with Peter during his Roman
Was Mark dependent upon the preaching
of Peter?
• The vividness and detail of Mark's story
indicate the testimony of an eyewitness
• The critique of the disciples in Mark is so
stark that it most likely came from an
• Mark's gospel follows a similar pattern as
Peter's preaching in Acts (C. H. Dodd)
Was Mark dependent upon the preaching
of Peter?
• Mark's close relationship to Peter as
evidenced by Peter's reference to him as
“my son” (1 Peter 5:13)
• Egypt
• Antioch
• Galilee
• Rome
• John Chrysostom (Hom. Matt. 1.3)
• May have been a mistaken inference from
Eusebius - “Mark is said to have been the
first man to set out for Egypt and preach
there the gospel that he had himself
written down” (H.E. 2.16.1)
• Proximity to Palestine (Mark assumes his
readers' familiarity with Palestinian place
• Large Roman colony
• Peter's connection to Antioch
• The presbyter that Papias names as his
source comes from the East
Galilee (W. Marxsen)
• The significance of the region of Galilee
for Mark
• References to Jesus' “going before” the
disciples into Galilee (14:28; 16:7) may
have been a summons for Christians to
gather there to await the parousia
• This tends to ignore that these were
referring to post-resurrection
appearances, not the second coming
• Early attestation (Irenaeus, Eusebius,
Clement of Alexandria)
• Large number of Latinisms
• Incidental mention of Alexander and
Rufus, sons of Simon of Cyrene—
mentioned elsewhere in the NT to be in
• Apparently Gentile audience
• Many allusions to suffering fits the historical
context of the Neronian persecutions of the
• 1 Peter 5:13 locates Mark with Peter in Rome
• Connection with an early center of
• The connection to the Neronian persecutions
of the church and the testimony of 1 Peter
5:16 are the most weighty arguments
• C. C. Torrey—“the abomination that
causes desolation” (Mark 13:14) is a
direct reference to the image set up in the
Jerusalem Temple by Caligula in A.D. 40
• The identification of Qumran fragments
7Q5, 7Q6, 1, and 7Q7 with the Gospel of
• However, Torrey's identification with the
abomination of Caligula is very unlikely
• Most scholars contest the identification of
the Qumran fragments with the Gospel of
• Peter was not in Rome in the 40's
• Peter was in Rome beginning around the
• Acts ends at approximately A.D. 62. If
this is when the book of Acts was actually
written, and Luke depended upon Mark,
then Mark must have been written some
years before (there are reasons to suggest
Acts was written later though)
• Earliest traditions favor a date for Mark
after the death of Peter
• Peter was in Rome beginning around the
• Mark's emphasis upon persecution seems
to favor a date during or right after the
Neronian persecution of Christians in
A.D. 65
• Mark appears to reflect an historical
situation prior to the Roman entrance into
Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple
• However, there are other early traditions
that point to a date during Peter's lifetime
• Persecution of Christians was not limited
to Rome during the 60’s
• Mark is largely silent on any details
related to the Neronian persecution of
• Mark 13 is not specific enough to suggest
any particular historical situation
• Mark 13 reflects the actual experience of
the sacking of Jerusalem by the Romans
in A.D. 70
• However, Jesus' predictions are more
parallel to stock OT and Jewish imagery
rather than any specific detail of what
happened in A.D. 70
• This also assumes that Jesus could not
have accurately predicted what would
• It is most likely that Mark was written
sometime in the late 50's or early 60's
during Peter's imprisonment or soon after
his death
• Appears to be directed to a predominantly
Gentile audience—most likely in Rome
• Most of Mark's audience would have had
the gospel read to them
• Until Mark 8:26, Mark emphasizes Jesus'
miraculous power as Son of God
• After 8:27, Mark emphasizes Jesus as the
suffering Son of God
• Jesus, as Messiah, can only be properly
understood in light of this suffering
• Mark's readers and hearers are to be
followers of Jesus, the suffering Son of
• Believers must follow Jesus through
suffering, humiliation, persecution, and,
if need be, death
History and Evangelism
• To provide an accurate account of Jesus'
words and deeds at a time when the
eyewitnesses were becoming fewer
• To arm his Christian readers with the
good news of salvation so that they could
“Son of God” in 1:1
• These words are omitted in a few early
• It is slightly more likely that these words
were omitted in a few manuscripts than
later scribes adding the words
Mark 16:9–20
• The earliest and best manuscripts do not
contain these verses
• Written with different vocabulary than the rest
of the book, and does not flow naturally from
• Jerome and Eusebius were aware that their
best manuscripts did not contain these verses
• There are manuscripts with a different, shorter
The ending of Mark – Three Possibilities
• Mark may have intended to write more,
but was prevented from doing so
• Mark may have written a longer ending,
but this ending was lost accidentally
during its transmission
• Mark may have intended to end his
gospel at 16:8, thereby refusing to
comment on the significance of the
history he narrates (most likely)
Contribution of Mark
• Mark is the creator of the gospel in its
literary form
• Mark has inextricably tied Christian faith
to historical events
• Emphasizes the great importance of Jesus
as the suffering Son of God for Christian
theology and discipleship
Seven Part Outline of Luke
• The Prologue (1:1–4)
• The Births of John the Baptist and Jesus (1:5–
• Preparation for Ministry (3:1–4:13)
• Ministry of Jesus in Galilee (4:14–9:50)
• Jesus' journey to Jerusalem (9:51–19:44)
• Jesus in Jerusalem (19:45–21:38)
• Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection (22:1– 24:53)
The Relationship between Luke and Acts
• Both addressed to “Theophilus”
• Acts plainly makes reference to the Gospel
of Luke in 1:1
Thematic parallels
• God's fulfillment of his promises to Israel
• God's creation of a world-wide body of
believers, both Jew and Gentile
• Movement toward Jerusalem in Luke;
movement away from Jerusalem in Acts
• Salvation
• Activity of the Holy Spirit
• Power of the Word of God
Is it probable that Luke and Acts should
be regarded as one book?
• Though they are closely related, the two
books are of different genres and not likely
two parts of one book
• Luke and Acts were written by the same
• Most evidence points to Luke, the Gentile
doctor, as the author
• Luke is written in particularly good Greek
• The latter half of Acts makes several “we”
statements in reference to the entourage
surrounding Paul during his journeys
• The language seems to be commensurate
to the particular outlook of a doctor
Early Christians and documents that
indicate that Luke is the author:
• Marcion
• Muratorian Canon
• Anti-Marcionite prologue
• Tertullian
• Bodmer Papyrus XIV (P75)
Early traditions should be taken seriously
• It is unlikely that Luke's name would have
been attached to this book if he had not
written it; he was neither an eyewitness nor
an apostle
• Antioch (Anti-Marcionite prologue)
• Achaia (Monarchian prologue)
• Rome (some late manuscripts)
• There is not enough information that
allows for a positive identification of the
provenance of the Gospel of Luke
• Acts makes no mention of key events
between A.D. 65–70 (Nerionian
persecution, fall of Jerusalem, etc.)
• Acts ends with Paul imprisoned in Rome –
doesn't finish the story of Paul
• Acts makes no attempt to show how Jesus'
prophecy of the fall of Jerusalem took
• No attempt to reconcile Paul's probable second
visit to Ephesus (according to the Pastoral
epistles) with the fact that Paul expected to
never come back to Ephesus in Acts 20:25, 38
• The very popular Pauline epistles receive no
attention in Acts—the later the date of Acts, the
more difficult it is to account for this
• A Christian writer would not likely have been so
positive about Rome after the Neronian
A.D. 75–85
• Luke's version of the fall of Jerusalem is
too specific to have come before it
A.D. 75–85
• This denies the possibility that Jesus could
have accurately predicted the fall of
• The supposed “specificity” of the account
in Luke demonstrates only a general
knowledge of siege warfare, not a distinct
knowledge of the events themselves.
A.D. 75–85
• Luke used Mark as a source, so an early
date does not allow enough time to have
A.D. 75–85
• A date for Mark in the late 50's to early
60's allows enough time
• If Luke and Mark both travelled with Paul,
then it is likely that Luke would have had
access to Mark soon after it was written
A.D. 75–85
• Luke claims that “many” people had
drawn up accounts of Jesus' life in Luke
• There is little reason why 45 years more
satisfactorily accounts for this statement (if
it was written in A.D. 75); surely 30 years
is enough time
A.D. 75–85
• Luke downplays the second coming of
Christ. Because Christ's return was
delayed, the church moved from
charismatic Christianity to institutional
Christianity (early Catholicism)
A.D. 75–85
• Luke's treatment of the delay of the
parousia by no means needed to be a late
development, nor does Luke betray any
interest in the institutional church
Written to a particular individual, but likely
had a wider reading audience in mind.
Audience was likely Gentile
•Situated his gospel in the context of secular
history (e.g. 2:1)
•Emphasis on the universal implications of
the gospel
•Omission of material focused on Jewish law
•Tendency to substitute Greek equivalents for
Jewish titles (“Lord” or “Teacher” for
Luke wants Theophilus, and other converts
like him, to be certain in their own minds
about the ultimate significance of what God
has done in Christ
• 40% of Luke is from Mark
• 20% of Luke is shared with Matthew (from
• 40% of Luke is unaccounted for
 L-Source?
 Variety of written documents, oral
traditions, and eyewitness testimony
Proto-Luke (possible)
• Luke wrote an earlier edition using Q and
other material, possibly in Palestine
• After reading Mark, Luke later wrote the
canonical version that added Markan
material, possibly after Luke went to Rome
Luke and John – Luke shares more in
common with John than do Matthew or
• Characters: Martha, Mary, Annas, Judas
• Both attribute the betrayal of Jesus to the
activity of Satan
• Both include the account of Peter cutting
off the ear of the high priest's servant
• “Western” text-type, represented by Codex
Bezae (D) has many variants
 Many additions
 Many omissions
• This text type was used by Tatian and
• These variants must be taken seriously, but
their poor attestation often renders them
• Universally accepted by the early church
• Possibly referenced by Clement of Rome,
Ignatius, Polycarp
• Most likely referenced by the Didache and
Gospel of Peter
• Definitely referenced by 2 Clement, Justin,
and the heretic Marcion
Luke’s Contribution
• God's plan of salvation for the world
• Dramatic emphasis on salvation as a
theme, both present and future (already
and not yet)
• Emphasis on the Gentiles as the recipients
of God's salvation
• Concern for the poor and outcasts of
society; wealth ethics
Outline of the Gospel of John
• The Prologue (1:1–18)
• The Disclosure of Jesus in word and deed
• Transition from public ministry to the
Passion narrative (11:1–12:50)
• Jesus' self disclosure on the cross and his
exultation (13:1–20:31)
• Epilogue (21:1–25)
Outline of the Gospel of John
The Prologue (1:1–18)
The Disclosure of Jesus in word and deed
• Prelude to Jesus' ministry (1:19–51)
• Jesus' early ministry (2:1–4:54)
• Signs, works, and words in the context of rising
opposition (5:1–7:53)
• Climactic signs, works, and words in the context of
radical confrontation (8:12–10:42)
Outline of the Gospel of John
Transition from public ministry to the
Passion narrative (11:1–12:50)
• Death and raising of Lazarus (11:1–44)
• Decision to kill Jesus (11:45–54)
• Prelude to the Passion narrative (11:55–
Outline of the Gospel of John
Jesus' self disclosure on the cross and his
exultation (13:1–20:31)
• Last Supper (13:1–30)
• Farewell discourse (13:31–16:33)
• Jesus' prayer for his disciples (17:1–26)
• Trial and passion of Jesus (18:1–19:42)
• Resurrection (20:1–31)
Epilogue (21:1–25)
External Evidence
Theophilus of Antioch (c. A.D. 181)
• First to unambiguously refer to the fourth
gospel and explicitly ascribe the work to
Quotations from John without reference to
the author are found in Tatian, Claudius
Apollinaris, and Athenagoras
External Evidence
Polycarp—Bishop of Smyrna
• Martyred in A.D. 156 at age of 86.
• Personally knew the Apostle John
• His testimony about John is relayed by
Irenaeus, who knew Polycarp personally
• Most likely refers to John (at least in Ireneaus'
opinion), the beloved disciple and author of
the fourth gospel was John, the apostle.
External Evidence
Second century church fathers that clearly
though John, son of Zebedee, wrote the
fourth gospel included Irenaeus, Tertullian,
and Clement of Alexandria
External Evidence
Those who did not accept the authenticity or
authority of the Gospel of John were
known as Alogoi, or “witless ones”
• Some rejected John because of affinities
with heretical sects like the Montanists
External Evidence
Papias (found in Eusebius H.E. 3.39)
• And if anyone chanced to come who had
actually been a follower of the elders, I
would enquire as to the discourses of the
elders, what Andrew or what Peter said, or
what Philip, or what Thomas or James, or
what John or Matthew or any other of the
Lord's disciples; and things which Aristion
and John the elder, disciples of the Lord
External Evidence
Papias (found in Eusebius H.E. 3.39)
• Eusebius interprets Papias' words to mean
there were two Johns, John the Apostle and
John the elder, but…
• While Eusebius distinguishes between
apostles and elders, Papias does not
• Papias calls John “the elder” because he
intends for John to be grouped with the
aforementioned elders
External Evidence
Papias (found in Eusebius H.E. 3.39)
• Papias makes distinctions here between
first-generation witnesses who have died
and those who are still alive
• Eusebius uses this to distance the book of
Revelation from the Apostle John out of
his distaste for its millennialism, so he may
have a hidden agenda here
• It is not certain that there was ever an
“elder John” apart from the apostle
Internal Evidence
The author was likely a Jew
• The DSS evidence many of John's
characteristic expressions in a Palestinian
Jewish, first century setting, so there is no
need to posit a period of “Hellenizing
• Some of John's quotations of the OT are
closer to Hebrew or Aramaic versions than
the LXX
Internal Evidence
Who is the “beloved disciple”?
• The beloved disciple is present at the Last
Supper; the Synoptics claim that only the
twelve were present
• Distinguished from Peter, but also cannot
be confused with the other disciples
mentioned in John 13–16
Internal Evidence
Who is the “beloved disciple”?
• He is one of the seven who go fishing in
John 21
 He is not Peter, Thomas, or Nathaniel
 He cannot be James (c. early 40's),
since the beloved disciple was
apparently still alive when the gospel
was written
 John or one of two unnamed disciples
Internal Evidence
Who is the “beloved disciple”?
• The fact that James and John are not
mentioned anywhere in the fourth gospel
by name is very strange unless the author is
deliberately not using his own name
• The companionship of the beloved disciple
and Peter makes sense in light of John's
and Peter's close friendship attested
elsewhere in the NT
Internal Evidence
John, the son of Zebedee, is the author
• John lived for many years in Judea and
abroad so there is little reason to suggest
he would have focused more on Galilee
Internal Evidence
John, the son of Zebedee, is the author
• That Acts 4:13 refers to Peter and John as
“untrained laymen” in no way means they
were illiterate or ignorant (cf. Jesus)
 Jewish boys learned to read and John's
family was likely well-off financially
Internal Evidence
John, the son of Zebedee, is the author
• Evidence suggest that first-century
Palestinians were bi-lingual or even trilingual, so there is no reason to suggest
that the Apostle John couldn't have
written in fluent Greek
Internal Evidence
John, the son of Zebedee, is the author
• The phrase “beloved disciple” is not and
indicator that Jesus loved John more, but
more likely that he had a profound grasp of
God's grace in Christ
Stylistic Unity
The structure and style of John are so
uniform that source and tradition-critical
theories on John are hard-pressed to make
anything other than highly speculative
• The tradition is far more elegant
Stylistic Unity
Problem: Why does the author have so little
a distinction between his own work in
shaping the story and the words of Jesus?
• There are about 150 words placed on Jesus' lips
that are never used elsewhere by the author
• Verbatim quotation is not the only manner of fair
and historically accurate reporting; John writes as
a preacher
• The author thinks of himself as a reliable
intermediary of the events and the audience of the
gospel, equipped by the Spirit for this task
Geographical Provenance
• Alexandria
• Antioch
• Palestine
• Ephesus – only location with any support
in the church fathers
Conceptual Provenance
• Philo
• Hermetic writings
• Gnosticism
• Mandaism
Conceptual Provenance
• Except for Philo, all of these post-date
• The DSS have shown that John's
conceptual world is at home within firstcentury Judaism
• John uses language that more universally
engages readers in a pluralistic society for
the purpose of evangelistic mission
Relation to Synoptics
• Spirit's anointing of Jesus
• The Baptist's baptism with water and the
Messiah's baptism with the Spirit
• Various sayings
• Jesus' propensity toward nature metaphors
• Uniqueness of Jesus' sonship to the Father
Relation to Synoptics
Interlocking traditions
• John's report of an extensive Judean
ministry and Mark's assumption that Jesus
taught “day after day” in the Temple, the
trepidation about the southward journey, and
Jesus' ability to round up a colt and secure
the upper room
Relation to Synoptics
Interlocking traditions
• Only explanation for the Synoptic
account of the charge against Jesus that
he threatened the Temple is in John 2:19
• John provides the reason that the Jewish
authorities brought Jesus before Pilate
• Only John provides a reason that John
was allowed into the high priest's
Relation to Synoptics
Interlocking traditions
• John's account of Jesus' call of the
disciples in chapter 1 makes the Synoptic
account easier to understand
• Synoptics explain why the trial of Jesus
plunges into the Roman court
• Philip's hesitation to bring Gentiles to
Jesus in John 12 can be explained by Matt
Relation to Synoptics
• It is likely that John read Luke, Mark, and
maybe even Matthew
• John is not dependent on any of their
• John provides valuable historical insight
that complements the Synoptics
Before A.D. 70
• References to the Temple and the “sheep
gate” are easily explainable by John's
style and addressees
Between A.D. 85–95
• During reign of Domitian
• After the council of Jamnia
• No mention of Sadducees
Between A.D. 85–95 (cont.)
• Prevailing understanding of the
reconstruction of early Christianity
• No legitimate reason to suggest the reign
of Domitian
• The theory of the break between Judaism
and Christianity at Jamnia in A.D. 85 is
widely challenged
Between A.D. 85–95 (cont.)
• The prevailing understanding of early
Christian history is subject to critique
• E.g. the closest theological parallel to
John 1–18 are the Christ hymns of
Philippians 2 and Colossians 1, which
were circulating in the mid-50's
Between A.D. 80–85
No compelling reason to suggest an earlier date; later
date is verified by the church fathers
John's theological themes appear to be on a trajectory
toward the unrestrained manner in which Ignatius
uses them
It would be difficult to believe that John could have
been written immediately after A.D. 70
Some time must be allowed between the writing of
the gospel and the Johannine epistles, which were
directed toward a somewhat gnostic misreading of
the fourth gospel.
• To supersede or correct the Synoptics
• The gospel is called forth and for the
Johannine community
• Single themes (Mussner - “knowledge”)
• Synthetic approaches
For evangelism of Diaspora Jews and
proselytes (preferred view)
• John 20:31 “that you may believe that the
Christ, the Son of God, is Jesus”
• Most likely people that would have asked
“Who is the Christ” would have been Jews
• Many OT allusions and quotations
presume familiarity with Jewish scriptures
• Earliest fragment is from P52 (A.D. 130)
• P66 Contains John 1–14 and parts of
remaining chaps
• P45 (3rd century) contains all four gospels
plus Acts
• The earliest and most reliable manuscripts
do not include John 7:53–8:11
Contribution of John
• John adds depth to the portrait of Jesus' ministry,
death, and resurrection
• Jesus as Son of God, perfect in obedience and
functionally subordinate to the Father
• Emphasizes the cross and resurrection as the
climax of his revelation of the Father
• Distinctive emphasis on inaugurated eschatology
• John's gospel is characterized by an extraordinary
number of allusions and typological use of the
Contribution of John
• Emphasis on how Jesus was misunderstood by
his contemporaries and followers prior to the
• Exploration into what it means to belong to the
people of God
• Distinctive vocabulary speaks to important
theological insights
• The exploration of the complexities that bind
together election, faith, and the function of signs
Outline of the Book of Acts
• Prologue: Foundations for the church and its
mission (1:1–2:41)
• The church in Jerusalem (2:42–6:7)
• Wider horizons for the church: Stephen, Samaria,
and Saul (6:8–9:31)
• Peter and the first Gentile convert (9:32–12:24)
• Paul turns to the Gentiles (12:25–16:5)
• Further Penetration into the Gentile world (16:6–
• On to Rome (19:21–28:31)
The Traditional Case
• Author is very familiar with the LXX
• The “we” passages
• Companion of Paul
• There is no challenge in the ancient church
that Luke was the author of Acts
The Case Against the Tradition
• The value of the testimony of the early
church should not be seen as weighty since
early Christians produced many fanciful
theories about the origins of NT books
• The “we” passages could have been from a
source the author used, not from the author
The Case Against the Tradition
• The “we” passages could have simply been
a stylistic device, intended to make only a
rhetorical point
 The evidence for such a use is not
strong, so this is improbable
The Case Against the Tradition
• Paul’s epistles differ from Acts in the
number of journeys to Jerusalem
• Paul seems to make a case for a positive
understanding of natural theology in Acts
17, whereas he only allows a negative
purpose for it in Romans 1
The Case Against the Tradition
• Paul of Acts is utterly loyal to the Law, but
seems to oppose it in the letters
• Paul of Acts lacks all emphasis on union
with Christ
• Preaching of Paul is uneschatological in
In answer to these objections:
• While the attitude toward natural
revelation in Acts 17 and Romans 1 are
different, they are not contradictory. Paul
never claims in Acts 17 that knowledge of
the “unknown god” saves a person
In answer to these objections:
• Paul’s view of the law in the epistles is
often caricatured as more negative than it
really is
• Paul’s actions in regards to the Law in Acts
are fully compatible with Paul’s letters—
Paul acted in such a way that would allow
him to carry out ministry without being a
stumbling block to others
In answer to these objections:
• Paul’s preaching and teaching in Acts is
almost entirely evangelistic, so it makes
sense that there would be little said of
certain Christological or eschatological
motifs found elsewhere
• Acts was written by Luke
• Very little is known about Luke’s
background, so it is best not to place too
much emphasis on where he was from
Second-Century Date
• Proposed by F. C. Baur and the Tübingen
• Few now ascribe to this view
A.D. 80–95
• Shows signs of being written after Luke’s
gospel, which is thought to be post-70
• The optimistic attitude in Acts toward
Rome would seem to negate a post-95 date
since Domitian persecuted Christians
during this time
• The author was not well-aware of Paul’s
letters, so it could not have been written
much later than A.D. 95
A.D. 80–95—However…
• The common dating of the gospel of Luke
is open to criticism
• The fact that the letters of Paul are not
mentioned points to an earlier date rather
than a later date
• Optimism toward Rome could just as
easily pre-date the persecutions of
Christians by Nero in the 60’s
Early to mid-60’s
• It is almost certain that Paul was not
executed after his two-year imprisonment
in Rome at the end of Acts, so it would be
hard to explain why Luke did not include
anything about Paul’s ministry after the
Early to mid-60’s
• Luke’s ignorance of Paul’s letters
• Luke’s portrayal of Judaism better fits a
pre-70 context
• Luke’s omission of reference to Neronian
• Vivid detail of shipwreck voyage narrative
suggests something in recent memory
Genre, Addressees, and Purpose
• Should be put into the category of ancient
• Addressed to Theophilus, but, like Luke,
should probably understand Luke to have
had a broader audience in mind
Genre, Addressees, and Purpose
• Conciliation between Jewish and Gentile
Christianity (Tübingen School)
 Largely discredited by J. B. Lightfoot
and Albrecht Ritschl
• Evangelism/Apologetics
• Theological Polemics
• Edification
Acts in Recent Study
• Hengel’s and Hemer’s works defend the
historicity of Acts
Literary Approaches
• Unity of Luke-Acts
• Acts as historical novel?
Acts in Recent Study
Theological Themes
• Delay of the parousia
• Salvation history
• Mosaic Law
• The relationship between Israel and the
The Contribution of Acts
• The only account of the pouring out of the
Spirit at Pentecost
• The martyrdom of Stephen
• The life of the early Jerusalem church
• How the gospel first came to Samaritans
and Gentiles
The Contribution of Acts
Theological and Pastoral
• The Plan of God
• The Presence of the Future
• Salvation
• The Word of God
• The Holy Spirit
• The People of God