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I wish that I could rejoice with Fr Duggan (Letters, July) that the tide of opinion concerning the dating of the Gospels has begun to turn. Some scholars have seen the truth but most still advocate the Higher Critical opinions. Fr. Duggan probably knows of Ita Linnemann (Is there a Synoptic Problem?). She was an advocate of Higher Criticism until she, like I.A.T. Robinson, examined the bases of Higher Criticism and found them to be false.
About two years ago I heard an academic from a Catholic institution tell an audience that all of the New Testament had been written after AD 70 and that, since this was at least forty years after the death of Jesus, nobody would remember what Jesus had said and done and that we could not be sure of the sense in which He was divine.
As well, we were told that Mary had been raped by a Roman soldier and that Jesus, the product of the union, did not die on the cross but had revived and later had married.
The Higher Critical position was begun by Samuel Reimarius (1694-1768) and his avowed intention was to deny that people could trust the Gospels and therefore no one could have reliable contact with Jesus. I agree with the late Eric Mascall who blamed New Testament scholars for the damage that has been done to Christianity.
I have a small difference with Fr Duggan. Robinson's book, The Priority of John, asserts that Matthew and John were contemporaries and wrote about 33AD. My conclusion is that they wrote their Gospels in response to requests from those who were converted to the faith at or after Peter's preaching at Pentecost and wanted information about the Lord.
JACK R. NYMAN
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 17 No 7 (August 2004), p. 16
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