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Gospel Dating - The Jesus Papyrus (letter)
We have witnessed the lengths to which some will go when caught in a corner such as was the case in the discussion generated by Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ. We (the ignorant) were expected to accept the red herring that the Gospels were an unreliable and inaccurate account of the Passion as they were written so long after the events they described.
The idea of the later dating of the Gospels seems to be accepted without question by many Scripture scholars, despite its questionable origin in the 1820s. While this idea has been dealt with before it might be as well for those who have forgotten or not been able to do the research to assemble the relevant data.
Fortunately this has been achieved in a book The Jesus Papyrus (IBSN 1857999584) by Carsten Peter Thiede and Matthew d'Ancona.
This book is about the papyrus preserved at Magdalen College, Oxford. The fragments of the papyrus are identified as the Gospel of St Matthew which are dated paleographically as c. AD66. With the dates arrived at by paleological dating they are usually earlier than the actual date.
All of this means that we are not at the end but rather at the beginning of the examination of the dating of the New Testament papyri.
As one reads this book one might well say:
"Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
PAUL R. SMITH
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 17 No 5 (June 2004), p. 14
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