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Faith and spirituality in a modern world

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Gospels written too long after Jesus?

Were the Gospels written too long after Jesus?
There have been several people who have said that the time between Jesus′ death and resurrection, and when the New Testament was written is a long time.
But Donald Campbell’s story is a contemporary illustration:

Bluebird zooming over the waterDonald Campbell is known for breaking world speed records:

From 1955 he repeatedly broke new World Water-Speed records, first on Ullswater reaching a speed of 202 mph, until 1964 at Lake Dumbleyung, where he reached 276mph.

Then in 1964 at Lake Eyre, Australia, he set a new World Land Speed Record of 403 mph. So in that same year he held both the Water and Land Speed Records at the same time.

Then in 1967 he died when he went over 300 mph on Coniston water as his boat K7 ‘Bluebird’ bounced into the air and crashed.
So at the time of writing this article, it has been 37 years since his death.

What would happen if someone said that Donald Campbell was just a myth, it never really happened!
No-one would believe that Donald Campbell was a myth.
Many people would have seen him break the records, either on news reports or by actually being there. They were eye witnesses to what really happened.
Many people were still alive who had seen the real Donald Campbell.

Back to Jesus′ time

Jesus preachingSo if we now look at 37 years on from Jesus′ death and resurrection, what had been written? (The same amount of time from Donald Campbell to writing this)

Just a few years earlier, 6 letters had been written*:
Philemon, Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Peter, and Jude.
Also one Gospel had been written, (Mark), and a history of the church so far, (Acts).

And at least seven years earlier, eight letters had been written:
James, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, 1 Peter, Galations, and Romans.

All of these had been written while people were still alive who had seen Jesus′ miracles, and had heard His teachings.
If these letters, and the Gospel, and the history of the early Church had been based on myths, then this new group, the Christians, would have fizzled out, because the people would have known it was a myth.

But because they were talking about a real person called Jesus, the crowds would have seen Him. They were eye witnesses to what really happened, even if they didn’t agree with Jesus, they couldn’t have denied what He had done.
Even the religious leaders couldn’t deny Jesus′ miracles, they tried to explain it as being the work of Satan.

So the conclusion is that these things were written soon enough to be reliable evidence, because many people were still alive who had seen the real Jesus.

* This does not include the other letters which we don′t have any clues to when they were written, eg letters to Timothy, etc, which were probably written at this time.

Peter Reason

July 2004

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