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BrckBrln
Jan 18th 2011, 10:40 PM
I'm interested in knowing how you all date the book(s) of Luke-Acts. It seems how one dates Acts will effect considerably how one dates other books of the NT. It will, of course, effect Luke (written before Acts), but also the book of Mark (which Luke uses as one of his sources). Several periods of time have been offered for the dating of Acts; before 70 AD, sometime around 80 AD, and even into the second century. The last suggestion can be pretty much ruled out.

The main reason for dating Acts pre-70 AD is the abrupt ending of the book, with Paul languishing in a Roman prison. The argument is that if Luke knew about Paul's release or even martyrdom, he would have included this in his work to inform the readers. It seems to be a pretty big omission on Luke's part, hence the conclusion that Acts was published around this time in the early sixties.

The main reason for dating Acts post-70 AD is the presumed post-70 AD date of the book of Luke and the late sixties date of Mark. As Carson and Moo put it:

'A date after A.D. 70 for Luke's gospel is based on two assumptions: that the gospel reflects the actual circumstances of the Roman sack of Jerusalem in 70, and that the Gospel of Mark, which Luke has probably used, must be dated in the middle or late 60's.' An Introduction to the New Testament, Carson and Moo, p. 298

We can get into the reasons why most scholars think this latter way, but I'm more interested in how much weight should be given to the ending of Acts as a way to date the book. Most conservative scholars give it a great deal of weight and claim the most sensible reason for such an ending is Luke publishing at the time of Paul's imprisonment. Others simply say Luke has completed his purpose in writing Acts and finishing with Paul in the capital of the Roman empire preaching the gospel is a fitting conclusion. Again, Carson and Moo explaining this position:

'Luke's focus is not biographical but theological - he is not interested in a life of Paul but in the expansion of the gospel. To have the gospel being preached in Rome 'without hindrance' (Acts 28:31) brings Luke's epic account of the growth and expansion of the Christian movement to its natural terminus.'

While Carson and Moo ultimately date Acts 'not long after A.D. 62' on other, less substantial, reasons, nevertheless they state 'This argument carries considerable weight'.

And 'further substantiating it is Luke's mention of a specific period of time - 'two whole years' - during which Paul preached in Rome. This suggests that Luke knew that Paul's circumstances changed after this two-year period. While it is difficult to be certain, then, we are inclined to think that the ending of Acts does not point conclusively to the date of its writing or publication.' An Introduction to the New Testament, Carson and Moo, p.300

This is a different conclusion from what I find in my other New Testament introduction, The Cradle, The Cross, and The Crown by Kostenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, and presumably from other conservative scholars.

So as I said at the beginning, I'm interested in seeing how you all date Luke-Acts.

-SEEKING-
Jan 18th 2011, 11:40 PM
Right off the top of my head I'd say just a bit over 1900 years ago. ;)

notuptome
Jan 18th 2011, 11:46 PM
C.I.Scofield dates both books at circa 60 AD He sees Acts as a continuation of Lukes writings of the gospel narrative. Luke is also dated as circa 60 AD.

For the cause of Christ
Roger

the rookie
Jan 19th 2011, 12:08 AM
I tend to put the date of Luke at around 62-63 AD for the reason you mentioned; but like you I've struggled with the date of Mark related to what scholars assert it "has" to be. I grasp why it "has" to be dated in the mid-60's - and agree that it has to precede Luke - but, all things considered, wonder if the dating of Mark is the one factor that has to "flex" in the equation of things.

I see Luke and Paul using Paul's trial and Luke's defense as an occasion to, ultimately, defend the legitimacy of "The Way" as the true expression of Judaism on the earth (answering the accusers from that era who were seeking to sever its' ties with Judaism) - first by establishing Jesus as the personification of Judaism as the God-Man and then documenting the work of His Spirit to spread the gospel worldwide as proof of the truth of that assertion. The narrative ends because the "evidence" (the ministry of the Holy Spirit) has led Paul right to the doorstep of the Roman Caesar, ready to share the gospel with him through his testimony. There's no reason to end the letter there if it was written post-70 AD. That's a massive omission - one that Luke, Mark, and Matthew all seem to treat as a future (not past) event.

markedward
Jan 19th 2011, 05:50 AM
We can get into the reasons why most scholars think this latter way, but I'm more interested in how much weight should be given to the ending of Acts as a way to date the book. Most conservative scholars give it a great deal of weight and claim the most sensible reason for such an ending is Luke publishing at the time of Paul's imprisonment. Others simply say Luke has completed his purpose in writing Acts and finishing with Paul in the capital of the Roman empire preaching the gospel is a fitting conclusion.I think that this is ultimately Luke's reason for ending where he does. As far as we know, Paul could have gone to Spain like he wanted to... but with the ancient understanding that "the whole world" constituted their own world (being the extent of the Roman Empire), and the farthest, most opposite place of the origin of the gospel could have been considered to be the very capital of the pagan empire dominating everyone's lives... this seems to be the most fitting interpretation to me. The book begins with Jesus promising that his disciples would spread the gospel from Jerusalem, into Judea, into Samaria, and even to "the ends of the earth". And we see exactly that happen; they preached in Jerusalem, they began moving outward into Judea, they went into Samaria following the persecution's uprising, and going, going, going, until finally they arrived in Rome (with the optimistic look that maybe even Caesar himself would hear the gospel?).

The ending in general doesn't speak to dating. And there are too many ways to read Luke's statement regarding Paul to use it as a definitive evidence for when Luke was writing. (Is Luke simply wrapping up, because he has caught up to the current time? Is Luke implying that Paul was set free and went onward to preach elsewhere? Is he hinting that Paul was martyred after those two years passed? Or is he finishing here solely because "Rome" meets the prophetic utterance of Jesus, bringing us full-circle?) I would suggest that the mid-60s may be the ideal time-frame for when Luke was writing, but it's not impossible (nor problematic) if it came afterwards.

I would say, however, that nothing Luke says suggests he was writing after 70 AD... certainly nothing in Acts. One might use his gospel to claim as much, but this argument nearly entirely rests upon those prophetic predictions about the events of 67-70 AD (e.g. Luke 21), which could only be used as evidence of a post-70 date if the reader assumed beforehand that genuine prophecy doesn't exist, let alone from the mouth of this Jesus whom our author attributes the words to. The fact that Luke never says anything in either of his works that suggests the destruction of Jerusalem was a past event is, for me, the primary reason for why I believe he wrote before it. (The same for all of the other NT writings, and even a couple of non-canonical works, such as the Didache and maybe even 1 Clement.)

Br. Barnabas
Jan 19th 2011, 12:25 PM
I would date Mark at around 64 or so, early to mid 60s. Matthew and Luke-Acts I would date somewhere between 70-80s.

I am of the camp that says Luke's purpose of the book was to show the Gospel getting from Judah to Rome. So once Paul is under house arrest in Rome he has completed his purpose and ends the book. He would assume what happened to Paul in Rome was common knowledge. So he has no reason for telling the reader if Paul went on a 4th missionary journey that included Spain or if he was just killed during his imprisonment in Rome. Luke was writing to a specific person or Christians in general and was trying to show how the Gospel got from Judah to Rome, he was not setting out to write a history of the church, if he was he did a poor job of it, since he only follows the story of one apostle and does not go into greater details about the overall history/development of the church(es).

BrckBrln
Jan 19th 2011, 04:29 PM
I would say, however, that nothing Luke says suggests he was writing after 70 AD... certainly nothing in Acts. One might use his gospel to claim as much, but this argument nearly entirely rests upon those prophetic predictions about the events of 67-70 AD (e.g. Luke 21), which could only be used as evidence of a post-70 date if the reader assumed beforehand that genuine prophecy doesn't exist, let alone from the mouth of this Jesus whom our author attributes the words to.

While that's true for some scholars, it certainly doesn't have to be the case for all who see Luke referring to 70 AD.

But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Mark 13:14

But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Luke 21:20

I think it's very possible that Luke is reflecting the situation of 70 AD by the way he changes this verse. But it's still very much an open question.

markedward
Jan 19th 2011, 04:37 PM
Could it be that he is changing it to allow his (primarily Gentile?) audience better understand Jesus' meaning?

BrckBrln
Jan 19th 2011, 05:08 PM
Could it be that he is changing it to allow his (primarily Gentile?) audience better understand Jesus' meaning?

Luke certainly had a reason for changing the verse the way he did. But I don't see your suggestion as any more plausible then the suggestion that Luke is interpreting Mark's verse in light of the events of 70 AD. Open question...