Developmental Time and Written Dependence.
- The writings of Justin Martyr (mid 2d century) show knowledge of the
texts of Matthew and Luke. Many have also argued that Justin shows
knowledge of preexistent Gospel harmonies (Studying the Synoptic
Gospels, Sander & Davies, pp. 7-8). See also Helmut Koester (Ancient
Christian Gospels, pp.365-402) who rgues this point at some length.
At p.370 Koester notes three stages in his reconstruction. I will
list them and also the initial one that Koester assumes:
1. Matthew and Luke are written.
2. They (become at least somewhat popular or influential in some
areas and) are systematically harmonized.
3. The harmony becomes known and clusters of sayings are drawn from
4. The clusters are known by Justin who edited them in his own
My question is how much developmental time is generally granted for a
process like this? Would we need 30 years? 40? 50? One generation?
Two? Koester seems to think that neither text can be dated much after
the beginning of the 2d century on this basis (probably about 40-50
years) but this a little vague. So for any on the list that subscribe
to this scenario, what amount of time would you give for development
here? Also, if we do not accurately know the provenance of a work
then is this even remotely assessable?
Also, Raymond Brown, in his Intro to the NT noted that Mark was most
likely written between 68 and 73. On this basis he said it is
improbable Luke dates any earlier than 80 C.E.
Why do we give 7 to 12 years developmental time? And if Brown gives a
range of 68 - 73 for Mark why is it improbable Luke dates to earlier
than 80 at any point throughout the range of 68-73? Why isn't a range
given for Luke's earliest possible date as well? Was Brown just
assuming a "ten years rule" based upon Mark being authored ca. 70
Is this round number more than an educated guess?
I also note that Patterson seems to have made use of some sort
of "generation rule" in 'the Gospel of Thomas and Jesus'. Patterson,
noting the earliest manuscript attestation for Thomas (ca. 200 C.E.
in Egypt) and his view that it was composed in Syria writes, "We may
allow a generation for for the growth and popularity of the book,
such as would result in wider dissemination, and yet another for the
popularity to reach Egypt."
What are the logistics behind this? The most important factor I am
thinking of is provenance here (takes time for a work to spread
further). But outside of this are these ranges anything more than
educated guesswork? Do we also need to grant two generations to
Justin Martyr here?