Dating Luke-Acts (Raynal)
- First to Gordon Raynal, thank you for your responses on
my "developmental time" questions. They were very informative. I
noticed in this list that you judged Luke to be somewhat later,
compared to most scholars. Let me try and then list some of what I
consider to be better arguments for Luke's dating. Feel free to chime
in with problems on these.
1. Luke takes Mark's apocalyptic prophecy about "the desolating
sacrilege" (13:14) and turns it, ex eventu into a prophecy of
Judgment on Jerusalem (21:20). This and 19:43 look back on 70 C.E.
Luke is also dependent upon Mark and Q and refers to many others who
had undertaken such written tasks. A comparison of Acts and the
Pauline corpus dictates substantial time differences. The Luke-Acts
material is significantly developed. On these grounds, in no
reasonable sense can Luke be dated before 80 C.E.
2. For external attestation we have Irenaeus (ca 180) to 2 Clement
and Justin (mid 2d century) to Polycarp of Smyrnia (Phil 1.2 w/ Acts
2:24?), to Marcion (140 a truncated form?). In my estimation,
Justin's usage of Gospel material suggests that we must push Luke
back a few years which is at least confirmed by Marcion and Polycarp.
This is off the basis of a snippet from Sander's and Davies (SSG,
Sander & Davies pp. 7-8) and Koester's arguments (ACG, Koester pp.365-
402). As noted in an earlier post, four stages are evident:
a. Matthew and Luke are written.
b. They (become popular(?) and) are systematically harmonized.
c. Clusters of sayings are drawn from this.
d. Justin edited this collection in his own writings.
On this, I would say, at the latest Luke can in no reasonable sense
be dated later than 130 (twenty or years for this full development to
the extant text of Justin).
3. Suppressing knowledge of recent events is very difficult. Sanders
and Davies stated that, "The rationale for fixing the date of each
gospel close to the earliest possible time, rather than close to the
latest, is that it is difficult to suppose that the authors concealed
knowledge of recent events. (SSG, p. 16)." So if we have 80-130 being
our bookends, and we place Luke closer to 130, Sanders and Davies
went on to highlight two events it is difficult to imagine Luke would
have knowledge of and suppressed:
a. The persecution of parts of the church under Domitian in the mid
90s is not mentioned--not even in coded language.
b. Luke held the view that God punished the Jews for rejecting Jesus
but there are no references to the further punishments in the major
revolts occurring in 115-117 (Jews against Rome in Egypt, Cyrene and
Cyprus). These resulted in the shedding of blood and destroying of
As Sanders and Davies write, "A theory that Luke wrote very late must
be based upon the supposition that he successfully maintained his
focus on an earlier period. Few authors can be entirely successful in
such an effort. (p.17)"
c. Another event is listed by the New Jerome Biblical Commentary (p.
676): "Luke-Acts does not reflect the severe controversy that existed
between the church and synagogue after the Pharisaic reconstruction
of Judaism at Jamnia (AD 85-90).
I take it this is the argument you would dispute the most? At any
rate, does this give us grounds for pushing Luke before 115, then for
95 and also even the late 80s? Sanders and Davies note that this
argument is not entirely convincing. This same rationale would have
us place Luke-Acts before the death of Paul--something virtually no
scholar does and something which seems all but impossible to me.
Still, this suppression must carry some weight, however.
4. Dependency on other texts. Two separate issues:
a. Was Luke-Acts written independent of the Pauline corpus? The NJBC
says that "one looks in vain for more than a trace of Pauline
theology in Luke-Acts (p. 675)" This seems to be a yes. On this
basis, the evidence and widespread view that Paul's letters were
collected and becoming widely known ca 100 C.E. is telling.
The citations // allusions to various epistles (that were written to
different a different provenance) in 1 Clement, Ignatius. Polycarp, 2
Clement Marcion and maybe a few allusions to Ephesians in Barnabas?
How does a later dating of Luke--written independent of the Pauline
corpus-- fare with the notion that Paul's letters were apparently
popular and amassing 'frequent flyer miles' ca 100 C.E.? Paul's
popularity in Acts is hard to square with a late dating and Luke's
lack of Pauline theology.
b. As others on the list mentioned, at what point does the two-
document theory begin to be crumble? Of course some date Matthew
later than others but Luke claims to be aware of Many writings and
knows Q and Mark. In my developmental time thread you only posited
five years for Matthew knowing Mark. Can we really give 30 or so
years to Luke and maintain the independence of Matthew and Luke?
I suppose this rational is not entirely convincing either since we
probably do not know enough about the full development of each text,
their posed provenance, exactly how and where they spread and so on.
But based upon the few pieces of the incomplete puzzle we do have, I
would include this as part of a collective argument.
Its also important in that granted some differences between Luke and
Acts. It is said that the "linguistic differences between Luke and
Acts demand a certain linguistic interval between the two writings by
the same author (Kummel, Intro NT p. 132)."
So Acts, written indepepdent of the Pauline corpus would seem to
serve as a bookend for Luke.
5. Comparison to Other texts. Two issues that have been raised:
a. Luke's symbolic interest in Jerusalem as a Christian center does
not match the the outlook of 2d century Christian literature (Brown,
Intro NT, p. 273).
b. "For For Asia Minor and Ephesus, the author of Acts seems to know
only the church structure of presbyters. No sign is shown of having
one bishop in a church so clearly attested by Ignatius (110 C.E.)."
I think b here might be a bit stronger than a since I have difficulty
with straight line development assumptions in NT Studies.
Other issues that could be discussed would be the minority view that
the traditional authorship of Luke being correct and also Luke's
possible dependence upon Antiquities of the Jews (93-94). Acts 5:36-
37 reading too hastily Antiquities 20.97-103. Acts is in error. Judas
preceded Theudas but Josephus discusses Thuedas before Judas. Another
apparent historical error can be explained in a similar fashion: Luke
3.1 misreading Antiquities 18. Most scholars apparently are not
convinced by this explanation however and do not thinki dependence is
At any rate, do these arguments suggest a dating of Luke from 80-100
and possibly more precisely, 80-90? What are the arguments for a
later composition? What are the flaws with these arguments?