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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Redating the New Testament (revised), part 2

Eusebius tells us that prior to 67 A.D. -
The whole body, however, of the Church at Jerusalem, having been commanded by a Divine revelation, given to men of approved piety there before the War, removed from the city, and dwelt in a certain town beyond the Jordan, called Pella. Here, those that believed in Christ, having removed from Jerusalem as if holy men, had entirely abandoned the Royal City itself, and the whole land of Judea….” >(Eusebius, History of the Church, 3.5).

This quote also isolates the writing of I Clement to a time frame of not just before 70 A.D., but certainly before 67 A.D.

Indirectly, then, it may be understood that the “presbyter” of Corinth was de facto a neo-Sanhedrin office, an ambassador to Jerusalem, in behalf of the Churches at Corinth. But why was Clement contacted by Fortunatus of Corinth?

Philippians 4:3 appears to infer Clement was a fellow-laborer with Paul since at least the founding days of the Churches of Philippi, and his mention is prominent in that capacity. Since Clement was likely continuing with Paul in the ensuing years since Philippi, through Corinth and Asia and Rome, being also present with Paul and Peter at Corinth’s Christian founding, perhaps there was some sort of unwritten Charter that was specifically relevant to the Churches at Corinth? This would explain why Clement in Rome (if the sole known survivor, means Luke and Timothy would have been deceased by this time) was tapped by Fortunatus (but not necessarily). But alas, this is speculative.

The expression by Clement that "one or two" had overthrown the Corinthian Presbyter {13} might then suggest perhaps Stephanus and/or Achaicus (I Corinthians 15:17) had seized the office and household, cast out the existing representative presbyter, and installed their own man.

Therefore, in regard to pre-70 A.D. Jerusalem, we need to adapt our minds to grasp that pre-67 A.D. Christianity still observed Temple Sacrifice and had their own Sanhedrin, as if a parallel Judaism within Judaism.

The idea, then, of a papacy in Rome or anywhere else, was simply an alien Gentile concept reserved for much later generations. But like the redating of the New Testament, it appears that even a contemporary work like First Clement is also a lock...datable from within a few months following the fires to Rome in 64, to no later than 66 A.D.

From this background of understanding, we can clearly defend the position of dating Clement to a period when the Temple in Jerusalem yet stood and sacrificed, unthreatened; and was also that period after the deaths of the Apostles Peter and Paul in Rome.

Further Dismantling a Modern Late Dating "Spin"
When the Church history and the roll of the bishops of Ephesus were read in circa 207 A.D., (in the same Third Century A.D. in which some New Testament’s Progressive / Communist / Atheistic critics contend the NT was "created"), it clearly showed that at its very origin: that is, along with Ephesus’ first bishop (Timothy), John and his Apocalypse were recorded as being present at Ephesus’ origin or beginning (Tertullian, Against Marcion, 4.5).

But is this possible?

Timothy, a companion of Silas (bishop of Corinth), whom we know to have been Paul’s disciple, served as bishop in Ephesus, under Paul, from ca. A.D. 52 - ca. August 53 (the approximate de facto date of the Ephesian uproar, which some reckon as in the spring months of March to April).{14}

Timothy then, would have had to continue serving to a certain year as bishop, even after the uproar had passed, without the guidance of an apostolic overseer, for a period of months. As we shall see later, I say "months" because this is the testimony of John through Polycarp through Irenaeus in one of the essential quotes liberal scholarship fears to let you know about. And, as we shall see in the chronology of Luke's Book of Acts, John (by inference) returned from his exile and came back to Ephesus, by April of 54 A.D.

As Hebrews 13:23 testifies,{15} we do know that Timothy at some point left the bishopric of Ephesus in order to have been arrested elsewhere and set free.

In examining the life of Paul through Acts, I place this as likely being late fall or early winter the year before Paul died; hence, A.D. 56 (if we accept 2 Timothy 4:6-21 at face value).

Certain years that I believe are definitive years of the book of Acts:

44 A.D. -- The death of a Herod in 44 A.D. listed in Acts 12:21.

47 A.D. -- The Jerusalem Conference, Pentecost 47 A.D. in Acts 15:7.

Paul gives testimony of his conversion in Galatians 1:13-17, explaining that after his conversion, he did not go up to Jerusalem, but went to Arabia for a period of time and then returned to Damascus.

Galatians 1:18:
“Then after years, three, I went up to Jerusalem to learn from Peter; and stayed upon up alongside him days, fifteen.”

Galatians 2:1:
“Then through 14 years, again, I went up to Jerusalem, with Barnabas; taking with me also, Titus.”

Galatians 2:1 identifies that the Jerusalem conference was 14 years after Paul’s conversion (i.e., through the use of “dia”/”through” ff.. “meta”/”after” in 1:18).

That means that the calculation isn’t PLUS Galatians 1:18’s “meta”/”after 3 years, as though to be 17 years…but rather it keeps the 14 as a “total” tally.

Being 14 years prior to 47 A.D., means a conversion of Saul to Paul in 33 A.D. This allows Saul (who would become “Paul”) about 2 to 3 years (depending on when he saw the martyr's death of Stephen) to persecute Christians viciously in Judea, the coastal regions, and perhaps Galilee, before setting out for Syria with Sanhedrin letters of authority to do the same there also.

49 A.D.-- The Claudine expulsion of Jews from Rome (Acts 18:1-2.) {16}

49 – 51 A.D. -- For the next 18 months (Acts 18:11), until the spring of 51 A.D. Paul is in Corinth. Paul then sails to Syria (Acts 18:18), and then goes to Ephesus of Asia.

51-53 A.D. -- Paul still travels, but his time from this point at Ephesus is reckoned for 2 years (Acts 19:10). This brings us to the summer months of 53 A.D.

Late April to the first days of May 54 A.D., but likely late April -- Paul calls for the elders of the Church of Ephesus by messenger from Miletus (Acts 20:17) and officially announces his departing (Acts 20:29,32).

A.D. 54 - Paul is imprisoned many days in Israel, but not years (dietia)

That is the testimony of Luke through the book of Acts.

June 1, 54 A.D. - According to the Roman transfer of proconsuls / governors and Caesars, the years of service were reckoned from June 1 of a given year. If the year for a Caesar precedes June 1, that is often calculated as Year 1, and then at June 1, even if that falls but 2 or 4 months later, that is Year 2 of the reign. It is as if limited by "fiscal" as well as "political" calendars, and perhaps set by Augustus' reconstruction and laws guiding Roman governance.

Διετιας δε πληρωθεισης ελαβεν διαδοχον ο Φηλιξ

"Years then being completed/fulfilled [in the sense of duty being accomplished (Acts 12:25) ] received a successor Felix"...etc. is the literal translation.

Often the changing of the order in varying translations to "(Two) years then being completed, Porcius Festus came into Felix's room" (Acts 24:27) confuses those who have not looked to the Greek manuscripts, because in the Greek, this verse clearly speaks to Felix serving a second term, not of Paul's imprisonment.

Twice the article "ho" in the sentence first rests on Felix, and this drives the highlight and theme of what Luke is conveying. The sentence is about Felix in the Greek, even as in John 1:1c, the absence of the article on Theos and the use with Logos (kai theos een ho Logos...and G-D was the Word) tells us that the theme is on the Logos being G-D, but not the complete expression or totality of G-D (since we have the Father and the Holy Spirit as part of the expression of what and who G-D is, more than just the Son, the Word or Logos).

To skip the articles of the Greek in which the years are driving the point home on "Felix", and to jump to Paul (who is the second to the last word -- some 13 words later after two mentions of Felix -- in the entire somewhat lengthy sentence), is a bad reading of the Greek, and sloppy scholarship in that regard.

In a careful reading and redating of Josephus' Antiquities and Wars of the Jews, we will find:

Pilate served from [June 1,] 24 A.D. - 34 A.D. (Antiquities 18.4.2,6) Two Legion tours of duty [being 5 years each].

Later, Cumanus served from [June 1,] 42 A.D. - [May 31,] 47 A.D. One legion's term of 5 years.

Felix served from [June 1,] 47 A.D. - [May 31,] 52 A.D. and again from [June 1,] 52 A.D. - [May 31,] 54 A.D. before being relieved by Festus. One legion's term of 5 years plus 2 years into a second term.

Festus lasted only from [June 1,] 54 A.D. - ca. pre-Passover 55 A.D.

That chronology which places Paul in the hands of Festus in or about 54/55 A.D., is virtually the same as the testimony of Luke through the book of Acts.

The question of filling in the blanks of Paul’s length of imprisonment will be answered later, because as we shall see, the 2 years Paul will stay in Rome (Acts 28:30) is a FINAL stay. It is my contention, after having examined all of the evidence, that this year is almost certainly 57 A.D. Critics are given only one other year as a remote possibility: 58 A.D.

Therefore, we are given a timeline of 53-55/56 A.D. in which John the Apostle must be banished, write the Apocalypse / Revelation, and come to Ephesus with the book in order for there to be an unbroken succession at Ephesus between Paul the Apostle, and John the Apostle, as we shall see Irenaeus testify. If Timothy is indeed a Semikah rabbi (disciple) of Rav Paul, then as long as he remains in Ephesus for up to a year after Paul leaves, it is as if Paul’s rule yet remains unbroken (though he be temporarily absent), and Irenaeus is vindicated.

But Timothy, indeed, at some point traveled to Rome. There, he was imprisoned for an unknown offense (Hebrews 13:23), most probably in relation to Paul’s execution on June 29 of that year. And curiously enough, it was Trophimus, and not Timothy, who was martyred along with Paul the Apostle.{17}

13 ANF - I Clement .47, and addressed as if men/persons of means in .57

14 F.F. Bruce, Are the New Testament Documents Reliable? Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 14th Reprint March 1980, p. 84, citing Duncan, G.S., St. Paul’s Ephesian Ministry (1929) p. 140.

15 “Know (then that) the brother Timothy, having been freed, with whom if I come sooner, I will see you.” (Literal Greek to English)

16 cf. Josephus, Antiquities, 18.1.2-6.

17 Hippolytus, On the 70 Apostles,.70 “Trophimus, who was martyred along with Paul”. Although not de facto scholarly considered as written by Hippolytus, the data appears to retain pertinent and clearly factual data on where many earliest church bishops and relevant figures ended up., and how some died.

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