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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Redating the New Testament (Revised), Part 4

In ca. 190 A.D., Clement from Alexandria, Egypt, supplements (Irenaeus) writing:
“The Gospels containing the genealogies were written first {32} …
[Then] as Peter had preached the Word at ROME publicly,
by the Spirit declaring the Gospel, many who were present
requested that Mark …should write them out.
And having composed the Gospel,
he gave it to those who had requested it…
Last of all, John…being persuaded by his friends, but inspired
by the SPIRIT, composed a Spiritual Gospel.”

So what can we learn in these quotes from Irenaeus and Clement?

1) That Matthew was the 2nd written Gospel, and that by inference, Luke was written prior to Peter and Paul being in Rome. {34}

2) Mark’s Gospel is actually the 3rd Gospel, not sourcing from either Luke or Matthew, but from Peter himself (who was the sole source of Mark’s material): all this occurring in ROME. Twice, Mark is listed as the next to last Gospel, and twice John’s is listed as the last Gospel to be written.

3) John’s Gospel is written AFTER the deaths of Peter and Paul.

4) The letter of Hebrews is clearly distinguished as “Paul’s Gospel”, penned by his student Luke.

This book, now known as Hebrews, which bears the message to Ephesus from Luke, “the brother Timothy [might we add, your (at one time) bishop] is set at Liberty” (Hebrews 13:23), is understood in the light that Mark indeed, did hand to John, in Ephesus of Asia, in writing, the Sermons of Peter and the Gospel of Paul. We receive further affirmation that Luke penned it, and was called as “Luke’s Digest, even though men [such as Irenaeus] usually ascribe it to Paul” (Tertullian, Against Marcion, 4.5).

A Limit set by the death of Mark in 62 A.D.

"Mark,” says Eusebius "dies in the 8th year of Nero’s reign, in Alexandria of Egypt." {35}

This, we would reckon as A.D. 61-62. In the First Century, the optimum travel time between Alexandria and Rome was a minimum of 12 days. However, if Mark ran a circuit tour of visiting various Churches, say Corinth and Philippi and Ephesus and Antioch and Caesarea and Jerusalem, for example, then his travel would have taken him months before he would have reached Egypt.

This pushes us back a year to 60-61. Then, it would have taken time for a non-Apostle like Mark to establish the Church at Alexandria, especially among 400,000 Jews who lived there, and to ensure its foundation. That Church Organization still exists from Antiquity to this Day, being only younger than the Roman Church by what is counted on one hand for a difference of years. And in order to establish and build such a Church, Mark alone would then need twice the time it took Peter and Paul to establish Corinth or Rome together. This gives us an additional subtraction of 3-4 years from the death and martyrdom of Mark, pushing us back to Mark leaving Rome somewhere around 57-58 A.D.

Church Tradition dating to the Third Century, in Rome, strongly adheres to the day of Peter and Paul's martyrdom as being on June 29 of an unknown year. {36}

The rolls of the bishops would have still been present in Rome in that period, and therefore, the veracity of the day and month -- being left unchallenged, is probably an attempt at authentication by its citation. Therefore, we should accept the date of June 29 of 57 or 58 A.D. {37}

Other Considerations: Separating History from Myth-making

Now, in the mid-Second Century, someone wrote in the Anti-Macionite prologues that: “Mark…after Peter’s death, wrote down (his) Gospel in the region of Italy.” In other words, he wrote down perhaps more copies of the original, but NOT in ROME. This answers the dual testimony of Mark's copying down his Gospel both before and after the death of Peter in ROME. Then comes the question, “Why did Mark feel compelled to leave ROME to either make more copies of, or to finalize, his Gospel?”
Ancient Roman historians warn of an out of control Nero, with his raging hormones, whom in the 50s and 60s A.D. repetitively demonstrated an inability to sanely and rationally to rule as Caesar. {38}
Tiberius moved to Caprae (Capri) in circa 26-27 A.D. to exercise total dominion and to shield his perversity, but Nero remained in Rome. Nero was much the more insulated by the Praetorian Guard than perhaps any Caesar before him, and as a reckless youth, he gradually became increasingly sociopathic. However, he soon found that much like Tiberius (who had to beg for the Senate to send Laodicea earthquake relief ca. 17 or 23 A.D) {39}, he, Nero, (but for the Senate) held near absolute power in only one province, wherever Caesar resided. And for Nero, that province was ROME. Not in Asia, where the Apostle John resided. Not in Gaul. Not in Briton. Just in ROME. Nero’s oppression and vices were at times so horrible, that even as one passed from inside ROME to outside the city, (unless you ran into the Camp of the Roman Legion), it probably felt as if you were being liberated.

For, as Tertullian writes,
“…Nero…assailed with the Imperial Sword – the Christian Sect – making progress especially then at ROME.” {40}

So, unless Nero traveled somewhere else -- such as Corinth, --his power and focus was not “near-absolute” anywhere where he was not. In jurisprudence, Nero specifically saw cases that were under his “sphere” only in the years of 55 (for 2 months), then in 57 (for 6 months), then in 58 (for 4 months), and lastly in A.D. 60 (for 6 months). {41}

Therefore, Paul could only have been executed in one of two years, A.D. 57 or 58. Jerome, who had access to the most ancient manuscript copies of the Church at the time, in A.D. 392, agrees and writes in “On Illustrious Men” in chapters 1, 5, and 9:

55 A.D. "…In the 25th year after our LORD’s Passion, {42}

55-56 A.D. that is the 2nd year of Nero, {43}
at the time Festus procurator of Judea, {44} succeeded Felix,
he [Paul] was sent bound to Rome, {45}

57-58 A.D.: and remaining for 2 years in Free Custody, [Acts 28:30]
disputed daily with the Jews concerning the Advent of Christ.”

Propaganda: Paul was dismissed by Nero that the Gospel of Christ
might be preached also in the West.

67 A.D.: …He, then, in the 14th year of Nero,
same day: on the same day with Peter, was beheaded in ROME
for Christ’s sake, and was buried in the Ostian Way

57 A.D.: the 27th year after the LORD’s Passion.” {46}

Jerome, earlier in his opening in chapter 1 of "On Illustrious Men,” cites a beginning of 42 A.D. for Peter’s reign, and an ending of 67 A.D. Obviously, this is impossible if he and Paul are co-founding Corinth, or if Peter is to also visit Asia’s Churches. {47} However, the specific analysis I want you to see is this: where Jerome evokes “the LORD’s Passion”, (which is on a March 23 according to Lactantius’ Letter to Donatus, .2), Jerome holds vehemently to a dating of 55-57 A.D. for the presence of Peter and Paul in ROME!

Also of note, in Chapter 9 of “On Illustrious Men”, Jerome also dates John’s death as “68 years after our LORD’s Passion.” Hence dating both John the Apostle’s death in 98 A.D. and the Passion as 68 years plus, before Trajan became Caesar in Rome after that transition period of Nerva (who followed Domitian).

A possible answer to Jerome's 2nd year of Claudius for Peter's arrival in ROME

Emperor Nero was also named “Claudius” after that his uncle had adopted him as his son, as stated earlier, so that his name was Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus.

So if Peter came in the 2nd year of the reign of this Nero Claudius, that is following June 1, 55 A.D., (when his second year would start, even after only a partial first), it would square with the historical record we have just examined throughout.

But let me clarify this one point: I hold Peter to arriving in Rome about a month following Paul, in the second year of Nero Claudius, but not Simon the Samaritan.

I believe the literary historical record is rigid on these two points:

1) Simon the Samaritan came to Rome in the second half of Claudius Caesar’s reign, between 48-53 A.D., and
2) Simon Peter, also called Cephas, arrived around June (or not much later) of 55 A.D.

It is extremely important that we can distinguish these two facts of the historical records which were in existence, but apparently misconstrued in later times because much of the information was rarely readily at one’s fingertips, due to the times in which they lived and the persecutions which they suffered.

“Simon Peter…in the 2nd year of the reign of [Nero] Claudius, pushed on to Rome, to overthrow Simon Magus.” says Jerome.

Again, according to the statement by Jerome, Peter came to Rome for what purpose? Not to head the Churches of Christianity...but to fulfill a personal mission...to take on Simon Magus.

Clearly, Jerome identifies, along with other evidence as we have seen, that Christ was crucified in A.D. 30. Now, such is the character of Jerome: when evoking the Passion, he refuses to lie, fearing loss of his eternal soul. Others after him also, refuse to change the utterance of Jerome where the Passion of Jesus is evoked. This speaks volumes, and tells us, that even as late as 392, there was a clear knowledge or information still available, that specifically dated the persecutions and deaths of the Apostles Peter and Paul as being quite early in Nero’s reign.

To Jerome, when the name of G-D was evoked in such a way as to evoke “the efficaciously atoning Passion”, not even the Pope (or should we say, Bishop of ROME) could persuade him to "fudge" Church History. Claudius Nero becomes Claudius, except where the “Passion” of the LORD is evoked: then the truth is told! Perhaps in A.D. 392, there was a rivalry with the Church in Alexandria, and therefore a need for a 25 year leadership by Peter to counteract the Church started by a de facto successor of Peter, Mark. Who knows?

So, Jerome now identifies A.D. 57 for us. And the point of this, as at the beginning, that in dating John’s Revelation, even from the crucifixion do we see historical testimony from out of the ancient past. This reinforces that which Caius tells us specifically, how that Paul approved the Apocalypse before he died, and confined the number of his letters to his Churches, based solely on the number of Churches written to in the Apocalypse. Therefore, we are limited to a book of Revelation that was written only within Paul’s lifetime and after the founding of the Churches of Asia by Paul and other apostles of Jesus Christ.


32 Luke’s was completed in Corinth of Achaia in 50-51 A.D., approximately 5 years before Matthew’s in Jerusalem.

33 Eusebius, History of the Church 6.14 – citing Clement of Alexandria

34 This can be further supported by Jerome. In 398 A.D., in his preface to Commentary on Matthew, Jerome tells us “Luke the physician…composed his book in Achaia and Boeotia.” That is: Corinth of Achaia, and near Athens in Boeotia. Prior to going to Athens in Acts 17:16, Luke goes to Berea in Acts 17:10. I believe that he is so impacted, as his statement in Acts 17:11-12 tells us, that he meets Theophilus in this city of Berea, and by the time Luke reaches Athens in Acts 17:16, it appears that Luke may have begun to piece together his rough draft Gospel outline (in part) from the parchments and scrolls of Paul (cf. 2 Timothy 4:13). These are they, which probably contain eyewitness testimonies and teachings as early as Acts 13:1 from Antioch. Luke then would then have conducted various apostolic interviews in Corinth, confirming, adding, and editing source material, before finally completing his Gospel in either A.D. 50 or by the Spring of 51 A.D.

35 Eusebius H.O.C., 2.24. In 2.16, Eusebius lists Mark as being the “first” who was sent to Alexandria, and the “first” to establish churches in that particular Egyptian city.

36 Roberts, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 8. p. 485, “Acts of the Apostles.” Although the story appears to be just that, there is little or no reason to doubt that such an odd date as June 29 would have been made up, but rather the author would have wanted to close on one well known fact as if to justify the reason for observance of the date that was being observed already. This date of June 29 falls very closely with Paul’s 2 whole years in his own hired house (Acts 28:30). Had he arrived in May of 55, followed by 2 whole years, and then receiving “a 30 day reprieve for the condemned” dating from Augustus (Suetonius, 12 Caesars, Augustus .32) or the later Senatorial reprieve of 10 days for the condemned issued in A.D. 21 (Suetonius, 12 Caesars, Tiberius .75). And as Eusebius cites in H.O.C. 5.21, that once any man is brought to trial before Caesar and the Senate, …”once led to trial, and that would by no means CHANGE their purpose, should not be dismissed.”

One example that I have not seen anyone yet use in Roman history to date the trials of Peter and Paul, is that we do know with fair certainty, before even beginning to research the date of Peter and Paul's trials in Rome, that Peter and Paul were NOT executed in either November or December of any year, as the Court Calendars were dark in those months in Rome since the time of Augustus (Suetonius, 12 Caesars, Augustus, .32). Further, they would not have been executed in A.D. 56, because in that year, Seneca -- not Nero -- was Consul in ROME (Grant, Michael The Twelve Caesars, N.Y.: Barnes & Noble, © 1975, 1996 reprint, p.155).

Suetonius tells us that Nero held 4 consulships, which limits his interactions with the Apostles to these times:
1) Two months (in A.D. 55)
2) Six months (in A.D. 57)
3) Four months (in A.D. 58)
4) Six months (in A.D. 60) (Suetonius, 12 Caesars, 6.14)

37 Re: Bruce, F.F. “The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?” Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, © 1943, 14th Edition 1980, p.83 Now, if F.F. Bruce’s assessment is correct, that the Ephesian riot took place in 54 A.D., the entire dating of the N.T. as I lay out must be bumped up a year. This could account for Paul’s expectancy of death in and desertion at 2 Timothy 4:16; but this could just as easily be explained as Paul simply referring to Jerusalem and his trial before Festus and Felix as the context of what he tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:16.

38 e.g., Suetonius, 12 Caesars, Nero, .20 - .29

39 Suetonius, 12 Caesars, Tiberius, .8 the earthquake relief / petition of funds was also made in behalf of Thyatira, and Chios also. Some historians have reckoned this earthquake at 17 A.D., while other opinions appear to be 23 A.D.

40 Tertullian, Apology, .5

41 Suetonius, 12 Caesars, Nero, .14

42 Lactanius, "On the Manner in Which the Persecutors Died", .2, tells us that Jesus was crucified on March 23, "the tenth of the Kalends of April". He also goes on to explain that only "25 years" lapsed, "until the beginning of the reign of Nero", before Peter and Paul came to ROME.

43 Claudius died on October 13, 54 A.D. (Suetonius, 12 Caesars, Tiberius, .45) This is perfectly in line with the account given by Epiphanius, as stated earlier, in which John was both exiled to Patmos, and returned WHILE Claudius was emperor.
Nero was installed almost as soon as the news of Claudius’ October death was made public (Suetonius, 12 Caesars, Nero,.8. Roman Emperors could appear to reckon their reign, like governors, from June 1 to May 31. Hence Nero’s 1st year could be reckoned in one of TWO ways: the actual calendar year of 365 days from when he took office in mid-October 54 A.D (Suetonius, 12 Caesars, Tiberius, .45; Nero .8; or by reckoning the time up to June 1, followed by the 365 days thereafter.

44 Josephus, 20.8.9. If Nero sent Festus straightway with a Legion in November 54, Paul would then have been sent from Jerusalem and on his way to ROME no later than January of 55 A.D., about one to two months prior to the death of Festus, who used his extra Legion to wage a swift winter campaign in the Israeli countryside. This still falls well within the timeline needed for a 53 A.D. Revelation authorship, and a death of Peter and Paul in Rome in A.D. 57.

45 More correctly, Paul arrived in Rome in 55 A.D. Luke records his stay as 2 whole years in a rented house, in which Paul awaited to stand before Caesar. Since Paul died on June 29 of 57 A.D., and if we subtract a 30 day imprisonment in bonds from June 29 in which he and Peter had time to change their minds toward the deities of Rome -- we reach an arrival date for Paul in Rome in the latter part of May 55 A.D. By February or early March of 55, Festus was dead. The martyrdom of James, the bishop of the Christians in Jerusalem, occurs on Passover in A.D. 55 just weeks after the death of Festus. (Re: Hegisippus’ account in Eusebius, H.O.C. 2.23; and Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 20.9.1.). Paul was on an island for about 3 months, subtracting to April, then March , then February. Then, allotting travel by ship and by pedestrian means, we are looking at a date no later than the first week of February, probably mid-late January 55 A.D. for Paul’s shipwreck experience.

46 Acts 28:30. The emphasis is that Paul stayed in his own rented house. Like Ignatius, in later times, he would have been chained to a special guard, and allowed to move about the city of ROME on rare occasions from time to time. The important thing to remember is that Paul’s house became an instant Church, in which others congregated and or met with him (Acts 28:17 ff.).

47 Jerome, “On Illustrious Men”, .545 Eusebius, H.O.C. 2.25, cites Dionysius of Corinth writing Soter of Rome, “…Peter, and Paul both sowed in Romans and Corinthians alike. For both of them sowed in our Corinth and taught us jointly: in Italy too, they taught jointly in the same city, and were martyred at the same time.” Cf.: I Corinthians 1:12, and I Peter 1:1.
In 44 B.C., Corinth was rebuilt into a “New Corinth”, a forced retirement settlement of former Legionnaires, Knights (L. “equestor ordo” -those of an upper social class who were senatorial financiers and contacts), and freedmen. There was an intense connection between Corinth and Rome when Peter and Paul arrived and stayed just 93-94 years later. It also tells us why that after the evangelism of Asia, funded by the Corinthians, the next effort was in Rome. Asia was home to the temples of Emperor Worship. Once the Gospel was clearly victorious in Asia, the Corinthian sponsors of the missionary efforts felt confident of their ambitions toward converting the people of Rome also. The noble Erastus was most likely of the “equestor ordo”, a Roman Knight, and financial sponsor of the Senator of Achaia as well as that of the Christian Churches funded by Peter and Paul in that region. The success of the evangelism of Asia probably relied quite heavily on Erastus’ position of influence in the Empire at the time, and an unspoken relationship with those around Emperor Claudius.

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