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If O’Callaghan’s findings lead to a major revision of New Testament critical views, it will not be the first time that uncovered ancient texts or fragments have jolted the scholars.For example, when one of the first manuscript discoveries at Qumran in 1947 proved to be a copy of the book of Isaiah written in the first half of the second century B.

First of all, because the Christian faith, unlike other major religions, is not built merely on a set of religious or ethical ideals. The heart of the gospel is that God’s Son came into the world, suffered, died and rose again for our eternal salvation. Bruce, gratefully remembered by college students of the last two decades for his New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?Acts, for example, ends with a reference to Paul’s two years under house-arrest in Rome.Acts, therefore, was written after that period, not before it.C., that discovery conclusively demolished a theory that the portrayal of the Suffering Servant in Isa.- was based on the sufferings of Jewish martyrs in the days of the Maccabees.© Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals Inc, 600 Eden Rd, Lancaster PA 17601, USA.© 1972 F.

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But, for the most part, the traditional view that the New Testament books were written in the first century by their purported authors (rather than “ghost-written” a century later by propagandists of the church) is not supported by such sensational finds.

Texts and scraps of texts that have survived 2,000 years of weather and war are simply too far and few between.

Secondly, because the central fact of the Christian faith, the Incarnation—which defies human comprehension—demands solid historical support if it is to win the allegiance of sober-minded people. And we confess with him, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” But again, if our records of this pivotal event in human history cannot be trusted, our faith is vulnerable indeed. For the past century or so, New Testament critics have assumed a date of around A. But if O’Callaghan’s work holds up—and it really is too early to predict one way or the other—we will have strong evidence that Mark was in circulation in Palestine a whole generation earlier than anyone had imagined, and the suggestion of an earlier source would be pointless.

The Gospel would be close enough to the events it records to stand on its own merits.

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