How old is the New Testament?
Some notes about dating
the New Testament.
This is not an attack on the New Testament.
For many people the NT is a holy book, given from God.
For people who feel that way,
let the New Testament be their comfort.
The NT is the best researched ancient text we have.
Many readers have been asking me to explain more
precise what I am describing and explaining here.
This is the reason why I have corrected this webpage
several times, every time becoming more detailed.
For the research into the roots of Christianity
it is necessary to look into the NT at a more precise basis.
The NT is in our time researched and textually reconstructed
by the finest scholars in the world.
The Kurt Aland Institute in Germany is without
any doubt the most learned group of scientists
in the field of the text and manuscripts of the NT.
Their results are available through
their many high standing publications.
Nevertheless they were not able to find papyri or
manuscripts before 200 AD,
accept for some tiny pieces P52 from around 125 AD
with 14 incomplete lines that also are part
of the 18th chapter of the Gospel of John.
(which does not prove that the Gospel of John
was in existence, only a tiny part of it).
Although many theologicians are talking and preaching
about the NT as if the collection of books
was written next to the manger in the cave
and at the foot of the cross. It was not like that.
The absence of papyri and manuscripts before 200 AD
are an indication, that the writing of the NT was not
by contemporaries of Jesus at all.
We know that the people who wrote the ancient writings
were not contemporaries of the Jesus movement,
because there are mistakes in the text about the geography of Palestine.
The people who were editing the text of the New Testament
were unknown with the local places and geography.
To be precise about the dating of the papers:
even of the time between 200-300 AD only
a handful incomplete writings have been found:
the Egyptian Greek Papyri P32,
P46(Revelation, Letters of Paul),
P64/67 (Gospel of Matthew), P66 (Gospel of John),
P77 and the manuscript 0189 (Acts)
are the oldest writings dating from 200-300 AD,
all of them tiny pieces with a few lines of text.
In ancient times (according to witnesses
in the Roman empire 400 AD)
the text of Lucian composed around 300-350 AD
was known as the first complete text of the NT.
Also it was well known in Roman times
that Lucian had done a lot of text editing
to make everything in the NT more consistent.
Many books and writings were in existence form early times.
There existed writings with miracles, like the writings of Apollinarius,
who was a miracle performer around 50AD.
There existed several bundles with the words of Jesus.
Here we have a link to the historical Jesus.
There existed bundles with parabels.
Many of those writings were much older then the Jesus movement.
Writing came from ancient Egypt, the Hermes books.
Writings came from the Orpheus religion.
Jesus was pictured as Orpheus in the catacombs.
All these writings were taken together and edited into the New testament
by the powerful people who had the armies of the Roman Empire
available to introduce a new Christianity,
with the killing and burning of everybody who did not comply.
Around 325AD the writing and editing of the New Testament started and
around 340 to 360AD the Roman State Power crushed down
upon the ancient Christian churches.
Even in the New Testament a book burning is described!
The new religious power group who were writing and editing
the New Testament were so powerful,
that in 362 AD the NT power groups
took over the Roman empire.
The NT has been written by people many generations later,
(in fact most probable 170 to 230 years
after the existence of the Jesus movement)
who were not familiar with Palestine
nor with the geographical circumstances in that area
nor with the happenings in the times of Jesus
and very probable did not speak the local language.
To make a comparison:
think of people today writing about happenings
in the year 1775 with the purpose of
changing history for their private goals.
What will the people of today know about the daily life of 1775?
Certainly there will be mistakes.
It is well known that the NT writers
have used many manuscripts of an earlier date.
People know about the hypothetical "Gospel Q"
and about an also hypothetical script "Logion".
The Nag Hammadi Library are holy writings found back in the Egyptian desert.
The monks who had used these holy books for centuries
had to fear for their lives since those books were suddenly declared heretic.
Very probably these monks were killed anyway by the local bishop,
because they never came back to pick up their costly manuscripts.
That is why we have them now.
It is certain that for composing the Revelation
writings have been used from 50 BC written by the Essenes.
Egyptian texts have been used of a much older date
(the I-AM (ego eimi) texts are all ancient Egyptian texts).
Concepts of resurrection and forgiveness
came from the ancient Egyptian Amen and Osiris religion.
Also texts have been used of the
John the Baptist movement, like the song of Mary
(Magnificat) and the song of Zechariah.
The NT writers have combined all kinds of manuscripts
into a consistent story fitting their views
according to what they understood of what had happened
and rewriting history to their advantage.
In itself there is nothing wrong with an edited text,
but the idea of killing everybody who believes something
more ancient and also the burning of all other religious books
is very creepy and unjust.
My conclusion is:
some groups of power have composed and rewritten
from older existant writings
the NT in the time period 320AD to 360AD
with the purpose of taking advantage of the Roman army
to push upon believers their private views,
in which they succeeded in 362AD
by taking over the Roman Empire and with the Roman Empire also
the absolute power in the world of that time.
Before that time there were many respectable Christian
churches, even internationally organized, but those
churches have been literally wiped away in the years after 362AD.
I got some remarks, that I skip some old materials
on the New Testament.
There is the Canon Muratori with a list of the NT book titles,
supposedly from around the year 180AD.
This Canon is published around 1700AD
by the publisher Moratori in a Latin translation
from around 750AD of a vanished document in Greek.
Not very convincing.
Even if the Canon Muratori ever existed,
this does not mean that a list of booktitles
also gives the same content as the later New Testament.
There are Irenaeus (around 180 AD),
Justin Martyr (around 160 AD), Tatian (around 160)
who all mention some titles of New Testament writings.
Some short citations are also given.
The same for Origen (around 240) and Eusebius (around 330).
A title of a book does not prove
the existence of complete New Testament writings.
A small citation does not prove the existence of the whole book.
The same people are also citing much more ancient books.
Clement of Alexandria (around 180 AD) is very precise
in his giving of citations of writings from that time.
The fact that he is using some lines of text
that afterwards got a place in the New Testament,
does not mean that he is using the New Testament writings,
but it means he is using writings that
have partly found their way into the New Testament.
The first reliable people writing on the New Testament are
Athanasius (around 350, Alexandria) and
Rabbula (around 420 AD) from Syrian Edessa.
Again this indicates the later dating of the New Testament.
Until now the NT is the best text we have
for learning about Christian religious truths.
I personally have studied the New Testament very much,
because it is the basis of what we have.
What I want to expres is, that a small power group
in the years 320 to 360AD has determined
what you and I have to believe.
that believers never have been able
to make their own choices, because all other texts
and thoughts and churches and all knowledge
has been destroyed by killing and fire.
The original writings that have been used
to compose the New Testament of,
have never been found back.
Ancient texts we never knew of,
happily have been found back in the desert.
At last we are able to make a little start
with studying the knowledge of the first Christians.
What did they believe?
What were the original sacraments?
Would all this have value for me and you personally?
the position of the female in the church of today.
Was the discrimination we see now really the original religion?
Who did bring the discrimination of the female into our churches?
Or was original Christianity a totally different believe?
Do you realize that the Holy Spirit is female,
even in the New Testament,
and that the Holy Spirit means the female aspect of the Eternal Divinity?
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Updated August 07, 2009
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