Is there a respectable scholarly position that would ratify/explain an orthodox date for the Pauline Epistles (50-60 CE) and a late date for Luke-Acts (100-125 CE)?

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    This question seems more appropriate for Biblical Hermeneutics where you already asked a nearly identical question.
    – Susan
    Nov 5 '14 at 13:03
  • I'll let the folks over here decide whether it's on topic here. Regardless, I feel like I don't have quite enough information to understand what the question is. Although maybe it should be obvious, could you make explicit what you see as the potential conflict to be reconciled?
    – Susan
    Nov 5 '14 at 13:18
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    What is the Paulina??
    – curiousdannii
    Nov 5 '14 at 13:22
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    I think you're assuming that the same people believe in authentic early letters of Paul and authentic late Luke, which would be an odd position to hold. Unless you can provide a reference to someone who thinks this way it's really rather hypothetical, which is a poor fit for this site.
    – curiousdannii
    Nov 5 '14 at 13:31
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    @user2754486 That would be a good question to ask, but it's not what you've asked here.
    – curiousdannii
    Nov 23 '14 at 22:02

Dale Martin of Yale University (a Professor of Religious Studies - not strictly a theologian) suggests in his undergraduate course that the names for the gospels were attached to them significantly after their writing. Therefore they could not be dated by knowing the author and historical criticism techniques (such as dependency of Luke on other works, seeing Luke as part of Luke-Acts which suggests it is after Paul and Peter are out of the picture etc. etc.) which may suggest a later date could be used.

In this case, we can have early Pauline letters and a late Luke-Acts.

Alternatively, if the historical Luke did write Luke-Acts, he could have been much younger than Paul and therefore have written it at a later date. There are multiple ways this could be logically consistent.

  • The historical Luke is supposed to have died in 84 CE. The tradition around his authorship of Luke-Acts is very strong from far back in antiquity. Human remains purporting to be his still exist and have been found to be of Syrian descent and radiocarbon dated to a workable period. This person cannot have written Luke-Acts in the second century. If it was written then, it was assumedly written by someone else. In that case, how do we explain the eyewitness nature of Acts? Did the events described actually occur in the second century, or are they entirely fictitious? Nov 9 '14 at 23:19
  • @user2754486 I think you are missing a very important circa to the clam that Luke died in 84 AD. There are also reports that he is supposed to have died at the age of 84. The earliest mentions of a date for Luke's death are found in documents which at their earliest were composed in the late 2nd century - certainly decades possibly a century or more after his death. There is certainly a margin of error that could put Luke into the early 2nd century 125 might be unlikely but it is possible. Carbon dating is a powerful tool, however, it is not better than to within a few decades in 2000 years. Nov 10 '14 at 0:22
  • I'm not sure what you are getting at saying " the events described actually occur in the second century, or are they entirely fictitious". Certainly there is a strong case that Luke did not write the text now described as "The Gospel According To Luke" and most scholars who support a late dating of Luke-Acts would support that. On the other hand there are plenty of people who would support an early dating for Luke's gospel, making his authorship more likely. However, a late-ish dating does not make it impossible that Luke wrote the text. Nov 10 '14 at 1:31
  • I guess what I'm getting at is that there isn't a lot of certainty around the events described in Acts actually being real, historical events, or if they were, that they occurred at the conventionally ascribed point in time Nov 10 '14 at 2:20
  • This is a very different question. This site does not encourage broad discussions on questions. May I suggest you post a new question along the lines of "What is the evidence that the events in Acts are historical?" and include include what you know in the body of the question. Nov 10 '14 at 8:15

Early date for Paul's undisputed epistles

Paul's epistles were written by Paul. Since his mission covers the time of King Aretus of Nabataea as well as the Great Famine, we can reliably date the epistles to around the first half of the first century.

Possible dates for Acts of the Apostles

The assumption that Acts must have been written within a generation of the life of Paul is based on an underlying assumption that Luke was the author of Acts. However, both the Gospel of Luke and Acts were originally anonymous and were only attributed to Luke later in the second century. Modern arguments for Lucan authorship of Acts include the eyewitness nature and considerable detail that it contains, but this need only suggest good rhetorical skills. Ehrman says in Forged, page 208, that at just about every point where it is possible to check what Acts says about Paul with what Paul says about himself in his authentic letters, there are discrepancies.

John Shelby Spong says, in Born of a Woman, page 109, the author was a Greek-speaking gentile and did not understand Jewish law. That was certainly obvious to the Church Fathers, when they sought to attribute these works to a gentile who knew Paul well. Bart D. Ehrman says (ibid, 207), that the idea that Paul's companion Luke was a gentile comes from Colossians, a book that appears to have been forged in Paul's name after his death (a Luke is also named in Paul's authentic letter of Philemon, but nothing is said there about his being a Gentile). There are three persons in Colossians who were Gentile companions of Paul: Epaphras, Demas, and Luke the physician (Colossians 4:12-14). Ehrman says it seems unlikely that Demas could be the author, since we learn elsewhere that Demas "abandoned" Paul (2 Timothy 4:10). Epaphras appears to have been known as the founder of the church in Colossae (Colossians 1:5-7), a church that is never mentioned in Acts. That would be odd if its founder were the author. Ehrman says this reasoning leaves just one candidate, Luke the Gentile physician.

Spong (ibid) says the author of Luke/Acts would not have been Paul’s travelling companion because of the large number of discrepancies between Acts and Paul’s epistles, pointing in particular to Galations 1:16-17 and Acts 9:19-29, which give very different accounts of Paul’s travels from Damascus. With no evidence to support Luke as the author of Luke/Acts, Bishop Spong believes in early Pauline epistles and late Acts of the Apostles.

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