WAS IT FALSELY ATTRIBUTED: Gospel of Luke

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The Reading Culture of Early Christianity From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts 400,000 Textual Variants 02

NOTE: Nineteen articles will begin with these same two introductory paragraphs but will then speak specifically about the Bible book in question.

It has often been said [by whom?] that it was an accepted practice in antiquity for a writer to attribute his work to a well-known figure from the past or a teacher who has greatly influenced him. The practice would have been condemned as dishonest by all authorities in antiquity. The book Forged: Writing in the Name of God – Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are by Agnostic New Testament Bible scholar Dr. Bart D. Ehrman contends that this is incorrect. Falsely attributed writings are often referred to as “pseudepigraphs,” but Ehrman maintains that the more honest term is “forgery.” The book suggests that 11 or more books out of the 27 books of the Christian New Testament canon were written as forgeries. This article and others will debunk this claim. In his book, Ehrman points out numerous inconsistencies which he finds within the New Testament which appear to support many of his claims, such as the fact that in Acts 4:13, the statement is made that both Peter and John were illiterate, yet in later years entire books of the Bible were then alleged to have been written by them. This last argument is quickly debunked on two grounds: (1) it was not years later that they wrote their books, it was over thirty years later, and in the case of John, it was over sixty years later; (2) the Greek means unlettered (YLT) that is, not educated in the rabbinic schools; not meaning illiterate. Nevertheless, below are three articles that destroy this argument of Ehrman.

Were Jesus, the Apostles, and the Early Christians Illiterate, Uneducated?

What Do We Know About Books, Reading, and Writing; Literacy In Early Christianity?

The Early Christian’s View of the Integrity of the Greek New Testament Books

False attributions

In addition to the eleven books of the New Testament Ehrman identifies as forgeries, he discusses eight originally anonymous New Testament texts that had names of apostles ascribed to them later and are falsely attributed. These are not forgeries since the texts are anonymous but have had false authors ascribed to them by others.

The P52 PROJECT THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS 4th ed. MISREPRESENTING JESUS

Who Wrote It?

Luke the physician (Col. 4:14), companion of Paul (2 Tim. 4:11; Philem. 24), and possibly a Gentile, since he is not listed with the circumcised (Col. 4:10–14), is the author of this Gospel. Since Luke was an associate of Paul and his writings reflect Paul’s teaching, it has been called the Gospel of Paul.

Internal Evidence

The author was often a companion of Paul, since he uses the first person in certain sections of Acts (16:10, 17; 20:6; 27:1). Timothy and Mark are both referred to in the third person (20:5), so neither of them is the author. Luke is the only remaining possibility. What is more, his theological emphasis was like Paul’s. Also, Luke fits the known character of the author by his use of medical terms,3 his Greek interest, and his literary ability. Finally, Luke was the author of Acts5 because he referred to his “former treatise” (Acts 1:1); both Acts and Luke are addressed to the same person, “Theophilus” (Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1); language and style in both are the same; and both show medical and Gentile interest.

External Evidence

The external evidence for Luke’s authorship is also very strong. First of all, it bears Luke’s name in the earliest manuscripts. Likewise, it was accepted as Luke’s by the early Fathers (for example, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement, Origen, Gregory of Nasianzus, Jerome, and Eusebius). In addition, Sir William Ramsay supported Luke’s authorship archaeologically. Even a liberal scholar like Adolph Harnack agreed that Luke wrote it. Finally, a noted Roman historian, Colin Hemer, agrees with the Lucan authorship.

When Was It Written?

The evidence for the date of the writing points to ca. AD 60, during Paul’s imprisonment at Caesarea (Acts 23:31–35). The reasons for this are straightforward. First, it was before AD 70, since the destruction of Jerusalem is yet a future event (Luke 21:5–38). And it was written before Acts, which refers to a “former” treatise to the same person, Theophilus (Acts 1:1), and it is known that Acts (see below) was written by 61 or 62 AD. Yet Luke was written after Gentiles were attracted to Christianity (Acts 18:1–4) in about AD 54. Further, it was written after other Gospels were written (see 1:1), which could mean Matthew and Mark who wrote between AD 50 and 60. What is more, Luke 10:7 is cited in 1 Timothy 5:18, which was written about AD 64–66. So the Gospel of Luke must have been composed before then. Finally, since it was apparently recorded just before Luke wrote Acts (being a two-part series to Theophilus), a date of ca. AD 60 is likely.[1]

[1] Norman L. Geisler, A Popular Survey of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2014), 76–77.

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