New Book Claims Four Gospels Written Before Fall Of Jerusalem
By Paul Likoudis
The hundred years' war on the Gospels-led by Rudolf Bultmann, who
charged that "we can know practically nothing about Jesus' life
and personality," and escalated by some of the most prominent
Catholic Bible scholars working today-has produced the intended
results of religious indifference, agnosticism, and atheism.
Typical of the Bultmann-inspired Catholic exegetes is Fr. Jerome.
Murphy O'Connor, O.P., who, writing in the December, 1996 issue of
the Claretians' , pontificates that the Gospels
are "mythical embellishments," that Jesus didn't know He was God
and didn't know where His power came from, that Mary considered
Him an embarrassment to the family, that she was not at the foot
of the cross as the evangelists relate, and more.
"Do the Gospels Paint a Clear Picture of Jesus?," he asked.
Definitely not, he tells his students and readers.
At the core of the dissident biblical exegesis which has produced
such disastrous consequences for Catholic life, liturgy,
catechetics, and scholarship is a refusal to believe that the
Gospels were written by eyewitnesses of the events described.
Though there has been no shortage of genuine Catholic exegetes,
archaeologists, and historians who have insisted on an early
dating of the Gospels to within a decade or two of Jesus' life,
these scholars have often found it difficult to break through the
controls put in place by an oppressive neomodernist establishment
in both Catholic and Protestant institutions.
(The neomodernist stranglehold is exemplified by the treatment
accorded Fr. Jean Carmignac, who died in 1986. Perhaps the
greatest French Bible scholar of the century, who dated the
writing of each of the four Gospels between A.D. 40 and 50, he was
never allowed to publish his research, on orders of the French
bishops. They accused Carmignac of "an obsession of struggling
against the majority of exegetes.")
Now comes a German scientist, Carsten Peter Thiede, director of
the Institute for Basic Epistemological Research in Paderborn,
who, with Matthew D'Ancona, is about to dash to pieces the
Bultmann-built edifice of modernist exegesis.
Their recently published book, (Doubleday,
1996), is about a small piece of papyrus held at Magdalen College,
Oxford, which is the oldest fragment of in
The fragment contains disjointed segments of 26, but even
more important than the writing style, which Thiede pinpointed to
the time of Jesus' life, is the use of KS, an abbreviated form of
, to refer to Jesus as Lord God- meaning that the ancient
author believed that Jesus is divine.
Thiede, a papyrologist, further more concludes that must have been the first Gospel written.
The implications of this are enormous. As Thiede and D'Ancona
write in their book:
"Bultmann was wrong: The authors of the Gospel could hear far more
than the faintest whisper of Jesus' voice. Indeed, the first
readers of may have heard the very words which the
Nazarene preacher spoke during his ministry, may have listened to
the parables when they were first delivered to the peasant crowd;
may even have asked the wise man questions and waited respectfully
for answers. The voice they heard was not a whisper but the
passionate oratory of a real man of humble origins whose teaching
would change the world."
The issue of the dating of the Gospels has implications,
furthermore, for believers and nonbelievers alike. "... We have
come to realize the extent to which this new claim is directly
relevant to the fundamental faith questions which all people,
Christian and non-Christian, atheist and agnostic must ask
themselves. The redating of the fragments, in other
words, has a life beyond the confines of the academy. . .
"The redating of the Gospels- a process which is only now
beginning in earnest-may seem an enterprise appropriate to its
times, to the mood of the millennium's end. There is now good
reason to suppose that the , with
its detailed accounts of the Sermon on the Mount and the Great
Commission, was written not long after the crucifixion and
certainly before the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70; that
the was distributed early enough to
reach Qumran; that the belonged to
the first generation of Christian codices; and that internal
evidence suggests a date before A.D. 70 even for the nonsynoptic
.... These are the first stirrings
of a major process of scholarly reappraisal."
Thiede's findings are causing an international upheaval among
Bible scholars, particularly Catholic exegetes who have bought the
Bultmann line that separates the Gospels to a generation or more
from Jesus' contemporaries (making them the unreliable voice of an
uncertain community) and-against Church councils, and the Church's
fathers and doctors- that makes the the
The idea that Matthew's is the first Gospel is anathema to most
contemporary Catholic exegetes, who are following two centuries-
old Protestant propagandists who claimed that -
which does not contain Christ's charge to St. Peter, "" (
16:18)-must be first and Matthew's line a later invention.
There is an important article appearing in the December, 1996
issue of by English scholar John Beaumont,
"Kulturkampf and the Gospel," which, unfortunately, will not
attract the attention it deserves, especially in the Catholic
Beaumont builds an exceptionally persuasive case that the impetus
given Protestant exegetes to backdate and give priority came from Bismarck, the political genius who
committed Prussian resources to a "culture war" against the
Beaumont examines the question of how it came to be that Prussian
biblical scholar Heinrich Julius Holtzmann was appointed chairman
of New Testament studies at the University of Strasbourg and
suggests that the answer is Bismarck.
Holtzmann, writes Beaumont, "was the leading exponent of what is
called the theory of Marcan priority . . . to provide . . . an
ideological platform of this kind in their struggle against
"The reason is that Marcan primacy is very convenient for those
who wished to take an antiCatholic position in the prevailing
And more. "What it also does is to cast doubt on the whole witness
of the early Fathers. The inevitable implication is that if they
get question wrong so dramatically, are they worthy of
belief in other matters? And so, traditional apologetic evidence
on matters like the Real Presence, where Catholic writers have
appealed to references to the Catholic position as early in the
Church as the time of the Fathers, is seen to be made less
credible. In addition, the Church loses out here in another way.
It is she who vouches in so many ways for the testimony of the
Church Fathers and its importance. If she is wrong on this in such
a major way here, what happens to her credibility on other matters
"The downplaying of also assisted the state
authorities in other ways. It allowed them to ignore those
apostolic discourses in 10:18-38, in which Christ lays
down the way in which His disciples must resist unjust authorities
and which has strengthened the resolve of Christians down the
Two hundred years ago, one of the leaders of the Enlightenment,
Reimarus, described the task of Church-haters to be to "completely
separate what the Apostles presented in their writings (i.e., the
Gospels) from what Jesus himself actually said and taught during
In the waning years of the 20th century, that task has now been
taken up enthusiastically by Catholic exegetes, who, following
Holtzmann, Bultmann, et al., have insisted upon both a late date
for the writing of the Gospels and Marcan priority.
In 1982, Beaumont reminds readers, Dom Bernard
Orchard alerted Catholics to these dangers:
"Since 1946, the majority of Catholic professors of the New
Testament have given their support to the hypothesis of the
priority of the , on grounds . . . of internal
"In practice, this has meant that they deny that the Apostle St.
Matthew could have published his own Gospel; and this, in turn,
amounts to saying that all the Church Fathers and early Councils
erred on a matter of fact in saying St. Matthew wrote his own
Gospel. In other words, the modern biblical 'authorities' are
committed to denying that the Church has accurately transmitted
the true tradition regarding the authorship of the Gospels."
Among the brief sections of the Gospel on the Magdalen fragment
is: "Then one of the XII, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to
the chief priest and said, 'What will you give me for my work?'"
This article was taken from the February 13, 1997 issue of "The
Wanderer," 201 Ohio Street, St. Paul, MN 55107, 612-224-5733.
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