Saturday, January 15, 2011

C. H. Dodd on late-dating the New Testament

For much of this late dating there is little real evidence. This point was made by C. H. Dodd, arguably the greatest English-speaking biblical scholar of the century. In a letter that serves as an appendix to Robinson’s book Redating the New Testament, Dodd wrote: “I should agree with you that much of the late dating is quite arbitrary, even wanton, the offspring not of any argument that can be presented, but rather of the critic’s prejudice that, if he appears to assent to the traditional position of the early church, he will be thought no better than a stick-in-the-mud.”5

Hostility bias, anyone? 


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. Victor. I've always been suspicious of the late dating of the Gospels, based on the likelihood that they were all completed prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, as well as the near certainty that Acts was written after all four of them (including John).

Steven Carr said...

'For much of this late dating there is little real evidence. '

Good to see Christians reminding sceptics of the lack of real evidence for the dates of the Gospels.

Jason Pratt said...

Incidentally, Dodd didn't live long enough to comment on the final published work, though he was looking forward to it.


Jason Pratt said...

AGH! Did Blogger really swallow my first comment??? Dangit... (well if it shows up afterward, I'll delete that or this one...)

I don't have time now to reconstruct it (serves me right for only composing it in the comment window {wry g}); but the gist was that in the letter Dodd, though having every motive for assigning GosJohn a date as early as Robinson suggests in his thesis, still (at the time of reading Robinson's preliminary material a few years before publication) thought a dating that early involved "too many difficulties for me to get over". Still, he was looking forward to reading the complete analysis; and also noted that when he turned to read modern historians of ancient texts they typically took the Gospels as having been written within living memory of events, earlier rather than later--which he thought counted strongly against any thesis of late (post-1st-century) composition.


Mike Gantt said...

Yes, the peer pressure on scholars to conform to consensus, especially when that consensus stands in opposition to a position that would encourage faith, is enormous and unrelenting.

Then, when someone like Bart Erhman achieves overwhelming publishing success, the pressure only increases.

Therefore, when a scholar today parts from the crowd and marches to the Different Drummer, he or she is a person of great, great courage.