New Testament early dating, synoptics, Wenham, Theophilus, Philo and much more

Steven Avery

Markan Priority History

The modern pseudo-consensus theories of late dating of the NT are a disaster.
From now on, any threads that really delve into such dating will include Wenhan or Theophilus, so they show up easily on a search.

The current thread comes out of a solid discussion at:

Patristics for Proetstants
The Priority of Matthew

Johann David Michaelis is one of the few early top-notch scholars on NT dating issues. Yet, he is not even mentioned in some of the historical books, maybe because he did not come up with a rigorous, dubious NT dating scenario.

Markan Priority Sideshow
Some believe that John Cesaer Hawkins made strong arguments for Markan priority, the first one is thought to be

Gottlob Christian Storr (1746-1805)

in 1788 (title given by Michaelis).

Johann David Michaelis

History of New Testament Research -(2002)
William Baird
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Steven Avery

Johann David Michaelis - Theophilus Proposal

Facebook thread above:

Johann David Michaelis mentions many good points that are usually missed in discussions today of dating, since today they are largely atomistic.

I will try to get a few of his quotes out and place them together. Plus, in his later edition he accepted the Theophilus proposal (Luke writing to the high priest Theophilus) although I will have to check if he realized that it really impels a c. 41 AD date. Since Michaelis uses dates in the 40s, he is close at hand. He even gives the name of the Storr work and comments on the Markan priority theory (not particularly impressed.). He makes an interesting point that the Lukan Prologue pretty much stops Matthew from being circulating in Greek, although a Hebrew version could have been around town.

So I will try to put some urls and quotes together tomorrow.

One point that I noticed is that there are places where Mark seems to have blanks best explained by the fact that Luke was circulating and the reader could work with the two Gospels together.

Mark 14:28 and Mark 16:7 are rather major examples of this phenomenon, since the Mark ending alone would be puzzling. Add Luke, and the situation is harmonious.

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Steven Avery

Philo and Peter in Rome

Peter in Rome and Eusebius

Philo Christianus: The Debris of a Legend
J. Edgar Burns
Harvard Theological Review 66 (1973), 141-145.



It is well known that Eusebius mistakenly took Philo’s treatise De Vita Contemplativa to be a description of the primitive Christian community
in Alexandria.1 It is also clear from the context that Eusebius arrived at this conclusion on the basis of a report that Philo and Peter had become friends in Rome:

And it is a matter of record that during the reign of Claudius he came into contact with Peter in Rome while (Peter) was preaching to those living there.3

Ecclesiastical researches: or Philo and Josephus proved to be Historians and Apologists of Christ, of His Followers, and of the Gospel
John Jones (Ben David)
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Steven Avery

In terms of Philo in Rome, Pierre Allix says no.

The Judgement of the Ancient Jewish Church Against the Unitarians in the Controversy Upon the Holy Trinity and the Divinity of Our Blessed Saviour (1821)
Pierre Allix

But to this it may be objected ; Does not Photius report that Philo being at Rome in Claudius's time, met with St. Peter there, and contracted a friendship with him, which occasioned his writing that book De Therapeutis, as of the disciples of St. Mark, who was himself the disciple of St. Peter? Doth not Eusebius fix this meeting of Philo with St. Peter to the reign of Claudius, when he saith he read in full senate his book, entitled, The Virtues of Caius Caligula ; (though it was the scope of that book to shew the impiety of that monster that would be worshipped as a God; ) for which Philo was so much admired, that not only this, but his other pieces were ordered to be put into the public library, as pieces of such great value, that they were worthy to be preserved for ever?

I know all this, and do believe that Eusebius did not invent all this history. But if there be any truth in it, this might be said of those books of Philo only, which he writ against Flaccus, (who died A. D. 38,) and the account of his embassy to Caius, with three other treatises, containing the sufferings of the Jews under Caius, now lost, that were put in the public library. For I cannot imagine, that the Roinan senate should lay up in their public archives his other pieces, which concerned only the laws of the Jews.

But as for that which he tells us, that Philo saw St. Peter at Rome, and there made an acquaintance with him, it is a mere dream of Eusebius, who fancying that his book De Therapeutis was written in praise of the first Christians of Alexandria, and that they were disciples of St. Mark, did go on to imagine, that he might possibly have had some conversation with St. Peter and St. Mark, and so came to write in commendation of these first Christians. This meeting of St. Peter and Philo at Rome, in Claudius's time, (howsoever Eusebius fancied it as a thing that would give some colour to his opinion concerning the Therapeutæ,) could not be true, because, as it appears by the writings of the New Testament, St. Peter was so far from being at Rome in the forty-second year of our Lord, that is, in the second year of Claudius, who succeeded Caligula, that he did not leave Judæa or Syria till after the death of Agrippa, (the same that imprisoned St. Peter,) who died in the fourth of Claudius. All the learned now-a-days know that St. Peter came not to Rome before the first year of Nero, (if he came thither so early,) i. e. A. D. 55, at which time it is necessary that Philo, who was all gray A. D. 40, and consequently was then about seventy years of age, should be full eighty-five years old, which is an age very unfit for travel or business, or even for living so far from one's own home, as Rome was from Alexandria.

This shews what credit may be given to this report in Photius, that Philo was a Christian, but afterward turned apostate. So it is, all errors are fruitful, and from one fable there uses to arise many more.


I thought it was proper to enter into this disquisition concerning the writings of Philo, and the time when they were written, that I might leave no doubt in the minds of my readers, concerning the authority of Philo, whom I intend to produce as an authentic testimony of the opinions of the synagogue before our Lord, in the matters disputed between us and the Unitarians. 0

With a key factor the belief that Peter could not be in Rome early, only at the time of Nero.


Interesting are the reports of Philo being baptized, some are in Armenian, and also in the Acts of John (apparently translations vary).

baptism of Philo - Acts of John (c. 180 AD) - Acts Johannis

Philo Christianus: The Debris of a Legend (1973)
J. Edgar Brunis

Philo’s conversion is assumed by Eusebius, although he does not attribute it to Peter’s preaching, as we might expect from the account of their meeting already seen. There is an account of Philo’s baptism in the Acta Johannis of Pseudo-Prochorus:

We went, then, towards the race-course, and lo ! there was a Jew, Philo by name, renowned for his skill in the law according to the Letter. When accordingly he saw John, he began to draw him out through the books of Moses and the prophets. John then interpreted (them) to him according to the spirit . . . . . they therefore separated from one another in disagreement. (At this point in the narrative John heals someone stricken with a raging fever.) Philo, now, having seen what John did, ran up to grasp his hand and said: Teacher ! John answered: What is it, lawyer ? Philo replied: What is love? And John said: God is love, and whoever has love possesses God. So Philo (said) to him: If God is love and whoever has love possesses God, manifest then the love of God and come into the house and let us eat bread and drink water together so that God may be with us. (John enters and cures Philo’s wife [sic] of leprosy and receives her into the Church. Philo then asks pardon for his anti-Christian diatribes.) And (John) instructed him and baptized him in the name of the father and of the son and of the holy spirit. And he remained with him that whole day.9

9 Th. Zahn, Acta Joannis [Erlangen, 1880], 110-12. A curiously neglected legend about Philo which not even Harnacx alludes to.

Here is the Photius section.

Bibliotheca or Myriobiblion (Cod. 1-165, Tr. Freese)

105. [Philo Judaeus, Censure of Gaius and Censure of Flaccus]

Read, also, his two tractates, Censure of Gaius1 and Censure of Flaccus2 in which, more than in his other writings, he shows vigour of expression and beauty of language. But he frequently errs by changing his ideas and in describing other things in a manner at variance with Jewish philosophy. He flourished in the times of the emperor Gaius, to whom he states that he sent a deputation on behalf of his own people, while Agrippa was king of Judaea. He was the author of numerous treatises on various subjects, ethical discussions, and commentaries on the Old Testament, mostly consisting of forced allegorical explanations. I believe that it was from him that all the allegorical interpretation of Scripture originated in the Church. It is said that he was converted to Christianity, but afterwards abandoned it in a fit of anger and indignation. Before this, during the reign of the emperor Claudius, he had visited Rome, where he met St. Peter, chief of the apostles, and became intimate with him, which explains why he thought the disciples of St. Mark the evangelist, who was a disciple of St. Peter, worthy of praise, of whom he says that they led a contemplative life amongst the Jews. He calls their dwellings monasteries, and declares that they always led an ascetic life, practising fasting, prayer, and poverty.

Philo came of an Alexandrian priestly family. He was so admired amongst the Greeks for his power of eloquence that it was a common saying amongst them : "Either Plato philonizes or Philo platonizes."

1 Roman emperor A.D. 37-41, more commonly known as Caligula.
2 Avillius F., governor of Egypt, and persecutor of the Jews.
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Steven Avery

Jay Bivens -
Facebook - NT Textual Criticism

What historical statements are accepted by TC? Does it ignore them? The little history of the Coptic Church by Pope Shenouda (Search “Mark Beholder Pope Shenouda PDF”) tells us their founder, John Mark, was well educated in Hebrew, Greek, possibly Latin. He was a cousin of the Jewish scholar Philo. If the Greek of Mark is inferior to the others, it was not John Mark’s. What do you think of their history? Should we take it seriously?
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Steven Avery

8 months ago (edited)

@kevinfromcanada4379 Not to mention the claim “Mark is the oldest gospel” is a modern day guess by “scholars”. It based only on their opinion of the text, with zero corroborating evidence. The early church unanimously taught that Matthew was the first gospel to be recorded. There are even historical records that the original copy of Matthew was still available to be seen as late as the 4th century. Matthean Priority was supported by the early Church Fathers almost unanimously. 1.Papias (died just after 100AD) “Matthew wrote in Hebrew and others translated.” (HE 3.39.16) 2. Origen (184-253) said the first gospel was written by Matthew in Hebrew. (HE 6.25.4) 3. Irenaeus (130-202) said the first gospel was written written by Matthew in land of Hebrews in their own language. (Against Heresies. 3.1.1) 4. Eusebius (260-339) "Matthew had first preached to Hebrews and wrote in their own language" (HE 3.24.6) 5. Jerome (342-420) “Matthew was the first to compose in Hebrew and his text is still available in [library near Bethlehem].” He even challenged his critics to go see it if they doubted. (Lives of Illustrious Men ch. 3)

Can you give me a source text for the claim that some of the autographs were still available in the 4th century? I know Tertullian (c.160-220) claimed that the autographs were still available (Perscription Against Heretics, chap. 36) but I'm wasn't aware of any church father making a claim that late.

Jerome (342-420), as found in Lives of Illustrious Men ch 3. As for the priority of Mark the only supporting "evidence" is purely from internal textual criticism which is significantly subjective and modern. The unanimous teaching of the early (and later) Church supports a Matthean Priority. I find nothing in the modern critical argument that would lead to a determination that the entire early church was ignorant and misinformed on the subject.

@kevinfromcanada4379 8 months ago
@SaneNoMore Ps. I forgot about Peter of Alexandria (d. 311). He said that the autograph of John's Gospel was still at Ephesus (Fragment V). So you were right that there is one voice claiming that one of the autographs was still extant in 300.

Steven Avery

Jonathan Bernier
Theophilus on other forum

https://www.reddit .com/r/AcademicBiblical/comments/v12zeo/jonathan_bernier_rethinking_the_dates_of_new/

https://www.reddit. com/r/AcademicBiblical/comments/1bljgp4/jonathan_bernier_and_dating_gospels_to_the_40s/
https://www.reddit. com/r/AcademicBiblical/comments/1blp6fb/i_am_struggling_to_understand_the_historical/

https://www.reddit .com/r/AcademicBiblical/comments/un6yku/other_than_the_authentic_pauline_epistles_what/
https://www.reddit .com/r/AcademicBiblical/comments/155ntgz/very_early_john/
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