Liberals typically date the canonical Gospels to sometime after 70 AD. They also contend that since the Gospels were written decades after the event, they are unreliable.
There are several objections to this position. Their late dating schemes are quite vulnerable to criticism. In addition, they simply deny the inspiration of the Gospels, but if the Gospels were divinely inspired, then, of course, they don’t rely on the fallible recollections of the authors or their informants.
However, let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the Gospels were written sometime after 70 AD. And let’s bracket inspiration.
By standard reckoning, Jesus’ public ministry took place around 30-33 AD. So if a canonical gospel was written around 70+ AD, that’s about 40 years or so after his public ministry.
One of the advantages of being middle aged is that I can evaluate these liberal claims from personal experience. Let’s take one example.
When I was in grade school, my parents had a school for the fine and performing arts. It moved to different locations, but for now I’m going to reminisce about one location in particular. We were at that location from about the time I was in kindergarten until fifth grade, give or take. Based on other things I know or recollect, I can narrow it down to that general timeframe. The exact timeframe is not essential to my argument.
The basic point is that I haven’t been inside that building since I was about 10 years old (give or take). I’m currently 51. So that’s comparable to the interval between the death of Christ at the composition of the canonical Gospels if we date them to sometime after 70 AD.
Of course, that depends on how much later we date them. However, I don’t see that’s terribly pertinent to my argument, for I doubt my memory of the school will be significantly different at 65 than it was at 45. There are lots of things we forget right away. But if we remember them years later, then we continue to remember them unless we become senile.
So this is what I remember about the school–despite the fact that I haven’t been back there since I was about 10. Indeed, the school was torn down after we left.
The school was set back from the sidewalk. You walked up to the porch. You went up a few steps to the front door. When you walked through the front door, this is what you saw:
On the first floor there was a reception room to the right. It had a sofa and chairs against the exterior wall. Back issues of The New Yorker Magazine were strewn about.
Across the room was a handsome wooden desk where my dad used to sit when he got off work.
Behind the desk was a partition. Behind the partition was the dance studio.
To the right was a side room with a wooden round table.
Let’s go back to the front door. Straight ahead was a hallway. To the left was a staircase. And a bathroom underneath the stairwell.
At the end of the hall was a big farmhouse kitchen. At the left rear corner of the kitchen was a pantry, with a door to the alley.
To the right of the kitchen was the art studio, at the back of the building, behind the dance studio.
If you went upstairs, a piano studio lay directly ahead. To the right of the piano studio was the performance hall, which extended from the front to the back of the building. It had a wooden floor with a floor register for the furnace. I also remember the fire escape.
Facing the street, between the staircase and the performance hall, was a side room with a Victrola.
Outside, on one corner of the lot, was a tree with a fork in the bough. (The tree was later cut down.) Along one side of the lot were blackberry bushes. A Mustang often parked on the street, just below the school.
I remember the oboe teacher, one of our piano teachers (a jazz pianist), and one of our art teachers. The art teacher collected exotic cars as a hobby. He once took me for a ride in his three-wheeler.
I could mention some other details of the neighborhood, from when we were there. Over the years the neighborhood underwent drastic gentrification. (We didn’t live there. We just commuted to the school and back.)