Thursday, April 11, 2013

Ancient Non-Christian Sources On Gospel Authorship

Something I wrote in a recent Stand To Reason thread:

It should be noted that many ancient non-Christian sources corroborated the traditional authorship attributions of the gospels (Marcion, Celsus, Porphyry, Julian the Apostate, etc.). Those today who reject the authorship attributions aren’t just disagreeing with the ancient Christians, but also with the ancient Jewish and pagan opponents of the religion. We find ancient non-Christian sources disputing the authorship of Old Testament books, such as the Pentateuch and Daniel, as well as some of the New Testament in a minority of cases, and the ancient Christians sometimes disputed the authorship claims among themselves (whether Peter wrote 2 Peter, whether John wrote Revelation, etc.). Thus, it can't be argued that they were just uncritically accepting whatever authorship claims were made or never thought of the possibility that the attributions were wrong. They knew that the attributions could be wrong, and they sometimes disputed them, yet we see widespread acceptance of the traditional authorship attributions of the gospels among both ancient Christians and non-Christians.

For some examples of the evidence from these non-Christian sources, see my series linked within the post here and John Cook's The Interpretation Of The New Testament In Greco-Roman Paganism (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002), e.g., 140, 184, 198, 203, 235, 263, 289, 297, 301, 303-304.

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