Ancient Christianity

How old is the New Testament?




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Some notes about dating

the New Testament.


This is not an attack on the New Testament.

For many people the NT is a holy book, given from God.

For people who feel that way,

let the New Testament be their comfort.

The NT is the best researched ancient text we have.


Many readers have been asking me to explain more

precise what I am describing and explaining here.

This is the reason why I have corrected this webpage

several times, every time becoming more detailed.


For the research into the roots of Christianity

it is necessary to look into the NT at a more precise basis.

The NT is in our time researched and textually reconstructed

by the finest scholars in the world.

The Kurt Aland Institute in Germany is without

any doubt the most learned group of scientists

in the field of the text and manuscripts of the NT.

Their results are available through

their many high standing publications.

Nevertheless they were not able to find papyri or

manuscripts before 200 AD,

accept for some tiny pieces P52 from around 125 AD

with 14 incomplete lines that also are part

of the 18th chapter of the Gospel of John.

(which does not prove that the Gospel of John

was in existence, only a tiny part of it).


Although many theologicians are talking and preaching

about the NT as if the collection of books

was written next to the manger in the cave

and at the foot of the cross. It was not like that.

The absence of papyri and manuscripts before 200 AD

are an indication, that the writing of the NT was not

by contemporaries of Jesus at all.


We know that the people who wrote the ancient writings

were not contemporaries of the Jesus movement,

because there are mistakes in the text about the geography of Palestine.

The people who were editing the text of the New Testament

were unknown with the local places and geography.




To be precise about the dating of the papers:

even of the time between 200-300 AD only

a handful incomplete writings have been found:

the Egyptian Greek Papyri P32,

P46(Revelation, Letters of Paul),

P64/67 (Gospel of Matthew), P66 (Gospel of John),

P77 and the manuscript 0189 (Acts)

are the oldest writings dating from 200-300 AD,

all of them tiny pieces with a few lines of text.



In ancient times (according to witnesses

in the Roman empire 400 AD)

the text of Lucian composed around 300-350 AD

was known as the first complete text of the NT.


Also it was well known in Roman times

that Lucian had done a lot of text editing

to make everything in the NT more consistent.



Many books and writings were in existence form early times.

There existed writings with miracles, like the writings of Apollinarius,

who was a miracle performer around 50AD.

There existed several bundles with the words of Jesus.

Here we have a link to the historical Jesus.

There existed bundles with parabels.

Many of those writings were much older then the Jesus movement.

Writing came from ancient Egypt, the Hermes books.

Writings came from the Orpheus religion.

Jesus was pictured as Orpheus in the catacombs.


All these writings were taken together and edited into the New testament

by the powerful people who had the armies of the Roman Empire

available to introduce a new Christianity,

with the killing and burning of everybody who did not comply.

Around 325AD the writing and editing of the New Testament started and

around 340 to 360AD the Roman State Power crushed down

upon the ancient Christian churches.

Even in the New Testament a book burning is described!



The new religious power group who were writing and editing

the New Testament were so powerful,

that in 362 AD the NT power groups

took over the Roman empire.

The NT has been written by people many generations later,

(in fact most probable 170 to 230 years

after the existence of the Jesus movement)

who were not familiar with Palestine

nor with the geographical circumstances in that area

nor with the happenings in the times of Jesus

and very probable did not speak the local language.


To make a comparison:

think of people today writing about happenings

in the year 1775 with the purpose of

changing history for their private goals.

What will the people of today know about the daily life of 1775?

Certainly there will be mistakes.


It is well known that the NT writers

have used many manuscripts of an earlier date.

People know about the hypothetical "Gospel Q"

and about an also hypothetical script "Logion".

The Nag Hammadi Library are holy writings found back in the Egyptian desert.

The monks who had used these holy books for centuries

had to fear for their lives since those books were suddenly declared heretic.

Very probably these monks were killed anyway by the local bishop,

because they never came back to pick up their costly manuscripts.

That is why we have them now.



It is certain that for composing the Revelation

writings have been used from 50 BC written by the Essenes.

Egyptian texts have been used of a much older date

(the I-AM (ego eimi) texts are all ancient Egyptian texts).

Concepts of resurrection and forgiveness

came from the ancient Egyptian Amen and Osiris religion.

Also texts have been used of the

John the Baptist movement, like the song of Mary

(Magnificat) and the song of Zechariah.


The NT writers have combined all kinds of manuscripts

into a consistent story fitting their views

according to what they understood of what had happened

and rewriting history to their advantage.


In itself there is nothing wrong with an edited text,

but the idea of killing everybody who believes something

more ancient and also the burning of all other religious books

is very creepy and unjust.



My conclusion is:

some groups of power have composed and rewritten

from older existant writings

the NT in the time period 320AD to 360AD

with the purpose of taking advantage of the Roman army

to push upon believers their private views,

in which they succeeded in 362AD

by taking over the Roman Empire and with the Roman Empire also

the absolute power in the world of that time.


Before that time there were many respectable Christian

churches, even internationally organized, but those

churches have been literally wiped away in the years after 362AD.

I got some remarks, that I skip some old materials

on the New Testament.


There is the Canon Muratori with a list of the NT book titles,

supposedly from around the year 180AD.

This Canon is published around 1700AD

by the publisher Moratori in a Latin translation

from around 750AD of a vanished document in Greek.

Not very convincing.

Even if the Canon Muratori ever existed,

this does not mean that a list of booktitles

also gives the same content as the later New Testament.



There are Irenaeus (around 180 AD),

Justin Martyr (around 160 AD), Tatian (around 160)

who all mention some titles of New Testament writings.

Some short citations are also given.

The same for Origen (around 240) and Eusebius (around 330).

A title of a book does not prove

the existence of complete New Testament writings.

A small citation does not prove the existence of the whole book.

The same people are also citing much more ancient books.



Clement of Alexandria (around 180 AD) is very precise

in his giving of citations of writings from that time.

The fact that he is using some lines of text

that afterwards got a place in the New Testament,

does not mean that he is using the New Testament writings,

but it means he is using writings that

have partly found their way into the New Testament.


The first reliable people writing on the New Testament are

Athanasius (around 350, Alexandria) and

Rabbula (around 420 AD) from Syrian Edessa.

Again this indicates the later dating of the New Testament.


Until now the NT is the best text we have

for learning about Christian religious truths.

I personally have studied the New Testament very much,

because it is the basis of what we have.


What I want to expres is, that a small power group

in the years 320 to 360AD has determined

what you and I have to believe.


Fact is,

that believers never have been able

to make their own choices, because all other texts

and thoughts and churches and all knowledge

has been destroyed by killing and fire.


The original writings that have been used

to compose the New Testament of,

have never been found back.


Ancient texts we never knew of,

happily have been found back in the desert.


At last we are able to make a little start

with studying the knowledge of the first Christians.


What did they believe?

What were the original sacraments?

Would all this have value for me and you personally?


For example:

the position of the female in the church of today.

Was the discrimination we see now really the original religion?

Who did bring the discrimination of the female into our churches?

Or was original Christianity a totally different believe?


Do you realize that the Holy Spirit is female,

even in the New Testament,

and that the Holy Spirit means the female aspect of the Eternal Divinity?



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Updated August 07, 2009


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