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A fairly straightforward biblical example I can give of this comes from comparing Paul’s authentic letters to the book of Acts and the Pastoral Letters (1 & 2 Timothy, Titus).

One of the reasons we can suggest Acts was written much later than Paul’s letters and that Paul didn’t write the Pastorals is because these non-Pauline texts use a lot of formal church language that wasn’t in place during Paul’s lifetime.

Even though we may have forgotten what we learned about classical literature in our high school English classes, that literature was more immediate and familiar to people who lived in the Roman Empire a couple thousand years ago.

Yet that assumption has since been called into question thanks to the work of Karen King, Michael Williams, David Brakke, and others. Maybe some biblical texts actually quote these non-biblical ones and we just haven’t noticed it yet!

This language only developed as the Jesus movement became more established. If such a Bible existed, you can be sure the library, museum, or church that owned it would be a major pilgrimage site. Bits and pieces of biblical texts are scattered quite literally across the whole world.

Modern Bibles are composed and translated based on whichever bits and pieces are judged to be the oldest and/or most reliable.

Before I say anything else, I want to extend a heartfelt THANK YOU to the 7,000 people who visited the blog last week to read the Spring 2015 Meeting reports.

Who knew so many people could get excited about Paul? I came up with these 8 tips for dating early Christian texts after I tried searching online for advice on how to figure out when early biblical and other Christian texts were written. Sites that shall go unnamed because they jumped straight from a few surface-level observations to “let me tell you about our Lord and Savior.” I’m as willing as the next person to entertain spiritual conversations, but the need for a neutral, informational article about this struck me as obvious and important.

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