The Gospels and the the Jewish-Roman War in 66
The four Gospels of Christianity are introduced as follows:
Mark probably dates from 66–70 CE. It appears as the second New Testament gospel because it was traditionally thought to be an epitome (summary) of Matthew, but most scholars now regard it as the earliest written gospel.The point at issue is their timing of establishment of these Gospels against the Jewish-Roman War that was fought between 66 and 73 CE, giving a huge impact on Jewish people at the time, although subsequently the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Roman Empire occurred in 132 as the second Jewish-Roman war. Were those Gospels written prior to the Jewish-Roman War or after it? It is important to understand what Christianity is today and what it was originally, since Christianity is mostly based on interpretation of the Gospels. To deepen our understanding of them is essential.
The Gospel According to Matthew is the first book of the New Testament and one of the three synoptic gospels. It tells how the Messiah, Jesus, rejected by Israel, finally sends the disciples to preach the gospel to the whole world. Most scholars believe it was composed between AD 80 and 90, with a range of possibility between AD 70 to 110 (a pre-70 date remains a minority view)
Luke–Acts does not name its author. According to Church tradition this was Luke the Evangelist, the companion of Paul, but while this view is still occasionally put forward the scholarly consensus emphasises the many contradictions between Acts and the authentic Pauline letters. The most probable date for its composition is around 80–110 AD, and there is evidence that it was still being revised well into the 2nd century.
John is usually dated to AD 90–110. It arose in a Jewish Christian community in the process of breaking from the Jewish synagogue. Scholars believe that the text went through two to three redactions, or "editions", before reaching its current form.
John, which regularly describes Jesus' opponents simply as "the Jews", is more consistently hostile to "the Jews" than any other body of New Testament writing.
It is thought that Mark is the oldest Gospel among them and its chapter 13 implies the incident of the Jewish-Roman War.
Mark 13King James Version (KJV)
13 And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!
2 And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,
4 Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?
5 And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:
6 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
7 And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.
8 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.
9 But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.
10 And the gospel must first be published among all nations.
11 But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.
12 Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.
13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
14 But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:
15 And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house:
16 And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.
17 But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
18 And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.
19 For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.
20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.
21 And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:
22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
23 But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.
24 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,
25 And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.
26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.
27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.
28 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:
29 So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.
30 Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.
31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
34 For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.
35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:
36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
In a certain theory, Mark put these sentences as he heard the occurrence of the Jewish-Roman War and the fall of the Jerusalem temple. The author of Mark, though it is doubted that someone called Mark really wrote the Gospel, made up the scene where Christ Jesus predicts the war. However, such an attitude is not pious and not Christian at all. If Christ Jesus had not predicted the war, Mark should not have written and faked such a scene. So, if the Bible is holy, it means that Mark wrote the fact that Christ Jesus actually predicted the war. Then, Mark Chapter 13 cannot be a proof that Gospel according to Mark was written as the author heard the occurrence of the Jewish-Roman War although Christ Jesus had not talked about the war. Indeed, it looks more truthfully and faithful to believe that Christ Jesus really predicted the war.
Especially, in the war, early Christians in Jerusalem did not face the situation: 13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. The war was indeed between Israelites and Romans. It was not early Christians vs. other Jewish people. Moreover, early Christians were apparently a minority. If they had been against the war, the majority of Israelites would simply neglect them. The situation Christ Jesus talked about must be related to many wars and crises Christians should face in the history after departure of Christ from this world.
It is also well known that Mark includes some strange expressions such as "let him that readeth understand" in 14 But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains. It means that Mark implies certain and concrete situations the readers at the time of its establishment and delivery could easily understand.
It is reasonable to think that around the time when St. Paul and St. Peter were executed by Nero in Rome in 67 before the Jewish-Roman War, Mark was written. This is the most critical situation for early Christians at the time. It can be thought that as it was so grave that Mark wrote the Gospel for the intention to explain what Christianity was to Romans to save Paul and Peter. The readers of Mark at the time all shared the notion that Christianity was at stake. So, Mark put some curious expressions to his Gospel as special messages to his contemporary readers.
On the other hand, it is rather strange and unacceptable that Christ Jesus did not give warning to the future crisis and tragedy Peter and Paul would have to face. He must have delivered some messages concerning the future crisis, so that Mark must have remembered those words.
Accordingly, Mark was written before the death of St. Paul and St. Peter that was prior to the Jewish-Roman War. Similarly Luke and Matthew must be written before the war. But, some awe and shock are reflected in John. After the fall of Jerusalem's temple, early Christians must have been confused and troubled since the foundation of Judaism, to which early Christianity was closely linked, was demolished by the Roman Empire. John had to write his Gospel to make it another Jerusalem's temple, so that he tried to intentionally establish a new religion Christianity. This principle of John made his Gospel distinctive and unique against Mark, Luke and Matthew, since only the Gospel according to John was written and established after the Jewish-Roman War.
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Mar 1:19 And when he had gone a little farther thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.
Mar 1:20 And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.