Ben H. Swett
18 May 2012
This paper is a result of trying to understand when and where and by whom the books of the New Testament were written. I waded through numerous Internet archives and found that almost everything is controversial, with some scholars denying what others assert, so I decided to do my own research. I have relied on internal and external evidence, but not on modern scholarship, because so many modern scholars seem determined to justify their own preconceptions. For example, some say Matthew and Luke were written after 70 because they do not believe Jesus predicted the destruction of Jerusalem (Matthew 24:1-2; Luke 21:5-6), but about 75 Josephus wrote that many people escaped from Jerusalem during a lull in the Roman siege (The Wars of the Jews 2.20.1), and about 325 Eusebius wrote that Christians remembered what Jesus predicted and fled from Jerusalem before it was destroyed (Ecclesiastical History 3.5.3).
The year when Jesus was born, when he began his ministry, the duration of his ministry, and the year of his crucifixion are all controversial, and I do not propose to resolve those controversies here. Suffice it to say, I have studied the various theories and selected the years that seem most reasonable to me.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea during the reign of Herod the King of Judea (Matthew 2:1; Luke 1:5). King Herod died in 4 BC.
John the Baptist began his ministry in the 15th year of the Emperor Tiberius (Luke 3:1-2). Reconciliation of ancient and modern dating systems indicates this year was 26 or 27. John baptized Jesus before Jesus began his ministry.
I think Jesus began his ministry about 28, and it lasted about two years.
30 Crucifixion, resurrection, appearances, and ascension of Jesus.
Outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:1)
Ministry of Peter and John (Acts Chapters 3, 4, 5, 6)
Stoning of Stephen (Acts Chapter 7)
Persecution by Saul [Paul] of Tarsus (Acts 8: 1-3)
Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19)
Paul began preaching that Jesus is the Son of God (Acts 9:20)
33 Three years after his conversion, when the Jews tried to kill him, Paul escaped from Damascus and went to Jerusalem. This was his first visit to Jerusalem after his conversion. The disciples were afraid of him, but Barnabas sponsored him. He stayed with Peter for 15 days, but saw none of the other apostles except James the brother of Jesus. He preached to some Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him, so the disciples sent him to his home in Tarsus in Syrian Cilicia (compiled from Galatians 1:17-21 and Acts 9:20-30).
43 King Herod Agrippa killed James the brother of John and imprisoned Peter, but an angel helped Peter escape from prison. Shortly thereafter, King Herod Agrippa died at a festival in Caesarea (Acts: 12:1-23).
King Herod Agrippa died at a festival in Caesarea early in 44.
46 Many gentiles in Antioch of Syria had heard about Jesus. Barnabas was sent there by the church in Jerusalem. He went to Tarsus and brought Paul to Antioch. They taught the gentiles in Antioch "for a whole year" (Acts 11:19-26).
46 In Antioch, the prophet Agabus predicted a great famine (Acts 11:27-28).
There was a famine in Judea in 47 (Josephus, Antiquities 20.2.5 and 5.2).
47 Barnabas and Paul carried a contribution from the church in Antioch to the brethren in Judea (Acts 11:29-30).
The way Acts 11:30 to 12:25 is written makes it seem that Paul and Barnabas were in Jerusalem when King Herod Agrippa died. If so, they carried the contribution in 44, in response to the prediction of a famine. More likely, they carried it in 47 when the famine actually occurred, and the section on King Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:1-23) is slightly out of place in Luke's otherwise chronological account.
This was Paul's second visit to Jerusalem after his conversion (Galatians 2:1). If he was converted in 30, his first visit "after three years" was in 33, and his second visit "then after fourteen years" was in 47.
47 During Paul's second visit to Jerusalem after his conversion, he and Barnabas met privately with Peter and John and James the brother of Jesus, and "set before them" an outline of what they were teaching the gentiles. Paul and Barnabas were known as "The Apostles to the Gentiles" after this meeting, at which "James and Peter and John gave us the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the gentiles and they to the circumcised." (Galatians 2:1-10).
47 Barnabas and Paul returned to Antioch when they had fulfilled their mission, bringing with them John whose other name was Mark (Acts 12:24-25)
47 Paul's first missionary journey, with Barnabas.
There were prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch. The Holy Spirit said to them, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." After fasting and praying, they laid their hands on them and sent them off. (Acts 13:1-3)
Note: the names of places mentioned in Acts can be confusing, because they may refer to a city or a region or a province (like a city or a county or a state). Acts names the region when the reference is to more than one city, and the province when the reference is to more than one region. There were several cities with churches in the Roman provinces of Asia, Macedonia, and Galatia.
48 Paul and Barnabas went to the Island of Cyprus, where there were some Jews who had heard about Jesus, and preached in the synagogues (Acts 13:4-12).
Then they sailed north to Perga in Pamphylia, on the mainland of
what is now south-western Turkey. Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem.
Paul and Barnabas went to Antioch of Pisidia (sample sermon, Acts 13:14-41)
They were at Iconium for a long time (Acts 14:1-5)
Paul was stoned at Lystra and left for dead, but he survived (Acts 14:19-20).
They went on to Derbe and preached there (Acts 14:21).
They returned the way they came, but did not go back to Cyprus. They sailed to Antioch, and "remained no little time with the disciples" (Acts 14:21-28).
Some men came to Antioch from Judea and said, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved" (Acts 15: 1).
When Peter came to Antioch, before certain men came from James, he ate with the gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. Even Barnabas refused to eat with them. Paul confronted Peter and Barnabas with their insincerity (Galatians 2:11-21).
It seems obvious that James also sent men to the gentile churches that Paul and Barnabas had founded on their missionary journey.
The date and destination of this letter are controversial, because the first mention of the Province of Galatia is during Paul's second journey (Acts 16:6), but since he is astonished that they are so quickly deserting what he taught, Paul is writing to churches he had recently established (1:6). He is angry at the church leaders in Jerusalem because they broke their promise that they would go to the Jews and not to the gentiles. Apparently, he heard that men from Jerusalem were telling his gentile converts they had to be circumcised, and wrote his letter to the Galatians after he returned to Antioch at the end of his first journey. It cannot be dated after the Apostolic Council of Jerusalem, because that was when and where this issue was resolved. Therefore, I believe Paul's letter to the Galatians is the earliest writing in the New Testament.
49 Apostolic Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:2-29). Paul and Barnabas and some others were appointed to go to from Antioch to Jerusalem to discuss the controversy over circumcision. This was Paul's third visit to Jerusalem after his conversion.
When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church, but some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees said, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to charge them to keep the law of Moses." The apostles and elders were gathered together to consider this matter (Acts 15: 2-6).
Peter spoke first, telling how the Holy Spirit was poured out to gentiles when he was at the home of Cornelius. Barnabas and Paul told of their work among the gentiles. Finally, James of Jerusalem yielded. The decision of the apostles and elders was that gentiles did not have to be circumcised or keep the law of Moses, but they must "abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity" (Acts 15:29).
The Council sent two men, Judas Barsabbas and Silas, to carry their decision to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:12).
49 Paul's second missionary journey
Shortly after they returned from the Apostolic Council of Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabas decided to return to the churches they had founded, to deliver the decision reached by the Council (Acts 16:4). Barnabas wanted to take Mark with them again, but Paul objected because Mark had left them early in their previous journey. Paul and Barnabas quarreled. Finally, Barnabas took Mark and went back to Cyprus. This is the last we hear of Barnabas in Acts, but he was still active several years later (I Corinthians 9:6).
Paul chose Silas and went through Syria and Cilicia to take the decision of the Council to the churches he and Barnabas had established. Timothy joined them at Lystra (Acts 15:36-16:5). Then they went to Troas on the north-western coast of modern Turkey. Paul received a vision of a man saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us," so they sailed from Troas to the southern coast of Macedonia and traveled to Philippi. From the "we" statements in Acts, Luke apparently joined them in Troas and went with them as far as Philippi (Acts 16:8-12; 17:1). Paul founded a new church in Philippi (Acts 16:13).
Paul, a prisoner (3:1), to the church at Ephesus, a city near the coast in the Province of Asia. Paul did not establish this church and has not met these people. He says, "Ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus..." (1:15), and "Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that has been given to me..." (3:2). When was Paul in prison before he visited Ephesus? I find only one such occasion: Paul was in prison at Philippi during his second missionary journey (Acts 16:16-40), and he visited Ephesus for the first time toward the end of that journey (Acts: 18:19-21). Tychicus carried this letter (6:21-22), probably because he was from the Province of Asia (Acts 20:4-5).
50 Paul founded new churches in Thessalonica and Berea. Jews drove him out of both cities, and he sailed to Athens. Silas and Timothy stayed in Berea with orders to rejoin him later (Acts 17:1-15).
50 Paul preached briefly in Athens, alone, and then went to Corinth where he met Aquila and Priscilla, lately arrived from Rome (Acts 17:16-33).
The Emperor Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome in 49 or 50.
50 Aquila and Priscilla were tentmakers, and Paul worked with them until Silas and Timothy rejoined him; then he devoted himself to preaching (Acts 18:1-5).
50 I Thessalonians
Paul, from Corinth. The salutation is from Paul, Silas and Timothy (1:1). He praises the Thessalonians, saying they are a model for all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia [Corinth] (1:7). He was alone in Athens (3:1), and was worried about them, but now Timothy has returned with good news about their faith and love (3:2-6).
50 II Thessalonians
Paul, from Corinth. The salutation is from Paul, Silas and Timothy (1:1). This letter encourages the Thessalonians to stand firm in all the persecutions and trials they are enduring (1:3-4).
51 Paul on trial before Gallio, Procounsul of Achaia (Acts 18:12-17).
Inscriptions at Delphi show that Gallio was Procounsul of Achaia in 51.
51 Paul stayed in Corinth for some time after his trial before Gallio (Acts 18:18).
52 End of Paul's second missionary journey, early 52. He sailed with Priscilla and Aquila from Corinth to Ephesus, left them there, sailed on to Caesarea, visited the church, and then went back to Antioch. (Acts 18:22)
James, the brother of Jesus, also known as James of Jerusalem. He was not a disciple of Jesus (Matthew 12:46-50, Mark 3:21, 31-35, Luke 8:19-21, John 7:5), but the risen Christ appeared to him (I Corinthians 15:7), and he became a leader of the church in Jerusalem. James was a devout Jew: he insisted that gentile Christians had to be circumcised, and that Christians had to keep the Jewish Law. Although he was persuaded to moderate his position by the Apostolic Council of Jerusalem in 49, he was one of those who said that Paul should go to the Temple to prove he was still a Jew in 57 (Acts 21:17-26). This is a doctrinal letter to "the twelve tribes in the dispersion," probably written 50-60 in Jerusalem in response to Paul's teaching of justification by faith alone and not by keeping the Jewish Law. His crisp style is like nothing else in the NT. James was killed by a mob of Jews in 62 (Josephus, Antiquities, 20.9.200).
The text contains no indication of who wrote it, but the author is an eloquent Jewish Christian who explains to Jewish readers that Jesus the Son of God was the Christ, and is now the High Priest in heaven. His style and message fit the description of a Jew named Apollos who came to Ephesus: "He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately ... proving through the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ" (Acts 18:24-28). In closing, he says, "Our brother Timothy has been released, with whom I shall see you if I come soon. Those from Italy greet you" (Hebrews 13:23-24). Priscilla and Aquila were from Italy, and they moved to Ephesus in 52 (Acts 18:19). Thus, probably written by Apollos in Ephesus in 52 or 53 before Paul arrived there on his third journey.
53 Paul's third missionary journey. After spending some time in Antioch, Paul took the road through Galatia and Phyrgia to Ephesus (Acts 18:23; 19:1).
53 Paul in Ephesus, Autumn 53. He was there for about two and a half years.
55 I Corinthians
Paul, from Ephesus, early 55. The Corinthians have written to him (7:1). He is sending Timothy to them (4:17) and expects Timothy to return to him (16:9). He tells them to take up a collection for the church in Jerusalem, as he has told other churches (16:1-4). He plans to stay in Ephesus until Pentecost (16:8) and will come to them after he goes through Macedonia (16:1).
55 Apparently, Paul went from Ephesus through Macedonia to Corinth and back to Ephesus in the summer of 55. This was his second visit to Corinth.
56 II Corinthians
Paul, from Macedonia, in the spring or summer of 56. The salutation is from Paul and Timothy (1:1). Paul writes of his sufferings in the Province of Asia [Ephesus] in the past tense (1:8). He did not find Titus at Troas, so he went on to Macedonia (2:12-13). Titus has come to him from Corinth (7:5) and is being sent back to them (8:16). Paul tells them the Macedonian churches have given generously to the collection for Jerusalem (8:1-5), and urges them to complete their collection (8:6-12). He says, "Last year, you were the first to give" (8:16). He says this will be his third visit to Corinth (13:1), but Acts only mentions one visit to Corinth before this time (Acts 18:1), probably because Luke wasn't with him on his second visit and wasn't told about it.
56 Paul traveled through Macedonia and arrived in Greece [Corinth] toward the end of 56. He stayed there three months (Acts 20:3).
Paul, from Corinth, early spring 57, just before he left there for Jerusalem. He planned to go from Jerusalem to Rome and then to Spain (15:24-26).
57 Paul was at Philippi for Passover 57. Luke rejoined him there. Seven men went on ahead and met them at Troas: Timothy, Sopater from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the Province of Asia. They were carrying the collection for the church in Jerusalem, and didn't stop very long anywhere, because Paul wanted to arrive in Jerusalem in time for Pentecost (Acts 20:4-16).
57 The end of Paul's third missionary journey.
Paul and those with him arrived in Jerusalem (Acts 21:15-16)
James said he should go to the Temple and prove he was a Jew (Acts 21:17-26)
The Jews rioted, and Paul was rescued by the Romans (Acts 21:27-22:29)
He was brought before the Chief Priest, Ananias (Acts 22:30-23:10)
Many Jews plotted to kill Paul, but a Roman Tribune sent him at night to Felix in Caesarea with a large escort of soldiers (Acts 23:11-35)
Felix heard Paul, but left him in prison for two years (Acts 24:1-27)
Antonius Felix was Procurator of Judea from 52 to 59.
Paul, from prison in Caesarea 57-59. The salutation is from Paul and Timothy. Tychicus carries the letter. Paul did not establish this church, and has not met these people: he says, "I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally" (2:1). He mentions Onesimus (runaway slave of Philemon), and sends greetings from Aristarchus, Mark, Justus, Epaphras, Luke and Demas (4:10-14).
Paul, from prison in Caesarea 57-59. The salutation is from Paul and Timothy. It is addressed to Philemon, Apphia and Archippus (they were at Laodicea, near Colossae). Paul pleads the case of Onesimus (runaway slave of Philemon), and says, "I am sending him back to you" (12). Tychicus probably carried this letter with Paul's letter to the Colossians, because he escorted Onesimus back to Philemon (Colossians 4:7-9). Paul sends greetings from Aristarchus, Mark, Epaphras, Luke and Demas (23-24).
Many scholars say Paul wrote to the Colossians and Philemon from prison in Rome, but Tychicus, Justus, Epaphras and Demas weren't with him in Rome.
Written by John Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. Scholars say, "Probably written in Rome, 62-64," but an early version must have been available when Paul was in prison at Caesarea in 57-59, because Mark and Luke were there and Luke copied from Mark. Tradition has it that Mark took notes while Peter was preaching, which could have been any time after the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost. Thus, Mark may have started writing his Gospel in Jerusalem as early as 30 and kept adding to it. This theory is supported by the fact that Luke has 79% of Mark, Matthew has 18% of Mark that Luke doesn't have, and the other 3% is only in Mark (www.bibleencyclopedia.com). The original ending stops abruptly (16:8), perhaps because he never got around to finishing it.
Porcius Festus succeeded Antonius Felix as Procurator of Judea in Summer 59.
59 Paul, on trial before Festus, Summer 59. Three days after he arrived in Judea, Jewish leaders presented Festus with their charges against Paul (Acts 25:1-2). Festus wanted Paul to stand trial in Jerusalem (Acts 25:9). Paul appealed to Caesar (Acts 25:10-12). His case was reviewed by King Herod Agrippa II (Acts 25:13-26:32).
For two whole years, from the spring of 60 to the spring of 62, Paul was allowed to live in his own rented house, with a soldier to guard him (Acts 28:15-31).
Written by Luke, the companion of Paul. Scholars say his Gospel was probably written in Rome, but he must have collected the material for it while Paul was in prison at Caesarea 57-59. Luke and Mark were there at that time, as shown by Paul's letters to the Colossians and Philemon, and Luke copied 42% of his Gospel from Mark (www.bibleencyclopedia.com). Luke also used several other sources: 23% of his Gospel is also in Matthew but not in Mark, and 35% is only in Luke. In his introduction to Acts, Luke says he had previously written his Gospel, and both are addressed to Theophilus (Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1-2), so I agree with those who say that Luke and Acts are a two-volume work.
Written by Luke, the companion of Paul. Apparently, from his use of the word "we" Luke joined Paul at Troas on Paul's second journey and went with him to Philippi (Acts 16:10-12), rejoined him at Philippi about seven years later near the end of Paul's third journey (Acts 20:5-6), and traveled with him thereafter. When they arrived in Caesarea enroute to Jerusalem in 57, Paul and Luke and those with them stayed at the home of Phillip the Evangelist (Acts 21:8). This is probably where Luke got the stories about Phillip in Samaria, Simon the sorcerer, and Phillip's conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:4-49). Acts ends in Rome, and says that Paul had been there two years (Acts 28:31). Thus, Luke and Acts were probably begun in 57, written in Caesarea 57-59 and Rome 60-62, and finished in the summer of 62.
62 There is no indication that Paul was on trial before Nero or members of his court in 62. It is possible that the charges against him were dropped.
Clement of Rome [died in 97] said Paul went "to the extremity of the west," by which he probably meant Spain, but there is no support for this tradition.
There is a theory that Paul was released in 62 and traveled widely during the next few years, as indicated by the fact that the Pastoral Epistles (I Timothy, II Timothy and Titus) mention many events that are not reported in Acts. The Pastoral Epistles are controversial: many scholars say they are pseudepigrapa (false writings) by someone else in the Second Century using Paul's name. I have studied the arguments, both ways, and I have come to believe the Pastoral Epistles are genuine.
62 Paul's fourth missionary journey, as indicated in the Pastoral
From Rome to Crete, where he left Titus to manage new churches.
To Ephesus, where he left Timothy to manage the church.
To Macedonia, where he wrote back to Titus and Timothy.
63 I Timothy
Paul, from Macedonia. He says, "As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus" (1:3). There is no report in Acts of any time Paul left Timothy in Ephesus when he went into Macedonia, so this another indication of his fourth journey.
63 Paul apparently went from Macedonia to Corinth, and planned to spend the winter at Nicopolis in northwestern Greece (Titus 3:12). Whether he actually did so isn't mentioned, but Erastus stayed in Corinth (II Timothy 4:20).
64 Paul left Trophimus sick in Miletus, which was the port for Ephesus, but he apparently didn't get to visit Ephesus or even contact Timothy, because he told Timothy about Erastus and Trophimus in his second letter, which was written from Rome (II Timothy 4:20). This is an indication that Paul was arrested while he was enroute from Corinth to Ephesus, perhaps at Troas or Miletus.
64 Part of Rome burned in July 64 and Nero blamed it on the Christians.
65 II Timothy
Paul, from prison in Rome (1:17). Although no one supported him at his first defense, he "escaped from the lion's mouth" [was not condemned to death] (4:16-17), but he is still in chains like a criminal (2:9). Only Luke is with him (4:11). Timothy is still at Ephesus (4:19). Erastus stayed in Corinth and Paul left Trophimus sick at Miletus (4:20). Paul asks Timothy to come to him quickly, and to get Mark and bring him along. He apparently is writing in late summer: "When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas" (4:9-13) and "Do your best to get here before winter" (4:21).
65 Timothy and Mark probably traveled to Rome in late 65.
Paul, from prison in Rome: he mentions the praetorium (1:13) and Caesar's household (4:22). He is in chains (1:13-14), so this letter wasn't written while he was under house arrest in 60-62. It was written after Timothy came to Rome in late 65, because the salutation is from Paul and Timothy, and Paul says, "I hope to send Timothy to you soon" (2:19). It is a loving letter to dear friends in which he thanks them for sending Epaphroditus to help him, praises them, and extends comfort to them concerning his anticipated martyrdom.
66 I Peter
Simon Peter, in Rome, probably soon after he arrived. This is a pastoral letter to Christians in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, which may indicate that he had been in those places. It was written in excellent Greek by his secretary, Silvanus. Peter sends greetings from "my son Mark" and "she who is at Babylon who is likewise chosen," probably his wife (5:13). Since Mark was not in Rome when Paul wrote to Timothy in 65, Peter and his wife may have come to Rome with Timothy and Mark in late 65.
Some modern scholars say, "The author was not the apostle. Probably written in Syria (perhaps Antioch) around the end of the first century. Variously dated from 90 to 115." However, internal evidence supports the early tradition that Matthew was the other name of Levi the tax collector (Matthew 9:9, Mark 2:14, Luke 5:27), and I find nothing in it that points to Syria. It was obviously written for Jewish Christians, and the center of Jewish Christianity was Jerusalem. There is an early tradition that Matthew was the first gospel written, which makes sense if Mark and Luke weren't widely disseminated as early as Matthew. Whether it was originally written in Aramaic or Greek is still being debated, but early writers said it was first written in Aramaic: Irenaeus in about 185 wrote that Matthew issued his "Gospel of the Hebrews" in their own language while Peter and Paul were preaching in Rome (Against Heresies 3.1.1), and Eusebius wrote, "For Matthew, who had at first preached to the Hebrews, when he was about to go to other peoples, committed his Gospel to writing in his native tongue" (Ecclesiastical History, 24.6). From the foregoing, I believe Matthew published his Gospel in Jerusalem in 65-66.
66 Outbreak of the Jewish rebellion against Rome in late 66.
Some modern scholars say, "Author, date, origin and destination unknown, but probably written about 120-150." Nevertheless, the author identifies himself as a brother of James (1:1), and since II Peter copies from Jude, it must predate that letter.
67 Nero sent several legions to put down the Jewish rebellion in early 67.
67 II Peter
Some modern scholars say, "Not Simon Peter. Not canonized early. Poorly written. Chapter 2 copies Jude. Probably about 150." But if it was written by Simon Peter, as the author claims throughout, it can be dated no later than the time of his death. He says, "I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside" (1:13-15). It may have been poorly written because Peter wrote it himself.
67 Neither the Bible nor any other source tells us when Paul and Peter died, but tradition has it that Paul was beheaded and Peter was crucified by Nero in 67.
68 Nero committed suicide 9 July 68.
70 The Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in August 70. What remained of the city was under Roman control by September 70.
The salutation is: "I, John ... was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus" (1:9). He did not say he was in prison. It is addressed to seven churches in the Province of Asia: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatria, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea (1:11). I believe this was a pastoral letter concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, written in symbolic language so Christians could understand it but Romans could not. He says the gentiles will trample the holy city for 42 months (11:2), which the Romans did in putting down the Jewish Rebellion in 67-70, and he says Rome itself will be destroyed (17:9-18) [Rome has always been known as the city on seven hills]. It was the almost universal belief of the ancient church from the middle of the second century that the author was the apostle John. The early church writers converged on a date in the reign of Domitian 81-96, but in any case, it must be dated after 70 when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, because it speaks of a new Jerusalem coming down from heaven (21:2).
The fourth gospel is traditionally attributed to John the apostle, son of Zebedee, and dated late in the first century after the death of Domitian in 96. The text does not name the author, but from the Last Supper onward it says he was "the disciple whom Jesus loved." It states that Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were present when Jesus appeared to them by the Sea of Galilee and the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" (21:2-7), but this does not prove the disciple whom Jesus loved was the son of Zebedee: he might have been one of the two other disciples. All three of the other gospels state that Jesus took Peter, James and John with him to the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1; Mark 9:2; Luke 9:28), but this gospel doesn't mention the Transfiguration. How could John the Apostle not mention the Transfiguration? Or so many events reported in the other gospels? One possible explanation, put forth by Albert C. Wieand in "A New Harmony of the Gospels" (1950) is that the fourth gospel was intended to be theological and supplemental, filling in details the other gospels did not have. Perhaps so, and it certainly is cherished for its theology and detailed accounts of some events, but its authorship and internal chronology are questionable.
? I John
There is no salutation, address or name of author in the text. Whoever it was, the Greek text is very much like the fourth gospel, which is no doubt why early Christian writers attributed it to John the Apostle.
? II John
Probably not the apostle. The salutation is, "The elder to the elect lady and her children." There is no indication of when or where it was written.
? III John
Probably not the apostle. The salutation is, "The elder to the beloved Gaius." There is no indication of when or where it was written.