External evidence means sources outside of the Bible.This section discusses ancient artifacts and the writings of Josephus that verify Luke to be a credible historian and author.
When you finish reading this page, you will begin to understand why Christians logically accept these dates.But there are no reasons, no reasons given at all, for assigning the gospel of Mark absolutely to “around 70 ce”.One can maintain the same arguments and reasons for dating Mark ten to fifteen years prior to the other gospels, and there is no reason at all given for why Mark could not be dated as late as 80 ce, 90 ce, or even 130 ce.A difficulty with this reason is indicated by the fact that the earliest gospel, Mark, has a far more highly developed theological understanding of the meaning of the death of Jesus than the much later Luke.Mark views Jesus’s death as a saving atonement for the sins of the world; Luke writes of it prosaically as “just another” death of a righteous martyr.So apparently more the level of sophistication of theological views are not necessarily determinants of relative chronology.
Some scholars have argued John is the earliest gospel.
Given the pointed emphasis in the above quotation from BE to showing readers that there are “reasons” for each step of the dating process, this omission demands an explanation.
I suggest that the reason is that the assumption of historicity underlying the gospel narrative, and its related model of ‘oral tradition’, demand as early a date as possible for the written gospels.
It would be too complex a discussion in this context, and it is enough that Ehrman has at least stated that there are “reasons” and it is not just a whimsy.
But the key point to notice is that Ehrman uses this relative date of Mark (relative to the other gospels) to assert that Ehrman is presenting the standard dating method found in most basic texts that treat the subject.
In other words, the absolute date range is ideologically or hypothetically grounded.