Roman Influence on the Birth of Christianity

Dating the Gospels

  • There is disagreement whether the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) were written in the first or second century CE.

  • Some scholars feel the Gospels are filled with folklore, which takes time to develop.

  • Other scholars believe that Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written relatively soon after the time of Christ and potentially depict observations/interpretations of real human events.

  • Most scholars agree that John was written several decades after the other three.

  • The first three Gospels provide a relatively consistent chronology of major events in Jesus’ travels/ministries. In the Gospel of John these events become disjointed, when trying to relate to the other three.

  • The Gospel of John has several very important differences from the other three:

    • John is the only Gospel that mentions any type of physical violation to Jesus while he was on the cross (i.e., the stabbing of Jesus in the side with a spear after he was supposedly dead). [1] The stabbing results from Jewish demands that the legs of the prisoners be broken and Rome’s reaction with breaking the other two, but not Jesus’. The account of fluid expulsion from a corpse is medically improbable. Why does this story not occur in the earlier accounts?

    • In the first three Gospels, the Romans direct Simon of Cyrene to carry Jesus’ cross. John is the only Gospel that states Jesus carried his own cross.

    • John is the only Gospel to mention that women and his acquaintances were near the cross,[2] which contradicts all of the other three, which state they watched from a distance.[3]

    • The Gospel of John never uses the Greek term, evangelion (see the menu button for “The Term Gospel”). Many theologians surmise that the author of John was sensitive to the use of this term and that it may have come from Jesus’ lips. The author’s sensitivity may have been associated with the timing of the writing of that Gospel and the spread of Christianity to Rome.

    • The first three Gospels quote Jesus as promising his disciples his “Second-Coming” would occur within their lifetimes.[4] This quote is completely missing from the Gospel of John, probably when it became all too apparent in later years this was not going to happen.

[1] John 19:31-34

[2] John 19:25-26

[3] Matthew 27:55, Mark 15:40-41, Luke 23:49

[4] Matthew 16:27-28 24:34, Mark 8:38-9:1 13:30, Luke 21:32


Historical Discussion
In Depth

Historical Context


I Was a Sunday-School Spy

The Crucifixion (animation)

Post Appearance of Jesus

Who Did Jesus Curse-Praise

Taxes to Rome

Submissiveness to Oppression

John the Baptist

Admirable and Amazing Works

The Term Gospel

Jewish Judgment

Pilate's Defense (animation)

Roman Soldiers at the Tomb

Migration of Christianity to Rome

Irony of Faith

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