Thankfully, we have you to tell us who has a hostile agenda and weak scholarship, and who undermines and who does not. Sounds like we've heard all of that before on these very pages.<quoted text>
...It is illustrative to see the one sided view held by the contributors, as opposed to having a balance of opposing viewpoints. The uninformed watching without the balance can easily come away with a false view of how the canon was developed and believe it truly was arbitrary.
...The gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke are reliably dated to within 20-40 years of Jesus crucifixion, John within 50-60. There would still have been eyewitnesses living who could refute the writings, especially in the case of the first three. On the other hand the Gnostic gospels were written 200-300 years later.
There is absolutely no threat in examining the sources and origin of the New Testament. The problem is when those with an agenda hostile to the New Testament continue to try and undermine it with arguments that are weak in their scholarship, but who will always find a voice to trumpet their arguments due to a like minded bias, rather than on respect for the scholarship.
From Jesus to Chruist
The First Christians
This FRONTLINE series is an intellectual and visual guide to the new and controversial historical evidence which challenges familiar assumptions about the life of Jesus and the epic rise of Christianity.
The Gospel of Mark
L. Michael White:
Professor of Classics and Director of the Religious Studies Program University of Texas at Austin
According to tradition, the author, Mark is not an apostle himself. Not one of the original disciples, but rather the follower of one of them. Traditionally, he's supposed to be the disciple of Peter .... We don't know exactly where this Mark was or where he actually wrote. However, tradition places him at Rome, but one more tradition also has him located at Alexandria, and it may be the case that the story that we call Mark's gospel, which supposedly derived from Peter, is also an example of this passing on of an oral tradition. It owes its history to Mark, whether Mark is the person who actually wrote it down or not.
Mark's is the first of the written gospels. It's really the one that establishes... the life of Jesus as a story form. It develops a narrative from his early career, through ...the main points of his life and culminat[es] in his death. And, as such, it sets the pattern for all the later gospel traditions. We know that both Matthew and Luke used Mark, as a source in their composition and it's also probable that even John knew something of Mark in tradition. So, Mark is really the one that sets the stage for all the later Christian gospel writings.
...Whether Mark himself was a gentile or a Jew remains a subject of scholarly debate. So, too, does the place of his composition; some scholars think that he wrote his work in Rome, others that he wrote in Alexandria, still others suggest Syria. The way Mark tells the story suggests that his audience lived outside the homeland, spoke Greek rather than Aramaic, and was not familiar with Jewish customs. While there is disagreement about where Mark wrote, there is a consensus about when he wrote: he probably composed his work in or about the year 70 CE, after the failure of the First Jewish Revolt and the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple at the hands of the Romans. That destruction shapes how Mark tells his story.