Gospel fragments dating to 50ad
The absolute dates cited (80-85 ce) are based solely on a hypothetical construct of gospel origins and on a placement relative to Mark.Once more there are other reasons, not stated here, for questioning such a relative time gap anyway.
It was also explained at the outset that they did so for “a variety of reasons”.
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.
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.