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often been taken as meaning that he only wrote after the death of St. Peter and at the request of Caesarian knights in Rome. 14

Notes in the margins of many early Greek manuscripts of St. Mark assert that this Gospel was compiled in the ‘tenth’ (and some others in the ‘twelfth’) year after the Ascension, i.e. in or by 40 or 42. It is possible that St. Mark had simply translated his Gospel from an already existing set of Remembrances in Hebrew. Fr. Jean Carmignac, a Dead Sea Scrolls translator and an expert in the Hebrew in use in the time of Christ experimented to see what St. Mark would yield when translated back into the Hebrew of Qumran: ‘I was dumbfounded to discover that this translation was extremely easy. I was convinced that Mark was in reality only the Greek translation of an original Hebrew.’ He said that the Greek translator of St. Mark had ‘slavishly’ kept to the Hebrew word order and grammar. The Essenes had built their settlements in the wilderness like that at Qumran (discovered in 1947) specifically in response to the words of Isaiah quoted at the beginning of St. Mark. While all the writings found in all the other caves near their settlement were in Hebrew or Aramaic, ‘Cave 4’ and, directly above it, ‘Cave 7’, contained a total of 25 scraps of papyrus carrying Greek writing. The fifth largest scrap found in Cave 7 (called 7Q5) has been identified as bearing St. Mark 6:52 – 53. After its discovery (in 1955) but before it was deciphered (in 1972) this papyrus had been dated, on the grounds of its writing style, as having been written between 50 BC and 50 AD. In Cave 4 was also found a pottery jar upon the neck of which ‘Rome’ in Hebrew letters (rwm), marked twice, indicated the origins of its contents. Along with the Roman province of Africa, Egypt was a major food supply source for the city of Rome. Every year great numbers of Alexandrian ships loaded with grain for Rome sailed north from Alexandria to the port of Myra on the south coast of Asia Minor before sailing westwards to Italy. During the famines of 44 to 47 bread riots in Rome caused the Emperor Claudius to legislate state insurance for African and Egyptian grain ships. Thanks to these grain ships, communications between these two great cities were so good that, until the collapse of the Roman Empire in the west in the fifth century, the churches of Rome and Alexandria remained close friends and firm allies. 15

In as late as the fourth century the otherwise nearly complete Bible manuscript called Vaticanus B ended its text of St. Mark at 16:8 but left a blank space big enough in case the Church authority decided, as it did, that 16: 9 – 20 should be included. 19

That the translation of St. Matthew into Greek was not done by St. Matthew himself seems indicated by its apparent mistranslation of St. John the Baptist’s words (3:11) pronouncing himself ‘unworthy to carry His sandals’ while all others render these words more naturally as ‘unworthy to untie His sandals’. The Hebrew words for ‘untie’ and ‘carry’ use the same consonants. (In ancient Hebrew vowels were not indicated.) St. Matthew himself would not have made such a mistranslation. Josephus (Antiquities 19.8.2) tells us that the death of King Herod Agrippa I took place shortly before the Passover of 44. 21

St. Jerome’s Latin and the Syriac translations of Eusebius’ Chronicon both state that St. Peter had gone to Rome in the second year of Claudius, and to Antioch two years later. 24

Suetonius (Vita Claudii, 25) tells us that ‘Since they were in a constant uproar at the instigation of a Chrestus he (Claudius) expelled the Jews from Rome.’ (Iudaeos impulsore Chresto adsidue tumultuantes Romā expulit.) Obviously Suetonius was under the impression that ‘Chrestus’ was a rabble-rouser present in person. (‘Chrestus’ (Greek for ‘useful’) was a common slave’s name.)

How the Apostles Wrote the New Testament  
How the Apostles Wrote the New Testament  

This survey of how the New Testament came to be written is also a chronicle of the first 40 years of the history of the Christian Church. It...