The proposal that they made up a unified work was first advanced by Martin Noth in 1943, and has been widely accepted.Noth proposed that the entire history was the creation of a single individual working in the exilic period (6th century BCE); since then there has been wide recognition that the history appeared in two "editions", the first in the reign of Judah's King Josiah (late 7th century), the second during the exile (6th century).

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The great Dutch philologist Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam had established a text from a handful of manuscripts dating from the later Middle Ages.

Unfortunately he used only manuscripts of inferior quality for his edition of 1516.

Although some scholars disagree, the vast majority of researchers believe that Mark was the first Gospel to be written, sometime around the year 70.

This scholarly consensus holds that the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke were composed, independently of one another, sometime in the 80s or 90s.

Noth's dating was based on the assumption that the history was completed very soon after its last recorded event, the release of King Jehoiachin in Babylon c.

560 BCE; but some scholars have termed his reasoning inadequate, and the history may have been further extended in the post-exilic period.

Confidence in the historical accuracy of these documents depends partly on whether they were written by eyewitnesses and contemporaries to the events described, as the Bible claims.

Negative critical scholars strengthen their own views as they separate the actual events from the writings by as much time as possible.

Related topics: Our sources When were the New Testament writtings accepted as scripture?