Dating of the gospels quizzes for dating
The origin of this scandal he ascribes to Tacitus, Hist. It is hard to see why this evidence is not enough for the Gospels when far, far less is accepted for secular works and their attribution.
Notwithstanding such titular subscriptions: How do secular historians determine authorship (and date) of an ancient document?
Regardless of who wrote the Gospels and when, if they reflect reality correctly, then it points to their being written by eyewitnesses, or having eyewitnesses as their source.
Thus, even if the traditional authorship and earliest dates are disproved - and it is my contention that the arguments against them are inadequate - it matters very little, we may surmise, who wrote them and when.
Also of relevance, Glenn Miller has contributed two excellent responses to James Still here and here.
I wish to thank Roger Pearse for helpfully sending me copies of relevant pages from the works of the Tacitean scholar Mendell, from Tacitus: The Man and His Work.
Mendell surveys evidence for knowledge of Tacitus throughout history; we will only look at evidence up to the sixth century (for reasons noted in Mendell below).
It is not a surprise, therefore, to have Tertullian (early third century) refer to him as ille mendaciorum loquacissimus. This is the first direct attribution of something to Tacitus -- apparently over 100 years later. Lactantius, in the time of Diocletian, is at least once (Div. Ammianus Marcellinus, about 400, published his history, which began where Tacitus left off, indicating a knowledge at least of what Tacitus had written. Skeptics and critics might have a better case if they could find a copy of Matthew that is instead attributed to, say, Andrew, or to no one at all; or a copy of what is obviously Mark that is attributed to Barnabas.
The Apologist is defending the Christians against the charge that they worshiped an ass. At about the same time Sulpicius Severus of Aquitaine wrote his Chronicorum libri and, in 2. But the titles are unanimous and unequivocal -- there is no variation in them at all, and critics have also not provided any examples of Gospel texts with no title, and (with one exception) cannot: "There is no trace of such anonymity [concerning the Gospels]," and the testimony to their authorship is unanimous across broad geographic and chronological lines [Heng.4G, 54].
In the third century Tertullian cites Tacitus with a hostile tone. 8) somewhat reminiscent of Tacitean style but that is as far as it is safe to go in claiming him as a reader of Tacitus, in spite of something of a resemblance between Lactantius 1. Not only the actual quotation from Tacitus is of interest but the careful substitution of synonyms. Of the fifth-century writers, two, Sidonius Apollinaris and Orosius, have left evidence of considerable familiarity with Tacitus as well as respect for him as a writer. The quotations and citations from Tacitus are all in the Adversus paganos and all from the Histories. Works without titles easily got double or multiple titles when names were given to them in different libraries.