Sceptics say that the gospels sneakily take advantage of the news that the Temple had been destroyed by putting words into Jesus' mouth predicting it, to make Jesus look good, and to make the fall of the Temple look like God's judgment. A fine hypothesis, that is. But it's based on the idea that people don't make true predictions. Or, more to the point, people don't make supernatural predictions that come true. It's flawed logic. People make political predictions all the time, and some of them come true: usually greeted by politicians saying, 'I told you so!'
- According to Josephus, a Jewish man called Jesus Ben Hananiah in 62AD spoke a prophecy against Jerusalem and the sanctuary that alluded to Jeremiah 7, which as you may know is about the destruction of Solomon's temple. (Josephus, Ant. 10.276)
- And Josephus, by the way, took the Roman overthrow of Jerusalem in his lifetime as the fulfilment of prophecies found in Daniel 9:26-27.
- A later tradition is that Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai went to the Romans during the Jewish War (66-70AD) and quoted the Isaiah 10:34 prophecy: "Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one." With Lebanon being a figure for the Temple in Jewish midrash and in the Bible (Isaiah 60.13; Psalm 92:12), this was a prediction of the fall of the Temple. Yohanan also used Zecharaiah 11.1 as a prediction of the fall of the Temple. (See Aboth deRabbi Nathan A 4.41ff. (ed. Schechter, p.11b).)
- Testament of Judah 23:3
- Testament of Levi 14:1-15:1
- 1 Enoch 89:72, 90:28, 91:13
- Sibylline Oracles 3:665
- 11QTemple 29:9 (Dead Sea Scrolls)
So could Jesus have made such a prediction before 70AD? Yes, of course he could. So is Jesus' Temple prediction really grounds for saying that the gospels must all have been written later than 70AD? No, of course not - you can't decide when the gospels were written just like that.
Other gospel-related blogs:
Did Jesus exist? 6. Do the gospels believe in a historical Jesus?