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Bo Reicke Study Archive

he had solved the riddle of the Pastorals and the “deutero-Paulines” by fitting them seamlessly into Paul’s work as known from Acts and from the acknowledged Pauline letters

Bo Reicke


Professor of New Testament Theology with a Particular Focus on the Writings of Paul

Reicke argues that the emphases of the deutero-Paulines did not represent known problems and theological concerns of the period 70-100 C.E. as presented in the sub-apostolic literature.

“(JAT) Robinson essentially adopts Reicke’s explanation” – In fact Robinson, following Reicke, uses these predictions as the starting-point for his argument that all the Synoptic Gospels must have been written before A070! – R. T. France


“An amazing example of uncritical dogmatism in New Testament studies is the belief that the Synoptic Gospels should be dated after the Jewish War of AD 66-70 because they contain prophecies ex eventu of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in the year 70.” [B. Reicke, ‘Synoptic Prophecies on the Destruction of Jerusalem’, in D. W. Aune (ed.), Studies in New Testament and Early Christian Literature: Essays in Honor of Alien P. Wikgren (NovTest Suppl. 33), Leiden 1972, 121-34.]

“if the Gospel of Luke is supposed to have been composed after the historical siege of Jerusalem in AD 70, the evangelist must be accused of incredible con­fusion when he spoke of flight during that siege, although the Christians were known to have left Judaea some time before the war even began in AD 66. “[‘Synoptic Prophecies’, 127.]


Bradley Jersak
At this point, I find a crucial lack of precision in the articles by Bailey, Von Wyrick, Spencer, Kirk-Duggan and Reicke cited in nn. 23 above, 32 below, and in the present note. The projection of later texts back on to the Gospels is especially evident in J. Lunde, “Heaven and Hell” in Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight and I. Howard Marshall, eds., Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (Downers Grove, IL: IntcrVarsity, 1992) 309-11.

For further details concerning the dating and evaluation of the relevant references to Gehenna, see my The Annihilation of Hell: Universal Salvation and the Redemption of Time in the Esehatology of Jiirgen Moltmann (Carlisle, UK: Paternoster, forthcoming), chap. 7,esp. 7.1. There I argue that the eclipse of Jewish nationalism and its focus on land as the locus of Gods promises after the destruction of Jerusalem, an eclipse which is so evident in the early rabbinic tradition, must be borne in mind when that tradition occasionally attributes belief in an “underworldly” Gehenna to Jewish teachers in the early first century. For, as Bo Reicke notes, in “Gehenna” in Bruce M. Mctzgcr and Michael D. Coogan, Ihe Oxford Companion to the Bible (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993) 243,”In the Mishnah and later rabbinic texts, the name Gehenna … has superseded the older terms for underworld (Sheol).”Gf. n. 32 below. (For the more general, methodological point of not reading the Mishnah back into the NT, see, e.g., Alan Segal, Paid the Convert: Vie Apostolate and Apostasy of Saul the Pharisee [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990] xiv and Doron Mendels, 77tc Rise and Fall of Jewish Nationalism: Jewish and Christian Ethnicity in Ancient Palestine [Grand Rapids: Ferdmans, 1992] 5.) Lunde’s claim, in ibid., 311, that “there is … no explicit distinction in Jesus’ teachings between hades and gehenna” is especially misleading.

That Gehenna is effectively hellenized after 70 ce in the rabbinic tradition is a modest claim (cf. the analysis of the extent to which the Jewish worldview could be recast given the eclipse of Jewish nationalism after the failed Diaspora revolt of 115-17 ce in Carl B. Smith II, No Longer Jews: The Search for Gnostic Origins (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2004]). But whatever we make of the relevant first century evidence outside the NT (cf. the comments on other non-rabbinic Jewish writings in n. 45 below), my main point below is that Gehenna is not seen as a postmortem underworld in the gospels.” (p. 218)

J.A.T. Robinson (Redating the New Testament)
“In fact this is too sweeping a statement, because the dominant con­sensus of scholarly opinion places Mark’s gospel, if not before the beginning of the Jewish war, at any rate before the capture of the city.  [Cf. the summary of opinions in V. Taylor, St Mark,21966, 31. He himself opts, with many others, for 65-70. Kummel, INT, 98, hedges his bets: ‘Since no over­whelming argument for the years before or after 70 can be adduced, we must con­tent ourselves with saying that Mark was written ca. 70.] Indeed one of the arguments to be assessed is that which distinguishes between the evidence of Mark on the one hand and that of Matthew and Luke on the other. In what follows I shall start from the presumption of most contemporary scholars that Mark’s version is the earliest and was used by Matthew and Luke. As will become clear [Cf. pp. 92-4 below.], I am by no means satisfied with this as an overall explanation of the synoptic phenomena. I believe that one must be open to the possibility that at points Matthew or Luke may represent the earliest form of the common tradition, which Mark also alters for editorial reasons. I shall therefore concentrate on the differences between the versions without prejudging their priority or dependence. The relative order of the synoptic gospels is in any case of secondary importance for assessing their absolute relation to the events of 70. Whatever their sequence, all or any could have been written before or after the fall of Jerusalem.”

“The course of this he traces from ‘Palestinian Jewish Christianity’, through ‘Hellenistic Jewish Mission Christianity’, ‘Gentile Christianity’ and ‘the apostle Paul’, to ‘the middle period’, and finally into ’emergent Catholicism’. Yet these categories, taken over from Rudolf Bultmann and his successors, have of late come in for some stringent criticism not only from England [I. H. Marshall, ‘Palestinian and Hellenistic Christianity: Some Critical Comments’, NTS 19, 1972-3, 271-87; ‘Early Catholicism’ in R. N. Longenecker and M. C. Tenney (edd.), New Dimensions in New Testament Study, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1974, a 17-31.] but from Ger­many itself [M. Hengel, ‘Christologie and neutestamentliche Chronologic’ in H. Baltens-weiler and B. Reicke (edd.), Neues Testament und Geschichte: Oscar Cullmann zum 70. [Geburtstag, Zurich and Tubingen 1972, 43-67; Judaism and Hellenism, ET 1974.], none of which Perrin acknowledges. The entire developmental schema (closely parallel to the ‘diffusionist framework’ in archaeology), together with the time it is assumed to require, begins to look as if it may be imposed upon the material as arbitrarily as the earlier one of the Tiibingen school.  It is premature to judge. But certainly it cannot itself be used to determine the datings which are inferred from it. It must first be submitted to a more rigorous scrutiny in the light of the independent data.”

If the Christian Jews were among them, then the λησταί (Josephus’ word for the Zealots) would have been the cause for the Christians’ dissociation from the revolt rather than, as Brandon thought, their attachment to it. This seems altogether more likely.]  It would appear then that this was not prophecy shaped by events and cannot therefore be dated to the period immediately before or during the war of 66-70. [This point is made strongly, perhaps over-strongly, by Reicke, op. cit., 125. For a defence of the Pella tradition, against the criticisms of Brandon, Fall of Jerusalem, 168-78, cf. S. S. Sowers, ‘The Circumstances and Recollection of the Pella Flight’, TZ 26, 1970,305-20.]”

“With regard to Mark 13 as a whole the most obvious inference is that the warnings it contains were relevant to Christians as they were facing duress and persecution, alerting them to watchfulness against false alarms and pretenders’ claims, promising them support under trial before Jewish courts and pagan governors, and assuring them of the rewards of steadfastness. Doubtless the phrasing has been in­fluenced and pointed up by what Christians actually experienced, but, as Reicke argues in the second half of his essay [‘Synoptic Prophecies’, 130-3.], there is nothing that cannot be paralleled from the period of church history covered by Acts (c. 30-62). As early as 50 Paul can say to the Thessalonians:  ‘You have fared like the congregations in Judaea, God’s people in Christ Jesus.”

“Finally, in Matthew’s parable the king clearly stands for God. In the war of 66-70 the king who sent the armies to quell the rebels was Nero, followed by Vespasian. Reicke says:

The picture of God sending his armies to punish all guests not willing to follow his invitation was in no way applicable to the war started by Nero to punish the leaders of rebellion against Roman supremacy. [Op.cit., 123.]

He argues indeed that there is every reason to assume that the final redactor of the parable would have altered the reference if he had been writing after 70. This, I believe, is putting it too strongly, since undoubtedly Christians came to see the destruction of Jerusalem as God’s retribution on Israel, whoever the human agent. [Cf. later (c. 300) Eusebius, HE 3.5.3: ‘The justice of God then visited upon them [the Jews] all their acts of violence to Christ and his apostles, by destroying that generation of wicked persons root and branch from among men’; also (c. 400) Sulpicius Severus, Chron. 2.30. But evidence for this is remarkably absent from earlier writings where one might expect it, e.g. the Epistle of Barnabas or Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho.]  Yet the correspondence does not seem close enough to require composition in the light of the event.

Nevertheless, the conclusion must, I think, stand that on the basis of Matt. 22.7 alone it is impossible to make a firm judgment.  It could reflect 70.  [R. V. G. Tasker, St Matthew (Tyndale NTC), 1961, 206, suggests that the verses may have been marginal comment (subsequently embodied in the text) added after 70 to draw attention to the judgment on Israel for persecuting the Christians. The weakness in this suggestion is of course the lack of any textual evidence.]  On the other hand, it need not. One must decide on the evidence of the distinctive features in Matthew’s apocalypse in chapter 24.”

“It has justly been said that if this article had appeared in the Journal of Theological Studies rather than the Journal of Roman Studies New Testament scholars would have taken more notice of it. It is still ignored in Kummel’s extensive bibliography, and no recognition is given to the case it argues. Interestingly, it had no influence on Reicke’s article cited above [Though it is cited with approval by Pedersen, ST 19, 168.], which independently reaches much the same position.

But the absence of any clear reference to 70 does not settle the question of what Luke is doing in relation to the Markan material.  Indeed on this Dodd and Reicke come to opposite conclusions. Reicke, with the majority of critics, thinks that Luke 21.20-4 is an editing of Mark: Dodd holds that it is independent tradition into which the evangelist has simply inserted verbatim two phrases from Mark: ‘Then those who are in Judaea must take to the hills’ (21.21 a) and ‘Alas for women who are with child in those days, or who have children at the breast!’ (21.23a). [In 21.20 the reference to the ‘desolation’ of Jerusalem derives, Dodd argues, not from Mark (and Daniel) but from the frequent use of the word in this context by Jeremiah.]  The latter alternative seems to me the more probable [Cf. my Jesus and His Coming, 1957, 122-4. Similarly T. W. Manson, The Sayings of Jesus,1949, 328-37; Taylor, Mark, 512; Gaston, op. cit., 358.],  if only because the introduction of ‘Judaea’ in 21.21a upsets the reference of ἐν μέσω αὐτῆς in 21b, which must be to Jerusalem αὐτῆς  21.20). But, whether or not this was material which Luke had prior to his use of the Markan tradition, he has clearly now united the two.  Is the effect of their combination to suggest or to require a later date?

Luke has preferred to concentrate on the destruction of the city rather than the temple, the last reference, veiled or unveiled, to the sanctuary having disappeared, despite his retention of the opening question about the fate of the temple buildings (2I.5-7).[Luke broadens the audience (‘some people were saying’) but not, like Matthew, the question.]  The answer therefore is even less precise, though there is now a definite reference to devastation and not simply to desecration. Reicke indeed argues that by replacing Mark’s ‘abomination of desolation standing where he ought not’ with ‘Jerusalem surrounded by armies’ Luke actually makes it more certain that he is not writing after the event. “

“despite the arguments he puts forward, Dodd (followed by Gaston and Houston) thinks that Luke and Matthew were composed after 70. Reicke, although regarding Luke 21 as secondary to Mark, concludes that ‘Matthew, Mark and Luke wrote their Gospels before the war began’. [Op. cit., 133.] That issue must be considered in due course on its own merits. The one conclusion we can draw so far is to agree with Reicke’s opening statement that it is indeed ‘an amazing example of uncritical dogmatism’ that ‘the synoptic gospels should be dated after the Jewish War of AD 66-70 because they contain prophecies ex eventu of the destruction of Jerusalem’. Indeed on these grounds alone one might reverse the burden of proof, and re­issue Torrey’s challenge, which he contended was never taken up:”

Stanley Porter,
in Reicke and Robinson

The second position, by Reicke and Robinson, argues along similar lines as do van Bruggen and Johnson. They note that the prison letters and 2 Timothy have many elements in common, including those listed as colleagues in both 2 Timothy and the prison epistles. The major difference is that Reicke and Robinson both place all of the prison epistles and 2 Timothy during Paul’s two year Caesarean imprisonment under Roman authority.42 This would, Robinson thinks, account for the reference to Paul’s first defense, which refers to an actual defense that we know of by Paul in Jerusalem and Caesaiea. Similarities in language, such as Paul’s referring to the Lord standing by him so he could proclaim the gospel for the world to hear (2 Tim 4:17a) and reference in Acts 23:11 to his proclaiming the truth, or Paul’s speaking of God whom he worships (2 Tim 1:3) and his words before Felix regarding the God of his fathers (Acts 24:14), provide further support”

“More important for this discussion is how Reicke and Robinson deal with 2 Tim 1:16-18a, where it is thought by most scholars to say that Onesiphorous looked for Paul in Home but did not find him, implying that Paul was imprisoned in Rome. Robinson essentially adopts Reicke’s explanation.4’* Reicke argues that the statement “should not be misunderstood. It does not imply that Paul wrote 2 Timothy while a prisoner in Rome.”

Reicke and Robinson

Various Publishers

  • Bo Ivar Reicke (1914-1987) was born and schooled in Stockholm, Sweden. In 1933 he matriculated in the Faculty of Arts of the University of Stockholm, transferring, however, in 1935 to the University of Uppsala, where in 1937 he received his degree in the areas of the history of religions and classical Greek and philosophy. From 1938 he continued his studies in the Faculty of Theology of the same university. Graduating in 1941, he became ordained in December of the same year as a minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sweden. He immediately continued with doctoral studies, choosing the exegesis of the Old and New Testaments as his field of research. In May 1946 he presented in print and publicly defended his dissertation, The Disobedient Spirits and Christian Baptism: A Study of 1 Pet. III.19 and Its Context, [Acta Seminarii Neotestamentici Upsaliensis Edenda Curavit A. Fridrichsen, 13] (Lund 1946).In the official statement to the university, his New Testament teacher, Professor A. Fridrichsen, describes the dissertation as a weighty contribution to the solution of an old exegetical problem and goes on to recommend the author for a position on the Uppsala Faculty. In the following years, Reicke taught New Testament exegesis as assistant professor in his home faculty. In September of 1953 he received the call of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Basel, Switzerland, to fill the chair in New Testament. Moving to Basel with his family, Reicke served there for thirty years until his retirement in 1984. In addition to lecturing around the world and training about forty doctoral students, he was the author of a number of books. Still actively writing and lecturing, Bo Reicke died in Basel in May of 1987.”
  • Before his untimely death in 1987, renowned New Testament scholar Bo Reicke was working on a manuscript in which he had solved the riddle of the Pastorals and the “deutero-Paulines” by fitting them seamlessly into Paul’s work as known from Acts and from the acknowledged Pauline letters. In Re-examining Paul’s Letters, Reicke concludes that the generally accepted theory that the deutero-Paulines were written after Paul’s death presents too many inconsistencies when viewed historically. Reicke argues that the emphases of the deutero-Paulines did not represent known problems and theological concerns of the period 70-100 C.E. as presented in the sub-apostolic literature. He also demonstrates that current theories in New Testament scholarship do not explain the wealth of details found in either the undisputed or deutero-Pauline letters. Details, such as names of colleagues and Christian acquaintances, instructions of Paul to these known characters which divulge movements and itineraries of Paul in harmony with his other letters, and a host of greetings, would simply be nonsense to people of a later generation, but make perfectly good sense if written by Paul or one of his associates. Reicke develops the notion of a Pauline school that takes full account of the diversity, versatility, and adaptability of Paul’s colleagues that produced a variety of styles and sub-genres. Unlike many previous attempts to describe the history of the Pauline correspondence, this book weaves a whole new tapestry of Paul’s priorities for the gospel. Bo Reicke was for many years Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of Basel, Switzerland. He is the author of The New Testament Era. David P. Moessner is Professor of Biblical Theology at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. Ingalisa Reicke is Bo Reicke’s widow, and for many years co-edited Theologische Zeitschrift with her husband.”