How long did the eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life live?

Towards the end of the video I embedded in my last post,the speaker was asked a question regarding the life span of the eyewitnesses to the accounts told in the NT gospels. Dr. Craig  Blomberg tackles this question in his blog post titled, Did None of Jesus’ Disciples Live Long Enough to Write a Gospel? 

The claim is that the average life expectancy in ancient Israel was about 40 years, which would mean that the disciples would have been long past this age by the time the gospels were written. Dr. Blomberg has this to say:

When was the last time anyone reflected on the meaning of the word “average”? The average age of Denver Seminary students in recent years has been about 29. But we have oodles of people in their thirties, forties, fifties and even a few in their sixties. How can this be? Because the single biggest cluster of students, age-wise, are in their early to mid-twenties. That’s how averages work.

So even if you didn’t know a whit of history about the first-century, you ought to recognize the argument fails right out of the gate. But if you do realize from the study of any culture of any point in time prior to the twentieth-century West, that large numbers of children died in infancy or childhood, then you’d realize that an average life span of forty would mean more people significantly older than 40 than is true in the U.S. today when the average life span of people is late 70s and yet almost no one lives more than thirty years beyond that average.

He then goes on to apportion blame to biblical illiteracy. He uses John 8:57, 1 Timothy 5:9 and Luke 2:36 to show that some people at least had long life-spans, even by today’s standards. What if you don’t trust the Bible? Glad you asked. Dr. Blomberg suggests you type ‘age of Roman emperors’ into your favourite search engine and see how long they lived.

Do read the entire post, and if you’re a Christian, don’t let your faith be shaken by such questions!

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