Hello, I am attempting to work on some code for Wordpress (from a custom theme), and it is giving me an error:

have_posts() ): while($q->have_posts()): $q->the_post(); $postdate = get_the_date(); $date = date('\<\s\p\a\n\>j\ M', strtotime($postdate)); ?>

There has been a critical error on this website.
Here is the code that is giving the error:

function true_load_posts(){
    $args = unserialize(stripslashes($_POST['query']));
    $args['paged'] = $_POST['page'] + 1; // СЛЕДУЮЩАЯ СТРАНИЦА
    $args['post_status'] = 'publish';
    $q = new WP_Query($args);
    if( $q->have_posts() ):
        while($q->have_posts()): $q->the_post();
                $postdate = get_the_date();
                $date = date('\<\s\p\a\n\>j\</\s\p\a\n\> M', strtotime($postdate));
            <!-- News Block -->
                <div class="news-block col-lg-6 col-md-12 col-sm-12">
                    <div class="inner-box">
                        <a class="overlay-link" href="<? the_permalink(); ?>"></a>
                        <div class="image">
                            <img src="<? echo get_the_post_thumbnail_url( $post->ID, 'thumbnail-570x547' ); ?>" alt="" />
                            <div class="post-date">
                                <? echo $date; ?>
                            <div class="content">
                                <h4><a href="<? the_permalink(); ?>"><? the_title(); ?></a></h4>
<? endwhile; endif; wp_reset_postdata(); ?>

I have never worked in PHP, but this is apparently the only issue when I attempt to load the theme that was developed.

I would ask the developer to fix it, but they are now attempting to price gouge. As someone who codes in C/C++ and C#, I figured it wouldn't be too difficult to figure it out... Yeah, turns out I was mistaken how easy it would be.

Hopefully someone is willing to give me some assistance on this so I do not have to end up paying what the original developer is attempting to demand.