Saturday, March 10, 2007

Authenticity of the Gospels

NT Wright (I'm reading his book 'Jesus & the Victory of God') pointed out a great evidence for the authenticity of the gospels: the fact that many of the strongest debates known to have been in progress during the 1st century were never written into the gospels. The most glaring would be the issue of whether the gentiles needed to follow the Law or not. Other issues might have been the divinity of Christ, necessity of baptism / circumcision & salvation (by faith alone) etc...

If the evangelists were forging history, they would obviously have included wording to assert that Jesus agreed with their own agenda on these (and other) issues. They did nothing of the sort though and left Jesus silent on these issues.

Were they just too stupid to do so? If so, how did they invent a story of Jesus which so unbelievably fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies in ways that no one could have ever anticipated and wouldn't even fully be appreciated after 2000 years of study from the greatest scholars around the world?

Were they fearful to put words in His mouth because other eyewitnesses would know of their forgery? Ok, fine. How about inventing a resurrection? How about inventing numerous miracles and other sayings? If they were aware of the possibility of eye witness testimony to debunk their false history (and they were) then they must have been so on all accounts. Everything in their gospels were subject to the scrutiny of many hundreds of eye witnesses.

Conclusion: a great many modern scholars are badly mistaken and the evangelists were recording actual history with little (from the perspective of a historian) or no (from the perspective of a Christian) error.

Note: I believe, as the Catholic Church teaches, that the Bible is without error. However, taking it as "inerrant" is simply a matter of faith. We cannot prove or falsify a great number of details in the Scripture. But any honest historian (miracles aside) has to take the gospels for highly accurate historical work; among the best. Frauds like those in the Jesus Seminar have destroyed their own credibility by their terribly implausible findings. As for the miracles, I think its historically undeniable that the evangelists really believed that He did them and that they were not fabricated (or metaphoric).

Whether they happened or not, is a matter of faith.


Amber said...

Have you read, "By What Authority?" by Mark Shea?

TheGodFearinFiddler said...

No I haven't read it yet. Ive heard its good. Does he talk about this sort of thing? I thought that book was more along the lines of apologetics for Catholicism instead of Christianity in general?

Zack said...

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TheGodFearinFiddler said...

Wow sounds really cool. I would definitely find that useful. The book is excellent. Thanks for stopping by.

Amber said...

Well, it's how he (Mark Shea) came, as an evangelical, to see the problems with scripture alone. While it is a bit apologetic, it's a logical series of steps he went through to understand the importance of Tradition... and in the process, he shows just how much Tradition is actually followed by our non-Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ, even though they don't recognize it.

It also discusses the ill logic behind modernism promoted by groups like the Jesus Seminar.

I think you'd really enjoy it... basically, it discusses in depth, what you've pointed out in this post.