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Hist reliability


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Historical reliability of the Bible

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Hist reliability

  1. 1. Historical Reliability of the Gospels Pat Zukeran Probe Ministries
  2. 2. Jesus Seminar “… if you read them horizontally and comparatively, focusing on this or that unit and comparing it across two, three, or four version, it is disagreement rather than agreement that strikes you most forcibly. And those divergences stem not from the random vagaries of memory and recall but from the coherent and consistent theologies of the individual texts.” John Dominic Crossan, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography
  3. 3. Excerpts from The Da Vinci Code   “ The Bible is a product of man, my dear. Not of God. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds. Man created it as a historical record of tumultuous times, and it has evolved through countless translations, additions, and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book.” (p. 231)
  4. 4. Excerpts from The Da Vinci Code   “ These are photocopies of the Nag Hammadi and Dead Sea Scrolls, … the earliest Christian records. Troublingly, they do not match up with the gospels in the Bible.”
  5. 5. Excerpts from The Da Vinci Code  “ Jesus Christ was a historical figure of staggering influence, perhaps the most enigmatic and inspirational leader the world has ever seen.…Understandably, His life was recorded by thousands of followers across the land… More than eighty gospels were considered for the New Testament, and yet only a relative few were chosen for inclusion – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John among them.” (p. 231)
  6. 6. Assertions Made by the Liberal Scholars <ul><li>The gospels were recorded well after the lifetime of the eyewitnesses and have been embellished over time </li></ul><ul><li>The church created a picture of Christ that would portray him as the divine Son of God. </li></ul><ul><li>The idea that Christ is divine was not taught till the Council of Nicea in the 4 th Century AD </li></ul>
  7. 7. Assertions Made by the Liberal Scholars <ul><li>Of the “80” gospels available, the church chose only four of the gospels and even these four present a distorted portrait of Christ as the Divine Son of God. </li></ul><ul><li>The gospels were not transmitted accurately through the years so what we have is not accurate to the original texts. </li></ul><ul><li>Contradictions in the text confirm the inaccuracy of the gospels. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Reason for Differences <ul><li>Differences do not equate to errors. </li></ul><ul><li>The reason for the variations is that each author is writing for a different audience and from a unique perspective. </li></ul><ul><li>We would expect these differences between four independent accounts. </li></ul><ul><li>If they were identical, we would suspect the writers of collaboration with one another. </li></ul><ul><li>The four gospels actually give us a fuller and richer picture of Jesus </li></ul>
  9. 9. Date of the Gospels <ul><li>Jesus’ ministry was from AD 27-30. </li></ul><ul><li>Noted New Testament scholar F.F. Bruce gives strong evidence that the New Testament was completed by AD 100. (F.F. Bruce 14) </li></ul><ul><li>Most writings of the New Testament works were completed 20-40 years before this. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Date of the Gospels <ul><li>The gospels are dated traditionally as follows by early and conservative Scholars : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mark: AD 60 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Matthew and Luke: AD 70 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>John: AD 90-100 </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Gospels Mark Q Matthew and Luke John
  12. 12. Date of the Gospels Internal Evidence <ul><li>The gospels prophesy the destruction of the Temple (occurred in AD 70) but never mention its fulfillment. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Acts </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Luke never mentions the death of Paul and Peter </li></ul><ul><li>Paul’s Epistles date AD 48-64. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Date of the Gospels External Evidence <ul><li>Over 5000 Greek Manuscripts </li></ul><ul><li>Chester Beatty Papyri contains most of the NT writings is dated AD 250. </li></ul><ul><li>The Bodmer Papyri contains most of John and dates AD 200. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Date of the Gospels External Evidence <ul><li>Rylands Papyri that was found in Egypt, containing a fragment of John and dates AD 130. </li></ul><ul><li>Dead Sea Scrolls Cave 7 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Gospel of Mark and dated it to have been written in AD 50. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fragments of Acts and other epistles and dated them to have been written slightly after AD 50 </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Testimony of the Church Fathers <ul><li>Papias AD 70-163 includes all four gospels </li></ul><ul><li>Shepherd of Hermas (2 nd Century) </li></ul><ul><li>Polycarp AD 69-155 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>3 John, James, Hebrews, Jude </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Clement of Rome AD 90 </li></ul><ul><li>Justin Martyr AD 100-165 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>2 Peter, 1,2,3 John, James, Hebrews, Jude </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Testimony of the Church Fathers <ul><li>Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch writes a letter before his martyrdom in Rome in AD 107 quoting Gospels and other NT letters. </li></ul><ul><li>Iranaeus AD 130-200 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Philemon, James, 2 Peter, and 3 John </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Clement of Alexandria AD 150-215 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>2 Timothy, and 2 John, 2 Peter and James </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Origen AD 185-254 </li></ul>
  17. 17. Church Fathers <ul><li>Church fathers of early second century are familiar with the Apostles writings and quote them as inspired scripture. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Date of the Gospels Internal Evidence Matthew and Luke 70 AD Fall of Temple Mark
  19. 19. Importance of Early Dating <ul><li>Early dating shows eye witnesses were alive when gospels were circulating to attest to their accuracy. </li></ul><ul><li>The Apostles often appeal to the witness of the hostile crowd pointing to their knowledge of the facts as well (Acts 2:22, 26:26). </li></ul><ul><li>Also, the time is too short for legends to develop. Historians agree it takes about two generations for legendary accounts to establish themselves. </li></ul><ul><li>Unlikely that a “Q” document exists </li></ul>
  20. 20. Archaeology and the Gospels <ul><li>Luke is found to be a very accurate historian </li></ul><ul><li>Luke names 32 countries, 54 cities, and 9 islands without error </li></ul><ul><li>Luke’s accuracy is seen in the accuracy of titles used for government officials, proconsul, tetrach, etc… although some are strange are found to be accurate </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In Luke's announcement of Jesus' public ministry (Luke 3:1), he mentions, &quot;Lysanius tetrarch of Abilene.&quot; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In Acts 28:7, Luke gives Plubius, the chief man on the island of Malta, the title, &quot;first man of the island.&quot; </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Deity of Christ in the Gospels <ul><li>Matthew 1:23, 28:18-20 </li></ul><ul><li>Mark 2:5-7 and Isaiah 43:25 </li></ul><ul><li>Luke 5:21, 22:70 </li></ul><ul><li>John 1:1, 5:23, 17:5, 20:28 </li></ul>
  22. 22. Deity of Christ in Paul’s Epistles <ul><li>Philippians 2 </li></ul><ul><li>Colossians 1:15, 2:9 </li></ul><ul><li>Titus 2:13 </li></ul>
  23. 23. Deity of Christ in the General Epistles <ul><li>Hebrews 1:8 </li></ul><ul><li>Jude 25 </li></ul><ul><li>Revelation 1:17-18 and Isaiah 41:4 </li></ul>
  24. 24. Testimony of the Church Fathers <ul><li>Justin Martyr ( 100-165 AD) : &quot;...the Father of the universe has a Son; who being the logos and First-begotten is also God&quot; ( First Apology 63:15). </li></ul><ul><li>Irenaeus ( 130-200 AD) : (referencing Jesus) &quot; order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Savior, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, . . .&quot; ( Against Heresies I, x, 1) </li></ul>
  25. 25. Testimony of the Church Fathers <ul><li>Clement of Alexandria ( 150-215 AD) : &quot;Both as God and as man, the Lord renders us every kind of help and service. As God He forgives sin, as man He educates us to avoid sin completely&quot; ( Christ the Educator, chapter 3.1). In addition, &quot;Our educator, O children, resembles His Father, God, whose son He is. He is without sin, without blame, without passion of soul, God immaculate in form of man accomplishing His Father's will&quot; ( Christ the Educator Chapter 2:4). </li></ul>
  26. 26. Testimony of the Church Fathers <ul><li>Hippolytus (170-236 AD): &quot;And the blessed John in the testimony of his gospel, gives us an account of this economy and acknowledges this word as God, when he says, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.' If then the Word was with God and was also God, what follows? Would one say that he speaks of two Gods? I shall not indeed speak of two Gods, but of one; of two persons however, and of a third economy, the grace of the Holy Ghost&quot; (Against the Heresy of One Noetus. 14). </li></ul>
  27. 27. Testimony of the Church Fathers <ul><li>Tertullian (150-225 AD): &quot;...the only God has also a Son, his Word who has proceeded from himself, by whom all things were made and without whom nothing has been made: that this was sent by the Father into the virgin and was born of her both man and God. Son of Man, Son of God, ...&quot; ( Against Praxeas , 2). </li></ul>
  28. 28. Conclusion of the Church Fathers <ul><li>All the church fathers before Nicea acknowledged the deity of Christ </li></ul><ul><li>The church fathers often defended the deity of Christ against the heresies that denied it </li></ul><ul><li>Nicea formalized what the Church already believed and was defending. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Archaeology and the Gospels <ul><li>“ A man whose accuracy can be demonstrated in matters where we are able to test it is likely to be accurate even where the means for testing him are not available. Accuracy is a habit of mind, and we know from happy experience that some people are habitually accurate just as others can be depended upon to be inaccurate. Luke’s record entitles him to be regarded as a writer of habitual accuracy.” F.F. Bruce </li></ul><ul><li>“ Luke is a historian of first rank;…In short, this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.” William Ramsey </li></ul>
  30. 30. Archaeology and the Gospels <ul><li>Gospel of John </li></ul><ul><li>Pool of Bethesda discovered in north east quarter of the Old Town Jerusalem </li></ul><ul><li>In 9:7 John mentions another long disputed site, the Pool of Siloam. However, this pool was also discovered in 1897, upholding the accuracy of John. </li></ul>
  31. 31. Jewish Sources <ul><li>The Talmud (Completed 300 AD) confirms a historical Jesus and attributes Jesus miracles to sorcery and magic </li></ul><ul><li>Affirm his death by Roman crucifixion and the healing ministry of five apostles named </li></ul>
  32. 32. Jewish Sources <ul><li>Josephus confirms the following facts: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Characters mentioned in the gospels, the Herods, emperors Augustus, Tiberius, Claudius and Nero </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>High Priestly families of Caiaphas, Ananias, and Annas. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Events in the gospels are corroborated in Josephus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Gamiliel’s mention Judas the Galilean’s uprising in Acts 5:37 is mentioned in the Antiquities (18:1) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Acts 11:28 mentions a famine in the days of Claudius, mentioned in (Antiquities 17) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The sudden death of Agrippa in Acts 12 is recorded in Antiquities 19, agreeing with Luke’s outline. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>John the Baptist and his death (Antiquities 18) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Death account of James the Brother of Jesus in Acts (Antiquities 18) </li></ul></ul>
  33. 33. Roman Sources <ul><li>Thallus wrote a work of history of Greece from the Trojan War to his present day in 52 AD </li></ul><ul><li>In his third book of his histories states that darkness covered the earth during the crucifixion of Jesus. </li></ul>
  34. 34. Roman Sources <ul><li>“ Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name has its origin,suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of the procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of evil, but even in Rome.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tacitus, a 1 st Century Roman historian </li></ul></ul>
  35. 35. Roman Sources <ul><li>“ They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang an anthem to Christ as God, and bound themselves by a solemn oath not to commit any wicked deed, but to abstain from all fraud, theft and adultery, never to break their word, or deny a trust when called upon to honor it; after which it was their custom to separate, and then meet again to partake of food, but ordinary and innocent kind.” (Pliny the Younger, From a letter to Emperor Trajan, A.D. 112) </li></ul>
  36. 36. Oral Tradition <ul><li>The evidence shows that in oral cultures where memory has been trained for generations, oral memory can accurately preserve and pass on large amounts of information. </li></ul>
  37. 37. Oral Tradition <ul><li>Jewish culture stressed memorizations of the law. </li></ul><ul><li>Deuteronomy 6:4-9 </li></ul><ul><li>It is a well known fact that the rabbis had the OT and much of the oral law committed to memory. </li></ul><ul><li>The Jews placed a high value on memorizing whatever writing reflected inspired scripture and the wisdom of God. </li></ul><ul><li>In a culture where this was practiced, their memorization skills were far advanced from ours today. New Testament scholar Darrell Bock states that the Jewish culture was “a culture of memory.” </li></ul>
  38. 38. Oral Tradition <ul><li>Rainer Reisner presents six key reasons why oral tradition accurately preserved Jesus’ teachings. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Jesus used the OT prophets’ practice of proclaiming the word of God </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Jesus would reinforce among his followers the need to preserve his words accurately. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>90% of Jesus’ teachings and sayings use pneumonic methods </li></ul></ul>
  39. 39. Oral Tradition <ul><ul><li>Jesus trained his disciples to teach his lessons even while he was on earth. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Jewish boys educated at least till twelve, so disciples knew how to read and write. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Finally, as was done by Jewish and Greek teachers who gathered disciples, they trained them to carry on the master’s teachings. </li></ul></ul>
  40. 40. Oral Tradition <ul><li>The teachings of Jesus and his illustrations are easy to memorize. </li></ul><ul><li>We also know that the church preserved the teachings of Christ in the forms of hymns which were easy to memorize. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Paul’s summary of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15 is a good example of this. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>We can have confidence that the oral tradition accurately preserved the teachings and the events of Jesus’ life till they were written down just a few years later. </li></ul>
  41. 41. Conclusion <ul><li>Early dating shows eye witnesses were alive when gospels were circulating to attest to their accuracy. </li></ul><ul><li>The historical accuracy of the gospels are confirmed by compelling evidence </li></ul><ul><li>Christ was taught to be divine from the very beginning </li></ul><ul><li>Also, the time is too short for legends to develop. Historians agree it takes about two generations for legendary accounts to establish themselves. </li></ul><ul><li>Unlikely that a “Q” document exists </li></ul>