Dr. Darrell Bock, one of the world’s leading historical Jesus scholars, answers questions about when the Gospels were written.
Who wrote the Gospels:
J. Warner Wallace describes the evidence for the early dating of the Gospels. Why is this issue important to those who are examining the claims of Christianity? How does early dating contribute to the reliability of the Gospel authors as eyewitnesses? What other problem does early dating resolve?
Jim Wallace explains that the Gospels’ differences shouldn’t be a problem. Apparent contradictions in witness testimony is expected. Identical accounts are not normal.
Jim Wallace explains the New Testament Chain of Custody — how the original evidence of the New Testament was preserved.
About a week ago a fellow stated that there’s not a shred of evidence that Jesus lived. When I laid out a general case to this overconfident skeptic, he insisted he was still correct. After all, he said, there’s no direct evidence for Jesus.
I told fellow that, unfortunately, nobody live blogged the resurrection, took selfies w/ the Apostles, or otherwise documented the events in real time.
I explained, however, that the life of Jesus consists of some of the best attested events we have from the entire Greco-Roman world. 4 biographies (Gospels) record major life events & Paul (and a few others) wrote letters and provided additional witnesses of Jesus.
Later, within a few decades of Jesus’ death, the eyewitnesses’ accounts were recorded into the Gospels. It’s incredible to have something so close to the actual events.
Historians rarely have documents so close the actual events, as they do with the early New Testament manuscripts.
Later Church fathers in the 1st and 2nd centuries — Polycarp, Papias, & others — reported knowing the Gospel writers. The four Gospel writers are: Matthew (apostle & writer for Hebrew audience), Mark (non-apostle, Greek interpreter for Peter), Luke (non-apostle, Paul’s representative), and John (apostle).
So, based on what many others wrote, we know those Gospel writers were actual people. Of course, Paul wrote letters while he still lived.
So, no shred of evidence for Jesus? We’ve got an embarrassment of riches when it comes to historical witnesses — direct and indirect — of Jesus!
I thought this homicide detective, J. Warner Wallace, below explains why it’s extremely reasonable to believe that Jesus lived and that the Gospels are true.
Wallace explains that if you lack direct testimony (an eyewitness) — a very common phenomenon — you build a case on circumstantial evidence. Virtually all his cases are won without direct evidence or eyewitnesses.
Judges instruct jurors that direct and indirect evidence are neither entitled to greater weight than the other.
Another concern of this homicide detective: witnesses lie. They just do. So, you test eyewitnesses to ensure they’re trustworthy.
Test witnesses: 1) Was witness there at the crime scene? 2) Can detective corroborate witness’ presence at the scene? 3) Is witness consistent over time? 4) Is witness biased? Judge instructs that we must trust witness if these 4 points are confirmed.
Watch and enjoy!
This principle of witnesses also applies to the 11+ witnesses in our dispensation. Do they pass the above test? With flying colors, they do!
Richard Bauckman discusses his book, “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony.”
Virtually all scholars of the ancient world believe Jesus lived. Only a very small fraction of scholars believe in a mythical figure. The leader of the mythical Jesus movement is fringe scholar Richard Carrier.
The video below shows Bart Ehrman — himself an agnostic, but a highly esteemed scholar of the New Testament and ancient world — explaining that Jesus lived. Bart says that anyone who claims otherwise looks foolish.
Richard Dawkins — perhaps the most vocal atheist alive today and author of “The God Delusion” — admitted that Jesus lived in a debate w/ John Lennox. Originally in his book, Dawkins fibbed, was somehow confused, or was trying to sell more books & hurt the Christian cause. That is, Dawkins said Jesus wasn’t historic.
In a public debate (view below), however, John Lennox called Dawkins out on that false position that Jesus never actually lived. Awkwardly and reluctantly, Dawkins changed his position and said that Jesus did in fact live.
This young fellow in the video below is a Muslim convert to Christianity who shared that many noted the life of Jesus and his followers outside the accounts found in the Bible.
Those that believe in a mythical Jesus usually mention supposed similarities between Jesus’ resurrection claims and Osiris myths. The two lives, deaths, and afterlives — Jesus’ and Osiris’ — are hardly similar upon close inspection.
The mythicists claim that Jews copied the Egyptian myths and created a resurrection story that resembled that of Osiris. Nope. Didn’t happen. Not even close. Modern mythicists are awful scholars making unsupported claims.
Watch Richard Bauckman discuss his book, “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony. ”
Consider watching the below video about Josephus’ Jesus writings. Josephus lived from 37-100 AD and was a Roman-Jewish historian. His 21-volume Antiquities of the Jews recounts the history of the world from a Jewish perspective for a Roman audience.
These works provide valuable insight into first century Judaism and the background of early Christianity.
“Doer of baffling deeds…. On the 3rd day He appeared to them alive.” A few lines in Josephus’ writings are controversial, and may have been added by later scribes. Yet, most scholars agree that Josephus penned several lines, mentioning Jesus.