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Scholars think, at the very least, that the Gospels are good enough sources that we may answer the key questions about Jesus' life. Question : How do we know the disciples didn't get real sloppy with their accounts, thereby preserving little or nothing of what Jesus said and meant? This test or "criterion" is called coherence, whereby it is asked how does this particular teaching compare with other things Jesus said about this topic? Or overall, does this fit our image of Jesus? On factual issues like the death and resurrection of Jesus, we can also compare the Gospel teachings to the early creedal reports in the epistles, such as 1 Corinthians ff.

Actually, this is so crucial today that most scholars go first to these very early creeds in the epistles and Acts even before they even look at the Gospels.

Signs in the Dust

So we want to know the best explanation for the sources we have and we have enough data to do this. For a book that answers this question from several perspectives, see Paul Barnett, Jesus and the Logic of History Eerdmans. Question : Would God have allowed only the most crucial teachings to be preserved? I mean, would the Holy Spirit also allow lesser teachings to be preserved? Jesus taught that it was inspired. Perhaps the key is that what is recorded is truthful. Now look at Jesus' teachings.

We have both central, major doctrines as well as many smaller issues, like comments on life in general, worry, paying taxes, and so on. Question : Is the New Testament particularly the Gospels part of the "inspired Word of God" that Christians should look to as God's final authority on all things?


It is written by those who were in a position to know the nature of the earliest teachings of Jesus, as well as practices in the early church. Question : What are some of the works that you would recommend for showing that Jesus existed in history, and that the New Testament wasn't just a bunch of forgeries written over a century after the disciples and apostles? A friend of mine is always asking me about several books from pretty radical places that denies these sorts of things.

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InterVarsity, Bock, Darrell. Can I Trust the Bible? Could you make a comment? Could you also recommend some good general books that counter these claims about the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament? Actually, this is not even a very popular view among critical scholars. For example, in spite of many comments to the contrary from popular i. For a few more general sources, see the following: Anderson, JND.

Nash, Ronald.

Habermas, Gary. Question : Is there solid evidence that the Gospels were written fairly closely to the life of Jesus? I was reading a writing by someone who admitted that, while he was not a New Testament scholar, the Gospel of Mark should still be placed at about 90AD. Wasn't there a fragment from John's Gospel that is not a whole lot later than this?

Who are some of the scholars who agree with you? Please comment. John is usually dated about 95AD. Virtually nobody places Mark at 90 AD. You'd have to look very hard to find even a few respected scholars who do this. To my knowledge, no one questions that the fragment from John that you mention. It is dated perhaps AD and is very valuable, since it only dates about years after the Gospel was written. Craig Blomberg presents material with which the majority of NT critics agree. Brown, John Drane, etc. So the Gospels are written close enough to Jesus' time to be very valuable sources regarding his life.

Question : What archeological evidence is there for the Bible being historically true? Please recommend a good article that presents a good overview of this issue. It is: "Archaeology--Biblical Ally or Adversary?

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  4. Maier summarizes the current discussion. Question : Have you written anything concerning the reliability of the New Testament? You could try calling to ask about a copy. Question : If you don't mind, how early is the Gospel of John known in the church? Could you give me a few examples? How about the earlier Gospels? Scholars think that they may be able to find allusions to John as early as Christian writings from 97 to AD, namely Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp.

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    This is incredible, because the Gospel of John was probably only written about 95 AD. Further, Papias, writing about AD, is said to have known John, hearing him speak. A small copy of papyrus with just a few verses from John, known as the Rylands Papyri, dates from about AD. Needless to say, even though there is very little text, this is exceptionally early attestation to this Gospel writing. This is exceptionally early evidence when we are discussing ancient history. Question : Concerning Scripture, what sort of books do you recommend concerning general overviews of reliability, inspiration, and books that deal with "problem passages"?

    InterVarsity, Question : Who finished the Pentateuch? After Moses died someone had to complete the writing. But Moses is the author because he wrote most of it. Why should that be a problem? In Scripture, writers often speak for their teachers. The Gospels report Jesus' words after his death. According to the early second century writer Papias, the second Gospel is Mark's record of Peter's teachings.

    Another example is Luke writing from his unique relationship with Paul. Before that, Luke himself tells us that he was writing about the accounts passed down by the original eyewitnesses Lk. Even the traditional view of inspiration allows for the students of the prophets and apostles to speak on their teachers' behalf.

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    Question : You have said that the best way to argue for the inspiration of Scripture is to build on Jesus' teachings. Briefly, what would that look like? Where can I find one of your treatments of this subject? See also the last question in the next section on the Canon.