Added: Kirby Kavanaugh - Date: 22.02.2022 01:16 - Views: 12276 - Clicks: 1155
Article contributed by Probe Ministries Visit Probe's website. Skeptics have criticized the Gospels, the first four books of the New Testament, as being legendary in nature rather than historical.
They point to alleged contradictions between Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They also maintain the Gospels were written centuries after the lifetimes of the eyewitnesses. The late date of the writings allowed legends and exaggerations to proliferate, they say. The first challenge to address is how to for the differences among the four Gospels. They are each different in nature, content, and the facts they include or exclude.
The reason for the variations is that each author wrote to a different audience and from his own unique perspective.
Matthew wrote to a Jewish audience to prove to them that Jesus is indeed their Messiah. That's why Matthew includes many of the teachings of Christ and makes numerous references to Old Testament prophecies. Therefore, he makes his case by focusing on the events of Christ's life. His gospel moves very quickly from one event to another, demonstrating Christ's lordship over all creation. Luke wrote to give an accurate historical of Jesus' life. John wrote after reflecting on his encounter with Christ for many years.
With that insight, near the end of his life John sat down and wrote the most theological of all the Gospels. We should expect some differences between four independent s. If they were identical, we would suspect the writers of collaboration with one another. Because of their differences, the four Gospels actually give us a fuller and richer picture of Jesus. Let me give you an example. Imagine if four people wrote a biography on your life: your son, your father, a co-worker, and a good friend.
They would each focus on different aspects of your life and write from a unique perspective. One would be writing about you as a parent, another as growing up, one as a professional, and one as a peer. Each may include different stories or see the same event from a different angle, but their differences would not mean they are in error.
When we put all four s together, we would get a richer picture of your life and character. That is what is taking place in the Gospels. So we acknowledge that differences do not necessarily mean errors. Skeptics have made allegations of errors for centuries, yet the vast majority of charges have been answered.
New Testament scholar, Dr. Craig Blomberg, writes, "Despite two centuries of skeptical onslaught, it is fair to say that all the alleged inconsistencies among the Gospels have received at least plausible resolutions. Critics claim that the Gospels were written centuries after the lifetimes of the eyewitnesses. This would allow for myths about Jesus' life to proliferate. Were the Gospels written by eyewitnesses as they claim, or were they written centuries later?
The historical facts appear to make a strong case for a first century date. Jesus' ministry was from A. Noted New Testament scholar, F. Bruce, gives strong evidence that the New Testament was completed by A. The Gospels are dated traditionally as follows: Mark is believed to be the first gospel written around A.
Matthew and Luke follow and are written between A. The internal evidence supports these early dates for several reasons. The first three Gospels prophesied the fall of the Jerusalem Temple which occurred in A. However, the fulfillment is not mentioned.
It is strange that these three Gospels predict this major event but do not record it happening. Why do they not mention such an important prophetic milestone? The most plausible explanation is that it had not yet occurred at the time Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written. In the book of Acts, the Temple plays a central role in the nation of Israel. Luke writes as if the Temple is an important part of Jewish life. He also ends Acts on a strange note: Paul living under house arrest.
It is strange that Luke does not record the death of his two chief characters, Peter and Paul. The most plausible reason for this is that Luke finished writing Acts before Peter and Paul's martyrdom in A. A ificant point to highlight is that the Gospel of Luke precedes Acts, further supporting the traditional dating of A. Furthermore, most scholars agree Mark precedes Luke, making Mark's Gospel even earlier.
Finally, the majority of New Testament scholars believe that Paul's epistles are written from A. Paul's outline of the life of Jesus matches that of the Gospels. In chapter 15, Paul summarizes the gospel and reinforces the premise that this is the same gospel preached by the apostles. Even more compelling is that Paul quotes from Luke's Gospel in 1 Timothyshowing us that Luke's Gospel was indeed completed in Paul's lifetime.
This would move up the time of the completion of Luke's Gospel along with Mark and Matthew. The internal evidence presents a strong case for the early dating of the Gospels.
Were the Gospels written by eyewitnesses of the events, or were they not recorded until centuries later? As with the internal evidence, the external evidence also supports a first century date. Fortunately, New Testament scholars have an enormous amount of ancient manuscript evidence. The documentary evidence for the New Testament far surpasses any other work of its time.
We have over manuscripts, and many are dated within a few years of their authors' lives. Here are some key documents.
An important manuscript is the Chester Beatty Papyri. It contains most of the N. The Bodmer Papyri contains most of John, and dates to A. Another is the Rylands Papyri that was found in Egypt that contains a fragment of John, and dates to A. From this fragment we can conclude that John was completed well before A. Since the vast majority of scholars agree that John is the last gospel written, we can affirm its first century date along with the other three with greater assurance.
A final piece of evidence comes from the Dead Sea Scrolls Cave 7. Jose Callahan discovered a fragment of the Gospel of Mark and dated it to have been written in A. He also discovered fragments of Acts and other epistles and dated them to have been written slightly after A. Another line of evidence is the writings of the church fathers. Clement of Rome sent a letter to the Corinthian church in A.
Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, wrote a letter before his martyrdom in Rome in A. Polycarp wrote to the Philippians in A. Justin Martyr A. Church fathers of the early second century were familiar with the apostle's writings and quoted them as inspired Scripture. Early dating is important for two reasons. The closer a historical record is to the date of the event, the more likely the record is accurate. Early dating allows for eyewitnesses to still be alive when the Gospels were circulating to attest to their accuracy. The apostles often appeal to the witness of the hostile crowd, pointing to their knowledge of the facts as well Acts Also, the time is too short for legends to develop.
Historians agree it takes about two generations, or eighty years, for legendary s to establish themselves. From the evidence, we can conclude the Gospels were indeed written by the authors they are attributed to. ly, I defended the early dating of the Gospels.Dating of the 4 gospels
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The Historical Reliability of the Gospels