Skeptics frequently argue that the Gospels are not based on eyewitness accounts. They were composed decades after Jesus’ death by people not familiar with first-century Israel. And they wrote after hearing stories passed down to them. And those stories came from others who heard these stories. It’s one long game of telephone. How can we know if we have the actual words of Jesus? One piece of evidence that goes against the telephone game theory is the parables of Jesus. The gospels present Jesus as a formal teacher or rabbi, with disciples. NT scholar Peter J. Williams notes that the Gospels use the word disciple or disciples 195 times. They also describe Jesus as a … Read more
How can we tell the Gospels are trustworthy? One way is by fact-checking them against details of their contemporary history. If the Gospel writers make incidental references to historical facts we can test, it would show the evangelists knew their setting. And it would also show their truthfulness in reporting matters of detail. A stark example of this is the case of John the Baptist. We get some interesting pieces of corroborating evidence about John from the Jewish historian Josephus. Erik ManningErik is a Reasonable Faith Chapter Director located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He’s a former freelance baseball writer and the co-owner of a vintage and handmade decor business with his wife, Dawn. He is … Read more
Some skeptical Biblical scholars say that Mark’s account of Jesus’ trial before the Sanhedrin is pure fiction. There are several aspects of the hearing that doesn’t fit with what we know about Jewish customs regarding capital trials. Mark supposedly biffs it on several points: The Sanhedrin couldn’t hold trials at night. (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:1) They could only have hearings in the temple, not in the high priest’s house. (M. Sanh 11:2) They couldn’t conduct court cases during Jewish holidays, and Jesus’ tribunal allegedly happened during Passover. (M. Sanh 4:1) There was no 24-hour waiting period before sentencing. (M. Sanh 4:1) The blasphemy charge requires the use of the divine name, and Jesus never uttered it. … Read more
One of the weirdest stories in the Gospels is Jesus’ encounter with the Madman of Gadara. Here you have a demonized man living in tombs, naked, and cutting himself with rocks. Jesus cures the man but allows the evil spirits to enter into some nearby pigs, who end up drowning themselves immediately afterward. Not only does this raise some moral red flags about Jesus’ lack of concern for animals, but there are more problems with this story. Mark and Luke report this event happened in the country of Gerasenes. But Matthew says it was in the land of the Gadarenes. So right off the bat, there’s a contradiction. But it gets even worse. Gadara is … Read more
Here is Episode 2 of Sunday School Apologetics. Skeptics like Bart Ehrman say that the Gospels were written between 70-100 AD. This leaves plenty of time for legendary development to happen. But what if I told you that the main reason for dating the Gospels late is not particularly good, and there’s plenty of good reasons to date the Gospels early? Erik ManningErik is a Reasonable Faith Chapter Director located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He’s a former freelance baseball writer and the co-owner of a vintage and handmade decor business with his wife, Dawn. He is passionate about the intersection of apologetics and evangelism.