Pervo’s Pitfall: Acts Is Independent from Paul’s Letters

Did Luke really travel with Paul as Christians have always believed? Richard Pervo, a New Testament scholar, has a different idea. Pervo thinks the Book of Acts, which tells us about Paul’s adventures, was made up much later, in the second century. Pervo believes they took parts of Paul’s letters to create the book. Several scholars and skeptics online have latched onto his thesis in their quest to discredit the reliability of the Book of Acts. But is there any proof to support what he’s saying? Let’s dive into this topic and see if Pervo’s arguments really make sense. So, if we entertain the idea that both Paul’s letters and Acts are based on real … Read more

Defending Luke-Acts: Exposing and Answering More Than 24 Objections to its Historical Credibility

In an online group that I’m part of, an insightful skeptic, whose identity I’ll respect by keeping nameless, challenges the prevailing belief held by Christian apologists that Luke, the author of the third Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, deserves to be hailed as a skilled historian. This skeptic takes it a step further, boldly claiming that Luke is nothing short of “terrible.” While presenting an extensive list of objections that may initially appear overwhelming, a closer examination uncovers their inherent weaknesses. In this blog post, I analyze the arguments put forth by this particular critic, one by one. The skeptic shotguns out 8 different arguments, with bullet points to back up his assertions.  … Read more

The Historical Paul vs. The Legendary Paul?

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Skeptical critics argue that Luke wasn’t a traveling companion of Paul’s. Why do they say this? Let’s discuss one reason. NT scholar Uta Ranke-Heinemann asserts that in: “Acts and the epistles there are two Pauls. The historical Paul of the authentic epistles and the legendary Paul of Acts.” 1 In other words, don’t confuse the colorful Paul of Acts with the actual Paul we read about in his letters. This indicates that Luke didn’t have firsthand knowledge of Paul. He must have lied about being his traveling companion and embellished a bunch of stories. But is the Paul of Acts that different from the Paul we read about in his letters? I’d say no. Not … Read more

Is John’s Jesus Different Than The Synoptics?

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New Testament scholars often treat the Gospel of John like a red-headed stepchild. We’re often told that John presents a Jesus who is fundamentally different from the Synoptics. For example, here is the well-known NT critic Bart Ehrman:  …if Matthew and John were both written by earthly disciples of Jesus, why are they so very different, on all sorts of levels? … Why do they have such fundamentally different views of who Jesus was?… (interview with NPR 12/14/05) Ehrman certainly isn’t alone in his opinion here. Even Craig Evans, an evangelical New Testament scholar, concedes this point to Bart. He says: I suspect we (Ehrman and I) don’t have too much difference on John. My … Read more

An Undesigned Coincidence in The Book of Joshua

The Book of Joshua tells us about Rahab, a Canaanite prostitute who ends up becoming an unlikely champion of faith. Jericho was one of the main hubs of idol worship, being particularly devoted to the moon goddess Ashtaroth. Here centered the most offensive and shameful aspects of the Canaanite religion. Despite her rough background, Rahab recognized that the LORD was with Israel and would give them the Promised Land. So hid two men who had been sent to scout the city before their attack, helping them conquer the city.  A weighty argument for the authenticity of the narrative is discussed in JJ Blunt’s book Undesigned Coincidences. This is all the more important as its central … Read more

Undesigned Coincidences in the Old Testament: Why David Was Betrayed By His Friend

I’m continuing a series on undesigned coincidences in the Old Testament. As a reminder, an undesigned coincidence is a notable connection between two or more accounts or texts that doesn’t seem to have been planned by the person or people giving the accounts. Despite their apparent independence, the items fit together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. An undesigned coincidence provides reason to believe that all of the statements that contribute to it are truthful.   Often the undesigned coincidence can lay between two different accounts, but sometimes the detail lies within a single book. In such circumstances it’s necessary for the connection between the details to be sufficiently obscure to render the details independent of … Read more

An Undesigned Coincidence in the Old Testament: King Hezekiah’s Treasury

There are many popular Undesigned Coincidences in the New Testament. In this post, I want to look at an undesigned coincidence in the Old Testament. But before we jump in let’s get a few of you up to speed. What the heck is an undesigned coincidence anyway? And why are they important?  In a nutshell, an undesigned coincidence is a case where two or more passages of Scripture interlock with – and frequently explain – one another. So you might be reading a passage and it raises a question, but then you turn to another account and it casually and subtly explains another passage. This isn’t what we’d expect from fictions and forgeries. Fictional stories … Read more

Artless Similarities: More Evidence for Gospel Reliability

While reading the gospels, you’ll notice similarities between the characters portrayed across the different stories. Parallels between the gospels concerning character depictions are unlikely to be the result of mere chance. And these correspondences seem so casual and subtle that it’s unlikely they were designed that way. Philosopher Tim McGrew calls these ‘artless similarities.’ In an earlier video, we saw this kind of unity of character with Jesus between John and the Synoptics. But let me give another example with two somewhat lesser-known characters in the gospels — Mary and Martha. We find their stories in both Luke and John. For this evidence, I’m drawing from Peter J. Williams’ excellent book Can We Trust the … Read more

Learn to Make a Maximal Case for the Resurrection

I used to love sharing the minimal facts with unbelievers.  It’s easy to present in a few minutes and sounds rhetorically powerful. When I tell my friends that the facts I’m sharing are universally acknowledged by scholars, even those who are skeptical, it seems like I am not coming at them with something that only conservative evangelicals believe. And on the surface, taking an end-run around the Gospels seemed helpful because unbelievers tend to view them as dubious sources.  However, I ran into a couple of issues. One was practical. Let’s say I got the skeptic to hear me out. Does it really make sense to say: “OK, I granted for the sake of argument … Read more

Video: Did the Feeding of the 5000 Really Happen?

According to the Gospels, Jesus fed the 5000 with fives loaves, and two fish. But is this a legend, or a historically reliable account? I believe it is historical, largely due to the evidence of undesigned coincidences. Philosopher Lydia McGrew defines undesigned coincidences as “a notable connection between two or more accounts or texts that doesn’t seem to have been planned by the person or people giving the accounts. Despite their apparent independence, the items fit together like pieces of a puzzle.” These are hard to fake and even more unlikely to come about by pure chance in fictional or manipulated stories. Fictions and forgeries don’t normally converge. Or when they do, it’s in an … Read more

Is Jesus Alive?