Are Christian Apologists Guilty of Committing the Spider-Man Fallacy?

The New Testament has archaeological and historical evidence in spades, lame pun intended. For example, we have Caiaphas’ ossuary, an inscription of Pontius Pilate, the discovery of the pool of Siloam, and a lot more. We also have external confirmations of Jesus’ existence found in Tacitus and Josephus, among others.  When Christians share this information online, untrained skeptics will snarkily accuse believers of committing the “Spider-Man” fallacy. The ever-reliable and usually offbeat Urban Dictionary defines the ‘Spider-Man fallacy’ like this:  “Often used to illustrate the flaw in the assertion by evangelical Christians that archaeologists unearthing biblical cities today “proves” that the Bible was written by a supernatural force. The Spiderman Fallacy is committed any time the … Read more

Why Everyone Should Believe That the Apostle John Wrote the Fourth Gospel

Skeptical Biblical critics like John Shelby Spong say that it’s impossible that the Apostle John wrote the Gospel of John. Spong writes: “There is no way that the Fourth Gospel was written by John Zebedee or by any of the disciples of Jesus. The author of this book is not a single individual, but is at least three different writers/editors, who did their layered work over 25 to 30 years.”  Spong isn’t alone in this criticism, even some conservative evangelical Christians have cast doubt on the traditional authorship of John for various reasons. But there are quite a number of reasons to think that John the Son of Zebedee really wrote John. First, let’s consider … Read more

Is Bart Ehrman Right When He Says That Acts Contradicts Paul’s Letters?

Agnostic New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman says, “the book of Acts in the New Testament contains historically unreliable information about the life and teachings of Paul.” In his book, Jesus, Interrupted Dr. Ehrman provides five examples of contradictions that exist between Paul’s letters and Acts.  Ehrman writes, “These are just a few of the discrepancies that one can find when one reads Acts horizontally against Paul’s letters. Many more can be discovered. What they show is that Acts cannot be relied upon for completely accurate detail when it describes the mission of the early apostles such as Paul.” Since these contradictions are the five he handpicked for his book, he must feel like they’re some of the … Read more

Are There Beastly High Priestly Problems Going On in Luke and John?

annas and caiaphas

If the Gospels make historical goofs, then it’s hard to call them reliable documents. Skeptics have been quick to point out that the Gospel writers make several factual errors, and an example of that is Luke and John’s confusion regarding the high priesthood.  Tradition tells us that Luke was a traveling companion of Paul and used apostles for sources. Surely he should’ve known better. And John was supposedly a Jew and an eyewitness. A local should’ve probably had a solid idea about how the high priesthood works.   Let’s start with Luke.  Two High Priests?  Luke 3 sets the stage for John the Baptist, and this is where he seems to get confused. Luke 3:2 reads: “during … Read more

Busting 7 Arguments Against the Traditional Authorship of John

When arguing for the traditional authorship of John, you’re going to encounter a significant amount of pushback. Skeptics will often say that there’s a vast scholarly consensus against Johannine authorship, but when you look at their arguments, many of them are quite weak. In this post, I’ll address some of the more common ones.  1. Wouldn’t someone close to John sound more like the Synoptic writers?  No, not if John had different purposes for writing his Gospel. The early evidence from the church fathers says that his Gospel was intentionally supplemental. Clement of Alexandria wrote:  “Of all those who had been with the Lord only Matthew and John left us their recollections (hypomnēmata), and tradition … Read more

6 Ancient Sources That Identify the Author of the Fourth Gospel

In my last post, I went over a ton of internal clues in the Gospel of John that support the argument that John, the Son of Zebedee, is the author of the Gospel of John. I noted in my intro that just about every bit of evidence we have from the writings of the early church tells us that John wrote it. But just so you know that I’m not pulling a “dude, trust me” type of argument, let’s examine the external evidence for John’s authorship.  Before we dive in, it’s important to point out that there’s no recorded challenge to the traditional authorship of the Gospels until around the early 5th-century by Faustus the … Read more

Why Think the Apostle John wrote the Gospel of John? Follow the Clues.

Just about every bit of evidence from early church history says that John, the son of Zebedee, wrote the Gospel of John. But if you just read the book by itself, John isn’t explicitly identified by name. He refers to himself as the ‘Beloved Disciple.’ Because of this, there has been some in-house debate among Christian scholars who wrote it. And skeptics like John Shelby Spong say it’s impossible that John or any other eyewitness possibly wrote it. Spong writes:  “There is no way that the Fourth Gospel was written by John Zebedee or by any of the disciples of Jesus. The author of this book is not a single individual, but is at least three different writers/editors, … Read more

Is the Story of Darkness During Jesus’ Crucifixion Pure Fiction?

Skeptics tell us that one of the reasons we can’t trust the Gospels is because they make so many historical gaffes. In particular, the evangelists tell us of far-out tales that aren’t corroborated by other contemporary historians. One of those stories is the darkness that happened during Jesus’ crucifixion, according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  Here’s Mark’s version:  And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. Mark 15:33, cf. Matthew 27:45, Luke 23:44 We know from history that historians like Pliny and Seneca have carefully described much less exciting events in the same kind of remote regions. But they failed to note an eclipse occurring in … Read more

Did Mark Invent Jesus’ Trial Before the Sanhedrin?

Jesus before Caiaphas

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

Busting One of Bart Ehrman’s Favorite Bible Contradictions

Skeptics say that the gospels are riddled with contradictions and therefore are not reliable historical sources. And these same skeptics say that some of these contradictions are downright absurd. For example, agnostic NT scholar Bart Ehrman points out one of his favorite Bible contradictions in his book best-selling book, Jesus, Interrupted.  One of my favorite apparent discrepancies—I read John for years without realizing how strange this one is—comes in Jesus’ “Farewell Discourse,” the last address that Jesus delivers to his disciples, at his last meal with them, which takes up all of chapters 13 to 17 in the Gospel according to John. In John 13:36, Peter says to Jesus, “Lord, where are you going?” A few … Read more

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