A Case For the Early Dating of Matthew’s Gospel

The majority of modern scholars believe Matthew’s Gospel was written between AD 80 and 90. That’s quite some time after Jesus lived and died. Matthew was likely dead by then, so how could he have written it? After all, during Jesus’ time, a person could expect to live another 30 or more years if they lived to be 20 years old. Matthew would have been in his 70s or 80s when he wrote. While that’s not impossible, it does seem unlikely. So why do scholars assign such a late date? And is late dating worth reconsidering? Let’s dive into the first question. At the risk of oversimplifying, here are the four main arguments for late … Read more

Video: Don’t Blindly Follow “Biblical Scholarly Consensus”

I’ve made a lot of content defending the historical reliability of the gospels. And one of the most common objections I hear is that my views aren’t in line with modern scholarship. And I admit it. If you’re a Christian and you’re looking for evidence for your faith, you and I are guaranteed to lose the credential war. Yes, there are good conservative Christian scholars out there like DA Carson or Craig Blomberg. But they’re a minority voice. The scholarly consensus is against me. I get it.  Here’s the thing though: That doesn’t really bother me, and it shouldn’t bother you. When it comes to biblical scholarship, we have some reasons to be seriously skeptical. … Read more

The Anti-Christian’s Favorite Fallacy – 19th Century Logician Richard Whately

Richard Whately (1 February 1787 – 8 October 1863) was a brilliant guy. He was an English academic, rhetorician, logician, philosopher, economist, and theologian who was also a reforming Archbishop of Dublin of the Church of Ireland. That’s a lengthy resume. In addition to his role as a leader in the Anglican church, he was a prolific author who tackled a wide variety of topics, and he was one of the first people to discover the legendary Jane Austen. This is a quote from his book “Elements in Logic”, and I believe it’s extremely relevant today. Here Whately tackles one of the skeptic’s favorite fallacies. “Similar to this case is that which may be called … Read more

The Apocryphal Gospels Were Rejected By the Church For Good Reasons

The mainstream media loves the apocryphal gospels.  When discussing Jesus – usually around Easter or Christmas – it’s typically hinted that the real story of Jesus appears in these lost gospels. The juicy story is that nothing was agreed upon for the first four centuries of Christianity and that there were hundreds of stories about Jesus. Only after Constantine’s arrival that the church decided to keep Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and suppress the rest. The implication is that the four gospels have no more historical validity than that of the so-called gospels of Thomas, Peter, or Judas.  Conspiracy theories sell like hotcakes, but we should note that the apocryphal gospels have been known for … Read more

Why Do the Gospels Contain Unnecessary Details?

The Four Gospels are full of pointless minutia. Have you noticed this? For instance, John tells us there were six waterpots at the wedding in Cana that could hold 20-30 gallons of water each. Well, that’s oddly specific. It serves no obvious theological meaning or literary purpose. Why are statements like these there?  Scholar Lydia McGrew calls these “unnecessary details.” She writes: “An unnecessary detail appears to be there for no special reason; it is just there because the author believed it was true. It lends verisimilitude to the account precisely by being so pointless, and in some cases (though not always) vivid. Such details are thus plausible marks of eyewitness testimony — either from … Read more

Video: Unexplained Allusions – A Sneaky Good Why Reason the Gospels Aren’t Myths

Have you ever noticed that people often mention trivial details when describing events they were involved in? You know, stuff not totally related to the story?  The Gospel writers do that, too. Some comments are left dangling without any explanation. These remarks don’t seem to advance the story or serve any sort of theological or literary purpose. Scholar Lydia McGrew calls these unexplained allusions. Verses like these usually fly under the radar. But when we pay attention to them, we find they have the ring of truth. Fiction writers would have no reason to include unexplained, puzzling details and would have every reason to leave them out. In this video, I look at several examples. … 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

The Gospels Are Embarrassing for the Apostles

If you want people to trust their leaders, you usually would try to paint them in the best light possible. You don’t go out of your way to undermine their authority. But that isn’t what we see at all in the Gospels. Those who would eventually lead the church often look impulsive, incompetent, boastful, and stupid. If the Gospels are supposed to be PR for the apostles, their propaganda team was a dismal failure.  This kind of information is what NT scholars call the criteria of embarrassment. In his book, Marginal Jew, Meier writes: The point of the criterion is that the early church would hardly have gone out of its way to create material … Read more

Video: Evidence That the Gospels Are Based on Eyewitness Testimony

Skeptical critics like Bart Ehrman claim that the gospels aren’t based on eyewitness testimony but are mostly legends that grew with the telling. However, New Testament scholar Richard Bauckham defies that hypothesis. He argues that the presence of particular names is very strange unless they were eyewitnesses behind their stories. Why is that? Aside from the apostles and a few important figures, most people in the gospels are nameless. Using Mark as an example, Jesus heals an unnamed leper, a paralyzed man, a demoniac, the woman with the issue of blood, the Syrophoenician woman, a blind man, and an epileptic boy. There’s also the unnamed rich young ruler, the poor widow, and the woman who … Read more

Video: The Early Use of the Gospels: Evidence for Traditional Authorship

Previously I’ve discussed what the early church fathers said about the authorship of the Gospels. We saw that they believed Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote them, and there wasn’t a shred of disagreement over it. This attestation of authorship is early and geographically diverse, and there’s no competing tradition.  But there’s even earlier evidence we can look at — the early use of the Gospels. Many early church writers use the Gospels without mentioning or describing their authors. This takes us back even further than the evidence in the earlier video.  If you’re quoting something as authoritative to your audience, it means you assume they’ll recognize the quotes and accept them as genuine. That’s … Read more

Is Jesus Alive?