Were the Gospel Writers Really Geographically Inept?

Skeptics say that Mark and the other Gospel writers knew little about Palestinian geography. They made grave geographical gaffes. Had the Gospel writers knew their stuff, they wouldn’t make such blatant mistakes. Therefore, we can’t trust them as reliable historical documents.  For Matthew’s Gospel, this is especially problematic. A real Judean local like Matthew wouldn’t borrow from someone as geographically incompetent as Mark. Some critics have concluded from this that whoever wrote Matthew, it couldn’t be Matthew the disciple.  I want to look at three times the Gospel writers supposedly flunk at Palestinian geography and see if these objections really carry any weight. Is There a Blunder in Mark 7:31? Here’s the text: “Then he … Read more

The Virgin Birth: A Miracle, Not a Misunderstanding

The Christmas season is like an alarm clock for skeptics. It’s an annual reminder for them to tell you that the Christmas story is fiction. One of their favorite arguments is to cast doubt on the virgin birth. Critics say that Matthew was very quick to connect Jesus to the Old Testament. Even if it caused him to get sloppy and make a fool out of himself. So to bolster Jesus’ Messianic credentials, he invented the virgin birth story. He did this by misreading the Greek version of Isaiah 7:14, which does use the word virgin or parthenos in Greek. But the original Hebrew passage wasn’t referring to a virgin at all, but a young … Read more

13 Good Historical Reasons For The Early Dating of The Gospels

Skeptics like Bart Ehrman will use Apollonius of Tyana as a challenge to Jesus’ uniqueness. Apollonius lived in the first century. His birth was supernatural. He also performed miracles and appeared to people after his death. Sounds familiar, right? Critics will then conclude that the story of Jesus isn’t special. Apologists will then retort that the Apollonius’ biography was written long after his death. It isn’t until about 100 years later that Philostratus wrote his biography. Therefore, the story we have about his life couldn’t be based on eyewitness testimony. But the Gospels are based on the accounts of witnesses.  And this is where critics will say “Oh really? The Gospels came long after Jesus’ … Read more

Is Bart Ehrman Right When He Says Half of Paul’s Letters are Forgeries?

Out of the 13 letters of Paul found in the New Testament, skeptical critics like Bart Ehrman will only grant that 7 of them are genuine. (Romans, 1&2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon, in case you were wondering) That leaves Christians in a precarious situation — either throw out six books in their Bible or acknowledge that the New Testament contains some pious lies. Whoever wrote these letters passed themselves off as Paul.   But if Ehrman’s arguments turn out to be weak and there’s good evidence that Paul wrote all of the letters, then it’s Bart who loses credibility, not the New Testament.  I’ll start with the Pastoral epistles since they have a … Read more

Did Herod Really Order the Massacre of the Innocents, or Did Matthew Just Make Up a Story?

When we think of the Christmas story, our minds go to some dingy, yet warm and cozy places. We picture Mary, Joseph and a swaddling baby in a manger. We see angels, shepherds and the Magi bearing gifts. I can almost hear “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” now. But smack dab in the middle of the Christmas story is a grim and gory tale. In Matthew 2:16 we read of Herod learning of the Messianic king’s birth, feeling threatened and then ordering the slaughter of all the male children 2 and under in Bethlehem. It’s a grizzly story, but it’s a part of the account of the birth of Christ nonetheless. But not everyone believes … Read more

Is Bart Ehrman right when he says Ephesians and Colossians were Forged?

Out of the 13 letters of Paul found in the New Testament, skeptical critics like Bart Ehrman will only grant that 7 of them are genuine. (Those would be Romans, 1&2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon, in case you were wondering) That leaves Christians in a precarious situation — either throw out six books in their Bible or acknowledge that the New Testament contains some pious lies. Whoever wrote these letters passed themselves off as Paul.  They didn’t practice what they preached when they admonished believers to “put away falsehood”. (Eph. 4:25) But if Ehrman’s arguments turn out to be weak and there’s good evidence that Paul wrote all of the letters, then … Read more

Is Bart Ehrman Right When He Says That 2 Thessalonians is a Forgery?

When Christians read Paul’s letters, they don’t treat them like any old letter. Paul’s epistles are part of God’s inspired word. But out of the 13 letters of Paul, skeptical critics like Bart Ehrman say that only 7 of them were truly written by the apostle. That would be 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, 1+2 Corinthians, Philippians, Philemon, and Romans, in case you were wondering. The rest are forgeries. If true, this is corrosive for the believer’s trust in the Bible. Ehrman lays down some unwelcome practical application for the faithful regarding forgery in the Bible: “…the authors of these lies were no doubt like nearly everyone else in the world, ancient and modern; they too probably … Read more

Is There a Contradiction in the Lists of Jesus’ Twelve Disciples? No, The Names Provide Surprising Evidence for the Gospels

The late Christopher Hitchens said, “The New Testament is a work of crude carpentry, hammered together long after its purported events, and full of improvised attempts to make things come out right.” One example of this alleged makeshift handiwork is the names of the Twelve. If the gospel writers can’t get the names of Jesus’ disciples straight, how can we trust them with other details?  On the face of it, it looks like Matthew and Luke contradict: Matthew 10:2-4: “The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, … Read more

Forgery in the Bible: Were 1 and 2 Timothy really forged? (Part 2)

In his letter to the Romans, we learn that Paul was accused of lying in order to bring more glory to God. Some slanderously claimed that Paul would say “let us do evil that good may result”. Paul, not known to mince words, responded tersely: “their condemnation is just!” (Romans 3:4-8) For Paul, lying in the name of God was definitely not OK, even if it was for a good cause. But that is precisely what the Pastoral epistles do, according to critical scholars like Bart Ehrman. Allegedly someone wanted to borrow Paul’s gravitas and so used his name to address some in-house church issues, particularly in 1 and 2 Timothy.  In my first post, … Read more

All peoples on Earth will be blessed through you: How only Jesus fulfills the prophetic promise God made to Abraham

In the Gospel of John, Jesus made the bold claim that Abraham was glad that he would see the day when he would come. (John 8:56) In other words, Jesus was saying that he was the promised heir of Abraham’s blessing. But what blessing is he referring to? According to Genesis 12:2-3, God said to Abraham:  “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Conservative scholarship attributes Genesis to Moses, who … Read more