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

Video: Undesigned Coincidences in the Passion and Resurrection Narratives

Skeptics love to tell Christians that the Gospel stories developed over time, adding more mythological elements as they went along. Matthew and Luke copied Mark plus added more fables. And then you get John’s Gospel, which is total theological fan-fiction according to the critics.  But if that’s true, why do the Gospels have interlocking details that seem to be unlikely if they were just copied from each other or some other common source? The Gospels frequently add passing details that answer a question raised by the other in a way that fits together like a jigsaw puzzle. Fictions and forgeries don’t work that way. Some scholars call these undesigned coincidences. So what the heck is an undesigned … Read more

Video: No, the Pastoral Epistles Are Not Forged

13 letters in the New Testament claim to be written by the Apostle Paul. But some New Testament scholars like Bart Ehrman say that 6 of them are blatant forgeries, notably 1st and 2nd Timothy. This puts the Christians in an awkward spot, as forgery is…well… just another way to lie, which goes against the 9th Commandment. And that’s allegedly what we have in our New Testament: one big fat lie about who wrote the Pastoral epistles. But if the critics’ arguments turn out to be weak sauce, then it’s not the New Testament that loses credibility but its detractors. In his book Forged: Writing In The Name Of God – Why The Bible’s Authors Are … 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

Is Jesus Alive?