Archaeological Evidence for the New Testament as the Word of God

Archaeological Evidence for the New Testament as the Word of God

Resources Presenting Evidence that the Bible is God’s Word

More Resources on Evidence for Christianity and Christian Apologetics

Archaeological Evidence for the Old Testament as the Word of God

The Book of Daniel:  Proof that the Bible is the Word of God

The Dan Barker – Thomas Ross Debates on the Old Testament and Archaeology

 

View as PDF

Note: the PDF file has many pictures that are not in the text below.  Also, the pictures make the PDF file large, so you will probably have to download it to see it.  If you can do this, it is probably worth doing, because the pictures are very beneficial.

     

      

Note that this is a work in progress that has not yet been completed. Please check back in a few months, Lord willing, for the completed book which will include the archaeological evidence for both the Old and New Testaments. While the work below has enough useful information in it that its author believes it deserves to be made public, it is not yet in its completed state, as is evident at a variety of points. 

III. The Evidence and the New Testament

Just as the Old Testament receives astonishing validation as the Word of God, so likewise the New Testament receive powerful confirmation of its claim to be God’s infallible Word.

The traditional view of the New Testament gospels and the book of Acts is that Matthew wrote the Gospel of Matthew, Mark wrote the Gospel of Mark, Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts, and John wrote the Gospel of John.  These documents are early accounts of eyewitness testimony to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the history of the early Christian churches.  An examination of the evidence demonstrates that Christ’s promise—that He would, through the Holy Spirit, guide the writers of the New Testament into all truth, so that their writings would be an infallibly accurate historical record (John 16:13)—has been fulfilled.

The Gospel of Matthew was written by one of Jesus Christ’s Apostles—His circle of His twelve closest followers—named Matthew (Matthew 9:9).  Matthew wrote his Gospel c. A. D. 40,[1] that is, very shortly after Christ’s death and resurrection in A. D. 33.  In accordance with the Jewish heritage of both Christ’s earliest followers and their earliest evangelistic outreach (Acts 1-7), Matthew’s Gospel, likely composed in Jerusalem, emphasizes the Lord Jesus’s character as the Messianic “King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2; 21:5; 27:29, 37, 42; 28:18-20) predicted in the Old Testament.[2]  Matthew’s authorship of the gospel bearing his name, and its early date, receives overwhelming support from the extant historical sources.

The ancient testimony to Matthew’s authorship of his gospel is unanimous:  “Attribution of this gospel to Matthew the apostle goes back to our earliest surviving patristic testimonies, and there is no evidence that any other author was ever proposed. As far back as we can trace it, and from the earliest manuscript attributions that have survived, it is always the Gospel kata Matthaion [according to Matthew].”[3]  Papias (born c. A. D. 60), who had direct contact with eyewitnesses of the Lord Jesus’ earthly ministry,[4] who wrote around the end of the first century while the Apostle John was still alive,[5] and of whom the earliest extant historical testimony indicates personally having heard the Apostle John preach,[6] declared in his five-volume Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord: “Matthew . . . composed the gospel.”[7]  This witness to Matthew’s authorship is confirmed by the unanimous voice of other testimonies:[8]

Irenaeus:  “Matthew also issued a written gospel.”[9]

Origen:  “Among the four Gospels, which are the only indisputable ones in the Church of God under heaven . . . the first was written by Matthew, who was once a publican, but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ, and it was prepared for the converts from Judaism.”[10]

Eusebius: “Matthew, who had at first preached to the Hebrews, when he was about to go to other peoples, committed his Gospel to writing . . . and thus compensated those whom he was obliged to leave for the loss of his presence.”[11]

Jerome:  “Matthew, the tax collector, who is also named Levi [cf. Luke 5:27] . . . published a Gospel in Judea . . . chiefly for the sake of those from the Jews who had believed in Jesus[.]”[12]

Thus, “[t]he Matthew who occupies . . . [a] place in all the lists of the Apostles in the NT is the only person who has ever been regarded as the writer of the Gospel which bears this name.”[13]  Only in the eighteenth century A. D. did anti-Bible skeptics begin to question Matthew’s authorship.[14]  Their skepticism did not arise because of any new actual evidence that merited setting aside the testimony of well over a millennium and a half of in favor of Matthew, but because rejecting the evidence for the traditional authorship of the gospels furthered (in their minds) their agenda of undermining the accuracy of Scripture.

Furthermore, the attributive headings of copies of Matthew unanimously testify to the Apostle’s authorship of his gospel.  As with the other three canonical gospels (Mark, Luke, and John), for Matthew there is a “complete unanimity in their attribution of authorship . . . complete unanimity over the four titles of the Gospels in a distribution extending throughout the whole Roman Empire.”[15]  The unity of authorial ascription in the manuscripts stands in the sharpest contrast to the confusion present in the headings of pseudepigraphical writings.[16]  This fact validates that the canonical gospels were recognized immediately[17] as the iproducts of their ascribed authors—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, writing under the inspiration of God—from the very beginning:

[T]he circulation of individual gospels without titles for even a few years would have resulted in the invention of a diversity of titles.  As soon as more than one gospel was in use in a church some method of distinguishing them would have had to be devised.  The unanimity that in fact exists cannot have been imposed by authority, for no authority existed capable of effecting such imposition throughout the worldwide church[es].  How then did it come about? . . .

[T]he attribution of authorship to Mark and Matthew . . . brings us into the period when the gospels were being composed . . . [with “The Gospel according to X”] terminology . . . rooted in Mark 1:1, where euangellion [“Gospel”] stands in the title. . . .  [F]rom the day of publication of a second gospel . . . they would have been known as ‘The Gospel according to Matthew’ and “The Gospel according to Mark,’ and the practice would have been extended on the publication of Luke and John.  In other words, the tradition of authorship which was followed with such unanimity could well have been transmitted without a break from the time of the publication of the second gospel.[18]

The headings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John provide very strong evidence for their traditional authorship.

Alongside the powerful case for the authorship by the Apostle Matthew of the gospel bearing his name, an early date for the gospel receives powerful confirmation.  The Biblical book of James, written c. A. D. 45,[19] “shows a knowledge of Matthew’s Gospel” and contains “over thirty-five parallel passages . . . with Matthew’s Gospel.  Hence, if James was written around AD 45, then Matthew’s Gospel had to be written earlier.”[20]  From the middle to late first century, the earliest extant post-Biblical writings of Christendom such as the Epistle of Barnabas, 1 Clement, the letters of Ignatius and Polycarp, and the Didache contain quotations from and allusions to Matthew as Scripture, clearly evidencing the existence of the Gospel by that time.[21]  Furthermore, the internal evidence within Matthew support a date after the resurrection of Christ in A. D. 33, but by no means later than A. D. 70—the temple and city of Jerusalem, which were destroyed by Rome in A. D. 70, were still standing when the Gospel was composed (Matthew 5:23-25; 17:24-27; 23:2-3, 16-22, etc.).[22]  Indeed, the language of Matthew suggests that the twelve apostles were all still alive when he wrote, dating the Gospel before the martyrdom of James in A. D. 42.[23]  The external evidence points specifically to c. A. D. 40.  Many high quality Greek manuscripts[24] record a very ancient tradition that Matthew was published eight years after the ascension of Christ, that is, in A. D. 41.[25]  Eusebius in his historical Chronicon or Chronicle placed the writing of Matthew in A. D. 41.[26]  Cosimas of Alexandria dated it very shortly after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, that is, c. A. D 35.  Subsequent writers on the subject such as Theophylact date the gospel between c. A. D. 38-41.[27]  The ancient historical evidence is unanimous that Matthew was the first Gospel written.[28]  Indeed, a comprehensive study of all the external evidence demonstrates that “there is no trace of a tradition that dates the gospel [as late as] the last decades of the first century”[29]—a date very shortly after the time of the events recorded in the gospels receives universal testimony.  The internal and external evidence strongly support the fact that Christ’s very close follower, the Apostle Matthew, wrote his eyewitness account of the life of Christ c. A. D. 40, only a handful of years after the events he recounts took place.[30]

What is more, a leading papyrologist, Dr. C. P. Thiede, has conducted a careful study of the Magdalen Papyrus of Matthew’s Gospel (P64), acquired for the library of Magdalen College of Oxford University from near Luxor in southern Egypt.[31]  Based on a close comparative paleographical analysis, Thiede dated the papyrus to c. A. D. 60;[32] the “papyrus belongs to a style for which the comparative evidence derives from the mid-first century, beginning even earlier.”[33]

Three fragments of the Magdalen Papyrus (P64).  Note that the fragments include verses from Matthew 26 in which Christ predicts His resurrection from the dead—possibly the earliest extant manuscript fragments of the New Testament testify to the resurrection.[34]

Dr. Thiede’s research supports the view that Matthew’s gospel was already in widespread use by c. A. D. 60.  Furthermore, the use of nomina sacra in the papyrus for Jesus Christ indicate that even at this very early date Christ was considered by Christian scribes to be God, as nomina sacra were restricted in Biblical Old Testament manuscripts to Jehovah.  “The use of abbreviations for divine names (nomen sacrum), like the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) [or “Jehovah”] for the name of God, had previously been the privilege of Jewish scribes. According to Thiede, such a paleographic decision was clearly designed to put Jesus on par with YHWH.”[35]  “At one stroke, therefore, the Christians would have achieved a visual way of showing that to them, Jesus was Lord and God.”[36]  While Dr. Thiede’s dates have not gone unchallenged,[37] they are consistent with the other external and internal evidences supporting a very early date for Matthew’s Gospel.

Mark, who ministered with the Apostle Peter, and who also had extensive interactions with the other Apostles and other eyewitnesses to Christ while residing in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12, 25),[38] wrote Peter’s teaching about Jesus Christ in the Gospel of Mark under Peter’s guidance and with the Apostle’s approval.  Writing in Rome, where there were many Roman soldiers, civil servants, and citizens who understood the concept of service to the State (Matthew 8:5-9; Acts 10-11), Mark’s Gospel emphasizes “the Christian life of service by the example of the life of [the] Lord”[39] (Mark 10:45, cf. Isaiah 42:1-4).  As no dispute about Matthew’s authorship of his gospel existed, so with Mark’s Gospel “the voice of antiquity is unanimous in ascribing to Mark . . . the author[ship] of the second Gospel. . . . there is not a dissentient voice.”[40]  The “evidence points to Mark’s Gospel being a normative part of the early Christian corpus . . . received . . . into the canon of the New Testament . . . [at] an early date” and without any recorded dissent; every extant source gives “unanimous agreement” to its canonicity and inspiration.[41]  Papias wrote that the Apostle John had declared:  “Mark having become the expounder of Peter, wrote down accurately . . . the things said or done by Christ. . . . [H]e followed Peter . . . [and] he was careful of one thing, not to omit any of the things which he had heard, and not to state any of them falsely . . . Mark committed no error while he thus wrote[.]”[42]

The probable site of Peter’s house in Capernaum.[43]

Other ancient testimonies likewise strongly confirm the testimony of the Apostle John and Papias to Mark’s authorship of his Gospel based on his learning from Peter.  Representative examples[44] include:

Irenaeus: Mark, the disciple and expounder of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter.[45]

Clement of Alexandria: The Gospel according to Mark had this occasion. As Peter had preached the Word publicly . . . and declared the Gospel by the Spirit, many who were present requested that Mark, who had followed him for a long time and remembered his sayings, should write them out. And having composed the Gospel he gave it to those who had requested it. . . . And so greatly did the splendor of piety illumine the minds of Peter’s hearers that . . . with all sorts of entreaties they besought Mark, a follower of Peter, and the one whose Gospel is extant, that he would leave them a written monument of the doctrine which had been orally communicated to them. Nor did they cease until they had prevailed with the man, and had thus become the occasion of the written Gospel which bears the name of Mark. . . . Peter when he had learned, through a revelation of the Spirit, of that which had been done, was pleased with the zeal of the men, and . . . the work obtained the sanction of his authority for the purpose of being used in the churches. . . . [This is the] tradition of the primitive elders.[46]

Origen:  Among the four Gospels . . . the second is by Mark, who composed it according to the instructions of Peter, who in his . . . epistle acknowledges him as a son, saying, “The church that is at Babylon elected together with you, salutes you, and so does Marcus, my son [1 Peter 5:13].”[47]

Other external and internal evidence likewise testifies to Mark’s authorship of his Gospel.  As with the headings on Matthew, the headings on manuscripts of the second Gospel provide early support[48] for Mark’s authorship.  In addition, internal evidence in Mark clearly evidences the stamp of Peter on the Gospel.[49]  The unanimous testimony of ancient history, and all other extant internal and external evidence, favors Mark’s authorship of the gospel bearing his name.  All extant writers who lived close enough to the time of the events in question to actually obtain useful information likewise affirm that Mark preserves the apostolic and eyewitness testimony of the Apostle Peter.

Just as the historical evidence supports Mark’s authorship of the Gospel bearing his name, so the evidence points to an early date for Mark’s composition.  The Gospel of Mark is alluded to and referenced in the earliest extra-biblical writings of Christendom.  Mark is referenced in the Epistle of Barnabas, 1 Clement, the Shepherd of Hermas, and other very early writings, evidencing that, as with the other books of the New Testament, early quotations “virtually eliminat[e] any time gap between the completion of the New Testament . . . [including] the Gospels . . . and the earliest citations . . . well before the end of the first century while some eyewitnesses (like [the Apostle] John) were still alive.”[50]  Ancient testimony supports Mark’s composition of his gospel under Peter’s direction c. A. D. 42-46 and before Mark’s departure to evangelize Alexandria in the 50s A. D.[51]  For example, the ancient historian Eusebius in his Chronicle dates Mark’s Gospel to the second year of the emperor Claudius, that is, A. D. 42.[52]  Furthermore, “some 50% of the extant Greek manuscripts, including the best line of transmission, have a colophon stating that Mark was ‘published’ ten years after the ascension of Christ,”[53] that is, c. A. D. 43.  The external and internal evidence support Mark’s composition of his gospel in the early 40s A. D., shortly after the composition of Matthew.

Scholars have affirmed that a number of papyrus fragments of Mark’s Gospel, dating to c. A. D. 50, have been found in Qumran cave #7 near the Dead Sea.  The paleographical script found in the manuscripts of Cave 7 “belonged to a style that ceased to be used in about AD 50.”[54]  The Spanish paleographer Jose O’Callaghan, founder and director of Studia Papyrologica and a scholar who has made many successful identifications of ancient texts,[55] identified nine small and previously unidentified fragments from Qumran Cave 7 as belonging to the New Testament—Mark 4:28; 6:48; 6:52, 53; 12:17; Acts 27:38; Romans 5:11–12, 1 Timothy 3:16; 4:1–3; 2 Peter 1:15; and James 1:23–24 were specified, and the fragments were dated: Mark, c. A. D. 50; Acts, c. A. D. 60; and Romans, 1 Timothy, 2 Peter, and James, c. A. D. 70.[56]  Other scholarly heavyweights, such as Orsolina Montevecchi, author of the standard introduction to papyrology[57] and Honorary President of the International Papyrologists’ Association, have also supported the view that New Testament fragments were found in Qumran Cave 7,[58] concluding that “the Markan identification is certain.”[59]  “Papyrologists and classical philologists all over the world have stated that there is, in Qumran Cave 7, a Greek papyrus fragment belonging to the Gospel of Mark, to be dated about AD 50.”[60]

7Q5, a papyrus found in Qumran Cave #7 and identified as a fragment of Mark dating to c. A. D. 50 or even earlier.[61]

Since the Qumran community was abandoned in conjunction with the Roman defeat of the Jewish revolt that culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple in A. D. 70, the latest reasonable date for any of the Qumran documents is c. A. D. 70, specifically A. D. 68, when the Roman Tenth Legion overran the settlement of Qumran and the surrounding area. [62]  Indeed, “very few scholars would date any of the Dead Sea Scrolls after the middle of the first century A. D. (both on archaeological grounds and paleographical).”[63] “[T]he dates have never been seriously questioned” for the papyri found in Cave 7, and pre-A. D. 70 dates “fit with the dates determined for other manuscripts found in the same Qumran area. Archaeologists who discovered Cave 7 attested that it showed no signs of being opened since it was sealed in A. D. 70 and that its contents date from no later. The style of writing (in Greek uncials) has [likewise] been identified as early first century.”[64]  Archaeology demands that all Qumran manuscripts be dated prior to A. D. 68.[65]

While skeptical and anti-inspiration scholars have objected to O’Callaghan’s identification of these Qumran papyri “more out of higher critical reasoning [anti-Bible presuppositions] than out of a close study of 7Q5 itself [and the other Cave 7 papyri]” since “higher critics are loathe to give up the ex eventu [after the fact] understanding of Mark 13:1–2, 14–23 that an earlier date would torpedo [in other words, Mark’s Gospel contains predictive prophecy if it predates A. D. 70],”[66] sound reasons exist to recognize the existence of New Testament fragments in Qumran Cave 7:

O’Callahan[’s] . . . identifications of these texts fit perfectly with the passages. No viable alternatives have been found. In fact, two scholars calculated the odds that these letter sequences represent some other text as about 1 in 2.25 x 1065. . . . [Some skeptics] point out that the pieces are small fragments. However, other ancient texts have been identified with equal or less evidence. . . . [Only] [a] few critics have offered possible non-New Testament alternatives. In order to be successful, they have had to change the number of letters on a line of ancient text from the twenties to the sixties in some cases. This many letters to a line would be highly unusual. One confirming evidence of O’Callahan’s thesis is that no one has found any other non-New Testament text for these manuscripts. Using normal rules, O’Callahan has provided probable New Testament identifications.[67]

Furthermore, skeptical scholars have brought forth no solid alternative identification.  “Critics have not come up with viable alternate writings from which the fragments could have come.”[68]  “The significant thing about 7Q5 is that there continues to be no satisfactory alternative to Mark . . . on offer by way of identification, which means that it must be taken seriously.”[69]  As verified by computer software that comprehensively examines all ancient Greek texts, in all of Greek literature, 7Q5 can only belong to the Gospel of Mark.[70]  The evidence in Qumran Cave 7 provides “papyrological evidence for the existence of this gospel in AD 50.”[71]

The existence of such early manuscript evidence for the Gospel of Mark[72] and other New Testament books is highly significant:

If the identification of even some of these fragments as New Testament is valid, implications . . . are enormous. The Gospel of Mark was written within the lifetime of the apostles and contemporaries of the events[.] . . . This early date (before 50) leaves no time for mythological embellishment of the records[.] They must be accepted as historical. Mark is shown to be one of the early Gospels. The chance of there being a Q or series of Q gospel manuscripts[73] is more remote[.] Since these manuscripts are not originals but copies, the New Testament was copied and disseminated quickly. The existence of a New Testament canon from the beginning is hinted at by this selection of books, representing Gospels, Acts, Pauline, and General Epistles—every major section of the New Testament. [Furthermore], the fragment of 2 Peter would argue for the authenticity of this often disputed Epistle.[74]

The first-century Biblical manuscript evidence supports the other historical evidence strongly favoring a very early date for Mark’s Gospel.[75]

The gospel of Luke was written by the careful historian Luke, under the direction of his companion in the ministry (Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11), the Apostle Paul.  Luke emphasizes that Christ’s mission embraces the whole world, Jew and Gentile, male and female, and presents Him as Jehovah’s Man, the Second Adam who restores all that was lost by the first Adam.[76]  Luke wrote his gospel c. A. D. 48.[77]  Clearly, “the synoptic [Gospels] were all in existence by AD 55 at a time when there were thousands of adult witnesses of Jesus still alive.”[78]  Luke’s authorship of the gospel bearing his name, its early date, and its historical accuracy receive compelling support from the historical record.

Ancient testimony to Luke’s authorship of both the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts is unanimous.  “At no time were any doubts raised regarding this attribution to Luke, and certainly no alternatives were [offered.]  The tradition could hardly be stronger.”[79]  All early historical testimony “unanimously ascribes the authorship of both Acts and the third gospel to Luke.”[80]

For example:

Irenaeus:  “Luke . . . the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him.”[81]

Anti-Marcionite Prologue: Luke is a Syrian of Antioch, a physician by profession. He became a disciple of the apostles and later he accompanied Paul until his martyrdom. . . . Although there were already gospels previously in existence—one according to Matthew written in Judaea and one according to Mark written in Italy—[Luke] moved by the Holy Spirit composed the whole gospel in the districts around Achaia. . . . Afterwards the same Luke also wrote the Acts of the Apostles.[82]

Tertullian:  [T]he evangelical Testament has apostles for its authors, to whom was assigned by the Lord Himself this office of publishing the gospel . . . [and] apostolic men also . . . [who] are yet not alone, but appear with apostles and after apostles[.] . . . Of the apostles . . . John and Matthew . . . of apostolic men, Luke and Mark[.] . . . Luke . . . followed . . . Paul[.] . . . [T]he apostles . . . composed the Gospel in a pure form . . . our own copies have been made from . . . that genuine text of the apostle’s writings . . . which has not suffered adulteration . . . [but] has been kept as a sacred deposit in the churches of the apostles. . . . [The] Gospel of Luke . . . has stood its ground from its very first publication . . . [t]he same authority of the apostolic churches will afford evidence to the other Gospels also, which we possess equally through their means, and according to their usage—I mean the Gospels of John and Matthew . . . [and] Mark [which] . . . may be affirmed to be Peter’s . . . [while] Luke’s form of the Gospel men usually ascribe to Paul. . . . [T]hey, too . . . as well as Luke’s Gospel . . . [have] had free course in the churches . . . from the beginning.[83]

Thus, “Lukan authorship of Luke-Acts . . . [receives] early and unanimous”[84] support in all relevant ancient historical data.  The internal evidence likewise supports the authorship of Paul’s companion, the “beloved physician,” Luke (Colossians 4:11; 2 Timothy 4:11; Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-5; 16:10-17; 20:5-21:18; 27:1-28:16), while “the medical language of Luke-Acts . . . fit well the view that the author of this two-part work was Luke, the physician.”[85]  No opposition to Luke’s authorship of Luke and Acts arose in the early centuries of Christianity, or through the Middle Ages, the Reformation, and post-Reformation and subsequent periods,[86] because Luke actually wrote both books.

Furthermore, ancient historical testimony[87] supports the internal evidence within Luke’s Gospel that its author was not just a very careful historian who received Apostolic sanction for his work (Luke 1:2) but a personal eyewitness to events in the earthly ministry of Christ.  Luke’s claim that he wrote his gospel “having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first” (Luke 1:3) not only supports his awareness (shared by the other authors of Scripture, Exodus 35:4; Jeremiah 36:2; 1 Corinthians 14:37; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Revelation 1:1-3; 22:18-19, etc.) that he was writing the inspired Word of God under the control and direction of the Holy Spirit, but the Greek verb translated “perfect understanding” is employed for an individual who has personally followed events closely and obtained “personal acquaintance as opposed to information secured second-hand.”[88]  That is, the gospel passage constitutes “a claim by Luke to have actually followed the events of the gospel as they took place from a long time back. . . . He was there.”[89]  Various ancient writers[90] identified Luke as one of the seventy preachers Christ sent out (Luke 10), and he has also been identified as the disciple to whom the resurrected Christ appeared with Cleopas (Luke 24:13-35).[91]  Luke unquestionably employed the historical records from many authoritative eyewitnesses to the Lord Jesus (Luke 1:2), and substantive evidence exists that he was himself an eyewitness.  One should not be surprised that thirty years of study of archaeology and the historical background to Luke’s writings and the Bible in general convinced Oxford professor Dr. William Ramsey to reject his initial severe skepticism about Luke’s historical accuracy[92] to embrace the conclusion:  “Luke is a historian of the first rank. . . . You may press the words of Luke in a degree beyond any other historian’s, and they stand the keenest scrutiny and the hardest treatment[.] . . . Luke’s history is unsurpassed in respect of its trustworthiness.”[93]

Luke’s early date receives powerful confirmation, not only from early testimony  to Luke in the earliest patristic writers[94] from Ignatius to Justin Martyr[95] and onwards,[96] but from striking evidence within other books of the New Testament itself.  Second Corinthians, written c. A. D. 56,[97] refers to “the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches” (2 Corinthians 8:18).  Early historical testimony from Origen,[98] Eusebius,[99] Ephraem,[100] and others,[101] as well as the subscription to 2 Corinthians found in the majority of Greek manuscripts of the book,[102] identify the person Paul refers to in 2 Corinthians 8:18 as Luke, who had received praise from “all the churches” on account of his composition of his inspired gospel.[103]  The identification in 2 Corinthians 8:18 supports the existence and widespread receipt of the Gospel of Luke by A. D. 56.

Furthermore, 1 Timothy 5:18 quotes Deuteronomy 25:4 and Luke 10:7[104] as co-equal Scripture:  “For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn [Deuteronomy 25:4]. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward [Luke 10:7].”  Since the Apostle Paul wrote 1 Timothy[105] c. A. D. 60,[106] the Gospel of Luke both clearly existed and received recognition as inspired Scripture, equal to the books of Moses, at this early date.  The reception that the Gospel of Luke was Scripture immediately upon its composition fits the pattern seen for the reception of all the books of the Old and New Testaments—Biblical books were composed as the product of the conscious inspiration of God and were recognized as God’s Word as soon as they were written.  Contrary to what is sometimes inaccurately assumed in unstudied popular opinion, the Biblical books were not selected out of a larger pool of allegedly equal alternative volumes by political leaders or corrupt ecclesiastical figures decades or even centuries after their composition.  On the contrary, in accordance with Christ’s prayer (John 17:8) and as led by the Holy Spirit (John 16:13), true churches and believers immediately received as canonical the books found in the Bible today, and there was never a question that, say, the Gospel of Matthew was inspired while a much later and non-apostolic psuedepigraphical work was not.  Thus, for example, not Luke’s Gospel only (1 Timothy 5:18), but the collection of Paul’s epistles found in the New Testament was designated “Scripture” by the Apostle Peter and received as God’s Word during the lifetimes of both Apostles (2 Peter 3:15-16).  Israel in the Old Testament recognized the Pentateuch as God’s Word as soon as Moses wrote it, and placed the original copy by the Ark of the Covenant (Deuteronomy 31:26) for protection and so that other accurate copies could be made.  As soon as it was composed, the original copy of the book of Joshua was similarly recognized as inspired immediately and joined the books of Moses in the sanctuary of Jehovah (Joshua 24:26).  The other books of the Old Testament were likewise recognized as canonical immediately, so that, for example, Daniel knew the book of his contemporary Jeremiah was God’s Word (Daniel 9:2).  The New Testament books were received as God’s Word in the same way as the Old Testament, until the last book of the New Testament closed its last chapter with a warning not to add anything more, nor take away any portion, of the completed Book of God (Revelation 22:18-19).  The immediate recognition that Luke’s Gospel was Scripture equal to the Books of Moses fits this consistent pattern found throughout the rest of the Old and New Testaments, and the quotation of Luke in 1 Timothy demonstrates that this Gospel existed by A. D. 60.

Furthermore, Jose O’Callaghan’s identification of fragments (as discussed above) from Qumran Cave 7 with the book of Acts and 1 Timothy likewise support an early date for Luke’s Gospel.[107]  Since the book of Acts unambiguously refers to the existence of Luke (Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-4), and 1 Timothy likewise quotes Luke’s gospel, a Qumran fragment from Acts dating to c. A. D. 60 and from 1 Timothy dating to c. A. D. 70[108]  requires the existence of Luke’s Gospel prior to those dates.

Finally, a very large number of high-quality Biblical manuscripts contain colophons that specifically date Luke’s gospel to fifteen years after the ascension of Christ—that is, to A. D. 48.[109]  Clearly, the case for an early date for Luke is strong.

Thus, as demonstrated above, Luke was the third gospel composed (c. A. D. 48), after Matthew (c. A. D. 40) and Mark (c. A. D. 43).  Ancient historical evidence likewise supports this order of gospel composition:

[Concerning] the four Gospels, which alone are unquestionable in the Church of God under heaven, [the] first . . . written [was] that according to Matthew, who was once a tax-collector but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ, who published it for those who from Judaism came to believe[.] . . . Secondly, that according to Mark, who wrote it in accordance with Peter’s instructions, whom also Peter acknowledged as his son in [1 Peter 5:13] . . . And thirdly, that according to Luke, who wrote, for those who from the Gentiles [came to believe], the Gospel that was praised by Paul [2 Corinthians 8:18]. After them all, that according to John.”[110]

However, the fact that Luke, and Matthew and Mark before him, wrote before A. D. 70 demonstrate that the gospels contain clear and exact predictive prophecy.[111]  All three of these gospel writers record the Lord Jesus Christ’s prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple:

And when [Christ] was come near, he beheld the city [Jerusalem, Luke 19:28], and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. . . . And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass? . . .  But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom . . . And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. (Luke 19:41-44; 21:1-24; cf. Matthew 24; Mark 13; Daniel 9:24-27)

The Lord Jesus Christ spoke the words recorded in Luke 19 on the exact date predicted by the prophet Daniel for the coming of the Messiah in Daniel 9:24-27.  Daniel predicted that the Messiah would be killed; following His death, the Romans would destroy the city of Jerusalem and her sanctuary.[112]  The Lord Jesus, claiming to be the Messiah prophesied by Daniel, predicted His rejection and death and the consequent destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Romans in the generation that precipitated His rejection and crucifixion.[113]  His prediction, as recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke before A. D. 70, was fulfilled in that year when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple while crushing the Jewish rebellion against Rome that had commenced in A. D. 66.

A portion of the Arch of Titus in Rome depicting Roman solders carrying off the Menorah and other treasures from the Jewish Temple after the fall of Jerusalem.[114]

The earliest Christians, even in the 30s A. D., were fully aware of Christ’s prediction and suffered persecution and death for proclaiming the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple (cf. Acts 6:14).  Furthermore, ancient historians record that, based on Christ’s command to flee from the city (Luke 21:21), the Jewish Christians fled from Jerusalem while the non-Christian Jews did not, and were destroyed by the Romans:

[T]he people of the church in Jerusalem were commanded by an oracle given by revelation before the war to those in the city who were worthy of it to depart and dwell in one of the cities of Perea which they called Pella. To it those who believed on Christ migrated from Jerusalem . . . when [they] had altogether deserted the royal capital of the Jews and the whole land of Judaea . . . the [other] inhabitants of Judaea were driven to the last point of suffering [by the Roman invasion, and] many thousands of youths, women, and children perished by the sword, by famine, and by countless other forms of death . . . terrors and worse than terrors were seen by those who fled to Jerusalem as if to a mighty capital . . . and [Jerusalem with its Temple] perished utterly and passed away in flames.[115]

Finally, Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written before A. D. 70, and all three of these sources likewise record Christ’s prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.  Clearly, the evidence is overwhelming that Christ made, and the Gospels record, a genuine and specific predictive prophecy.  Since only God perfectly knows the future, the existence of predictive prophecy in the gospels validates the New Testament as the Word of God (cf. Isaiah 44:6-8).

The Gospel of John was written c. A. D. 50-65 by the Apostle John, who was not only one of the twelve Apostles but was one of the three who were the closest to the Lord Jesus (Mark 9:2; 14:33).  John emphasizes that Jesus the Messiah is the Divine Son of God become Man who gives eternal life to all who believe on Him (John 20:28-31).[116]  Historical testimony to the Apostolic authorship and accuracy of John’s Gospel is very strong.

Ancient historical testimony to John’s authorship of his gospel is overwhelming and “with one voice names the apostle John as the author of the fourth gospel.”[117]  For example:

Irenaeus:  “We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the gospel has come down to us . . . by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures[.] . . . [T]he Apostles . . . had perfect knowledge . . . invested with power from on high [from] the Holy Spirit[.] . . . Matthew . . . issued a written gospel . . . Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the gospel preached by him. Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon His breast [John 13:23], did himself publish a gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia.”[118]

Anti-Marcionite Prologue: “The Gospel of John was revealed and given to the churches by John, just as Papias of Hierapolis, the close disciple of John, related[.]”[119]

Clement of Alexandria: “John . . . urged on by his disciples, and, divinely moved by the Spirit, composed a . . . Gospel. . . . [a] tradition of the primitive elders.”[120]

Origen:  “[T]he four Gospels . . . are the only indisputable ones in the Church of God[.]. . . [T]he first was written by Matthew . . . [t]he second is by Mark . . . the third by Luke . . . [l]ast of all that by John. . . . Why need we speak of him who reclined upon the bosom of Jesus, John, who has left us one Gospel, though he confessed that he might write so many that the world could not contain them? [John 21:25].”[121]

Furthermore (as noted above), the heading “according to John” is found in the manuscripts of John’s Gospel, and the manuscript evidence never ascribes authorship to anyone else.

The end of Luke’s Gospel and the beginning of John’s Gospel in P75 (Papyrus Bodmer XIV-XV), an early papyrus that dates to c. A. D. 175-225.[122]  The specifications “Gospel according to Luke” and “Gospel  according to John” are clearly visible.[123]

The evidence strongly supports the heading’s presence from the very first, since it was necessarily present as soon as any church had more than one canonical gospel.  Since John was the last of the four canonical gospels to be composed, it would have circulated almost immediately in churches that had at least one of the other canonical gospels, requiring an almost immediate specification in the earliest copies of Johannine authorship.

Furthermore, the internal evidence of John demonstrates the Apostle’s authorship. John states that he is “the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things” (John 21:24-25).[124]  The Gospel was written by one who knew experientially[125] the perfect and holy Divine and human love of his Master, the Lord Jesus Christ (John 13:23; 20:2; 21:7, 20) as an eyewitness and member of the innermost circle of three (Peter, James, and John; Matthew 10:2; 17:1; Mark 13:3; 14:33; Luke 8:51) within the larger circle of the twelve Apostles (John 13:23; 19:35; 21:24), and who testified about what he had seen and heard[126] from his Savior and Redeemer.  Tenney notes:

Internal evidence . . . testifies to . . . “the disciple whom Jesus loved” as the witness and writer of the content of the Gospel (21:20-24). He was among those Jesus appeared to at the Sea of Tiberias (Galilee) after their night of unsuccessful fishing (21:7). This disciple was a particular friend of Peter and was one of the sons of Zebedee (John 21:2; cf. Matt 4:21; 10:2). The preceding chapters couple him with Peter in the events on the morning of the Resurrection (20:2-8) and also identify him as the one Jesus committed his mother to at the Crucifixion (19:25-27). . . . [H]e is the one who is called “another disciple,” the one who led Peter into the court of the high priest’s palace at the trial of Jesus (18:15-16). He was present at the Last Supper, where he reclined next to Jesus and was questioned by Peter (13:23-24). Undoubtedly he belonged to the Twelve and was probably a member of the inner circle. Obviously he was not Peter nor one of those mentioned in the third person in the main body of the Gospel. Presumably he was John, for he was Peter’s close associate after the Resurrection (Acts 3:1-11; 4:13-20; Gal 2:9). He would have been able to hear both Jesus’ public and private discourses and would have been actively engaged in the development of the church from its inception. . . .

[The author was] a Jew who was acquainted with Jewish opinions and learning and with the details of Jewish customs. The author’s vocabulary and general style are Semitic; though the Gospel was written in Greek. The OT is frequently quoted . . . [T]he author was a Palestinian Jew, not a member of the Diaspora. His knowledge of Palestinian topography was accurate. He distinguished between Bethany, the suburb of Jerusalem where Mary and Martha lived (11:1), and “Bethany on the other side of the Jordan,” where John the Baptist preached (1:28). Some of the sites he alluded to, such as Aenon (3:2-3) and Ephraim (11:5), are not described elsewhere; but, obviously, they were actual places well known to him. His description of the features of Jerusalem, such as the pool by the “Sheep Gate” (5:2), the “pool of Siloam” (9:7), the “Stone Pavement” (Gr. lithostroton, 19:1-3), and the varied references to the temple (2:14-16; 8:2-10; 10:2-3), show that he was familiar with the city before its destruction. (The devastation was so complete by the middle of the second century that the face of the city had changed entirely. The buildings had been razed, and the surface of the land had been buried under their rubble. Following the Second Revolt of 133–135, Hadrian built a new town, Aelia Capitolina.) Archaeological investigations have confirmed the accuracy of many of the author’s allusions[.] . . .

[The] author personally witnessed the events he described . . . spoke easily and familiarly of the disciples and associates of Jesus (6:5-7; 12:2-10; 13:3-6; 14:5, 8, 22) and knew the background of those Jesus had only casual contact with, such as Nicodemus (3:1) or Annas (18:1-3). Small details appear frequently, such as the barley bread used at the feeding of the five thousand (6:9), the fragrance of the ointment Mary poured on Jesus (12:3), or the time at which Judas left the Last Supper (13:3-10) . . . the natural touches that come from personal memory. . . . Not only must the writer have been an eyewitness, but he also was closely acquainted with the personal career of Jesus from beginning to end. The author was aware of the thinking of the disciples, and apparently he shared their interests and hopes. He reports the private discourses of Jesus at some length[.] . . . Also, he shows knowledge of Jesus’ inner consciousness that would have been possible only to a close associate (6:6, 61, 64; 13:1-3, 11; 18:4). . . .

[The] author must have been John the son of Zebedee. Peter did not write the fourth Gospel for it mentions him frequently in the third person. James the son of Zebedee did not write it, for he was executed by Herod Agrippa I prior to A.D. 44 (Acts 12:2). The remaining possibility is John, who fits the requirements of its authorship . . . well. . . . [T]his Gospel was written by one who knew Jesus personally, who had followed him throughout his career, and who had become one of the leaders in the movement that grew out of Jesus’ life and teaching. . . . [It is] a genuine document of the first-century witness.[127]

John 5:2 reads: “Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.” Archaeology has uncovered this pool in Jerusalem,[128] dated it to the first century A. D., and verified both that it was by the sheep gate and market and possessed an unusual, five-sided shape.  “The discovery . . . prov[ed] beyond a doubt that the description of this pool was not the creation of the Evangelist [John] but reflected an accurate and detailed knowledge of Jerusalem, knowledge that is sufficiently detailed to now be an aid to archaeologists in understanding the site.”[129]

Thus, as “far therefore as . . . internal evidence is concerned, the conclusion towards which all the lines of inquiry converge . . . [is] that the fourth Gospel was written by a Palestinian Jew, by an eye-witness, by the disciple whom Jesus loved, by John the son of Zebedee.”[130]  The overwhelming force of the external and internal evidence explains why John’s authorship of the gospel bearing his name was unquestioned for the overwhelming majority of church history.[131]

Thus, the Apostle John wrote the fourth gospel c. A. D. 50-65.  He composed his inspired text after Luke in c. A. D. 48 composed the third gospel, but before the outbreak of the Jewish revolt against Rome leading to the destruction of Jerusalem in A. D. 70.[132]   Evidence for the Gospel of John’s existence is found in quotations and allusions in the very possibly first century writings the Epistle of Barnabas (c. A. D. 75) and the Shepherd of Hermas (c. A. D. 85), as well as among the early writings of those who had been personal disciples of the Apostle John[133] and knew other personal eyewitnesses of Christ as well[134] in Papias’s Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord (c. A. D. 95),[135] the epistles of Ignatius (c. A. D. 105),[136] and the Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians (c. A. D. 110).[137]

Furthermore, as Princeton scholar J. H. Charlesworth notes: “John has amazing details about pre-70 Jerusalem and archaeologists are frequently able to prove John’s historical accuracy.”[138]

Stone jars from the 1st century A. D. in Jerusalem, illustrating the ones mentioned in John 2:6,[139] in which Christ turned water into the fruit of the vine for His first miracle. The jars could hold up to 180 gallons of water, and the extant archaeological evidence indicates that they were all manufactured in Jerusalem and ceased from use after A. D. 70, supporting the accuracy and early date of the Gospel of John.[140]

Indeed, Charlesworth explained that “all major Christian developments happened before AD 70 . . . includ[ing] . . . the gospels . . . John may be as old as c. AD 50.”[141]  The archaeological evidence supports both the Gospel of John’s early date and its traditional authorship by Christ’s Apostle, John the son of Zebedee.  For example:

John’s account of Nicodemus [John 3] is reliable. The Nicodemus of John 3 was a member of the wealthy Gurion family known from rabbinic texts. . . . John knows that stone vessels reflect Jewish purification rites [John 2:6, set in Cana of Galilee][142] . . . [an] archaeologically significant . . . [and] major datum that is grounded in Jesus’ time and place. Stone vessels have been found at . . . “Cana” . . . designed for preserving the contents from ritual pollution . . . [and] also in . . . the villages known to the historical Jesus. Almost all the stone vessels date from the time of Herod the Great to 70 [AD] . . . sites for manufacturing stone vessels [were found] . . . just outside Nazareth. . . . John[’s] . . . tradition makes appropriate sense in pre-70 Jewish settings when the Temple authorities were mandating ritual purity for all Jews in Palestine. . . .

John’s description of Jerusalem and its environs is frequently now supported by the latest archaeological discoveries. Many archeologists only recently are finding that John is indispensible in recreating pre-70 Jerusalem[.] . . . The placing of Lazarus, a leper, in Bethany [John 11] is in line with the proscriptions in the Temple Scroll that a place for lepers is to be located east of the Holy City (11Q19). The description of Lazarus’ tomb and the stench of the corpse [John 11:38-44] fits precisely the tombs around Jerusalem—many of which are caves [John 11:38]—and the need for many glass vessels for perfume (unguentaria) to be placed near the corpse. . . . John reports the massive stones in the pavement of Pilate’s palace: the Lithostrotos and Gabatha [John 19:13] which is a Hebrew word that does not translate the Greek and must be the name used by Semites in Jerusalem for the place. Now, massive pre-70 slabs of enormous stones are discovered precisely where Pilate’s palace, formerly Herod’s palace, had been located. John appears to report accurately the Bēma, the “high seat” [19.13] where Pilate would sit and render judgment. These descriptions were [in the past by critics] either ignored or considered embellishments to an exciting narrative.

Other details that seem incidental in John’s story are now appearing to be historical, according to archaeological discoveries in Jerusalem. Among them are the following: the house and courtyard of Annas [18:13], the house of Caiaphas [18.24], Golgatha [19.17], the hanuth, “meat market,” where the large animals for sacrifice were held, a garden tomb [19.17], and a room in which the disciples gathered [20.19-29]. . . .

John provides more amazing details about pre-70 Jerusalem. John knew that Solomon’s Portico was an ideal shelter from the cold winter blasts [10.22-23]. . . . John reports that there is a pool with five columned porticoes north of the Temple and a large pool probably south of it. Among early historians of Jerusalem, especially Josephus, only John reports these pools with surprising accuracy. [Critics in the past had] judged these details to be created for theological or christological purposes. Now each pool has been located and each antedates the destruction of the area by Roman armies. The Pool of Bethsaida . . . does have five porticoes and the columns can be seen today lying on the ground. The Pool of Siloam [9:1-12] was exposed recently when a sewer pipe burst. This pool appears to be the largest mikveh (Jewish bath for ritual purification) that antedates 70 CE. It had been buried under the debris from the First Jewish Revolt which ended in the burning of Jerusalem including the Temple. In addition, a monumental stairway leads from the Pool of Siloam to the Temple gates. . . . John [also] knows termini technici characteristic of early Jewish thought before 70 CE. . . . Thanks to focused scientific archaeological work, it is now clear that . . . John has amazing details about pre-70 Jerusalem . . . prov[ing] John’s historical accuracy.[143]

The location of Golgotha (John 19:17) depicted in a model of Jerusalem as it existed in A. D. 30. Archaeology validates that the location was outside of Jerusalem’s walls when Christ died, but was no longer outside the walls by A. D. 44, and a garden was nearby, as John states (John 19:41); such accurate descriptive features are two of the many in John that are “amazingly in line with what [archaeologists] have discovered in Jerusalem.”[144]

Archaeology strongly supports the accuracy, early date, and traditional authorship of the Gospel of John.[145]

Very late dates for the Gospel of John were common among anti-supernaturalists in the 19th century, but the discovery of the Rylands Papyrus (P52), an extremely early fragment from John’s Gospel, “sent two tons of [anti-supernaturalist] scholarship to the flames.”[146]

P52 (the Rylands Papyrus), the oldest fragment of the Gospel of John, dates between A. D. 90-125.[147]

P52 was discovered in an obscure village in Egypt a great distance from Ephesus, where the Gospel of John was composed, demonstrating that the book had been in circulation for quite some time before this very ancient manuscript was copied.  Keener explains:

This text’s discovery far from the Gospel’s likely places of origin pushes its proposed date of writing back at least a quarter century[.] . . . Nor does the manuscript allow us to suppose that this represents a pre-Johannine tradition on which John based part of his Gospel . . .[this] oldest fragment of the Gospel of John . . . does not differ by a single word from our printed Greek texts. . . . 𝔓52 . . . proves the [early] existence and use of the Fourth Gospel in a little provincial town along the Nile, far from its traditional place of composition (Ephesus in Asia Minor)[.][148]

Because of P52, John “must antedate [A. D.] 100, at the very latest.  Most likely John was composed much earlier; that would allow for the work to be copied and to make it sway to the rubbish heaps in the Fayum far south of present day Cairo.”[149]  It is interesting that this papyrus contains the verses in which Christ states, “Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice” as well as the unbelieving Pontius Pilate’s response:  “What is truth?”

What is more, “The Qumran literature proves that there is nothing in the fourth gospel that could not have been written . . . before A. D. 70.”[150]  Dr. Charles C. Torrey, professor of Semitic Languages at Yale University and founder of the American School of Archaeology at Jerusalem, testified:

The Gospels as completed and published, in their present extent and form . . . can be only a little later than the middle of the [1st] century . . . [for the] latest of them. . . . At the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis in New York City . . . I challenged my New Testament colleagues to designate even one passage, from any of the Four Gospels, giving clear evidence of a date later than 50 A. D. . . . The challenge was not met, nor will it be, for there is no such passage.[151]

The prominent Rabbi Johanan ben Zakki, who flourished in the middle of the first century and was head of the Council at Jamnia between A. D. 70-80, refers to the existence of the Gospels and indicates that “by many Jews of good standing the Gospels had been . . . ranked . . . as holy Scripture . . . and that the fact was well known.”[152]  John 5:2 specifies a date for the gospel before the Romans leveled Jerusalem in A. D. 70—the sheep gate and market, which were destroyed with the rest of the city by Rome, were currently standing when the gospel was written.[153]   “Since that structure did not exist after the Romans destroyed the city in A. D. 70, it [is] unlikely any later non-eyewitness could have described it in such vivid detail.”[154]  Indeed, the fact that John does not clearly speak of “the burning of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in 70 . . . the greatest event in the history of Judaism from the Maccabean rebellion to the Bar Kokhba revolt . . . is surprising if John is post-70. . . . [while] numerous observations [support the view that] John was composed long before 70.”[155]  What is more, large numbers of Greek manuscripts from many independent lines of transmission contain a colophon dating the Gospel of John to “thirty-two years after the ascension of Christ,”[156]—that is, to A. D. 65.  The gospel’s factual accuracy supports its character as an early, eyewitness account of Christ’s life:  “[T]he excavations of the last sixty or so years in Palestine . . . dramatically confirm John’s topographical accuracy . . . evidence to substantiate that this gospel is a first-century document.”[157]  C. H. Dodd, “one of the greatest NT scholars . . . of the twentieth century”[158] and “probably England’s greatest recent New Testament scholar,”[159] although himself unwilling to admit the infallible inspiration of the Bible,[160] recognized:

[One is] certainly justified in questioning the whole structure of the accepted ‘critical’ [e. g., anti-supernaturalist] chronology of the NT writings, which avoids putting anything earlier than 70, so that none of them are available for anything like first-generation testimony. . . . [M]uch of this late dating is quite arbitrary, even wanton, the offspring not of any argument that can be presented, but rather of the critic’s prejudice that if he appears to assent to the traditional position of the early church he will be thought no better than a stick-in-the-mud. . . . It is surely significant that when historians of the ancient world treat the gospels, they . . . handle the documents as if they were what they professed to be[.] . . . But if one approaches them in that way, does not the case for late dating collapse?[161]

In contrast to atheistic speculations that reject the historical data in favor of evolutionary hypotheses based upon “[i]maginary stages [which] are abitrarily assigned time spans . . . result[ing] in a fictitious dating of the . . . Gospels,”[162] there is every reason to recognize the accuracy of the very ancient tradition of the Christian churches, recorded in the New Testament manuscripts themselves, that “Matthew published eight years after the ascension . . . Mark published two years later . . . Luke another five years later . . . [and John] published thirty-two years after the ascension of Christ.”[163]

The canonical Gospels, composed under Divine inspiration by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,[164] constitute early, independent, and accurate eyewitness testimony to the words and deeds of Jesus Christ.  Every extant writer in the early centuries of church history recognizes the synoptic Gospels as independent, eyewitness testimony—indeed, no other hypothesis appears in the historical record for approximately 1,700 years after the time of Christ.  The unambiguous testimony of the Gospels themselves,[165] of the earliest uninspired documents, and of the united testimony of the “distinguished scholars . . . [of the early] church . . . who had information from . . . widespread and early sources . . . [and] who lived quite close to the [time of the] composition of the gospels” was exclusively in favor of literary independence.[166]  As the ancient writer Chrysostom, “the most competent exegete of the Nicene period,”[167] explained:

“What then? Was not one [Gospel] sufficient to tell all?” One indeed was sufficient; but if there be four that write, not at the same times, nor in the same places, neither after having met together, and conversed one with another, and then they speak all things as it were out of one mouth, this becomes a very great demonstration of the truth.

“But the contrary,” it may be said, “hath come to pass, for in many places they are convicted of discordance.” Nay, this very thing is a very great evidence of their truth. For if they had agreed in all things exactly even to time, and place, and to the very words, none of our enemies would have believed but that they had met together, and had written what they wrote by some human compact; because such entire agreement as this cometh not of simplicity. But now even that discordance which seems to exist in little matters delivers them from all suspicion, and speaks clearly in behalf of the character of the writers. . . . [I]f there be anything . . . which they have related differently, this nothing injures the truth of what they have said . . . [and] observe, that in the chief heads . . . nowhere is any of them found to have disagreed, no not ever so little.[168]

Indeed it is highly noteworthy that the Gospels contain a united testimony to the central facts of the life of Christ, but contain minor details that, on first appearance seem to contradict each other but, upon closer examination, are actually consistent.[169]  Had the Gospels contained nothing other than exactly the same details, they would evidently have been copying the one from the other and not constituted independent testimony.  Had they contained actual and genuine contradictions in minor details while agreeing as to the main facts, they could be considered generally reliable but not entirely so.  The testimony of the authors of many harmonies of the Gospels produced from the first Christian centuries until modern times indicates that “all four Gospels [are] uniformly true and without admixture of the slightest degree of error.”[170]  The fact that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John unite in their testimony to the central facts of Christ but contain seeming discrepancies in minor details that are only found consistent after careful study[171] indicates that the Gospels contain the strongest sort of eyewitness testimony.  In the words of Harvard professor Dr. Simon Greenleaf, author of the legal masterpiece A Treatise on the Law of Evidence, which has been “hailed as the foremost American authority . . . [and] the ablest extant work on its subject,”[172] and which possesses a strong influence upon the American judicial system to this day:

The narratives of the evangelists [Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John] . . . [as] a lawyer, examining the testimony of witnesses by the rules of his profession . . .  [are] entitled to credit[.] . . . [T]he number of particulars involved in the narrative; the difficulty of fabricating them all, if false, and the great facility of detection; the nature of the circumstances to be compared, and from which the dates and other facts are to be collected; the intricacy of the comparison; the number of the intermediate steps in the process of deduction; and the circuitry of the investigation . . . [among other evidences, show that the Gospels should be] believed [by] every honest and impartial man . . . by receiving their testimony in all the extent of its import.[173]

The “testimony of the Gospels . . . under the standards of the law . . . constitutes the strongest possible evidence.”[174]

Those who wish to reject the evidence for the historical accuracy of the Gospels attempt to deny their apostolic authorship and early date, and combine their unwillingness to receive the testimony of the extant historical data with speculative theories that presuppose an atheistic worldview in which miracles are impossible,[175] and consequently the Gospel accounts of Christ’s life, miracles, death, and resurrection must be explained away.  Opponents allege that the Biblical narratives evolved gradually over long periods of time from small bits of oral tradition about Jesus of Nazareth that were gradually remolded into the (alleged) legendary accounts contained in the Gospels.  The most commonly held anti-supernaturalistic theory claims that the canonical Gospels utilized a source containing sayings of Jesus known as “Q” (German for Quelle, meaning “source.”).  Mark was allegedly the first gospel, written after A. D. 70 or at least as close to that date as possible, so that Christ’s prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, which took place in A. D. 70, can be denied to be a genuine prediction.  The allegedly anonymous persons who wrote Matthew and Luke then allegedly depended upon and modified both material in “Q” and Mark as sources to create their gospels some time later.  Finally, the anonymous person pretending to be the Apostle John wrote a gospel.  However, these anti-supernaturalist explanations for the Gospels run into severe historical problems.

First, a denial that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote their Gospels requires a rejection of all the very powerful extant internal and external evidence.  There simply is no evidence at all for such a denial and overwhelming evidence against it—it is maintained because of an unwarranted faith in anti-supernaturalism, without any substantive historical data in its favor and conclusive data denying it.  Secondly, attempts to move the Gospels after A. D. 70 in order to deny the reality of Christ’s predictive prophecies and provide time for legends and historical inaccuracies to enter into their narratives must also deny all extant historical evidence.  Not one record for well over a millennium and a half after the period when the Gospels were composed maintained these sorts of late dating schemes.  When all the testimony from people who actually knew what took place specifies early dates, early manuscript evidence compels early dates, and nothing but speculation and anti-supernaturalist assumptions support late dates, honest historiography necessitates a rejection of atheistic dating schemes.  Thirdly, there similarly is no evidence at all that elements which eventually found their way into the Gospels circulated as brief units for a long time, being modified through a long period of oral tradition by people who had no connection with the events, and were eventually compiled in the Gospels.  On the contrary, the accuracy of the Gospel accounts was preserved by the eyewitness testimony of the Apostles, by numerous contemporaneous written scribal records made during Christ’s life (Matthew 13:52; Luke 1:1), and by large numbers of eyewitnesses.  Indeed:

In an oral culture like that of first-century Palestine, the ability to memorize and retain large tracts of oral tradition was a highly prized and highly developed skill. From the earliest age, children in the home, elementary school, and synagogue were taught faithfully to memorize sacred tradition. The disciples would have exercised similar care with the teachings of Jesus.[176]

Thus:

Jewish culture around the time of the Gospels’ composition . . . facilitated amazing feats of memorization . . . Jews developed various devices for . . . meticulous preservation of . . . the Oral Torah . . . including mnemonic devices, methods of repetition, and means to counteract forgetfulness.  These devices were remarkably effective . . . Jesus, the apostles, and others in the early church were raised in this system. . . . Jesus would have required that at least His closest followers memorize His sayings (John 14:15, 21, 23-26; 15:7, 10, 14)[.] . . . [In] the method of the Jewish rabbi . . . Jesus made his disciples, above all the Twelve . . . learn [His sayings] by heart.[177]

Contemporaries of the time of Christ and in surrounding centuries memorized material much larger than the entire content of the Gospels:

The Synoptic tradition as a whole, which comprises about 30,000 words, could be memorized, especially so in the case of the words of Jesus, which comprise about 15,000 words. Greeks could memorize Homer’s famous works, which were much larger, and rabbis could memorize the whole of Torah, and some even memorized the Babylonian Talmud (almost 2,000,000 words).[178]

Oral transmission of Christ’s words and deeds[179] among the thousands of those who witnessed them was accurately reproduced in the New Testament Gospels.

What is more, the Gospel writers would have possessed written records documenting the words and deeds of Jesus Christ that were composed during the period of the Lord Jesus’s earthly ministry.  Luke’s Gospel indicates that the written accounts[180] of “many eyewitnesses . . . from the beginning” were examined for the production of the Gospel (Luke 1:1-4).  Matthew 13:52 refers to “scribes”—a word used of people who had professional responsibilities in writing documents and recording speeches[181]—among Christ’s disciples.  As a former tax collector (Matthew 10:3) in the Roman civil service, the Apostle Matthew would have been well educated and necessarily able to write;[182] indeed, he would have been “professionally qualified to write shorthand.”[183]  Similarly, the Apostle John could clearly write (Revelation 1:11; 3 John 13); it is highly probable that all the Apostles could do so.[184]  Despite a humble upbringing in poverty as to His human nature, Christ could read and write (Luke 4:16; John 8:6).  Among the Jews there was “almost universal literacy in NT [New Testament] times . . . especially as the result of extensive synagogue schools;”[185] thus, plenty of people would have been around to produce accurate records of the One whom they believed spoke the words of God and performed the works of God.[186]  “In Jewish practice of the day, especially in rabbinic circles, disciples kept private notes for their rabbinical instruction. . . . [J]ust as the Rabbis’ pupils had their own private notes . . . so [Christ’s followers] began . . . to write down . . . the tradition concerning Christ in the same way.”[187]  Thus, the “ability to write fluently and intelligibly was widespread in ancient Israel, almost as widespread as the ability to memorize long and complicated texts. . . . [A]mong [Christ’s] followers there would be a number of people capable not only of memorizing what he said, but also of writing it down.”[188]  There is every reason to believe that the Holy Spirit led the Gospel writers under God’s supernatural inspiration to remember and record accurately the words and deeds of Jesus Christ, both those that they had seen themselves and those that they had received from the oral and written accounts of other eyewitnesses (John 14:26; Luke 1:1-4).

Speculations that the Gospels evolved from a “Q” source, that Matthew and Luke borrowed from Mark and “Q,” and other anti-supernaturalist strategies to devalue the accuracy of the Gospels and the Christ portrayed in them[189] run aground on severe historical problems.  Arising not because of evidence but because of hatred of the Gospels and the Deity portrayed therein,[190] “Q” and literary dependence theories are simply figments of the anti-supernaturalist imagination—there is not a shred of evidence that “Q” ever existed.  No manuscripts of “Q” have ever been discovered. No ancient author ever claims to have seen “Q,” refers to it as having a real existence, or gives any hint of any kind that it ever existed.  It is not surprising that modern anti-supernaturalists cannot agree on what “Q” actually allegedly contained—an examination of seventeen different reconstructions of “Q” found not a single verse in Matthew agreed upon among them all as part of the hypothetical document.[191]  In terms of the actual data in the historical sources, there is as much evidence that the Gospels were written by Martians who had Elvis Presley travel back in time to help them as there is that the Gospels depended upon “Q.”

There is as much historical evidence to support the claim that extraterrestrials wrote the Gospels as there is to support hypotheses involving “Q” and literary dependence—namely, none whatsoever.

Furthermore, in passages allegedly copied by Matthew and Luke from “Q,” the two actually extant Gospels do not contain 100% agreement in their Greek texts—or anywhere close.  “In the sixty-five pairs of parallels alleged to make up Q, the number of . . . identical words in parallel verses is . . . about 42%. . . . [S]tatistical observations [provide] . . .  no conclusive evidence for the alleged Q[.] . . . There are not even noteworthy facts that speak in favor of such a hypothesis.”[192]  Thus:

The writings of the ancient church give not the slightest hint that such a source ever existed. Among the early church fathers there is not even a rumor of a lost canonical gospel. . . . [T]here is not the slightest textual evidence that some lost gospel “Q” existed, although it is claimed today that Q was so widespread that Matthew and Luke (and maybe even Mark) got hold of copies of it independently.

Paul never mentions Q, although he could hardly have been ignorant of it if it had such virulent influence . . . there is no reason why he should not have known Q if it really existed in the decades prior to th[e] appearance . . . [of] the four gospels[.] . . . In sum, Q’s existence cannot be corroborated from manuscript evidence, Paul’s letters, or the known history of the early church. . . . Q was unheard of until last century. It has never been anything but a hypothesis, a supposition . . . Q . . . [is] an historical fiction, no more real than the man in the moon.[193]

None of the canonical Gospels modified and evolved from “Q” because “Q” never existed.[194]

Similarly, anti-supernaturalist claims that the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) are not independent accounts, but copied the one from the other, are simply empty speculation.  There is no external evidence for such a hypothesis—the uniform testimony of ancient writers is that these Gospels[195] were independent.[196]  The modern anti-supernaturalist view that Matthew and Luke depended on and copied from Mark did not exist “until the nineteenth century”[197]; it is unreasonable to think that nobody who had access to the information in ancient times got it right, but biased critics who were far more than a millenium and a half after the times of the events and the evidence discovered it for the very first time.  The Synoptic Gospels were composed in a short time span in regions far apart geographically, so that none of the authors was able to consult the written work of another.  Furthermore, the internal literary evidence is entirely inconsistent with literary dependence.  Dr. Eta Linnemann, a leading German anti-supernaturalist professor and follower of Rudolf Bultmann, wrote two doctoral dissertations advocating anti-supernaturalist gospel criticism, and her works were accorded critical acclaim and used widely in Germany, becoming standard in the German public school system.[198]  However, after careful reflection she rejected anti-supernaturalism, embraced the risen Savior, Jesus Christ, and became a born-again Christian.  Dr. Linnemann notes:

[T]he Synoptic problem [that is, the idea of literary dependence among Matthew, Mark, and Luke] was not discovered through a thorough investigation of the Gospels.  Its “solutions” should be regarded as somewhat whimsical speculations rather than scientific results. . . . One begins by assuming the validity of the [particular] hypothesis [of literary dependence] that the argument will attempt to prove . . . circular reasoning. . . . The presence of a literary relationship between the Gospels [is] presupposed fom the outset, and the results have reflected this presupposition. . . . Historical-critical theology [anti-supernaturalism] has never produced an impartial investigation of whether literary dependence exists, be it direct or indirect, among the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke—or whether these three Gospels are three equally original reports. . . .

[A] quantitative Synoptic comparison (in which mere agreement in content is not taken into account) had the following results:  In the cross-section examined, just 22.19 percent of the words in parallel passages are completedly identical; on the average, given 100 words in Mark, Matthew will have 95.68 differences and Luke 100.43.  This means that the verbal similarities are comparatively small and extend chiefly to identical accounts of Jesus’ words and to specific and unalterable vocabulary that is required by the nature of what is being related.

These data are quite normal if one assumes the original and independent free formulation of the same events and circumstances.  The same data furnish no basis for assuming literary dependence. . . . [D]ifferences in parallel passages amount to nothing more than the perspectival contrasts that one would expect when eyewitnesses are involved [with] . . . supplementary verses . . . as additional information.[199]

Just in the last few decades, anti-supernaturalists have coined at least twenty-two divergent and contradictory hypotheses of evolutionary literary dependence among the synoptic Gospels[200]—when one’s position is based upon nothing but speculation and a rejection of all the actual historical evidence, there are few limits to what one can imagine.  The unanimous testimony of the ancient external evidence “results in one conspicuous conclusion . . . [t]he assumed dependence of Matthew and Luke on Mark is totally without historical foundation . . . [there is an] absolute failure in mustering any support among”[201] the ancient sources.  Furthermore, a scholarly, scientific, and careful examination of the internal evidence of the Gospels conclusively demonstrates that “assertion[s] of literary dependence among the three Synoptic Gospels . . . [are] finished when the Synoptic data has been sifted,”[202] confirming the unanimous testimony of the external ancient sources that “point to the rise of the three Synoptic Gospels during a span of three or four years, in three different locales separated from each other by hundreds of kilometers . . . [with] literary dependence . . . rule[d] out.”[203]  Rather than the Gospels copying from each other and from a hypothetical “Q” source, “literary independence accounts” for the similarities and differences between the Gospels “by noting that they were accounts of eyewitnesses with sharp memories, aided by the Holy Spirit, [who] reproduced the exact wording of dialogues and sermons.”[204]

Furthermore, there simply was nowhere near enough time for legendary stories about Christ to evolve and find their way into the canonical Gospels.  Craig notes:

There was insufficient time for legendary influences to expunge the historical facts. No modern scholar thinks of the Gospels as bald-faced lies, the result of a massive conspiracy. The only place such “conspiracy theories” concerning history were promulgated is in sensationalist popular literature [and] propaganda . . . [w]hen one reads the pages of the New Testament, one concludes that these people sincerely believed in the truth of what they proclaimed. . . .

[H]owever, skeptical scholars have explained away the Gospels as legends . . . as the stories about Jesus were passed on over the decades, they [allegedly] got muddled, exaggerated, and mythologized until the original facts were all but lost. The Jewish peasant sage was transformed into the divine Son of God.

One of the major problems with the legend hypothesis, however, is almost never addressed by skeptical critics. The time between Jesus’ death and the writing of the Gospels is just too short for this to happen. . . . [P]rofessional historian[s] of times prior to and contemporaneous with Jesus . . . [note that] the sources for Roman and Greek history are usually biased and removed one or two generations or even centuries from the events they record. Yet . . . historians reconstruct with confidence the course of Roman and Greek history.

For example, the two earliest biographies of Alexander the Great were written by Arrian and Plutarch more than four hundred years after Alexander’s death, yet classical historians still consider them to be trustworthy. The fabulous legends about Alexander the Great did not develop until during the centuries after these two writers. . . . [An analysis of historical] writings . . . enable us to determine the rate at which legend accumulates, and the tests show that even two generations are too short a time span to allow legendary tendencies to wipe out the hard core of historical facts. . . . [F]or the Gospels to be legends, the rate of legendary accumulation would have to be “unbelievable.” More generations would be needed.

In fact, adding [the requisite] time gap . . . lands one . . . just when the apocryphal gospels begin to appear. These do contain all sorts of fabulous stories about Jesus, trying to fill in the years between His boyhood and the beginning of His public ministry. These are the obvious legends sought by the critics, not the biblical Gospels.

This point becomes even more devastating for skepticism when we recall that the Gospels themselves use sources that go back even closer to the events of Jesus’ life.[205]

The “early ‘demythologizers’ explicitly claimed that the New Testament texts had to have been written after A.D. 150 for the myth to have taken hold. But no competent scholar today denies the first-century dating of virtually all of the New Testament”[206]—even stridently anti-supernaturalist scholars, while they seek to push the dates for the New Testament books to unjustifiably late dates, are constrained by the undeniable weight of evidence to place them within the first century, which does not leave enough time for the records about Christ to be the product of legendary developments.  Thus, the Gospels are not myths detached from fact that evolved over long periods of time.  They “did not result from a gradually evolving story . . . [but] reflect a stable tradition of the life of Christ as it happened . . . anchored . . . in apostolic and other eyewitnesses who constantly checked the accuracy of the transmission.”[207]  Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John fare very well in comparison to other works of ancient history.  Anti-supernaturalists would like to reduce the historical figure of Jesus Christ to a mere Jewish teacher who never performed miracles, never claimed to be the Son of God, never predicted His death and resurrection, and never fulfilled these predictions; but there simply was not enough time for such a non-miraculous “Jesus” to evolve.  The Jesus of history is the Jesus of the Gospels—the “Jesus” of the anti-supernaturalist skeptics has only ever existed in the imaginations of those who wish to discount the actual historical facts, but never existed in real space and time.

What is more, the first century Jewish culture out of which the four Gospels arose maintained very high standards for the writing of history.[208]  “True history” required eyewitnesses who had been “concerned in all . . . transactions” recorded.  One “wrote down carefully” what he “saw,” being “well assured of the truth of what [he] related” and with “the strictest regard to truth.”  The historian must not “out of ignorance or out of favor to any side, either . . . giv[e] false colors to actions, or omi[t] any of them.”  The historian must either be an eyewitness himself or base his account on eyewitness testimony:  “[E]very one that undertakes to deliver the history of actions truly, ought to know them accurately himself in the first place, as either having been concerned in them himself, or been informed of them by such as knew them.”  He must be either “an actor . . . in . . . its transactions” or “an eyewitness,” and cannot be “unacquainted with anything whatsoever that was either said or done” in his historical writing.  Such was necessary for the composition of “true history.” The Jewish culture in which the Gospels arose condemned the practice they found among some of the pagan “Greeks” who were “bold enough to write about such affairs, wherein they were not present, nor had concern enough to inform themselves about them from those that knew them . . . without having been in the places concerned, or having been near them when the actions were done; but . . . [rehearse] hearsay, and insolently abuse the world [by calling such] writings by the name of Histories.”[209]  Similarly, the Apostles, recording their accounts in the New Testament, could testify:  “We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16).  Neither the New Testament writers nor the recipients of their writings would have viewed anything as historically acceptable other than accurate, eyewitness testimony, guided and protected from error by the Holy Spirit.

Indeed, even denying the unanimous early testimony to the traditional authorship of the Gospels and supplying them with the unjustifiably late dates of modern skepticism would still allow the historical records about Jesus Christ to fare as well or better than then large majority of comparable ancient sources.  In the words of the Oxford historian A. N. Sherman-White:

[A] professional Graeco-Roman historian . . . [is] generally dealing with derivative sources of marked bias . . . often, as with the Lives of Plutarch or the central decades of Livy, from two to five centuries later . . . we are seldom in the happy position of dealing at only one remove with a contemporary source.  Yet not for that do we dispair of reconstructing the story of the tyranny of Pisistratus or of the tribunates of the Gracchi. . . . What to an ancient historian is most surprising in the basic assumptions of . . . [the] agnostic type of form-criticism [of the Gospels] . . . is the presumed tempo of the development of the [alleged] didactic myths. . . . [The form-critical hypothesis] would be much more credible if the compilation of the Gospels were much later in time, much more remote from the events themselves, than can be the case. . . . [E]ven two generations are too short a span to allow the mythical tendency to prevail over the hard historical core of [an] oral tradition [even granting that there were no written sources much earlier than this]. . . . [I]t would be no harder for the Disciples and their immediate successors to uncover detailed narratives of the actions and sayings of Christ . . . than it was for Herodotus and Thucydides to establish the stor[ies] [about which they wrote their histories]. . . . For this purpose it matters little whether you accept the attribution of the Gospels to eyewitnesses or not.[210]

Indeed, the written records documenting the history of Jesus Christ are superior to the literary evidence for even the most powerful political figure in His entire contemporary world, Julius Caesar:[211]  “[T]he case for accurate reporting is far better in the case of the Jesus of the Gospels than for the best-known contemporary of Christ, Tiberius Caesar, whose career is also known from just four sources.”[212]  Indeed, “most of ancient history is based on single sources”[213] yet is not, for that reason, rejected by scholars of history.  Thus, consistency requires that one either accept the historical accuracy of the canonical Gospels or deny the vast majority of ancient history.

Not only is the evidence for the accuracy of the record of the words and works of Jesus Christ far better than the evidence for the overwhelming majority of other historical matters, the evidence contained in the Gospels is far better than the evidence for the founders of other world religions.  For example, the first known collection of Buddhist scriptures, the Pali Canon, was not written down before the 1st century B. C,[214] some four-hundred years after Buddha’s death (his history is so uncertain that scholarly sources give dates from 543 B. C.[215] to 470 B. C.[216] as the year of his death, while others place his lifetime closer to 1,000 B. C.[217]).  Furthermore, “apart from brief quotations in inscriptions and a two-page fragment from the eight or ninth century [A. D.] found in Nepal, the oldest manuscripts are from late in the fifteenth century, and there is not very much before the eighteenth.”[218]  Indeed, “Buddha’s words were never recorded, which makes it impossible to ascertain if what we have are the genuine words of Buddha or merely those of his disciples centuries later. . . . [and] the manuscripts we do possess are so contradictory that one despairs of ever finding truth.”[219]  “In the case of Siddhartha Gautma, the historical Buddha, none of his actual words remain . . . the Buddha’s actual words are lost to us.”[220]

Similarly, Muhammed, the founder of Islam, is traditionally considered to have died in A. D. 632,[221] twenty-two years after he received his initial revelation in A. D. 610[222]; Muslim biographers specify that Muhammad initially thought the revelation was a result of demon possession, and the spirit’s coming to him led him to regular thoughts of and attempts at suicide.[223]  While the earliest biography of Christ’s words and deeds, the Gospel of Matthew, dates to only approximately seven years after His death and resurrection, with Mark’s Gospel (c. 10 years), the Gospel of Luke (c. 15 years), and the Gospel of John (c. 30 years) not very far behind, “the earliest biographer of Mohammed whose work is extant”[224] is Ibn Hisham, who wrote on the Islamic prophet’s life c. A. D. 840, approximately 238 years after Muhammad’s death.  The “most authentic biography of Muhammad’s life”[225] by Ibn Ishaq (c. A. D. 773, 141 years after the death of Muhammad) is lost,[226] existing only in quotations and altered material by ibn Hisham.[227]  The earliest and most authoritative compilation of the sayings of Muhammad (the Hadith)[228] by Al Bukhari, widely recognized by Muslims as “the most authentic book in Islam after the Quran,”[229] dates to c. A. D. 878, c. 246 years after the death of Muhammad.  Al Bukhari is said to have taken c. 600,000 alleged traditions of Muhammad, rejected c. 593,000 or c. 99% of them, and accepted c. 7,000,[230] but there is little reason to think that the 1% Bukhari accepted contained truth[231] and good reason to think that they cannot be traced back much closer than about a century after Muhammad’s death.[232]  Nevertheless, Bukhari’s collection of Hadith, along with another even more questionable one,[233] “by the tenth century . . . were given canonical status within Islam.”[234]  The contrast between the earliest extant biography and earliest extant compilation of Muhammad’s sayings, respectively dating to nearly two and a half centuries after the Islamic founder’s death, stand in the sharpest contrast to the earliest extant record of the Lord Jesus’s words and deeds.  Furthermore, “modern scholars . . . have determined that the Qur’an did not come from Muhammad,” with a high degree of probability; “He did not recite it and actually never saw a copy of it. It was not put together in its present written form until nearly one hundred years after Muhammad’s death.”[235]  A late evolution of the Quran and its gradual appearance only many years after Muhammed receives support from the absence of any mention of it in the early decades of the Arab Empire on coins, official documents, and other sources, the complete absence of any commentaries on it until the ninth century, and other compelling lines of evidence.[236]  The sharpest contrast exists between the exceedingly late and poor evidence for Islam’s writings[237] and the exceedingly early and strong evidence for the New Testament.

While Christians recognize that the canonical Gospels are infallibly accurate history because they are, like the rest of the Bible, the very Word of God, skeptics who deny their infallibility but are forced to recognize the evidence for their historical reliability are left with a serious problem.  Jesus Christ regularly claimed to be God in all four Gospels.  He is identified as “God with us” (Matthew 1:23; 18:20; 28:20, cf. Isaiah 7:14), the everywhere-present Deity come in the flesh.  His disciples said to Him, “My Lord and my God,” and Christ blessed this confession as of the essence of true faith (John 20:28-31).  As human fathers and human sons share the same human nature, the Lord Jesus’ regular claim to be the unique Son of God was a claim that He had the same Divine nature as God the Father; thus, He received the very worship He taught should be reserved to God alone (Matthew 4:10) from His fiercely monotheistic Jewish disciples because He was the Son of God (Matthew 14:33; cf. 9:18; 15:25; 20:20; 28:9, 17, Luke 24:52; John 9:38; etc).  His claim to be by nature the Son of God was “making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18), One who was all-powerful (John 5:19), all-knowing (John 5:20), and worthy of equal honor with God the Father (John 5:23).  Christ is identified as Jehovah, the God of Israel for whom John the Baptist prepared the way (Mark 1:1-4; Isaiah 40:3).  One of His favorite claims on His lips identified Him as the Divine-human figure, the Son of Man, who will rule the universe forever according to the Old Testament (Daniel 7:13; Matthew 16:13; Mark 2:10, 28; 8:38; 14:62; Luke 5:24; John 3:13).  He claimed, as God, to be able to forgive sins against God and grant people salvation—His followers rejoiced when He said to people, “Thy sins be forgiven thee,” while His enemies angrily reasoned, “Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?” (Mark 2:1-12; Matthew 9:2; Luke 5:23).  He claimed not only to be Jehovah, the eternal and uncreated I AM (Exodus 3:14; Isaiah 41:4; 43:10, 25), but also preached that those who do not believe this will die in their sins (John 8:24; 58).  His earliest followers worshipped Him in hymns describing Him as “equal with God” the Father and the One to whom every knee shall bow (Philippians 2:5-11).[238]  The unified New Testament testimony that Jesus Christ is “over all, God blessed for ever” (Romans 9:5), “God manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16),[239] and “the great God and Savior” (Titus 2:13; cf. 2 Peter 1:1)[240] is indubitably based on the numerous statements of this kind by the Lord Jesus Himself, based on His self-understanding of His own nature.[241]

The fact that Jesus Christ regularly claimed to be God excludes the possibility that He was merely a good man or a great teacher.  Claims of Deity, as well as claims to be the exclusive way to the presence of the Father in heaven,[242] cannot be made by mere teachers.  The claims of Jesus Christ require that He either be a liar, a lunatic, or exactly what He claimed—the Lord.[243]

Jesus Christ is either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord.[244]

When Christ claimed to be God, were His claim false, He either would have known it to be false, or He would not know it to be so.  If He had known it to be false, then He would have been a wretched liar, hypocritically deceiving people with what He knew was nonsense, and leading them away from the true God into eternal damnation.  Furthermore, He would have been a fool, for He would have died by crucifixion for the sake of a lie that brought Him no material gain and an early and torturous death.  However, it is clear that Christ’s holy character and holy teachings are simply not those that a deliberate deceiver would make—they stand in the sharpest contrast to such a supposition.  Furthermore, if somehow He had been cunning enough to hide His wicked character, trick people into believing that He performed miracles from reattaching and perfectly healing amputated body parts (Luke 22:51) to raising people from the dead who had already spent several days decomposing (John 11)—and doing all these things before crowds of hostile witnesses watching for the slightest slip of His tongue or failure in His actions (Luke 20:20)—He would surely have been intelligent enough to have been able to avoid crucifixion for these (allegedly) false claims and recognized that, when He did not even own a single room He could call His own (Matthew 8:20) and His possessions consisted of practically nothing other than a single garment (Mark 15:24), His lie was not getting Him anywhere in this life.  Christ did not deliberately lie when He taught people He was God.

Were Jesus Christ sincerely deluded when He claimed to be God, then He would have been a lunatic, comparable to a man who claimed to be a head of lettuce.  However, the historical record gives no evidence that Christ suffered from a mental disorder.  His teachings were not those of a raving madman, but were profound, intelligent, rational, and powerful.  He displayed no symptoms of schizophrenia, paranoia, or other mental illness.  It is unreasonable to conclude that this One whose teachings have so powerfully impacted all of Western civilization was nothing but a crazy.  One would have to be mad himself to read the historical sources and conclude that Jesus Christ was a lunatic.

Christ’s repeated claims to be the Creator of the Universe, the very God of heaven come in the flesh, are incompatable with the hypothesis that He is merely a good man or a fine teacher.  His claims require that He either be a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord.  Since neither lunacy nor deceit are reasonable possiblities, the conclusion that Jesus Christ’s claims are true, and that He is indeed the Lord that He claimed to be, is the only rational conclusion.  Every person is, therefore, logically bound to both intellectual assent to and whole-souled submission to Jesus Christ as Lord.  There is no other reasonable option.

The Lord Jesus claimed that He performed many “miraculous works, which none other man did,” validating that He was the Messiah sent from God that He claimed to be (John 5:36; 9:4; 10:25, 37-38; 15:24).  Furthermore, the Gospels record that not only Christ’s followers but also His enemies recognized that “this man doeth many miracles” (John 11:47).  Nobody in the Biblical narratives denied that Christ performed many miraculous acts before friend and foe alike—His enemies said He did them by the power of the devil (Matthew 12:24; Luke 11:15), but it was apparent to all that the “the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised” (Matthew 11:5; Luke 7:22).  This situation continued in the ancient historical sources—Christians recognized that the Lord Jesus had performed many miracles by the power of God; the enemies of Christianity maintained that infernal powers were the source of Christ’s miracles; and nobody at all denied that the miracles took place.  A “Jesus” who was just a good teacher or a nice person, but who performed no miracles, is entirely absent from the pages of ancient history—there is no evidence at all for the existence of such a figure.  Thus, for example, the Christian writer Quadratus (c. A. D. 117-125)[245] wrote as follows to the Roman emperor Hadrian:

But the works of our Saviour were always present, for they were genuine—those that were healed, and those that were raised from the dead, who were seen not only when they were healed and when they were raised, but were also always present; and not merely while the Saviour was on earth, but also after his death, they were alive for quite a while, so that some of them lived even to our day.[246]

When so many people who had been healed and even raised from the dead were alive for many decades, it was not possible for opponents of Christianity to deny the miraculous works of Christ.  Consequently, for centuries the extant writings of enemies of Christianity, whether in post-Christian Judaism[247] or in paganism,[248] did not seek to deny the obvious historical facts but ascribed Christ’s miracles to someone other than God.  Craig comments:

[It is] clear that [the] early Christians were suffering for a miraculous story. The gospel story is a story of miracles, and we have no other story than the one contained in the gospels. The early letters of Barnabas and Clement refer to Jesus’ miracles and resurrection. Polycarp mentions the resurrection of Jesus, and Irenaeus writes that as a young man he had heard Polycarp tell of Jesus’ miracles. Ignatius mentions the resurrection. Quadratus reports that people were still living who had been healed by Jesus. Justin Martyr refers to the miracles of Jesus. No trace of a nonmiraculous story exists. That an original nonmiraculous story should be completely lost and another miraculous story replace it goes beyond any known example of corruption of even oral tradition, not to speak of written historical transmission. The gospels themselves indicate that the story they were telling was not their own invention, but that it was already widely known and told.[249]

Thus, “ancient sources are consistent” in acknowledging Christ’s miraculous acts, but non-Christians retorted “that Jesus’ power was either a reflection of magic, sorcery or of satanic power.”  They did not “den[y] that these activities took place but [made] an effort to place their origin in a sphere outside God’s benevolent activity.”[250]  Consequently, “virtually everyone in the field” of scholarly studies of Jesus Christ today, whether or not he believes in the inerrancy of Scripture, “acknowledges that Jesus was considered by his contemporaries to be . . . a worker of miracles.”[251]  The “massive presence of the miracle tradition in the sources, a tradition that went back to the historical Jesus and helped explain his immense . . . popularity with the Palestinian crowds” must be taken seriously.[252]   The totality of the powerful ancient evidence is entirely unified in its testimony to the miracles of Christ.

Indeed, immence evidence supports the greatest recorded miracle of all—Christ’s resurrection from the grave.  While written evidence of other alleged miracle workers outside the Bible dates to centuries after the alleged miraculous events and bears patent evidence of legend,[253] “the resurrection of Jesus is a historical fact much more fully attested to than most other events of ancient history we take for granted.”[254]  Independent eyewitnesses saw the resurrected Christ the very day of His rising, and the formulation “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: and that he was seen” by eyewitnesses of this kind (1 Corinthians 15:3ff.) was recognized to be “of first importance” as the foundation of Christianity “from the start” and officially formulated as a creedal statement “within [mere] months of Jesus’ death.”[255]

Christ’s Post-Resurrection Bodily Appearances[256]
1.) Mary Magdelene (Mark 16:9;[257] John 20:14-17)
2.) Mary the mother of James, Salome, Joanna and other women (Matthew 28:9-10)
3.) The Apostle Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5)
4.) Disciples on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12; Luke 24:13-32)
5.) The assembled Apostles and other persons (Mark 16:14-18; Luke 24:36-49; John 20:19-23; 1 Corinthians 15:5)[258]
6.) The assembled Apostles and other persons (John 20:26-29)
7.) A group of the disciples by the sea of Galilee (John 21:1-23)
8.) The assembled congregation of disciples and Apostles (Matthew 28:16-20)
9.) Over 500 disciples at one time (1 Corinthians 15:6)
10.) The Lord Jesus’ half-brother James, who became a believer through the event (1 Corinthians 15:7; cf. John 7:5; Acts 1:14; 15:13)
11.) The assembled disciples and Apostles at the time of Christ’s Ascension to heaven (Mark 16:9; Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:6-11)
12.) To many others during the forty days before the Ascension (Acts 1:3; 13:31)
13.) To the Christian-killer Saul, who beacame the Apostle Paul as a result (Acts 9:1-22)
14.) In the future, “every eye shall see him” at His second coming (Revelation 1:7)

The Lord Jesus showed that He was alive after His suffering death on the cross “by many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3), appearing to individuals and to large groups, to His followers and to His enemies (who became followers as a result).  His appearances were not vague visionary experiences—Christ possessed a glorious, real, flesh-and-bones body that many eyewitnesses saw, heard, touched, and ate and drank with (Luke 24:39-43; Acts 10:41) after He rose from the dead.  In the historical record “the fact remains that there is no single instance . . . exhibiting the diversity involved in the postmortem appearances of Jesus.”[259]  Aside from the resurrection of Jesus Christ, “there are no known accounts from the ancient world of a human being who was believed to have been raised to an eternal, embodied existence emerging during the lifetimes of many who had known that individual.”[260]  The evidence for the Lord Jesus’ resurrection is unique.

Other facts associated with Christ’s resurrection provide further compelling evidence for its reality.  On the third day, after being buried in the tomb of Sanhedrin member Joseph of Arimathea[261] in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (Matthew 27:57-60; Isaiah 53:9), Christ’s tomb was empty—His body was no longer there.

An acrosolium tomb from 1st century A. D. Jerusalem,[262] probably the type of tomb in which Christ was buried and from which He rose from the dead.

Had His body not been gone, parading the physical evidence that there had been no resurrection would have immediately destroyed the budding Christian movement.  The Jewish authorities who had plotted Christ’s death at the hands of the Roman government neither produced the body nor organized a search for it but, instead, bribed the soldiers who had guarded the tomb to lie and claim that they had fallen asleep and the disciples had stolen the body during that time (Matthew 28:11-15), an explanation so fraught with problems[263] that “no modern biblical scholar would for a moment entertain the theory that the disciples conspired together to steal the corpse and then lie about the resurrection appearances. It is utterly out of the question. . . . The theory has been dead for nearly two hundred years.”[264]

The Nazareth Inscription supports the Gospel record about Christ’s tomb being empty and the slander that the disciples stole His body.[265]

Furthermore, the unambiguous evidence of the Lord Jesus’ bodily resurrection transformed His disciples from a scared, skeptical, and scattered band after His death into people who fearlessly proclaimed the reality of Christ’s resurrection in the face of death (cf. Matthew 26:56; Luke 24:11; Acts 2, 4-5; 7:59-60; 12:2) and who experienced astonishing and immediate numerical growth in the very area where the evidence for the resurrection could be the most easily examined and verified (Acts 2:41; 4:4).  Likewise, the fact that Christ’s enemies resisted the Christian proclamation of the resurrection, and persecuted, not refuted, its advocates constitutes strong evidence.  Anti-supernaturalist alternative explanations[266] for the resurrection of Christ have failed so badly that “the vast majority of scholars . . . reject”[267] them.[268]  “The nineteenth century saw the rise of many rationalistic explanations of the resurrection, which occasionally reappear in popular-level writings today,” but in academia even the generality of anti-supernaturalist “contemporary scholars rightly reject these explanations as harder to believe than the resurrection itself.”[269]  “All of the . . . alternatives” to the fact of the resurrection “have been shown by other unbelievers simply to be impossible.”[270]  The failure of anti-supernaturalist alternatives to the resurrection creates a serious problem for the non-Christian. Craig notes:

[N]one of the . . . counter-explanations can account for the evidence as plausibly as the resurrection itself.  One might ask, “Well, then, how do skeptical scholars explain the facts of the resurrection appearances, the empty tomb, and the origin of the Christian faith?”  The fact of the matter is, they don’t.  Modern scholarship recognizes no plausible explanatory alternative to the resurrection of Jesus.  Those who refuse to accept the resurrection as a fact of history are simply self-confessedly left without an explanation.[271]

Honest evaluation of the historical data demonstrates that the case for Christ’s resurrection is overwhelming.

Indeed, the historical data in favor of Christ’s resurrection are so strong that “some of the greatest legal scholars consistently maintain that the Resurrection of Jesus” is not just true, nor just strongly attested, but is in fact “the best attested fact in ancient history.”[272]  University of St. Andrews and Oxford professor Nicholas T. Wright[273] concluded:

We are left with the secure historical conclusion: the tomb was empty, and various “meetings” took place not only between Jesus and his followers (including at least one initial sceptic) but also, in at least one case (that of Paul; possibly, too, that of James), between Jesus and people who had not been among his followers. I regard this conclusion as coming in the same sort of category, of historical probability so high as to be virtually certain, as the death of Augustus in AD 14 or the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. . . . [The] obvious and satisfying historical explanation . . . [for] the two key pieces of evidence, the empty tomb and the “meetings” . . . [is] the bodily resurrection of Jesus[.][274]

Many scholars have testified:  “The more I study the evidence the more I believe that the resurrection of Jesus is the best attested fact of all history.”[275]  Rejection of Christ’s resurrection is not a matter of evidence, but too often of anti-supernaturalist bias.  For example, Charles Hartshorne, who has been called “one of the most important philosophers of religion and metaphysicians of the twentieth century,”[276] wrote:  “I can neither explain away the evidences [for the resurrection] . . . nor can I simply agree [with counter-arguments, but] . . . [m]y metaphysical bias is against resurrections.”[277]  Sarah Coakley of Harvard admits that liberal “New Testament scholarship . . . is often . . . downright repressive—about supernatural events in general and bodliy resurrection in particular.”[278]  Tied into anti-supernaturalism is unwillingness to surrender to Christ’s Lordship.  Dan Barker, president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, America’s largest atheist organization, explained:

Even if Jesus . . . rose from the dead [and] there’s a God [and] I don’t deny any of that . . .  does NOT mean that he is my Lord. . . . I will go happily to hell.  It would be worse of a hell for me to bow down before a Lord . . . regardless of the . . . historicity issue. . . . Even if I agreed 100%, I would still reject that Being as a Lord of my life . . . to live and enjoy . . .life unshakled from the demands . . . [of a] Lord. . . . I cannot accept Jesus as Lord. . . . To me, I think that’s more important than all this historicity stuff, [in] which . . . I might be wrong. . . . [When asked,] “What I’ve heard from you is even if He rose from the dead, you still would not accept him as Lord.”  [Barker replied,] I’m proud of that.[279]

The issues at stake may be clearly stated:

The resurrection of Christ is one of the best attested events in history. The skepticism which discards this must, to be consistent with itself, at the same time set at naught all history. And the faith which accepts this must, to be consistent with itself, accept the whole Gospel which centres in Jesus Christ, “who was declared to be the Son of God with power [. . .] by the resurrection from the dead” [Romans 1:4].[280]

The evidence of history leaves no rational alternative to the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ—with all of its implications about who deserves to be ruler in every life—for the unbiased individual.

http://faithsaves.net

[1]               John Wenham, Redating Matthew, Mark, and Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem (Downers Grove, IL:  Intervarsity Press, 1992) 239-243; Wilbur Pickering, ed., New Majority Greek Text Based on Original Text Theory, EUAGGELION KATA IWANNHN, 49.

[2]               T. C. Lawson, “The Dates and Origins of the Gospels.” Evangelical Quarterly 10:3 (July 1938) 281-285.

[3]               R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007), 15.

[4]               Irenaeus recounts that Papias was a “the hearer of John” the Apostle (Irenaeus of Lyons, “Irenæus against Heresies,” in The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers [Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885], 563), an affirmation confirmed by other writers (see C. Stewart Petrie, “The Authorship of ‘The Gospel According to Matthew’: A Reconsideration of the External Evidence,” New Testament Studies 14 [1967] 21-22).  Wenham notes:

Papias emphasizes that he got his information from those who had known the apostles Andrew, Philip, Thomas, James, John, Matthew and others, and . . . is writing self-consciously as a particularly well-informed person, who has multiple sources and who is only removed from Matthew himself by a single link. . . . Thus he had informants of great reliability whose reports his readers could safely trust . . . testimony of the highest quality. (John Wenham, Redating Matthew, Mark, and Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem [Downers Grove, IL:  Intervarsity Press, 1992] 124-125)

In addition to the Apostle John, Papias was “very familiar with Aristion . . . [one of the] seventy-two disciples of the Lord” that Christ sent out to preach in Luke 10 (A. C. Perumalil, “Are Not Papias and Irenaeus Competent to Report on the Gospels?” The Expository Times 91:11 (1980) 334-335).

[5]               See C. Stewart Petrie, “The Authorship of ‘The Gospel According to Matthew’: A Reconsideration of the External Evidence,” New Testament Studies 14 (1967) 21-26.

[6]              “Papias [was a] hearer of John and the companion of Polycarp” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5:33:4).

[7]               Papias, Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord, cited in Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History 3:39:16.  The Greek text reads:  Ματθαῖος . . . τὰ λόγια συνετάξατο.  For a justification for translating τὰ λόγια as “Gospel,” see C. Stewart Petrie, “The Authorship of ‘The Gospel According to Matthew’: A Reconsideration of the External Evidence,” New Testament Studies 14 (1967) 31f.. See also Robert L. Thomas, ed., The Jesus Crisis (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1998) 39-40 for a refutation of the view that τὰ λόγια refers to a “sayings source” such as the fictitious “Q” document; Papias uses λόγια to refer not only to words, but also to deeds of Christ, and explicitly to Matthew’s Gospel.

[8]               Farnell notes: “[T]he church fathers were not merely unthinkingly reflecting Papias . . .they (e.g., Irenaeus, Clement, Tertullian, Origen) were renowned scholars in their own right who had information from widespread and independent sources. They did not need to rely solely on Papias for their information” (F. David Farnell, Ph.D, “The Synoptic Gospels In The Ancient Church: The Testimony To The Priority Of Matthew’s Gospel 1.” Master’s Seminary Journal 10:1 [Spring 1999] 84).  Thus, for example, “[T]here is in . . . the writings of Irenaeus . . . no hint of dependence [on Papias].  Indeed, Irenaeus was sufficiently close to the authorities of Papias to have gathered his own information. . . . Both Papias and Irenaeus . . . are competent to give us reliable and independent information about . . . gospel origins” (A. C. Perumalil, “Are Not Papias and Irenaeus Competent to Report on the Gospels?” The Expository Times 91:11 [1980] 332, 337).

Irenaeus’s accuracy is sometimes assailed on the allegation that he claimed that Christ lived to be fifty years old (Against Heresies 2:22:1-6).  However, if one grants the claim, it would “not prove that Irenaeus was not trustworthy, but merely that he was not infallible” (F. R. Montgomery Hitchcock, Irenaeus of Lugdunum: A Study of His Teaching [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1914] 27).  Furthermore, granting the accuracy of the Latin text of 2:22, Irenaeus’s specific point could well be that Christ lived beyond the age of thirty, not that he was exactly fifty years old or older. Finally, the Greek original language text containing this passage has been lost, and it is possible that the Latin translation of it is problematic.  Nothing in Against Heresies 22 demonstrates that Irenaeus’ testimony about the authorship of the Gospels can be blithly set aside.

[9]               Irenaeus of Lyons, The Writings of Irenæus, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, trans. Alexander Roberts and W. H. Rambaut, vol. 1, Ante-Nicene Christian Library (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: T. & T. Clark; Hamilton & Co.; John Robertson & Co., 1868–1869), 258–259.

It should be noted that early patristic testimony also strongly favors Matthew composing his gospel in Hebrew.  Since it is very clear that the inspired Greek gospel of Matthew is not a translation, the Apostle Matthew almost surely wrote both the Greek gospel and a version in Hebrew for his fellow Jews.

[10]             Origin, Commentary on Matthew, vol. 1, cited in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6:25:4; cf. Origen, “Origen’s Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew,” in The Gospel of Peter, the Diatessaron of Tatian, the Apocalypse of Peter, the Visio Pauli, the Apocalypses of the Virgil and Sedrach, the Testament of Abraham, the Acts of Xanthippe and Polyxena, the Narrative of Zosimus, the Apology of Aristides, the Epistles of Clement (Complete Text), Origen’s Commentary on John, Books I-X, and Commentary on Matthew, Books I, II, and X-XIV, ed. Allan Menzies, trans. John Patrick, vol. 9, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1897), 412.

[11]             Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3:24:6.

[12]             Jerome, Commentary on Matthew, ed. Thomas P. Halton, trans. Thomas P. Scheck, vol. 117, The Fathers of the Church (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2008), 53, “Preface [to the Commentary on Matthew].”

[13]             Theodor Zahn, Introduction to the New Testament, trans. Melancthon Williams Jacobus, vol. 2 (Edinburgh:  Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1909), 506.

[14]             R. C. Sproul, ed., The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries, 2005), 1359.

[15]             John Wenham, Redating Matthew, Mark, and Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem (Downers Grove, IL:  Intervarsity Press, 1992) 133-134.

[16]             Thus, the unanimity of ascription for the canonical gospels contrasts sharply with “the multiplicity of variants in the title of Joseph and Asenath . . . the variants of the so-called Apocalypsis Mosis or Vita Adae et Evae in K. von Tischendorf, Apocalypses Apocryphae . . . [and the] titles of the Protevangelium of James [which] are almost beyond counting” (Martin Hengel, Studies in the Gospel of Mark, trans. John Bowden [London: SCM Press, 1985], 82).

[17]             Consider, furthermore, how profusely the earliest writings of Christendom quoted the Gospels and the other New Testament books:

Speaking of the four Gospels alone, there are some 19,368 citations of the [patristic writers] from the late first century onward. This includes 268 by Justin Martyr, 1,038 by Irenaeus, 1,017 by Clement of Alexandria, 9,231 by Origen, 3,822 by Tertullian, 734 by Hippolytus, and 3,258 by Eusebius[.] Even before these men there were citations: Pseudo-Barnabas . . . cited Matthew, Mark, and Luke; Clement of Rome . . . cited Matthew, John, and 1 Corinthians; Ignatius . . . referred to six of Paul’s epistles; Polycarp . . .  quoted all four Gospels, Acts, and most of Paul’s epistles; the Shepherd of Hermas . . . cited Matthew, Mark, Acts, 1 Corinthians, and other books; the Didache . . . referred to Matthew, Luke, 1 Corinthians, and other books; and Papias, companion of Polycarp, who was the disciple of the apostle John, quotes his gospel.

All of this argues powerfully that the Gospels were in existence before they were cited, which would place them well before the end of the first century while some eyewitnesses (like John) were still alive. Further, that some of these [patristics] overlapped with the latest book[s] of the New Testament . . . virtually eliminates any time gap between the completion of the New Testament and the earliest citations of it. (Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume One: Introduction, Bible [Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2002], 463–464; cf. Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible, Rev. & exp. [Chicago: Moody Press, 1986], 431.)

[18]             John Wenham, Redating Matthew, Mark, and Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem (Downers Grove, IL:  Intervarsity Press, 1992) 134-135; cf. Martin Hengel, Studies in the Gospel of Mark (Philadelphia:  Fortress, 1985) 64-84.

[19]             Douglas J. Moo, The Letter of James, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos, 2000), 25–27; William Varner, James, ed. H. Wayne House, W. Hall Harris III, and Andrew W. Pitts, Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012), 19–24; Joseph B. Mayor, ed., The Epistle of St. James the Greek Text with Introduction, Notes and Comments, and Further Studies in the Epistle of St. James, Classic Commentaries on the Greek New Testament (London: Macmillan, 1913), 121-178.

[20]             F. David Farnell, ed., Vital Issues in the Inerrancy Debate (Eugene, OR:  Wipf & Stock, 2015) 472-475; see. e. g, Matthew 5:34–37, James 5:12; Matthew 6:19, James 5:2; Matthew 6:24, James 4:4; Matthew 7:1, James 4:11, 12, 5:9, etc.

[21]             Theodor Zahn, Introduction to the New Testament, trans. Melancthon Williams Jacobus, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1909), 515.  The Didache has been dated as early as c. AD 40-60, 1 Clement to c. A. D. 70, and the Epistle of Barnabas to c. A. D. 75 (John A. T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament [London: SCM Press, 1972] 352); cf. F. David Farnell, ed., Vital Issues in the Inerrancy Debate (Eugene, OR:  Wipf & Stock, 2015) 472-475.

Note that Origen, Eusebius, Epiphanius, and Jerome associated the “Clement” of Philippians 4:3, Paul’s fellowlaborer, with the author of 1 Clement, the third pastor of the church at Rome.  If these ancient scholars are correct, further evidence is supplied for 1 Clement’s early date and, thus, for the even earlier date of those Gospels referenced within it.

[22]             R. T. France, Matthew: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 1, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1985), 32–33; R. H. Gundry, Matthew: A Commentary on his Literary and Theological Art (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982) 599-609.  Matthew consistently points out the fulfillment of prophecy in his gospel (Matthew 1:22; 2:15, 17, 23; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 13:14, 35; 21:4; 24:34; 26:54, 56; 27:9, 35).  Had the Apostle written after A. D. 70, he would surely have pointed out the fulfillment of Christ’s prophecy concerning the destruction of the Jewish temple and Jerusalem (Matthew 23:34ff.).  Matthew does not record the fulfillment of the prophecy because he wrote his gospel before the fulfillment took place.

[23]             Thus, Matthew states:  “the names of the twelve apostles are these” (Matthew 10:2, Ton de dodeka apostolon ta onomata estin tauta).  “The readers [of Matthew] were in fact treated as contemporaries of that group [of Apostles.] . . . Mark and Luke use the aorist [a form of the past tense in Greek, in contrast to Matthew’s Greek present tense, for Mark and Luke were written after A. D. 42].  The language of Matthew would be particularly appropriate if he wrote before the death of James, the first apostle martyred, in 42. . . . [T]he choice of tense is striking” (John Wenham, Redating Matthew, Mark, and Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem [Downers Grove, IL:  Intervarsity Press, 1992] 304).

[24]             That is, family 35, an extremely careful manuscript grouping that goes back at least to the 200s A. D.

[25]             Wilbur Pickering, ed., New Majority Greek Text Based on Original Text Theory, EUAGGELION KATA IWANNHN, 49.

[26]             John Wenham, Redating Matthew, Mark, and Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem (Downers Grove, IL:  Intervarsity Press, 1992) 239; see also Jerome, Chonicle, http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/jerome_chronicle_03_part2.htm (A. D. 41).

[27]             John Wenham, Redating Matthew, Mark, and Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem (Downers Grove, IL:  Intervarsity Press, 1992) 303-304.

[28]             Robert L. Thomas & F. David Farnell, The Jesus Crisis (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1998) 38.

[29]             John Wenham, Redating Matthew, Mark, and Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem (Downers Grove, IL:  Intervarsity Press, 1992) 304.

[30]             Commenting on modern attempts to make the Gospels late, Robinson notes:  “The notion that all the Pauline epistles, with the theology they imply, were prior to the all the gospels, with the theology that they imply, is not one that we should derive from the documents themselves” (John A. T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament [London: SCM Press, 1976] 352).

[31]             “News And Notes.” Bible and Spade 8:2 (Spring 1995) 60-64.

[32]             See Matthew D’Ancona & Carsten Peter Thiede, The Jesus Papyrus: The Most Sensational Evidence on the Origin of the Gospel Since the Discover of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  New York:  Doubleday, 1996.

It is noteworthy that papyrus P46, which contains a collection of Paul’s epistles (including Hebrews), has been dated by Göttingen University papyrologist Young-Kyu Kim to “the late first century—in other words, to the lifetime of people like John and other ‘survivors’ of the first Christian generation” (Carsten Peter Thiede, “A Testament Is Born,” Christian History Magazine-Issue 43: How We Got Our Bible, Canon to King James [Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, 1994]).  Dr. Kim provided evidence that the style is comparable to other papyri dating no later than “the third quarter of the first century AD” (Young Kyu Kim, “Paleographical Dating of P46 to the Later First Century.” Biblica 69 [1988] 252).  If Dr. Kim is correct, the papyrus provides hard manuscript evidence for the very early recognition of the inspiration and canonicity of the Pauline epistles and strongly undermines anti-supernaturalist allegations of late-dating and Pauline pseudepigraphy.

[33]             Carsten Peter Thiede, Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth (Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing, 1995) 12.

[34]             See the pictures of the papyrus fragments at http://www.magd.ox.ac.uk/libraries-and-archives/treasure-of-the-month/news/magdalen-papyrus/.

[35]             “News And Notes.” Bible and Spade 8:4 (Autumn 1995) 119-122.

[36]             Carsten Peter Thiede, Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth (Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing, 1995) 14.

[37]             See, Carsten Peter Thiede, “Papyrus Magdalen Greek 17 (Gregory-Aland P64): A Reappraisal.” Tyndale Bulletin 46 (1995) 29-42 & Peter M. Head, “The Date of the Magdalen Papyrus of Matthew (P. Magd. Gr. 17 = P64): A Response to C. P. Thiede.” Tyndale Bulletin 46 (1995) 251-285.  Thiede comments, in response to critics:

[The] critique . . . that a copy of St. Matthew’s gospel found or at least preserved in southern Egypt and written at such an early date would suggest an incredibly rapid process of dissemination of this gospel throughout the Mediterranean basin.  Yes . . . the process would indeed have been rapid, but why should this in any way surprise us? . . . [A] number of the gospels would have been sent out immediately as a matter of course, and . . . copies of copies would have been produced for further distribution without delay . . . the spreading of . . . [a] gospel . . . throughout the Mediterranean basin was in all probability anything but a protracted affair of years or decades.  It happened within weeks and months. . . . [T]o assume the existence of a copy of Matthew’s gospel linked with Luxor on the Nile and dated to the latter portion of the first century is historically speaking . . . expected[.] (Carsten Peter Thiede, Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth [Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing, 1995] 4-5)

[38]             Scholars note Mark’s extensive interaction with the Apostles and personal knowledge of the earliest period of Christianity:

A John Mark is mentioned 10 times in the NT—in Acts as a young man in whose house the church in Jerusalem met (Acts 12:12) and who accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey (Acts 12:25; 13:5, 13; 15:37–39). In Colossians and Philemon Mark is mentioned as someone with Paul during his first Roman imprisonment (Col 4:10; Phm 24) and in 2 Timothy as someone Paul desired to have with him during his second Roman imprisonment (2 Tm 4:11). First Peter indicates that Mark was someone beloved by Peter and with him in Rome (1 Pt 5:13). . . . [T]he Mark who . . . wrote the second Gospel grew up in Judea in a wealthy, urban family . . . was raised under the teaching of the 12 apostles . . . [and] knew well the movers and shakers of the early church[.] (Ted Cabal et al., The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith [Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007] 1463–1464.)

[39]             T. C. Lawson, “The Dates and Origins of the Gospels.” Evangelical Quarterly 10:3 (July 1938) 285-286.  Thus, for example, “The Gospel opens . . . [without a] genealogy as in Matthew, for we do not enquire about the genealogy of a servant, but rather the qualification for efficient service. . . . It is characteristic of St. Mark that he omits the Word ‘Lord’ as used of Christ as compared with St. Matthew[.] . . . The disciples are rather companions in service, not . . . men commanded to go. . . . [In Mark, when] others need Him, He is their servant . . . ever ready to do them good” (Ibid, pg. 286).  Note also that “In Mark’s Gospel more Latin words, apart from proper names, occur than in other NT documents” (Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Latin,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988], 1312).  Furthermore, he “used Latin terms not found in other Gospels (cf. Mark 6:27; 12:15, 42), and used Roman rather than Jewish systems for calculating time (cf. Mark 6:48; 13:35)” (Larry Richards and Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary [Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987], 600).  Hendrickson & Kistemaker note:

And as to this Gospel’s origin in Rome note that at times Mark renders Greek into Latin. He mentions that the two lepta (“copper corns”) which the poor widow cast into the offering box amounted to one Roman quadrans (“penny,” 12:42), and that the aulē (“palace”) into which the soldiers led Jesus was the praetorium (the governor’s official residence, 15:16).

Mark is also the only Gospel that informs us (15:21) that Simon of Cyrene was “the father of Alexander and Rufus,” who were evidently well-known in Rome (see Rom. 16:13). (William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark, vol. 10, New Testament Commentary [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001], 13–14).

Such facts provide internal evidence supporting the external evidence in ancient sources for Mark’s Roman audience (cf. Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6:14:5–7).

[40]             Lewis Berkhof, New Testament Introduction (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans-Sevensma Co., 1915), 78.

[41]             Thomas C. Oden and Christopher A. Hall, eds., Mark, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), xxviii.

[42]             Papias, Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord, cited in Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History 3:39:15.  The Greek word ἑρμηνευτής is rendered “expounder” for the reasons set forth in John Wenham, Redating Matthew, Mark, and Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem (Downers Grove, IL:  Intervarsity Press, 1992) 137, 274.

[43]             The Accordance Bible Lands PhotoGuide, s.v. “Capernaum,” paragraph 459. “In 1968 excavations were undertaken that have convinced most archaeologists that they have found the actual site of Peter’s house in Capernaum” (Clinton E. Arnold, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke, vol. 1 [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002], 56).

[44]             See also Jerome:  “Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, wrote a short gospel at the request of the brethren at Rome, embodying what he had heard Peter tell. When Peter had heard it, he approved it and issued it to the churches to be read by his authority” (Jerome, Lives of Illustrious Men 8 (The Fathers of the Church, ed. Thomas P. Halton, trans. Thomas P. Halton, vol. 100 [Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1999], 17).

[45]             Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3:1:1.  Some anti-supernaturalists have misinterpreted Irenaus’ statement that Mark delivered his gospel after the departure (Greek exodos) of Peter and Paul as a statement that he wrote after their death. However:

Irenaeus never uses exodos when he wants to say ‘death.’  For ‘death’ he always uses thanatos.  In the same Book III of Adversus Haereses he does so no less than thirty-eight times. . . . Thus, Irenaeus can no longer be quoted as someone who argues against . . . Papias and Clement of Alexandria, who are witnesses to an early date for Mark’s gospel.  Quite the contrary, he now joins and even corroborates them by stating quite clearly that this gospel was composed during Peter’s lifetime. . . . [The] ‘Anti-Marcionite’ . . . prologue’s expression, post excessionem, [likewise does not clearly refer to a situation after Peter’s death.] (Carsten Peter Thiede, Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth [Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing, 1995] 51-52)

Furthermore, Irenaeus does not say in 3:1:1 that Mark “composed” or “wrote” his gospel after the “departure” in question, but that he “taught, instructed, or delivered” (Greek paradidomi, see Lampe, Patristic Greek Lexicon, 20th ed.  [New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2007] 1013; cf. Against Heresies 1:4:5; 1:8:1; 1:10:2; 1:11:2; 1:20:3-21:2; 1:25:5; 2:22:5; 3:3:4; 5:3:1) his gospel, which had already been written, at that time.  Nothing at all in Irenaeus’ statement supports a late date for Mark’s Gospel.

Peter had escaped persecution in Jerusalem to travel to Rome c. A. D. 42, something implied in Acts 12:17’s allusion in its “to another place” (eis heteron topon) to this exact phrase in Ezekiel 12:3, LXX, where travel to Babylon, which was employed as a code word for Rome (1 Peter 5:13; Revelation 17-18), is in view (Carsten Peter Thiede, Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth [Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing, 1995] 68-69, 140-150).

[46]             Clement of Alexandria, Hypotyposes, cited in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6:14:6-7; 2:15:1-2.

[47]             Origen, Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, vol. 1, cited in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6:25:4-5.

[48]             John D. Grassmick, “Mark,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 95.

[49]             See Mark 1:16–39; 2:1–14; 3:13–19; 4:35–5:43; 6:7–13, 30–56; 8:15–9:48; 10:32–52; 11:1–33; 13:3–4, 32–37; 14:17–50, 53–54, 66–72; 16:7.  Mackie notes:

[F]rom internal evidence we should gather that the author was either an eye-witness of the events described or at least that he had first-hand information. Further, a close examination of the Gospel makes it exceedingly probable that the writer’s informant was St. Peter . . . the internal evidence fully corroborates the external, that the author was the “interpreter of Peter.” The impression left from a study of Mark is that we have here in effect . . . that Apostle’s Gospel. It begins the narrative at the point when Peter could give his own recollections—at the preaching of the Baptist and the baptism of Jesus. This . . . was to Mark “the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God” (1:1). (G. M. Mackie, “Mark, Gospel According To,” ed. James Hastings, A Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels: Aaron–Zion [Edinburgh: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1906] 123.)

See also Saint Mark’s Gospel, The Navarre Bible (New York: Scepter Publishers, 2005), 44.

[50]             Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume One: Introduction, Bible (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2002) 463–464; cf. David A. Fiensy, New Testament Introduction, The College Press NIV Commentary (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1997) 144.

[51]             John Wenham, Redating Matthew, Mark, and Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem (Downers Grove, IL:  Intervarsity Press, 1992) 238, 169ff.

[52]             See John Knight Forthingham, ed., The Bodleian Manuscript of Jerome’s Version of the Chronicle of Eusebius (London:  Oxford University Press, 1923) 261 & Wenham, Redating Matthew, Mark, and Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem (Downers Grove, IL:  Intervarsity Press, 1992) 275-276; see also Jerome, Chonicle, http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/jerome_chronicle_03_part2.htm.

[53]             Wilbur N. Pickering, “Appendix G:  7Q5,” in The Identity of the New Testament Text, 4th ed., Elec. acc. http://walkinhiscommandments.com.

[54]             The style in question is late Herodian Ornimental (Carsten Peter Thiede, Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth [Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing, 1995] 9, 204).

[55]             Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 547.

[56]             Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 547.  A “growing number of international papyrologists and classicists are of the opinion that two New Testament texts in [Qumran] cave 7 have been reliably identified: 7Q4 = 1 Timothy 3:16 to 4:3 and 7Q5 = Mark 6:52-53” (Carsten Peter Thiede, Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth [Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing, 1995] 160-161).  The other fragments were identified by O’Callaghan as follows: 7Q61 = Mark 4:28; 7Q62 = Acts 27:38; 7Q7 = Mark 12:17; 7Q8 = James 1:23-24; 7Q9 = Romans 5:11-12; 7Q10 = 2 Peter 1:15; 7Q15 = Mark 6:48, but these fragments are all too small to have the kind of certainty possible for 7Q4 and 7Q5.  A total of twenty-five Greek texts have been discovered in caves four and seven, dating to between the middle of the first century B. C. and the middle of the first century A. D., including texts from the LXX and extrabiblical documents (Ibid, 160-163).

[57]             Orsolina Montevecchi, La papirologia (2d ed.; Milan: Vijta e Pensiero 1988).  Montevecchi held the position of Honorary President in 1995.

[58]             Thiede, Carsten Peter. “7Q5 — Facts or Fiction?” Westminster Theological Journal 57, no. 2 (Fall 1995): 471-474; cf. John Wenham, Redating Matthew, Mark, and Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem (Downers Grove, IL:  Intervarsity Press, 1992) 177-179; Thiede, Peter C., The Earliest Gospel Manuscript?  The Qumran Fragment 7Q5 and its Significance for New Testament Studies (Exeter:  Paternoster Press, 1992).  Gundry lists other scholars who support O’Callahan’s thesis:

Herbert Hunger, “7Q5: Markus 6, 52–53—oder? Die Meinung des Papyrologen,” in Christen und Christliches in Qumran? 33–56; Orsolina Montevecchi in an interview conducted by Stefano M. Paci, “Research Without Prejudice,” 30Days 6 (7–8, 1994) 63–65; Sergio Daris according to Lucio Brunelli, “A Clue to History,” 30Days 6 (7–8, 1994) 60 (cf. Daris’s review of Thiede’s Die älteste Evangelien-Handschrift? in Bib 68 [1987] 431–33); and Marta Sordi according to Thiede in a letter addressed to me and dated June 22, 1994. See Betz and Riesner, Jesus, Qumran and the Vatican, 117–18, 185–86 nn. 19, 22, for other supporters of the identification: Ferdinand Rohrhirsch, Harald Riesenfeld, and Eugen Ruckstuhl. Betz and Riesner themselves, and Shemaryahu Talmon too, seem to consider it a real possibility (ibid., 123–24, 186 n. 35). So also Carlo M. Martini according to Brunelli, “A Clue to History,” 60; and Ignace de la Potterie, “Unexpected Confirmation,” 30Days 6 (7–8, 1994) 65–66. In conversation by telephone, Thiede has reported to me support for his identification from J. M. Vernet in RivB 46 (1998) 43–60, but this information came too late for me to have perused Vernet’s article for myself prior to submission of the present article. Similarly, I have not been able to acquire in time an article by G. Di Palma in Asprenas (Naples) 43 (1996) 525–36, and another by J. E. M. Terra in Cristo em Marcos (ed. J. E. M. Terra; Revista de Cultura Biblica 21/81–82; São Paulo: Loyola, 1996).  (Robert H. Gundry, “No Nu in Line 2 of 7Q5: A Final Disidentification of 7Q5 with Mark 6:52–53,” Journal of Biblical Literature 118:4 [Winter 1999] 702)

Forensic analysis by the Investigations Department of the Israeli National Police, by permission of the Israel Antiquities Authority, also confirmed evidence supporting the identification of 7Q5 with Mark (Carsten Peter Thiede, Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth [Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing, 1995] 195-197).

[59]             Carsten Peter Thiede, Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth (Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing, 1995) 17.

[60]             Carsten Peter Thiede, Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth (Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing, 1995) 114.

[61]             Doug Powell, Holman QuickSource Guide to Christian Apologetics (Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 2006), 136.  The papyrus has been identified as coming from Mark 6:52-53, and scholars have “even stated that AD 50 was the latest possible date” (Carsten Peter Thiede, Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth [Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing, 1995] 50).

[62]             Carsten Peter Thiede, Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth (Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing, 1995) 129.

[63]             Philip Comfort, Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & Textual Criticism (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2005), 104–105.

[64]             Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 547.

[65]             Thiede, Carsten Peter. “7Q5 — Facts or Fiction?.” Westminster Theological Journal 57:2 (Fall 1995): 471-474.

[66]             Robert H. Gundry, “No Nu in Line 2 of 7Q5: A Final Disidentification of 7Q5 with Mark 6:52–53,” Journal of Biblical Literature 118 (1999): 698.  Of course, the fact that skeptical scholars disagree with O’Callahan does not mean that their only reason for opposition is anti-supernatural bias, nor that his argument has been received as true by all inerrantist scholars.  Thiede responds to critics of the 7Q4 and 7Q5 identification in Carsten Peter Thiede, Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth (Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing, 1995) 169-188, pointing out difficulties raised by critics to the identification of 7Q5 “are no greater than those in the case of 7Q1 [Exodus 28:4-6, LXX]” as well as 7Q2 (Baruch 6:43-44), yet these latter identifications are “still quoted without criticism by all relevant commentaries on the Septuagint text.”  Furthermore, “the oldest known manuscript of Virgil” was made by a Roman soldier that fought against Masada and has been dated “on the basis of a mere fifteen characters . . . Virgil on Masada is happily (and rightly) accepted, with less evidence to show for it than the disputed Mark identification at Qumran . . . [d]ouble standards are operating here” (Ibid, 172-174, 179-180).

[67]             Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 547.

[68]             Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 532.

[69]             John Wenham, Redating Matthew, Mark, and Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem (Downers Grove, IL:  Intervarsity Press, 1992) 178.  Furthermore, even opponents of the identification of fragments in Cave 7 with the New Testament have admitted that “a considerable number of arguments c[an] be mustered in favour of the identification,” and “none of the solutions suggested by” advocates “contradict the available evidence from first century papyri” (Carsten Peter Thiede, Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth [Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing, 1995] 39).

[70]             Carsten Peter Thiede, Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth (Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing, 1995) 180-181, 190.

[71]             Carsten Peter Thiede, Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth (Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing, 1995) 39.

[72]            After 7Q5, P45, which “contains sizeable portions of all four Gospels and Acts” (and thus, obviously, includes Mark) dates to “ca. 200” (Philip Comfort, Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & Textual Criticism [Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2005], 172).

[73]             Note the discussion below of the fictional “Q” document postulated by many anti-Bible skeptics as a source of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

[74]             Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 547–548.

[75]             For more on the identification of the fragments in Cave 7, see W. White, Jr., “O’Callahan’s Identifications: Confirmation and Its Consequences,” Westminster Journal 35 (1972) 15-20; Carsten Peter Thiede, “Christianity and Qumran: Cave 7 in Its Papyrological Context” and “Fragment 7Q5: A Forensic Analysis in Jerusalem,” in Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth (Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1995) 195-197; Wilbur N. Pickering, “Appendix G:  7Q5,” in The Identity of the New Testament Text, 4th ed., Elec. acc. http://walkinhiscommandments.com; Carsten Peter Thiede, The Earliest Gospel Manuscript? The Qumran Papyrus 7Q5 and its Significance for New Testament Studies (Exeter: Paternoster, 1992); Carsten Peter Thiede, “7Q5 — Facts or Fiction?” Westminster Theological Journal 57:2 (Fall 1995) 471-474.

[76]             Genesis 3; Luke 3:23-4:13; Zechariah 6:12; Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:45; see T. C. Lawson, “The Dates and Origins of the Gospels” Evangelical Quarterly 10:3 (July 1938) 287-288.

[77]             Wilbur Pickering, ed., New Majority Greek Text Based on Original Text Theory, EUAGGELION KATA IWANNHN, 49; John Wenham, Redating Matthew, Mark, and Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem (Downers Grove, IL:  Intervarsity Press, 1992) 229-238.

[78]             John Wenham, “The Identification of Luke.”  Evangelical Quarterly 63:1 (1991) 3.

[79]             Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction 113.

[80]             Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987) 19.

[81]             Irenaeus of Lyons, “Irenæus against Heresies,” in The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 414 (3:3:1).

[82]             John Wenham, Redating Matthew, Mark, and Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem (Downers Grove, IL:  Intervarsity Press, 1992) 184-185; Engelbert Gutwenger, “The Anti-Marcionite Prologues.”  Theological Studies 7:3 (September 1946) 393-395.

[83]             Tertullian, “The Five Books against Marcion,” in Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, trans. Peter Holmes, vol. 3, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 345–351.

[84]             Robert H. Stein, Luke, vol. 24, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 21.

[85]             Robert H. Stein, Luke, vol. 24, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 20.

[86]             Only in the latter half of the nineteenth century does an overflow of anti-historical and anti-evidence extreme skepticism lead to a questioning of Luke’s authorship (Robert H. Stein, Luke, vol. 24, The New American Commentary [Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992], 19).

[87]             The ancient external testimony in favor of Luke’s authorship is unanimous, and his personal presence during the events of Acts which he narrates in the first person is likewise exceedingly clear (Acts 16:10-17; 20:5-21:18; 27:1-28:16).  Luke’s status as a personal eyewitness to events during Christ’s earthly ministry likewise receives substantial internal and external evidence (as discussed above), but it is not unanimous (see, e. g., the Muratorian Canon).  While in the opinion of many it is not conclusive, nevertheless a case can be made that Luke did very careful research of eyewitness accounts (Luke 1:1-4) but was not himself personally an eyewitness.

[88]             William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 767 [parakoloutheoœ].  Josephus employs this Greek verb for the historian who “undertakes to deliver the history of actions truly” and “kn[ew] them accurately himself in the first place, as . . . having been concerned in them himself” in specific contrast to those who received knowledge second hand (Contra Apion 1:53 in Flavius Josephus and William Whiston, The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged [Peabody: Hendrickson, 1987]).

[89]             John Wenham, Redating Matthew, Mark, and Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem (Downers Grove, IL:  Intervarsity Press, 1992) 186-187.

[90]             E. g., Epiphanius of Salamis (Epiphanius, The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Books II and III, De Fide, 2nd rev. ed., trans. Frank Williams.  [Leiden:  Brill, 2013], 37) & Adamantius (see Adamantius, Der Dialog Des Adamantius in Die Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteller Der Ersten Drei Jahrhunderte: Adamantius [Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs’sche Buchhandlung, 1901] 11); however, see also Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History, Books 1–5, ed. Roy Joseph Deferrari, trans. Roy Joseph Deferrari, vol. 19, The Fathers of the Church (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1953), 75–76 [1:12].

[91]             See the discussion in John Wenham, “The Identification of Luke,” Evangelical Quarterly 63:1, 29-32.  The possibility is reasonable although the evidence is insufficient to establish it with certainty.

[92]             Dr. Ramsey initially expected that in Luke’s writings “[h]is object was not to present a trustworthy picture of facts . . . [h]e wrote . . . not for truth. He cared nought for geographical or historical surroundings of the period A.D. 30 to 60 [in the book of Acts].” However, the overwhelming evidence from his historical investigations drove Dr. Ramsey to recognize that the facts made such criticisms of Luke’s historicity “now utterly antiquated. There is not one point in [them] that is accepted. Everything is changed or discarded” (William M. Ramsay, The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament [London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1915], 37–39).

[93]             William Ramsey, The Bearing of Recent Discoveries on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1911) 22, 79; William Ramsey, St. Paul the Traveler and the Roman Citizen, 14th ed. (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1920) 7–8; William. M. Ramsay, The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1915), 89, 222.

[94]             The Didache, which has been dated to the 60s AD, refers to Acts 4:32, and since Luke was composed before Acts (Luke 1:1ff; Acts 1:1ff.), Luke must also have been in existence (F. David Farnell, ed., Vital Issues in the Inerrancy Debate [Eugene, OR:  Wipf & Stock, 2015] 481).

[95]             E. g., Justin’s Dialogue with Trypo 103 clearly quotes from Luke 22:42, 44, and Justin specifies that he quotes from the Gospels (cf. First Apology 66, “[T]he apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels . . .”) See Justin Martyr, Dialogue of Justin with Trypho, a Jew, in The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 251 & Justin Martyr, The First Apology of Justin, in The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 185.

[96]             Gary H. Everett, The Gospel of Luke, Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures (Gary Everett, 2011), 18–23.

[97]             Murray J. Harris, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 2005), 65–67;

[98]             Origen, Homilies on Luke and Fragments on Luke ed. Thomas P. Halton, trans. Joseph T. Lienhard, vol. 94, The Fathers of the Church (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2009), 8–9 [1:6]

[99]             Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History, English Translation, ed. T. E. Page et al., trans. Kirsopp Lake and J. E. L. Oulton, vol. 2, The Loeb Classical Library (London:  Harvard University Press, 1926–1932), 75 [6:25:6].

[100]            Ephraem the Syrian, S. Ephraem Syri Commentarii In Epistolas D. Pauli [Commentary on the Epistles of Paul] (Sancti Lazari, 1893), 103.

[101]            See, e. g., Ignatius of Antioch, “The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians,” in The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 56 [ch. 15, Longer Version]; Jerome, On Illustrious Men, ed. Thomas P. Halton, trans. Thomas P. Halton, vol. 100, The Fathers of The Church (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1999), 15–16 [7:1]; compare John Chrysostom, “Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on the Second Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians,” in Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. J. Ashworth and Talbot B. Chambers, vol. 12, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1889), 363 [Homily 18].

[102]            Bruce Manning Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition: A Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th rev. ed.).  London:  United Bible Societies, 1994), 519 & John Wenham, Redating Matthew, Mark, and Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem (Downers Grove, IL:  Intervarsity Press, 1992) 231.

[103]            See John Wenham, Redating Matthew, Mark, and Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem (Downers Grove, IL:  Intervarsity Press, 1992) 230-238 for a discussion; cf. also F. David Farnell, ed., Vital Issues in the Inerrancy Debate (Eugene, OR:  Wipf & Stock, 2015) 482-483.

[104]            “Since . . . graphe [“Scripture”] refers to what is written and recognized as scripture and since the words quoted are found verbatim in Luke’s Gospel, Paul’s dependence on that Gospel is the only alternative that fits all the data” (George W. Knight, The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary [Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 1992], 234).

[105]             “The external evidence for the authenticity of the PE [Pastoral Epistles, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus] is strong and consistent with the self-witness of the PE.”  Indeed, nobody questioned the authenticity of 1 Timothy or the other pastoral epistles for the first 95% of church history (Mounce, William D., Pastoral Epistles. Vol. 46 of Word Biblical Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000] lxix).

[106]            Dates range from A. D. 55 to A. D. 65. See John A. T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament London:  SCM Press, 1984) 352; George W. Knight, The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 1992), 54; Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 41.

[107]            Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 547.  The earliest extant manuscript of Luke’s gospel itself is probably P4, which dates to “at least the second century,” and thus is earlier than the P69, P75, and P45, which probably date to A. D. 200 or later (Carsten Peter Thiede, Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth [Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing, 1995] 51-52).  The identification of 7Q4 with 1 Timothy 3:16-4:3 is secure, while 7Q62 fits with Acts 27:38 but the small size of the papyrus makes the identification less certain (Carsten Peter Thiede, Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth [Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing, 1995] 161-162, 174-177).

[108]            7Q4, which contains 1 Timothy 3:16-4:3.  Thiede notes:

The fragment 7Q4 can be regarded as both identifiable and identified, not only by the standards of 7Q1 and 7Q2, but also on its own terms.  It is the only papyrus of the First Letter of Timothy; it must be dated on paleographical grounds to the middle of the first century AD. . . . [I]n order to break the identification of the fragment with 1 Timothy 3:16-4:3 one has to employ methods and hypotheses which do not have a reference point within a comparable environment. (Carsten Peter Thiede, Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth [Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing, 1995] 177)

On the other hand, the “somewhat laboured attempt to identify 7Q4 with Enoch” fails for many specific reasons:

[A]n attempt to identify 7Q4 with Enoch 10:3ff. failed mainly because the small fragment with the second line with οθε cannot be taken into consideration, unless the order is reversed and bigger gaps are assumed.  Only in Enoch 98:11 could characers be found which might be made to fit with this.  In addition the assumption that της is divided after η is a cornerstone of this identification.  With inscriptions, nearly anything is possible, but not in lterary papyri.  Then tehre is a question as to whether the word της should be present at all. Accordin gto Enoch 103:3 it should read ταις.  An itacism αι to η is assumed elsewhere by O’Callaghan, but whilst his δαιμονίων/ δημονίων transposition is normal, the variant assumed by the Enoch reading of της/ταις would be more than exception in lterary papyri.  In addition the probability of this identification being correct is further reduced by the fact that assuming the passage is from Enoch, a “wrong” της would follow on immediately from a “correct” ψυχαις.  If this should be believed to be the case we can only assume an extremely muddled author, but in any event given that the Timothy identification of the passage does not call for such an inconsistency, it must be preferred to this somewhat laboured attempt to identify 7Q4 with Enoch. (Ibid, 176)

[109]            Wilbur Pickering, ed., New Majority Greek Text Based on Original Text Theory, EUAGGELION KATA IWANNHN, 49.

[110]            Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6:25, ed. Kirsopp Lake, vol. 2, The Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1926–1932), 75.  See also Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3:1:1; Irenaeus of Lyons, The Writings of Irenæus, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, trans. Alexander Roberts and W. H. Rambaut, vol. 1, Ante-Nicene Christian Library (Edinburgh:  John Robertson & Co., 1868–1869), 258–259 & Theodor Zahn, Introduction to the New Testament, trans. Melancthon Williams Jacobus, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1909), 392ff.

The apostolic authorship, early date, and extremely strong support from ancient historical testimony in favor of the canonical Gospels stands in the sharpest contrast to the clear evidence of pseudonimity or forgery, late date, and absence of both internal and external evidence for non-canonical “gospels” such as the Gospel of Thomas, which were only “produced from the mid-second century onward . . . falsely ascribed to apostles or close associates of Jesus . . . [and] universally recognized as such and rejected by the early church” (Robert L. Thomas, Three Views on the Origins of the Synoptic Gospels [Grand Rapids, MI:  Kregel, 2002] 273).

[111]            The fact that Matthew, Mark, and Luke record a clear and specific predictive prophecy by the Lord Jesus Christ which was fulfilled only several decades later in A. D. 70 is the main reason why anti-supernaturalist writers strongly wish to date these Gospels after that date—only in this manner is it possible to claim that the prediction was really fake, falsely inserted into Christ’s mouth after the event.  Such an assumption among anti-supernaturalists is widespread enough that one could write:  “The critics of our days . . . are practically unanimous in assigning . . . [the] gospel, to the time after the destruction of Jerusalem. The majority of them do not even think that they are in these days called upon to take any special trouble to prove this point” (Adolf von Harnack, New Testament Studies: The Date of the Acts and of the Synoptic Gospels, trans. J. R. Wilkinson, vol. 4, Crown Theological Library [New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1911], 117.  The statement in context refers specifically to Luke’s Gospel, but the sentiment is widespread among anti-supernaturalists for all of them.).  No evidence is allegedly needed, and all contrary evidence can be ignored—predictive prophecy must be impossible, so the Gospels must post-date that year.

However, even some scholars who deny the Bible’s inerrancy see the problem with this late-dating based on nothing other than the assumption that predictive prophecy is impossible.  One anti-inerrancy writer acknowledges:  “An amazing example of uncritical dogmatism in New Testament studies is the belief that the Synoptic Gospels should be dated after the Jewish War of A.D. 66–70 because they contain prophecies ex eventu of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in the year 70” (Aune, D. E., ed., Studies in New Testament and Early Christian Literature: Essays in Honor of Allen P. Wikgren [NovT Supplement 33, Leiden: Brill, 1972] 121).

[112]            See Thomas Ross, The Book of Daniel:  Proof that the Bible is the Word of God.  Elec. acc. http://faithsaves.net/Daniel/.

[113]            Luke 21:32; a reference to the specific generation alive at the time of Luke 21 is evident by comparing Luke 7:31; 11:29-32, 50-51; 17:25; cf. Acts 2:40.

[114]            Lang, David. The Accordance Bible Times PhotoMuseum. Accordance electronic ed., version 2.0. (Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 2013), “Menorah.”

[115]            Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3:5, trans. Kirsopp Lake, The Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1926–1932), 201.  Other references to the flight to Pella include:

All the disciples had settled in Pella after their remove from Jerusalem—Christ having told them to abandon Jerusalem and withdraw from it because of the siege it was about to undergo. (Epiphanius, Panarion 29:7:7-8, cited from Frank Williams, trans., The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Book 1 [Sects 1-46], 2nd ed.  [Leiden:  Brill, 2009], 129; see also Panarion 30:2:7, pg. 132, ibid.)

[When the city [of Jerusalem] was about to be taken and destroyed by the Romans . . . all the disciples . . . sojourned as emigrants in Pella[.] . . . But after the destruction of Jerusalem . . . the disciples of the apostles . . . had come back from the city of Pella to Jerusalem and were living there and teaching. (Epiphanius, Weights and Measures 15; elec. acc. http://www.tertullian.org).

Scholars have concluded that the flight to Pella receives independent attestation in multiple sources from different geographical regions (Craig Koester, “The Origin and Significance of the Flight to Pella Tradition.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 51:1 [January 1989] 91, 95, 105), that the Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions 1:37, 39 take the evidence that this event was known back into the second century (ibid, 97-103), and that there are strong reasons to conclude that “the Pella tradition . . . recall[s] actual first century events . . . the most plausible explanation for the origin of the tradition is that it recalls actual events of the first century” (Ibid, 105-106).

[116]            T. C. Lawson, “The Dates and Origins of the Gospels.” Evangelical Quarterly 10:3 (July 1938) 288-291.

[117]           Christoph Ernst Luthardt, St. John the Author of the Fourth Gospel, trans. Caspar René Gregory (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1875), 1.  The historical testimony is even “not shattered, but confirmed by the Alogi,” while “doubt as to John’s authorship of the fourth gospel never has been raised in the Church” (Ibid, 15).  Indeed:  “Early church tradition is unanimous in support of traditional authorship of the four Gospels” (Robert L. Thomas, ed. Three Views on the Origins of the Synoptic Gospels [Grand Rapids, MI:  Kregel, 2002] 273).

[118]            Irenaeus of Lyons, The Writings of Irenæus, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, trans. Alexander Roberts and W. H. Rambaut, vol. 1, Ante-Nicene Christian Library (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1868–1869), 258–259 (Against Heresies 2:1:2).

[119]            Engelbert Gutwenger, “The Anti-Marcionite Prologues.”  Theological Studies 7:3 (September 1946) 395; English translation by Robert Pearse, “The ‘Anti-Marcionite’ Prologues to the Gospels,” available at http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/anti_marcionite_prologues.htm.

[120]            Clement of Alexandria as cited in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6:14:7; Kirsopp Lake, The Ecclesiastical History: English Translation, vol. 2, The Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1926–1932), 47–49.  Note that Clement’s reference to a plurality of primitive elders, rather than, say, a single elder, passing on this information indicates that John’s authorship was widely accepted and received among the churches.

[121]            Origin, Commentary on Matthew, vol. 1, cited in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6:25:1-9.

[122]            Philip Comfort, Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & Textual Criticism (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2005), 150.

[123]            P75 is stored in the Vatican Library (Vatican City); the MS was digitized by the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (csntm.org).

[124]            That John’s Gospel is in its unity composed by John, not a work containing earlier and later additions to a supposed core written by John, is demonstrated not only negatively by the complete lack of manuscript or any other sort of concrete evidence for any portion of John being added later rather than being composed by the Apostle, but also positively by the astonishing literary artistry and unity of the entire Gospel.  For example:

The prologue consists of 496 syllables, appropriately since 496 is both a triangular number and a perfect number and is also the numerical value of the Greek word monogenēs [“only begotten”] . . . used in 1:14, 18. . . . [T]he number 496 . . . links the Prologue and the Epilogue together. For, while the Prologue has 496 syllables, the Epilogue (a considerably longer passage) has 496 words. That the correspondence should be between the number of syllables in the Prologue and the number of words in the Epilogue is quite appropriate, because the Prologue is a poetic composition, in which one might expect the number of syllables to be important, whereas the Epilogue is a narrative. . . . [W]e cannot think that the identification of the Beloved Disciple as the author of the Gospel is a later, secondary accretion to the Gospel. The Gospel, with its Epilogue and its two-stage conclusion has been designed to reveal . . . at the end the role of the Beloved Disciple in its making[.] (Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006], 362, 364, 368; cf. 358-411.  496 is the triangle of 31, that is, the sum of all integers from 1 to 31, and it is a perfect number in that it is equal to the sum of its divisors, the third perfect number after 6 and 28.).

Note also that “20:30–31 and 21:24–25 form together a carefully composed two-stage conclusion to the Gospel. This requires that ‘written’ has the same sense in both 20:30–31 and 21:24. In both cases it refers to the writing of “this book,” not of a [non-existent, hypothetical] source” (Ibid, 362) consisting of only part of John’s Gospel.

[125]            While the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have an immense love for the entire world (John 3:16), not all the world comes to know that love by experience.

[126]            Note that Acts 4:19-20 connects the Apostle John and the Johannine corpus (Gospel of John, 1-3 John, Revelation).  Anderson explains:

Peter and John . . . as speaking . . . the only time John is mentioned as speaking in the book of Acts[.] . . . The narrative is followed by two statements.  The first statement [Acts 4:19] . . . is echoed by Peter in Acts 5:29 and 11:17, and it sounds . . . typically Petrine[.] . . . On the other hand, the statement of [Acts 4:20] . . . is clearly a Johannine logion . . . [like] 1 John 1:3 . . . John 3:32 . . . the only other time seeing and hearing verbs are used together and in the first person plural, as they are in Acts 4:20, is 1 John 1:3 . . . [a] first-century connecting of John the Apostle with a Johannine saying. (Paul N. Anderson, “Interfluential, Formative, and Dialectical—A Theory of John’s Relation to the Synoptics,” in Hofrichter, Peter L., ed., Für und wider die Priorität des Johannesevangeliums: Symposion in Salzburg am 10 März 2000 [Hildesheim:  Olms, 2002] 47-48)

The language of Acts 4:20 clearly is the Johannine style of 1 John 1:1, 3 (cf. also John 3:32; 5:37; Revelation 4:1; 5:11; 6:1, 3, 5, 7; 8:13; 22:8).

[127]            Merrill C. Tenney, John, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein and J. D. Douglas, vol. 9 of Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), paragraph 49688-49701.

[128]            The picture of the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem was taken by this book’s author.

[129]            David E. Graves, Biblical Archaeology, vol. 2 (Toronto:  Electronic Christian Media, 2015) 171.

[130]            Brooke Foss Westcott and Arthur Westcott, eds., The Gospel according to St. John Introduction and Notes on the Authorized Version, Classic Commentaries on the Greek New Testament (London: J. Murray, 1908), xxiv (cf. v-xxviii).

[131]            Christoph Ernst Luthardt, St. John the Author of the Fourth Gospel, trans. Caspar René Gregory (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1875), 15, 281ff.  By way of contrast, anti-supernaturalists unwilling to admit John’s authorship of his Gospel claim that it was composed by an anonymous “Johannine community.”  However, “there is no historic evidence even for the existence of . . . a ‘Johannine community’ . . . John’s Gospel represents, not a sectarian document, but rather an apostolic Gospel aimed at a universal readership” (Andreas J. Köstenberger, Encountering John: The Gospel in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002], 213; cf. Martin Hengel, Die Johanneische Frage, WUNT 67 [Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1993] & Richard Bauckham, ed., The Gospels for All Christians: Rethinking the Gospel Audiences Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans, 1998).

[132]            Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995) 25–29; John A. T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament (London:  SCM Press, 1976) 352-353; John A. T. Robinson, The Priority of John, ed. J. F. Coakley (London:  SCM Press, 1985).  A later date for the composition of “the fourth gospel . . . under the reign of Emperor Domitian . . . rests on very little” (D. A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, 2nd ed. [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005], 265).

[133]           “Ignatius . . . [and] Polycarp . . . had both, in old times, been disciples of St. John the Apostle” (Martyrdom of Ignatius 2-3 in Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, eds., The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, vol. 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers [Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885], 130).  “Papias of Hierapolis and Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna both . . . had heard . . . John, the theologian and apostle” (Michael William Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, Updated ed. [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999], 563, from The Fragments of Papias, citing Eusebius, Chronicle).

[134]            E. g.:  “Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, [but also had] conversed with many who had seen Christ . . . [and] always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3:3:4).  Similarly, “Irenaeus . . . associat[ed] with many of the apostolic and sub-apostolic [Christians] of Asia Minor and Rome from which he could gather all his information” (A. C. Perumalil, “Are Not Papias and Irenaeus Competent to Report on the Gospels?” The Expository Times 91:11 (1980) 337).

[135]            A. C. Perumalil, “Are Not Papias and Irenaeus Competent to Report on the Gospels?” The Expository Times 91:11 (1980) 335.

[136]            John 3:13-15 (cf. Numbers 21:6-9) & Epistle of Barnabas 12:5-7; 145; John 1:14 & Epistle of Barnabas 6:14; Epistle of Polycarp 7:1 & 1 John 4:3; Papias, Exposition cited in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3:39:17 (1 John); John 3:8 & Ignatius, Epistle to the Philadelphians 7:1; 1 John 3:7, 10 & Ignatius, Epistle to the Ephesians 14:2; Shepherd of Hermas 46:5 & John 14:21, 15:10ff.; etc.  See Christoph Ernst Luthardt, St. John the Author of the Fourth Gospel, trans. Caspar René Gregory (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1875), 68-77 for more references and a discussion.  Concerning the dates of the apostolic patristic writings, see John A. T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament (London:  SCM Press, 1976) 312-335, 352-353; Joseph Barber Lightfoot & J. R. Harmer, The Apostolic Fathers (London: Macmillan, 1891) 241–242, F. David Farnell, ed., Vital Issues in the Inerrancy Debate (Eugene, OR:  Wipf & Stock, 2015), 472-475, 483-484; A. C. Perumalil, “Are Not Papias and Irenaeus Competent to Report on the Gospels?” The Expository Times 91:11 [1980] 332-333, etc.

[137]            Blomfield Jackson, St. Polycarp: Bishop of Smyrna, Early Church Classics (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1898), 27; Henry Cowan, “Literature, Sub-Apostolic,” ed. James Orr et al., The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (Chicago: The Howard-Severance Company, 1915), 1900; L. Gaussen, The Canon of the Holy Scriptures: From the Double Point of View of Science and of Faith (London: James Nisbet, 1862), 249.

[138]            James H. Charlesworth, “The Historical Jesus in the Fourth Gospel: A Paradigm Shift?” Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 8 (2010) 46.

[139]            Gary M. Burge, The New Testament in Antiquity (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 131.

[140]            James H. Charlesworth, “The Priority of John? Reflections on the Essenes and the First Edition of John,” in Hofrichter, Peter L., ed., Für und wider die Priorität des Johannesevangeliums: Symposion in Salzburg am 10 März 2000 (Hildesheim:  Olms, 2002) 109-110.

[141]            James Charlesworth, Qumran Cave 7 Panel Discussion, Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem, 1/3/1999, cited in Carsten Peter Thiede, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Origins of Christianity (New York:  Palgrave, 2000) 181.  Other scholars who oppose inerrancy but accept an early date for John’s Gospel include John A. T. Robinson (see Robinson, The Priority of John, ed. J. F. Coakley [London:  SCM Press, 1985], Klaus Berger (see Berger, Im Anfang war Johannes: Datierung und Theologie des vierten Evangeliums [Stuttgart: Quell, 1997], 11); Percival Gardner-Smith (Saint John and the Synoptic Gospels [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1938]), Robert M. Grant, A Historical Introduction to the New Testament (London: Collins, 1963) 152-153, 160, etc.

[142]            “And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews” (John 2:6).

[143]            James H. Charlesworth, “The Historical Jesus in the Fourth Gospel: A Paradigm Shift?” Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 8 (2010) 36-46.  Charlesworth elsewhere discusses the reasons John was dated later, demonstrates that all of them are invalid, and concludes:  “All the reasons that require deating John late—that is, sometime after [AD] 90 . . . have vanished” (James H. Charlesworth, “The Priority of John? Reflections on the Essenes and the First Edition of John,” in Hofrichter, Peter L., ed., Für und wider die Priorität des Johannesevangeliums: Symposion in Salzburg am 10 März 2000 [Hildesheim:  Olms, 2002] 78-89; cf. also 109-113).

[144]            James H. Charlesworth, “The Priority of John? Reflections on the Essenes and the First Edition of John,” in Hofrichter, Peter L., ed., Für und wider die Priorität des Johannesevangeliums: Symposion in Salzburg am 10 März 2000 (Hildesheim:  Olms, 2002) 111; Picture from The Accordance Bible Lands PhotoGuide par. 1140.  The Church of the Holy Sepulchre stands over the location of Golgotha today.

[145]           The archaeological evidence for John’s early accuracy is so strong that some scholars who reject the inerrancy of Scripture have even made the suggestion that “John is the earliest gospel” (James H. Charlesworth, “The Priority of John? Reflections on the Essenes and the First Edition of John,” in Hofrichter, Peter L., ed., Für und wider die Priorität des Johannesevangeliums: Symposion in Salzburg am 10 März 2000 [Hildesheim:  Olms, 2002] 114).

[146]            Lee Strobel, In Defense of Jesus:  Investigating Attacks on the Identity of Christ (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 2007), “Interview #2, Daniel B. Wallace.”

[147]       J. Kenneth Eakins et al., “Archaeology and Biblical Study,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 100; Carsten Peter Thiede, Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth (Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press, 1995) 10-11, 26-27; Lee Strobel, In Defense of Jesus:  Investigating Attacks on the Identity of Christ (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 2007), “Interview #2, Daniel B. Wallace.”  P52 possesses “first century parallels such as a papyrus from Fayyum of AD 94, or London 2078, a private letter from the time of Domitian, AD 81-96” (Carsten Peter Thiede, Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth [Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing, 1995] 11).

[148]            Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of John: A Commentary & 2, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012), 141–142.

[149]            James H. Charlesworth, “The Priority of John? Reflections on the Essenes and the First Edition of John,” in Hofrichter, Peter L., ed., Für und wider die Priorität des Johannesevangeliums: Symposion in Salzburg am 10 März 2000 (Hildesheim:  Olms, 2002) 78.

[150]            G. A. Turner, Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, s.v. “John, Gospel of” (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1963-67), P28673.

[151]            Charles Cutler Torrey, Our Translated Gospels (London:  Hodder & Stoughton, 1936) x.

[152]           Tosefta Yadaim II:13 (sefaria.org); see the discussion in John Wenham, Redating Matthew, Mark, and Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem (Downers Grove, IL:  Intervarsity Press, 1992) 269-270.

[153]            See Daniel B. Wallace, “John 5:2 and the Date of the Fourth Gospel,” Biblia 71:2 (1990) 177-205.  Thiede comments:  “As archaeologists have shown, not only is [the] description of the pool correct, but the pool was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70.  Since the author, telling a healing story in the past tense, makes it unmistakably clear that the pool still existed (and could be visited, if you like) at the time of writing, it follows logically and conclusively that this text was written before AD 70” (Carsten Peter Thiede, Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth [Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing, 1995] xi-xii).

Likewise, John 5:4 specifies an event (one that took place once a year according to the early testimony of Tertullian; see Tertullian, “On Baptism,” in Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, trans. S. Thelwall, vol. 3, The Ante-Nicene Fathers [Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885], 672) that would have ceased with the destruction of the pool along with Jerusalem, at the very latest.  However, the healing specified in John 5:4 probably ceased even before the destruction of the pool in A. D. 70, specifically in conjunction with the end of Israel’s theocratic status and the recognition of Christ’s church as God’s new institution through the resurrection, ascension of Christ, and sending of the Holy Spirit—note the contrast between the past tenses in John 5:4 and the present tense for the pool in John 5:2.  In any case, John 5:4 does not describe a situation continuing after A. D. 70.  Note also that there is no reason to question the originality and inspiration of John 5:4, as the verse appears in over 99% of the Greek manuscripts of John (Wilbur Pickering, ed., New Majority Greek Text Based on Original Text Theory, EUAGGELION KATA IWANNHN, 9).

[154]            Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004), 264.

[155]            James H. Charlesworth, “The Priority of John? Reflections on the Essenes and the First Edition of John,” in Hofrichter, Peter L., ed., Für und wider die Priorität des Johannesevangeliums: Symposion in Salzburg am 10 März 2000 (Hildesheim:  Olms, 2002) 89-90.

[156]            Wilbur Pickering, ed., New Majority Greek Text Based on Original Text Theory, EUAGGELION KATA IWANNHN, 49.

[157]            See Daniel B. Wallace, “John 5:2 and the Date of the Fourth Gospel,” Biblia 71:2 (1990) 178.

[158]            William Baird, History of New Testament Research, Volume Three: From C. H. Dodd to Hans Dieter Betz (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2013), 52.

[159]            George Eldon Ladd, I Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 1975), 90.

[160]            C. H. Dodd, The Authority of the Bible (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1929) 35-36.

[161]            Letter from C. H. Dodd to John A. T. Robinson (Oxford, 1972), cited in John A. T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament (London:  SCM Press, 1984) 359-360.

[162]           Eta Linnemann, Is There a Synoptic Problem? Rethinking the Literary Dependence of the First Three Gospels (Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Books, 1992) 66.

[163]            Wilbur Pickering, ed., New Majority Greek Text Based on Original Text Theory, EUAGGELION KATA IWANNHN, 49.

[164]            It should be noted that if one were to (completely unjustifiably) concede to an anti-supernaturalist that internal evidence provides no evidence concerning the authorship of the canonical Gospels, the external evidence of the unanimous ancient testimony to the canonical Gospels’ traditional authorship and apostolic authority would be even more powerful evidence:

Early church tradition is unanimous in support of traditional authorship of the four Gospels . . . [All early evidences] unite in attesting that the Gospels . . . were written by the apostles or their close associates whose names connect with their respective Gospels. [If] the Gospels were authored anonymously, yet were still attested to by the church fathers as being authored by the apostles, [this constitutes] compelling evidence for the traditional ascription of authorship; only an author who reflected the solid authority of an apostle could have an anonymous Gospel received unanimously by the church. Apocryphal gospels, on the other hand—produced from the mid-second century onward and falsely ascribed to apostles or close associates of Jesus—were universally recognized as such and rejected by the early church. (Robert L. Thomas, ed., Three Views on the Origins of the Synoptic Gospels [Grand Rapids, MI:  Kregel, 2002] 273-274)

[165]            The Greek terms employed in Luke 1:1-4 indicate that Luke’s sources for his Gospel did not include Matthew or Mark.  See Paul W. Felix, “Literary Dependence and Luke’s Prologue,” Master’s Seminary Journal 8:1 (Spring 1997) 61-82; “the prologue preclude[s] Luke’s use of another canonical gospel as a source, but allow for his familiarity with other written sources. He depended on many sources . . . [and] followed chronological order, not an order supplied by Mark. So the prologue does not support any type of literary dependence among the canonical gospels, but points to their independence of each other” (Ibid, 61; see the discussion on 68-71, 79-82).

[166]            Robert L. Thomas, ed., Three Views on the Origins of the Synoptic Gospels (Grand Rapids, MI:  Kregel, 2002) 215, 220.

[167]            M. B. Riddle in John Chrysostom, “Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople on the Gospel according to St. Matthew,” in Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. George Prevost and M. B. Riddle, vol. 10, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1888), 3

[168]            John Chrysostom, “Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople on the Gospel according to St. Matthew,” in Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. George Prevost and M. B. Riddle, vol. 10, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1888), 3. Dorothy Sayers, commenting on the allegation of contradiction in the Gospels, ironically noted:

John and Matthew and Luke and Mark . . . disagree . . . [o]ne or all must be a liar or untrustworthy because Christ . . . must have made every remark once and once only.  He could not, of course, like a real teacher, have used the same illustration twice, or found it necessary to hammer the same point home twenty times over, as one does when addressing audiences of real people and not of Bible characters. (Dorothy L. Sayers, Letters to a Diminished Church [Nashville, TN: W Publishing, 2004] 192)

[169]            The four Gospels, because of their different historical settings and different original audiences, emphasize different aspects of Christ’s life in their biographical narratives:

St. Matthew wrote for the early Christians who were principally Jews . . . [then] St. Mark wrote for a wider circle, which included many Roman officers and proselytes . . . [then] St. Luke wrote for a wider circle still, when [the churches were] composed of persons out of all nations in the Roman Empire . . . [and finally] St. John wrote [his] Gospel . . . [emphasizing] the Deity of Christ. (T. C. Lawson, “The Dates and Origins of the Gospels.” Evangelical Quarterly 10:3 (July 1938) 284-285)

However, different emphases in the Gospel’s biographical narratives are by no means the same thing as the presence of actual contradictions among the Gospels.  Many ancient and modern biographies about all kinds of historical figures emphasize different aspects of their subject’s life while remaining historically accurate.

[170]            Robert L. Thomas, ed., Three Views on the Origins of the Synoptic Gospels (Grand Rapids, MI:  Kregel, 2002) 215, 266. “[G]ospel harmonies [were] the standard tool for gospel studies throughout the patristic and reformation period” (Peter M. Head, “Tatian’s Christology And Its Influence On The Composition Of The Diatessaron.” Tyndale Bulletin 43:1 [1992] 120), so that, for example, more than forty were published in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Stephen J. Patterson, “Harmony of Gospels,” ed. David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary [New York: Doubleday, 1992], 61). See, e. g., Augustine of Hippo, Saint Augustin: Sermon on the Mount, Harmony of the Gospels, Homilies on the Gospels, ed. Philip Schaff, vol. 6, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1888), 65-236; John Calvin & William Pringle, Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke, 3 vol. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010); Loraine Boettner, A Harmony of the Gospels (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1976).

[171]            Studies of alleged Biblical contradictions and discrepencies include David Cloud, Things Hard to be Understood: A Handbook of Biblical Difficulties (Port Huron, MI:  Way of Life Literature, 2015) and Gleason L. Archer, New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan Publishing House, 1982).  A free basic overview is found in “Answering Alleged Bible Contradictions and Difficulties,” Elec. acc. http://faithsaves.net/Gods-Word/.

[172]            “Greenleaf, Simon,” Dictionary of American Biography vol. 7, ed. Allen Johnson & Dumas Malone (New York, NY: Charles Scribener’s Sons, 1931) 583-584.

[173]            Norman L. Geisler, “Greenleaf, Simon,” Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 299; John Warwick Montgomery, The Law Above the Law: Including Greeneaf’s Testimony of the Evangelists (Irvine, CA:  Legacy Project, 2015).

[174]            Pamela Binnings Ewen, Faith on Trial: Would the Testimony of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John Stand Up in Court? (Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman, 2013) 3.

[175]           For example, consider the testimony of leading anti-supernaturalist Rudolf Bultmann, recognized as, among anti-supernaturalists, “the most influential New Testament scholar of the twentieth century . . . [who] influenced a whole generation of scholars, including members of the Jesus Seminar and other recent critics of the Gospels” (Mark L. Strauss, Four Portraits, One Jesus: A Survey of Jesus and the Gospels [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007], 350).  Bultmann wrote:  “The historical [critical method] includes the presupposition that history is . . . a closed continuum of effect . . . not rent by the interference of supernatural, transcendent powers and that therefore there is no ‘miracle’ . . . historical science cannot perceive . . . [nor] reckon on the basis of . . . God . . . act[ing] in history. . . . [T]here cannot be any exceptions in the case of biblical texts[.] . . . [This is] the one presupposition that cannot be dismissed” (Rudolf Bultmann, “Is Exegesis Without Presuppositions Possible?” in Existence and Faith, ed. Schubert M. Ogden [New York:  Meridian Books, 1960] 291-292.  Italics have been supplied).  Elsewhere he wrote:  “The idea of . . . miracle . . . is no longer tenable. . . . [this] does not require proof but is presupposed as axiomatic, and . . . we cannot free ourselves from that presupposition at will” (Rudolf Bultmann, Interpreting Faith for the Modern Era, ed. Roger A. Johnson [Minneapolis:  Fortress Press, 1991] 257).  Does Bultmann prove that no miracles took place in history and that the best explanation for the Bible is one that excludes the intervention of God?  No—he declares that the impossibility of the miraculous is the one indismissable “presupposition” that “does not require proof,” and affirms that “there cannot be any exceptions,” including in the case of the events recorded in the Bible.

[176]            William Lane Craig, “Rediscovering the Historical Jesus: The Evidence for Jesus.” Faith and Mission 15:2 (Spring 1998) 17.

[177]            Robert L. Thomas, ed., Three Views on the Origins of the Synoptic Gospels (Grand Rapids, MI:  Kregel, 2002), 280; see Harald Reisenfeld, The Gospel Tradition (Philadelphia, PA:  Fortress, 1970) 22ff.

[178]            Craig A. Evans, “Review of Der Mündliche Faktor Und Seine Bedeutung Für Die Synoptische Frage by Armin D. Baum,” Bulletin for Biblical Research 21:1–4 (2011) 265.

[179]            Indeed, early evidence exists that Christians likewise sought to “to commit to memory . . . what was spoken by Peter” (Clement of Alexandria, “Fragments of Clemens Alexandrinus,” in Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire), ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, trans. William Wilson, vol. 2, The Ante-Nicene Fathers [Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885], 573) and other leading believers.  If people sought to memorize what the Apostles said, they would have so much the more sought to memorize what the Lord Jesus Himself said.

[180]            The Greek word anataxasthai in Luke 1:1 (translated “set forth in order”) supports Luke’s use of written sources containing a connected series of narratives in chronological or topical order.  The word dieœgeœsin (KJV, “declaration”) also is employed for written records (e. g., 2 Maccabees 2:32, Epistle of Aristeas 322; Plato, Republic 392D).

[181]            See in the LXX 2 Samuel 8:17; 20:25; 1 Kings 2:46; 4:3; 2 Kings 12:11; 18:18, 37; 22:8, 10, 12; Psalm 44:2; Jeremiah 43:12, 23; 52:25 etc.  Of course, the word “scribe” was not used solely of people gainfully employed as writers by court officials or other prominent persons, nor is such an emphasis universal for the word.  Nevertheless, a “scribe” who could not read and write would be an oxymoron.

[182]            T. C. Lawson, “The Dates and Origins of the Gospels,” Evangelical Quarterly 10:3 (July 1938) 278.

[183]            Carsten Peter Thiede, “A Testament Is Born,” Christian History Magazine-Issue 43: How We Got Our Bible, Canon to King James (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, 1994).  Note that there is evidence for “a developed Greek shorthand system in the first century B. C” (Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, Paul the Letter-Writer [Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1995] 11), long before the time of Christ.  Certainly in the first century A. D. “such techniques were current . . . it makes practical sense that at least some of those who heard Jesus—or for that matter Peter—would have wished to make a contemporaneous account of his words[.] . . . Tertius, Paul’s secretary in Romans 16:22 . . . may have been . . . a trained shorthand writer” (Carsten Peter Thiede, Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth [Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing, 1995] 80-83).

[184]            For example, the Apostle Peter wrote the epistles of first and second Peter, so he could clearly write.

[185]            Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 328.

[186]            It should be noted as well that first century Palestine was a widely trilingual environment.  Greek was the language of public discourse, Aramaic the “home language” (cf. Mark 5:41) among the Jews, and Hebrew the religious language (Acts 26:14).  Finally, in the government, Latin was spoken as well as the dominant Greek (cf. John 19:20).  The home of Joseph and Mary was a place where Greek was spoken as well as Aramaic; thus, Christ’s half-brother James could write an epistle in literary Greek.  The Lord Jesus and the Apostles were multi-lingual (cf. Revelation 9:11) and were perfectly capable of speaking and writing Greek as well as Aramaic:

Jesus and the people around him could use more than one language. Aramaic was commonly used . . . Hebrew in religious life, particularly in worship and the reading of Scripture (e.g., Luke 4:16–30) . . . [and] Greek. Recent investigations have shown that even orthodox Jews used Greek in everyday dealings with each other—we see it, for instance, in tombstone inscriptions and in handwritten notes passed between defenders of the Masada fortress.

Jesus himself used Greek[,] [for example,] in the dialogue with the Greek-speaking Syrian Phoenician woman (Mark 7:24–30), and in the dispute about paying taxes to Caesar (Mark 12:13–17), which relies on a wordplay that works only in Greek. (Carsten Peter Thiede, “A Testament Is Born,” Christian History Magazine-Issue 43: How We Got Our Bible, Canon to King James [Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, 1994])

Thus, for example, the existence of Greek documents both at Qumran and also at Masada—among the most die-hard opponents of Gentile civilization—point to the following conclusions:

[A]t Masada . . . everything happens at random in Greek or Aramaic. . . . Even during periods of ‘resistance’ against Roman occupation . . . the culture of the empire with its cultural language, Greek, was used naturally as an everyday tool. . . . Jews were naturally and voluntarily in communication with each other in another tongue. . . . [[Likewise] there can be no doubt about the trilingualism of the Essenes (Aramic, Hebrew, Greek). . . . [T]he use of Greek, even among nationalistically minded Jews, was common. (Carsten Peter Thiede, Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth [Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing, 1995] 163-167)

The most widely-used work on Koiné Greek syntax today notes:

It is being increasingly recognized that Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek were in use in Palestine in the first century CE. . . . An increasing number of scholars are arguing that Greek was the primary language spoken in Palestine in the time of . . . Jesus.  The arguments for this position rest firmly on the role of Greek as the lingua franca of the Roman Empire, the linguistic and cultural character of lower Galilee during the first century, the linguistic fact that the New Testament has been transmitted in Greek from its earliest documents, and diversity of epigraphic evidence, significant literary evidence, and several significant contexts in the Gospels. (Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996], 24)

Thus, when the Lord Jesus declares: “the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63), there is every reason to believe that when the Gospels contain the speech of the Lord Jesus, they record the very words He spoke in Greek.  If such a multilingual environment seems foreign to readers in the United States, they should perhaps consider visiting countries such as Switzerland, or even the modern State of Israel; doing so might lead them to recall the old joke that someone who speaks two languages is called bilingual, someone who speaks three languages is called trilingual, and someone who speaks only one language is called an American.

Some have attempted to deny that the Gospels contain Christ’s actual words (Latin ipsissima verba), affirming that they only contain His “voice” (Latin vox) based on similar statements in different Gospels.  However, as one would expect from any good teacher, Christ often repeated His teachings in slightly different words both on different occasions and even on the same occasion (cf. Mark 10:23-24; John 14:10-11; cf. Exodus 20 & Deuteronomy 5). While one Gospel may certainly contain one part of a discourse and another Gospel a different portion of the same discourse or of a similar one given at a different time, “much evidence favors the ipsissima verba perspective[.] . . . [P]resuppositional probability must [also] be on the side of the Gospels’ containing the ipsissima verba of Jesus” (Robert L. Thomas, ed., The Jesus Crisis [Grand Rapids, MI:  Kregel, 1998] 368, 372-373).  Indeed, not only does the Biblical text itself indicate that the Gospels contain the very words of Christ, not just His “voice” (Matthew 24:35; Mark 8:38; Luke 21:33; John 12:48; 14:10, 23, 26; 15:7, 26; 16:12-13; 17:8, etc.), but first century Jewish culture supports the presence of Christ’s actual words in the Gospels:

The art of reproducing another person’s statements in one’s own words, and of abstracting points of view and ideas from someone’s words, has been carried to considerable lengths in the Hellenized West. But the art was not practi[ced] in ancient Israel. A person’s views were conveyed in his own words. Authentic statements contained the authority and power of the one who uttered them; this we know from the Old Testament.

This also applies to Rabbinic Judaism[.] . . . We see above all the method—which was taken to extreme lengths—of subjecting authoritative sayings to thorough penetration and exegesis. But reverence and care for the ipsissima verba of each authority remains unaltered. In the colleges no attempt was made to give a synopsis of the views of the old masters; their words were quoted—together with the name of the one who had uttered them. . . . [The] extremely ancient . . . practice . . . in Judaism . . . is formulated [as]: “It is a man’s duty to state (a tradition) in his teacher’s words.” . . . The pupil is thus duty bound to maintan his teacher’s exact words. (Birger Gerhardsson, Memory and Manuscript:  Oral Tradition and Written Transmission in Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity, with Tradition and Transmission in Early Christianity, combined ed. with new preface, trans. Eric J. Sharpe [Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans, 1998] 130-3)

Thus, there is every reason to believe that when the Gospels make statements such as: “These words spake Jesus” (John 8:20), the words that follow are the actual words of the Lord Jesus Christ. (See also Donald E. Green, “Evangelicals and Ipsissima Vox,” Master’s Seminary Journal 12:1 [Spring 2001] 49-68).

[187]            Robert L. Thomas, ed., Three Views on the Origins of the Synoptic Gospels (Grand Rapids, MI:  Kregel, 2002), 283.

[188]            Carsten Peter Thiede, “A Testament Is Born,” Christian History Magazine-Issue 43: How We Got Our Bible, Canon to King James (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, 1994).

[189]            One other strategy anti-supernaturalists employ to attack the canonical Gospels is to exalt the pseudepigraphical Gospel of Thomas.  However, unbiased comparison demonstrates in the sharpest fashion the superiority of the canonical Gospels to this (and all other psuedipgraphical) forgeries.  First, while the canonical Gospels were universally recognized as apostolic and received as such, the Gospel of Thomas was universally rejected as a Gnostic forgery.  “The gnostic affinities of the Gospel of Thomas may . . . be regarded as beyond question . . . evidence for the use of the Gospel of Thomas and the material which it contains in gnostic circles is overwhelmingly strong” (H. E. W. Turner, “The Gospel of Thomas: Its History, Transmission and Sources,” in Thomas and the Evangelists [London: SCM Press, 1962], 19, 22).  “Every church father who ever mentioned it called it heretical or Gnostic” (Eta Linnemann, “The Lost Gospel Of Q — Fact Or Fantasy?” Trinity Journal 17:1 [Spring 1996] 12).  Second, while the canonical Gospels are very early, eyewitness documents, the earliest complete manuscript of the Gospel of Thomas (which exists in Coptic, not Greek) dates to the fourth century A. D., and the forgery is not quoted before the third century (Ibid.)—the earliest reasonable dating for the Gnostic document is “no earlier than A. D. 140–170” (Norman L. Geisler, “Gospel of Thomas, The,” Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999], 297) while it very possibly dates later.  Such a time frame is far later than the canonical and inspired Gospels and beyond the lifespan of eyewitnesses.  Thomas possesses “direct dependence” upon the four canonical Gospels (H. E. W. Turner, “The Gospel of Thomas: Its History, Transmission and Sources,” in Thomas and the Evangelists, Studies in Biblical Theology [London: SCM Press Ltd, 1962], 39) and so is necessarily later than all of them; indeed, “there appear to be forty-four sayings in which canonical influence is probable” (Ibid, 19; cf. Thomas, Sayings 5, 8 f., 14, 16, 20f., 26, 31–36, 39, 41, 45–48, 54 f., 57, 63–66, 68 f., 72 f., 76, 78 f., 86, 89–91, 93 f., 96, 99 f., 107).  Indeed, it is probable that Thomas is dependent upon Tatian’s Diatessaron, which was composed in A. D. 173, and so must post-date that document:  “[A]t nine points Thomas betrays his primary source: Tatian’s Diatessaron. He certainly had other sources, both oral and written. But alongside these he also had a working knowledge of . . . [Tatian.] . . . This means that the Gospel of Thomas was written some time after 173 CE, the dating of the Diatessaron itself. . . . Thomas was . . . written . . . some time after the composition of the Diatessaron in the 170s” (Nicholas Perrin, Thomas, the Other Gospel [London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2007] 97).  Fourth, “[t]here is only one indubitable testimonium to the Gospel of Thomas”—namely, the third century reference in Hippolytus, Refutatio 5.7.20, and even this one certain testimony to it “may indicate . . . a very different recension from that of both the Coptic and [the fragmentary Greek evidence]” (Bentley Layton, ed., Nag Hammadi Codex II, 2-7: Gospel According to Thomas, Gospel According to Philip, Hypostasis of the Archons, vol. 1 (Leiden:  Brill, 1989) 103; see 103ff. for uncertain testimonia, none of which is earlier than Hippolytus; cf. also H. E. W. Turner, “The Gospel of Thomas: Its History, Transmission and Sources,” in Thomas and the Evangelists [London: SCM Press, 1962], 16).  Fifth, the Gnostic author of the Gospel of Thomas “was certainly not trying to compose a ‘gospel’ of the type that is known from the Gospels of the New Testament,” but was “[j]ust stringing sayings together into a written document . . . [t]he designation ‘The Gospel of Thomas’ was added later at the end of the document by a scribe who copied it” (Ibid, pg. 80).  There is no way that it was by the Apostle Thomas, who was dead far before the work was composed, and its anonymous and late author did not even intend to compose a gospel, but was just stringing sayings together.  Finally, while the canonical Gospels bear a self-authenticating witness to their Divine inspiration, validated to the honest person by the Holy Spirit, the Gospel of Thomas contains statements that plainly authenticate it as a product of weird Gnostics, not the God of the universe, such as:  “Every woman who will make herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Logion 114).  An attempt to employ the Gospel of Thomas as a weapon against the canonical Gospels is a matter of anti-supernaturalist wishful thinking rather than an objective analysis of the historical evidence.

One is likewise not surprised that not a single copy of the text even exists in its original language, but only three Greek fragments.  In accordance with His promises, God has preserved His inspired Words and Books (Psalm 12:6-7; Matthew 5:18; 24:35), so abundant evidence of the canonical Scriptures exists, while corrupt Gnostic forgeries like the Gospel of Thomas have not been preserved.

[190]            Gotthold Lessing, the inventor of the alleged “Synoptic Problem,” was “an avowed enemy of the Christian faith . . . although he suppressed the fact” from common knowledge, “want[ing] public opinion to view him as a friend of Christianity,” in order to more effectively advance his ends.  Nevertheless, Lessing wrote secretly to a friend of his that his goal was to “overthrow” Christianity, that alleged “hateful edifice of nonsense,” on the “pretence of furnishing new bases for it” (See Günther Dürr, “J. M. Goeze—ein Kämpfer für die Wahrheit der Heiligen Schrift,” Bibel und Gemeinde, 71:217; Eta Linnemann, Is There a Synoptic Problem? Rethinking the Literary Dependence of the First Three Gospels (Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Books, 1992) 12, 40).  Furthermore, anti-supernaturalist “critics assume the existence of this ancient sayings document . . . “Q” . . . merely because they assume that Jesus was primarily a teacher and a a speaker who did not perform miracles. . . . [Employing] circular reasoning[,] [t]hese scholars assume that the miraculous works of Christ are not in the original maunscripts in their attempt to prove that Jesus was not a miracle worker” (F. David Farnell, ed., Vital Issues in the Inerrancy Debate [Eugene, OR:  Wipf & Stock, 2015] 456).

[191]            Stewart Petrie, “‘Q’ is Only What You Make It,” Novum Testamentum 3 (1959) 28-33; cf. Robert L. Thomas, The Jesus Crisis (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1998) 147-149.

[192]            Eta Linnemann, “The Lost Gospel Of Q — Fact Or Fantasy?” Trinity Journal 17:1 (Spring 1996) 9-10.  The agreement of 42% does not mean that the Gospel writers disagreed on factual matters or on what Christ actually did or taught.  Most frequently it means something to the effect that the Gospel records contain high levels of agreement on the recorded words of Jesus Christ (Eta Linnemann, Is There a Synoptic Problem? [Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Books, 1992] 106), although the Gospel writers might use different but equally accurate excerpts from a sermon by Christ containing His actual words.  For background information and narratives of events, the Gospel writers employed their own differing but equally accurate words.  For instance, compare the account of people coming to be immersed by John the Baptist in Mark and Matthew:  “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for [on account of] the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Mark 1:4-5); “Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins” (Matthew 3:5-6).  There is no reason whatever to think that, instead of Matthew and Mark both recording independently the same facts, that the one Gospel copied from the other or that a “Q” source played a role in this parallel passage (or any other parallel passage in the Gospels).

[193]            Eta Linnemann, “The Lost Gospel Of Q—Fact Or Fantasy?” Trinity Journal 17:1 (Spring 1996) 6-7.  The only attempt to locate a mention of Q in ancient history is based upon a clear misinterpretation of a statement by Papias:

Papias (ca. AD 110), who states that Matthew compiled ta» lo/gia (the oracles) . . . In Papias’ comment concerning Mark, ta» lo/gia are parallel with ta» uJpo\ touv Cristouv h£ lecqe÷nta h£ pracqe÷ta (“the things either said or practiced by Christ”). This parallelism rules out an interpretation of ta» lo/gia in connection with Matthew as words or “sayings” alone. Until the 19th century Papias’ statement about ta» lo/gia was rightly taken to refer to Matthew’s gospel. Long ago Theodor Zahn pointed out that ta» lo/gia would have been an unlikely title for a book. Nor, he continued, is there a trace of evidence that such a book, as distinct from Matthew’s gospel, ever existed. (Ibid.)

When a clear reference by Papias to the Gospel of Matthew is all that one has to prove the existence of an entirely different document, “Q,” the case for Q’s existence is clearly very weak.

[194]            Interestingly, although “Q” was invented to eliminate the supernatural Christ of history and replace Him with One who is a mere teacher, the Lord Jesus’ claims about Himself are so pervasive that they cannot be eliminated even in a hypothetical document designed to eliminate them.  Even in “Q,” Christ still claims that He has comprehensive knowledge of His Father comparable to the Father’s knowledge of Himself, and that He is the One through whom creatures can have knowledge of the Father—claims which require Christ’s omniscience, so that He can perfectly know the Father and reveal to the human race that knowledge, as well as other Divine attributes (Q 10:22, cf. Matthew 11:27; Luke 10:22).  He still exalts the Holy Spirit to a status that can only be possessed by Him as the third Person in the Trinity by making sinning against the Spirit unforgiveable (Q 12:10; cf. Matthew 12:31; Mark 3:28-29; Luke 12:10).  He still regularly speaks of Himself as the Divine-human Son of Man, the incarnate Man who, as prophecied by Daniel, shares Jehovah’s throne and glory and receives worship (Daniel 7:13-14; the “service” the Son of Man receives is that which pertains only to Jehovah [see the other Biblical references to the Aramaic word pᵉlaḥ in: Daniel 3:12, 14, 17–18, 28; 6:16, 20; 7:14, 27; Ezra 7:24; the word means to “pay reverence to, serve (deity),” (Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977]) and is translated in the LXX as latreuo, the word for the service/worship of God]).  In “Q” Christ still regularly claims to be the Son of Man (Q 6:22-23; 7:34; 9:58; 11:30; 12:8-10; 17:22-23) just as He does in the New Testament (Matthew 8:20; 9:6; 10:23; 11:19; 12:8, 32, 40; 13:37, 41; 16:13, 27–28; 17:9, 12, 22; 18:11; 19:28; 20:18, 28; 24:27, 30, 37, 39, 44; 25:13, 31; 26:2, 24, 45, 64; Mark 2:10, 28; 8:31, 38; 9:9, 12, 31; 10:33, 45; 13:26, 34; 14:21, 41, 62; Luke 5:24; 6:5; 7:34; 9:22, 26, 44, 56, 58; 11:30; 12:8, 10, 40; 17:22, 24, 26, 30; 18:8, 31; 19:10; 21:27, 36; 22:22, 48, 69; 24:7; John 1:51; 3:13–14; 5:27; 6:27, 53, 62; 8:28; 12:23, 34; 13:31; Acts 7:56; Hebrews 2:6; Revelation 1:13; 14:14).

Thus, Christ’s claims to Deity are still present even in the anti-supernaturalist chimera “Q.” (See James McConkey Robinson, Paul Hoffmann, and John S. Kloppenborg, eds., The Critical Edition of Q: Synopsis Including the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Mark and Thomas with English, German, and French Translations of Q and Thomas, Hermeneia—a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible [Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000]).

Similar facts also pertain to the mid- to late-second century pseduipgraphical Gospel of Thomas, which some anti-supernaturalists have placed in an unjustifiably high position.  Even this gnostic-influenced work still recognizes Jesus Christ is the Son of Man, and thus Divine-Human (Thomas 86:2); Son of God (Thomas 37:1-3), supports the Deity of the Holy Spirit in the Trinity with the Father and the Son (Thomas 44:1-3), etc.

[195]            It is historically plausible, on the other hand, that the Apostle John was aware of the content of the three synoptic Gospels when he wrote his inspired Gospel, and that John deliberately included many events in Christ’s life not mentioned in the first three Gospels to fill in other details of the Lord Jesus’ time on earth (see Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6:14:5, quoting Clement of Alexandria, Hypotyposeis).

[196]            See Robert L. Thomas, The Jesus Crisis (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1998) 58-75.

[197]            Thomas C. Oden and Christopher A. Hall, eds., Mark, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), xxix.  While Oden and Hall explain that this view did not “develop in full form until the nineteenth century,” this fact does not deny that various anti-supernaturalist speculative theories existed before that time.  Nevertheless, “Markan priority was first [affirmed] by Karl Lachmann (1835) and Gottlob Wilke (1838),” and the “architect of the two-souce hypothesis [Q & Mark as allegedly copied by Matthew and Luke] and classical advocate of Markan priority is Heinrich-Julius Holtzmann,” who wrote in 1892 (Helmut Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels:  Their History and Development [London: SCM Press, 1990] 128), c. 1,800 years after the Gospels were composed and in opposition to 1,800 years of testimony to the contrary by all extant historical evidence.

[198]            Robert W. Yarbrough, “Eta Linnemann:  Friend or Foe of Scholarship?” in Robert L. Thomas, ed. The Jesus Crisis (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1998) 158-184.

[199]            Eta Linnemann, Is There a Synoptic Problem? Rethinking the Literary Dependence of the First Three Gospels, trans. Robert Yarbrough (Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Books, 1992) 11-15, 67.

[200]            Eta Linnemann, Is There a Synoptic Problem? Rethinking the Literary Dependence of the First Three Gospels, trans. Robert Yarbrough (Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Books, 1992) 39.

[201]            F. David Farnell, “The Synoptic Gospels In The Ancient Church: The Testimony To The Priority Of Matthew’s Gospel 1.” Master’s Seminary Journal 10:1 (Spring 1999) 84.

[202]            Eta Linnemann, Is There a Synoptic Problem? Rethinking the Literary Dependence of the First Three Gospels, trans. Robert Yarbrough (Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Books, 1992) 152; see pgs. 1-207, ibid.

[203]            Eta Linnemann, Is There a Synoptic Problem? Rethinking the Literary Dependence of the First Three Gospels, trans. Robert Yarbrough (Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Books, 1992) 191.

[204]           Robert L. Thomas, ed., Three Views on the Origins of the Synoptic Gospels (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2002) 272-273.

[205]            William Lane Craig, “Rediscovering the Historical Jesus: The Evidence for Jesus.” Faith and Mission 15, no. 2 (Spring 1998): 18-19.

[206]            Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 163.

[207]            Robert L. Thomas, Three Views on the origins of the Synoptic Gospels (Grand Rapids, MI:  Kregel, 2002) 281-282.

[208]            Affirmations that the New Testament authors were unconcerned to reproduce the actual words of Christ or recount His deeds accurately, when they attempt to give any support at all for this idea from ancient sources, often rely upon Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War 1:22 (Thucydides, Thucydides Translated into English; with Introduction, Marginal Analysis, Notes, and Indices, ed. Benjamin Jowett, vol. 1 [Medford, MA: Clarendon Press, 1881], 16) for the affirmation that ancient historians were not concerned about accuracy in their writings.  However, in this passage, Thucydides actually wrote that he sought for “what was nearest to the sum of the truth,” claiming:  “I have described nothing but what I either saw myself, or learned from others of whom I made the most careful and particular enquiry. The task was a laborious one . . . [I sought for a] strictly historical character [for] my narrative . . . a true picture of the events which have happened.”  He also states:  “I have . . . put into the mouth of each speaker the sentiments proper to the occasion, expressed as I thought he would be likely to express them, while at the same time I endeavoured, as nearly as I could, to give the general purport of what was actually said,” but he does not exalt this verbal inaccuracy, but declares it was necessary because of the limitations in his sources, while he attempted to recount the actions in his history as carefully as possible.  Furthermore, first century Jewish historiography specifically rejected the standards of pagan Greek history as too low (Josephus, Against Apion 1:8-10).  If Thucydides’s standard of accurate recording of deeds while recounting as closely as possible the general purport of speeches is too low for the Jews, then his statement supports, rather than taking away from, the likelihood that the New Testament authors sought for both specific accuracy in deeds and words.  See Donald E. Green, “Evangelicals and Ipsissima Vox,” Master’s Seminary Journal 12:1 (Spring 2001) 49-68, for further information on the severe problems of utilizing the statement of Thucyidides as evidence against the Gospels.

[209]            Josephus, Against Apion 1:8-10, in Flavius Josephus and William Whiston, The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1987), 776–777.

[210]            A. N. Sherman-White, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961) 186-193.

[211]            Sherman White notes:

[The idea of] form-criticism . . . that the historical Christ is unknowable and the history of his mission cannot be written . . . seems very curious when one compares the case for the best-known contemporary of Christ, who like Christ is a well-documented figure—Tiberius Caesar.  The story of his reign is known from four sources, the Annals of Tacitus and the biography of Suetonius, written some eighty or ninety years later, the brief contemporary record of Velleius Paterculus, and the third-century history of Cassius Dio. These disagree among themselves in the wildest possible fashion . . . [b]ut this does not prevent the belief that . . . a history of Tiberius [can be written].  The divergencies between the synoptic gospels, or between them and the Fourth Gospel, are [certainly] no worse than the . . . Tiberius material. (A. N. Sherman-White, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament. [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961] 186-188)

Since the four Gospels and other New Testament data are sources of better quality than the literary sources available for the most powerful political figure in the entire world who was contemporary with Jesus Christ, nobody who accepts the historical picture of Julius Caesar presented in his literary sources should deny the historical picture of Jesus Christ presented in His literary sources.

[212]            John Warwick Montgomery, “Could the Gospel Writers Withstand the Scrutiny of a Lawyer?” in The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith, ed. Ted Cabal et al. (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 1511.

[213]            Dr. Boyd interviewed by Lee Strobel in Case for Christ (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1998).

[214]            James Hastings, John A. Selbie, and Louis H. Gray, Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics (Edinburgh; New York: T. & T. Clark, 1908–1926), 553.

[215]            John M’Clintock and James Strong, “Buddha, Buddhism,” Cyclopædia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature (New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1880), 907.

[216]            F. Max Müller, ed., The Dhammapada, trans. V. Fausböll and F. Max Müller, vol. 1, The Sacred Books of the East (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1881), l. See also A. F. R. Hoernle, “Ājīvikas,” ed. James Hastings, John A. Selbie, and Louis H. Gray, Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics (Edinburgh; New York: T. & T. Clark; Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1908–1926), 261.

[217]            John M’Clintock and James Strong, “Buddha, Buddhism,” Cyclopædia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature (New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1880), 907.

[218]            Chroniker Press, Epitome of the Pali Canon (Lulu.com, 2012), 4.

[219]            John Weldon, Buddhism and Nichiren Shoshu/Soka Gakkai Buddhism: A Critique and Biblical Analysis Plano, TX: ATRI Publishing, 2012), “Talking With Buddhists.”

[220]            Richard Hooper, Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, & Lao Tzu:  The Parallel Sayings (Charlottesville, VA:  Hampton Roads, 2007) 5.

[221]            Robert A. Morey, The Islamic Invasion: Confronting the World’s Fastest Growing Religion, Rev. and expanded ed. (Las Vegas, NV: Christian Scholars Press, 2003), 122.

[222]            James R. White, What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Qur’an (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2013), 22–24.

[223]            According to his biographer, Muhammad narrated:

[The spirit] came to me . . . while I was asleep . . . pressed me . . . so tightly that I thougth it was death . . . th[ree] time[s] . . . and departed from me.  And I awoke from my sleep  . . . Now none of God’s creatures was more hateful to me than an (ecstatic) poet or a man possessed:  I could not even look at them.  I thought, Woe is me poet or possessed—Never shall [my tribe] say this of me!  I will go to the top of the mountain and throw myself down that I may kill myself and gain rest. So I went forth to do so . . . [but] return[ed] to my family. . . . I said to [my wife], “Woe is me poet or possessed.” (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, trans as. The Life of Muhammad, A. Guillaume. [Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1998], 106)

However, Muhammad’s wife reassured him that the spirit being was not a demon but a holy angel because on an occasion when he could see the spirit, she had him sit close to her, but he could still see the spirit.  Then she had him sit on her right thigh, and he could still see it.  Then she had him sit on her lap, and he could still see it.  But then she stripped naked, “disclosed her form and cast aside her veil while [he] . . . was sitting in her lap.  Then she said, ‘Can you see him?’ And he replied, ‘No.’ She said . . . ‘[Rejoice and be of good heart, by God he is an angel and not a satan’” (Ibid, 107).  Such a highly dubious method of testing whether a message is from God or Satan falls radically short of Biblical standards (Deuteronomy 18:15-22; 1 John 4:1-3; 2 John 7-11, etc.)  See also Silas, “Muhammad’s Suicide Attempts,” elec. acc. http://www.answering-islam.org/Silas/suicide.htm/.

[224]            Samuel M. Zwemer, The Moslem Doctrine of God: An Essay on the Character and Attributes of Allah according to the Koran and Orthodox Tradition (New York: Young People’s Missionary Movement, 1905), 26.

[225]            Silas, “Muhammad And the Female Captives,” Journal of Biblical Apologetics 7 (2003): 56–57.

[226]            Frank Peters, Muhammad: Oxford Bibliographies Online Research Guide (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010) 5.

[227]            Jan Retsö, The Rabs in Antiquity:  Their History from the Assyrians to the Umayyads (New York:  ToutledgeCurzon, 2003) 1:1, “Arabs in Early Islam.”  The handful of other lost earlier works, none of which date to even close to a century after Muhammad’s death, are referenced in Thomas Patrick Hughes, A Dictionary of Islam (London: W. H. Allen & Co., 1885), 42 & Norman L. Geisler, “Muhammad, Alleged Miracles Of,” Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 512–513.

[228]            Other compilations of Hadith (Sahih Muslim; Ibn Daw’ud; Al Tirmidhi; etc.) are even later.

[229]            Ali Shehata, Demistifying Islam, ed. Julie Samia Maier (Sanford, FL: Elysium River Press, 2007) 61.

[230]            Samuel M. Zwemer, The Law of Apostasy in Islam (London: Marshall Brothers, 1924), 37.

[231]            The investigation of the genuineness of a hadith would necessarily “often take[n] many days, since the sources were distributed over many cities.”  However, to merely spend half an hour investigating a hadith would have taken the man 300,000 hours or, working 8 hours a day every single day, 37,500 days or over 102 years.  Since “Bukhari’s total working life was said to be 40 years . . . he could not have examined all 600,000 hadiths thoroughly even in terms of his own criteri[a] which according to many scholars [were] not sufficiently rigorous” (Sayyed Misbah Deen, Science Under Islam [Lulu.com] 219).  Sayings in the 1% that were accepted as authentic and authoritative included: “If a house fly falls in the drink of anyone of you, he should dip it in the drink, for one of its wings has a disease and the other has the cure for the disease” (Bukhari IV:524) and many gems of similar wisdom.

Muslims claim (at least for the 1% of traditions that Bukhari accepted) to have a reliable chain of transmission covering the centuries between Muhammad and the hadith. Islam cannot prove that its chains of transmission are actually reliable, but its need for them stands in the sharpest contrast to the New Testament.  The New Testament does not need a highly dubious chain of transmission covering centuries, for it was composed by Christ’s original disciples and their colleagues during the lifetime of the original disciples. There was no need for a line of transmission.  However, interestingly enough, “even about one hundred seventy years later, Tertullian reported that a register was kept in his day showing the line of transmission of the apostolic tradition. In other words, a clear lineage back to the original apostles was available and it is far closer to the eyewitnesses than the hadith” (Michael R. Licona, Paul Meets Muhammad: A Christian-Muslim Debate on the Resurrection [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006], 134–135 & Tertullian, Prescription against Heretics 32 in Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, trans. Peter Holmes, vol. 3, The Ante-Nicene Fathers [Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885], 258).

[232]            Ibn Warraq, Why I Am Not a Muslim (Amherst, NY: Promethius Books, 2003), Chapter 3, “The Problem of Sources.”

[233]            Sahih Muslim, whose “collection is much larger, based upon less stringent criteria than used by Bukhari, accepting about 12,000 ahadith, from out of some 3,000,000” (Edward Challen, Love Your Muslim Neighbour: Understanding Islam in Today’s World [Leominster: Day One, 2006], 67).  Had just ten minutes been spent per hadith, working eight hours a day, would have required one to work over 171 years to evaluate all 3,000,000 alleged sayings. Sahih Muslim did not live to be over 171 years old, nor did he start his work on the day of his birth.

[234]            Edward Challen, Love Your Muslim Neighbour: Understanding Islam in Today’s World (Leominster: Day One, 2006), 67.  These collections of Hadith were accepted by the majority Sunni community but not by some much smaller splinter groups.

[235]            Robert A. Morey, Winning the War against Radical Islam (Orange, CA: Christian Scholars Press, 2002), 151–152.  Morey continues:

According to the legends, myths and stories found in the Hadith, the Qur’an was written in heaven by Allah on a large stone tablet. The angel Gabriel brought it down and Muhammad recited it verbally but did not write any of it down. It was Muhammad’s companions who wrote down what he recited. After his death, it was gathered together and compiled by the Caliph Uthman.

The insurmountable problem that Muslims face is that they do not have any documentary evidence from the 7th or 8th century to back up any of their claims. For example, if Uthman compiled the Qur’an as the Hadith claims (Bukhari I:63; IV:709; VI:507, 510), where is the manuscript evidence for this? Why have no Qur’ans survived from that period? Why do we have to wait over a hundred years before we find even a scrap of the Qur’an?

The Muslims are also guilty of circular reasoning when they document the Qur’an by the Hadith and then document the Hadith by the Qur’an! But there is no documentary evidence to back up the Hadith or the Qur’an! They are both fraudulent as to authorship and dates.

Some Muslims have claimed that 7th century copies of the original Qur’an have been found in museums at Topkapi, Turkey and Tashkent, Russia. But when they were examined by manuscript scholars, they turned out to be 9th or 10th century manuscripts.

The Qur’an was invented in order to give spiritual unity to the vast empire created by Arab conquests. By borrowing liberally from the legends, myths and religious traditions of pagans, Jews, Christians, Hindus and Persians, they created one religion to rule over all its citizens. Thus, the Qur’an was the product of multiple authors from different times and places. These authors contributed stories and legends from their own cultural and religious background. The sources of these stories have been well documented by many scholars. . . .

How different is the situation with the New Testament! The manuscript evidence for it begins twenty years after the death (and resurrection) of Christ. There are literally thousands of Greek, Latin, Syriac and Coptic texts that document the reliability of the New Testament.

The same holds true for the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth. We have more than enough literary documentation for the life of Jesus from first century Jewish, pagan and Christian manuscripts. This is in sharp contrast to the life of Muhammad. We find no references to him as a prophet until 150 years after his death. No one has ever found even the smallest fragment of the Qur’an from the 7th century. Thus, much of what is said about the life of Muhammad must now be dismissed as fiction. (Ibid, 152–153)

[236]            Tom Holland, In the Shadow of the Sword  [London: Abacus, 2013] 334-335, 401.  It is likewise noteworthy that while Islam generally has adopted the very late tradition “that would attribute the compilation of the Prophet’s revelations to Uthman [c. A. D. 644-656] the resounding lack of even a single Qur’anic inscription dating from [Uthman’s time and for] decades [afterwards] . . . suggests something rather different . . . a jumble of fragments . . . subjected to a state-sponsored makeover . . . [in the] reign [of] . . . Abd al-Malik,” who ruled between A. D. 685-705 (Ibid, 401, 427-428).

[237]           The Quran claims that it is such a high-quality and pure Arabic work that it must be inspired by God (Quran 2:23).  However, in the words of one translator:

[There are] numerous grammatical errors occuring throughout the Arabic text. . . . [There are] tense changes multiple times in the same sentence . . . gender confusion and grammatically incorrect sentence construction. . . . Many words in the Qur’an are either without any meaning or . . . [words] for which the meaning is disputed[.] . . . [T]here are approximately two hundred and seventy non-Arabic words used in the Qur’an. . . . [T]he Qur’an . . . is . . . a rambling and somewhat incoherent text[.] (Usama Dakdok, trans., The Generous Quran [Venice, FL: Usama Dakdok Publishing, 2009] xiii-xv)

[238]            Hengel notes: “The hymn to Christ . . . is as old as the [Christian] community itself” (Martin Hengel, Between Jesus and Paul:  Studies in the Earliest History of Christianity [Philadelphia:  Fortress, 1983] 93]. In his definitive work on Philippians 2:5-11, Dr. Ralph P. Martin suggests Stephen, who was martyred c. A. D. 35, before the converson of Paul, as the author of the hymn—its content possesses “a very early date” (I. Howard Marshall, “The Christ-Hymn in Philippians 2:5-11: A Review Article,” Tyndale Bulletin 19 (1968) 124; see Ralph P. Martin, Carmen Christi:  Philippians ii.5-11 in Recent Interpretation and in the Setting of Early Christian Worship (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967). “[T]he worship of the crucified and risen Jesus—a man of living memory and not a figure of hoary antiquity—as the incarnation of a preexistent divine being represents a quantum leap beyond any form of Second Temple Judaism. Neither of these theological developments nor their sociological corollaries are late phenomena but early realities that can be dated with some precision . . . very early on . . . in texts like the pre-Pauline Christ hymn in Philippians” (Daniel C. Harlow, “Early Judaism and Early Christianity,” ed. John J. Collins, The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010], 276).

[239]            Note that c. 99% of Greek manuscripts read “God” in 1 Timothy 3:16, while the anti-Trinitarian alternative reading “who” is found in only 1% of manuscripts, is a grammatical impossibility, and is not a “mystery” as the verse specifies (Wilbur Pickering, ed., New Majority Greek Text Based on Original Text Theory, ΠΡΟΣ ΤΙΜΟΘΕΟn A, 3). “It is hard to imagine any possible set of circumstances in the transmissional history sufficient to produce the cataclysmic overthrow in statistical probability required by the claim that ‘who’ is the original reading” (Wilbur N. Pickering, The Identity of the New Testament Text, 4th ed., Elec. acc. http://walkinhiscommandments.com, 72).  Furthermore, 7Q4, the extremely early papyrus fragment of 1 Timothy that “must be dated on paleographical grounds to the middle of the first century AD,” supports the reading “God,” not the corruption “who” (Carsten Peter Thiede, Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth [Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing, 1995] 175-177).

[240]            The Greek Granville-Sharp construction in Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1, as well as other passages in the New Testament, requires the Deity of Jesus Christ.  See Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 270-290.

[241]            See, e. g., Robert L. Reymond, Jesus, Divine Messiah: The New and Old Testament Witness (Fearn, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 2003), 167-411.  Every New Testament author identifies Jesus Christ as God (in addition to the texts above, see Hebrews 1:8-10; James 2:1; Jude 4; etc.

[242]            E. g.:  “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

[243]            For a more extensive development of this argument, see Josh McDowell, Evidence for Christianity (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), 379-386; Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 158-175; Dan Story, Defending Your Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1997), 83–86.

[244]            Josh McDowell, Evidence for Christianity (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), 379.

[245]            Kyle R. Hughes, “Quadratus, Apology of,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

[246]            Quadratus, Apology, in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 4:3:1-3, in Eusebius: Church History, Life of Constantine the Great, and Oration in Praise of Constantine, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, trans. Arthur Cushman McGiffert, vol. 1, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1890), 175.  Habermas notes:

Quadratus’ apology reports several important items concerning Jesus’ miracles. (1) The facticity of Jesus’ miracles could be checked by interested persons, since they were done publicly. With regard to the actual types of miracles, (2) some were healed and (3) some were raised from the dead. (4) There were eyewitnesses of these miracles at the time they occurred. (5) Many of those healed or raised were still alive when Jesus “left the earth” and some were reportedly still alive in Quadratus’ own time. (Gary R. Habermas, The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ [Joplin, MO: College Press Publishing Company, 1996], 233–234)

[247]           E. g., “such works . . . [were] magical art . . . [by] a magician, and a deceiver of the people” (Justin Martyr, Dialogue of Justin with Trypho, a Jew, 69, in The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers [Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885], 233.

The Talmud declares: “On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged . . . before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, ‘He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy’” (Sanhedrin 43A, trans. Jacob Neusner, ed., The Babylonian Talmud: A Translation and Commentary. Accordance Electronic ed. [Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2005]).

[248]           E. g., Celsus:  “[Christ’s] feats . . . cures . . . resurrection, or the feeding of a multitude with a few loaves . . . are the proceedings of [the] wicked . . . under the influence of an evil spirit” (Origen, “Origen against Celsus,” in Fathers of the Third Century: Tertullian, Part Fourth; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen, Parts First and Second, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, trans. Frederick Crombie, vol. 4, The Ante-Nicene Fathers [Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885], 427). “Christ . . . was a master of demonic arts—such was the real opinion of Celsus” (Adolf von Harnack, The Mission and Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries, ed. James Moffatt, Second, Enlarged and Revised Edition, vol. 1, Theological Translation Library [London: Williams and Norgate, 1908], 144).

The anti-Christian pagan emperor Julian wrote: “Jesus, who won over the least worthy of you . . . during his lifetime accomphished nothing worth hearing of, unless anyone thinks that to heal crooked and blind men and to exorcise those who were possessed by evil demons in the villages of Bethsaida and Bethany can be classed as a mighty achievement” (Julian, Against the Galileans in Complete Works, trans. Wilmer C. Wright. [Hastings: Delphi Classics, 2017], 201, excerpted from Cyrial of Alexandria, Contra Julianum). “Interestingly enough . . . Julian does not question the reality of the miracles” (John Granger Cook, The Interpretation of the New Testament in Greco-Roman Paganism [Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002], 299-300).

[249]            William Lane Craig, The Son Rises: The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2000), 30. Italics are reprorduced from the original.

[250]            Darrell L. Bock, “The Historical Jesus: An Evangelical View,” in The Historical Jesus: Five Views, ed. James K. Beilby and Paul Rhodes Eddy, Spectrum Multiview Books (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009), 263.  See also Graham Stanton, “Jesus of Nazareth: A Magician and a False Prophet Who Deceived God’s People,” in Jesus of Nazareth Lord and Christ: Essays on the Historical Jesus and New Testament Christology, ed. Joel B. Green and Max Turner (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994) 164–180.

[251]            Darrell L. Bock, “The Historical Jesus: An Evangelical View,” in The Historical Jesus: Five Views, ed. James K. Beilby and Paul Rhodes Eddy, Spectrum Multiview Books (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009), 263.

[252]            John P. Meier, “The Present State of the ‘Third Quest’ for the Historical Jesus: Loss and Gain,” Biblica 80 (1999) 477–83.  Meier notes that, in contrast to the early character of the New Testament records, “written versions of the miracle traditions of Apollonius of Tyana, Honi the Circle Drawer, and Hanina ben-Dosa were composed only centuries after the events recorded” (ibid, 481).  Meier concludes: “So much for [a non-miraculous] Enlightenment Jesus” (482).

[253]           For example, the Quran contains strong evidence that Muhammad performed no miracles and specifically admitted that he could perform none (Surah 6:37, 109; 10:20; 13:7; 11:12; 13:27; 17:59, 90-93; 28:48; 29:48-51, etc.); honest Muslim scholars recognize that “[i]n many places the Qur’an stresses the fact that the Prophet Muhammad, despite his being the last and greatest of God’s apostles, was not empowered to perform miracles . . . his only miracle was and is the Qur’an itself” (Asad, Message of the Qur’an [Gibraltar: Dar Al-Andalus, 1993] 427).  In sharp contrast, hadith about Muhammad composed centuries later ascribed fanciful miracles to him (Bukhari 1:4:170; 5:59:428; 4:56:831, etc.), although the fact that the founder of Islam performed no such acts still appeared to contradict the later legends (Bukhari 9:92:379).  See also Norman L. Geisler, “Muhammad, Alleged Miracles Of,” Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 509–514.

One could similarly contrast the glaring weakness in the evidence for anything really miraculous in Philostratus’ biography of Apollonius of Tyanna, who was allegedly deified and taken to the gods (apotheosis) according to later appendices to Philostratus’ biography (which recorded no such deification).  Apollonius died in A. D. 98, and his (sole) biographer wrote 120 years after his death.  When his biographer, Philostratus, cites his source, he references a person who probably never existed but was being used as a literary device, one “Damis,” who was allegedly born in Nineveh, although that city had not existed for c. 300 years by that point in time.  Philostratus’ work is filled with historical inaccuracies and was composed in a literary form popular in the day known as “romance fiction” which readers knew was not to be taken as factual.  Furthermore, since Philostratus’ patron was a high priestess of Hellenistic polytheism, there may have been an anti-Christian polemic agenda in adding a resurrection-like ending to the biography.  The only alleged “resurrection” appearance for Apollonius was a vision given to one sleeping man nearly two centuries later.  The legend stands in the sharpest contrast to diversity of early and unambiguous historical testimony for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Geisler notes:

There is no evidence for the historicity of Philostratus’s work on Apollonius. It gives every evidence of being a work of fiction. Unlike the Gospels, it provides no eyewitnesses, no resurrection, and no confirmation. By contrast, the Gospels have abundant evidence for their authenticity and historicity. . . . In short, there is no real comparison between Apollonius and Christ. Jesus claimed to be the Son of the theistic God and proved it by historically verified miracles, including his own resurrection from the dead. Apollonius made no such claims and had no such witnesses to support any alleged miracles. On the contrary, the single witness is late, unsubstantiated, and shows every sign of being myth, not history. (Norman L. Geisler, “Apollonius of Tyana,” Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999], 44–45; cf. “Resurrection Claims in Non-Christian Religions,” ibid, 649–650)

[254]            Timothy Keller, Reasons For God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (New York: Penguin, 2008), 210.

[255]            James D. G. Dunn, Jesus Remembered, vol. 1, Christianity in the Making (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003), 855.

[256]            The New Testament accounts of Christ’s resurrection apperances, while entirely consistent and non-contradictory, do not always supply enough information for one to construct an absolutely certain chronology of every single one of Christ’s recorded appearances.  For a detailed discussion and chronology, see, e. g., John Wenham, Easter Enigma: Are the Resurrection Accounts in Cofnlict?, 2nd ed. (Waynesboro, GA:  Paternoster, 1992) 1-140.

The first five bodily appearances listed took place on the day of Christ’s resurrection; the sixth took place on the following Sunday, and the subsequent bodily appearances took place at various times in the forty days following the resurrection (Acts 1:3), with the exception of the bodily appearance to Paul, which took place after the end of the forty-day period.  Christ also appeared in visions to Stephen, Ananias, Paul, John, and others (cf. Acts 7:55-56; Acts 9:10-15; Acts 22:17-21; Revelation 1:9-13, etc.), but these visions, while genuine supernatural manifestations of the risen Christ, were qualitatively different from the Lord Jesus’s bodily appearances and are clearly distinguished from them in the Bible.

Dorothy Sayers, while denying the infallability of the Bible, nevertheless stated:

Take . . . the various accounts of the Resurrection appearances at the Sepulchre.  The divergences appear very great at first sight . . . [b]ut the fact remains that all of them, without exception, can be made to fall into a place in a single orderly and coherent narrative without the smallest contradiction or difficulty, and without any suppression, invention, or manipulation, beyond a trifling effort to imagine the natural behaviour of a bunch of startled people running about in the dawnlight between Jerusalem and the Garden. (Dorothy L. Sayers, The Man Born to Be King [San Francisco:  Ignatius Press, 1943] 28-29)

[257]            The resurrection appearances in Mark 16:9-20 have been questioned by some.  While the evidence for the reality that Christ rose from the dead by no means falls if one (for the sake of argument) were to concede that the passage was inauthentic, the historical evidence for its Markan authorship is overwhelming.  Ninety-nine and nine tenths percent of extant Greek manuscripts support Mark 16:9-20, as do 100% of ancient lectionaries.  Only three Greek manuscripts omit the passage (א, B & 304), and of these three, one (304) is missing the page that contains the passage but contains a note specifying it had been present; another (B) contains an empty column at the end of Mark, unique to the manuscript, and evidencing its scribe was familiar with Mark 16:9-20; and the last (א) contains similar scribal evidence that its first hand contained the passage.  The Syriac, Latin, Coptic and Gothic versions all massively support the passage, with every single Syriac manuscript except one, every Coptic manuscript except one, and every Latin manuscript except one containing the text.  In the second century, the Diatessaron attests to Mark 16:9-20, as does Irenaeus.  The passage is also validated by Hippolytus, Vincentius, the Gospel of Nicodemus and the Apostolic Constitutions, Eusebius, Aphraates, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Jerome, Augustine, Cyril of Alexandria, Victor of Antioch, and other writers (Wilbur Pickering, The Idenity of the New Testament Text IV, Appendix E, 197-208).  Many explanations, including something as simple as the last page of an ancient copy accidentally falling off, could explain the omission of Mark 16:9-20 in a miniscule number of witnesses; the overwhelming evidence in favor of the passage, on the other hand, cannot be adequately explained other than by the authenticity of its text.  Oxford scholar John Burgon noted in the conclusion of his unsurpassed 325 page study of this passage: “[N]ot a particle of doubt . . . not an atom of suspicion, attaches to the last twelve verses of the Gospel according to St. Mark” (John W. Burgon, The Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel According to S. Mark [Oxford: James Parker, 1871], 254).

[258]            Note that the term “the twelve” in 1 Corinthians 15:5 is a technical one referring to the group of the Apostles (cf. also, after Judas’s apostasy, “the eleven,” Mark 16:14) that does not necessarily require the presence of every single member of that group.  Compare Xenophon’s reference to “the Thirty” even after two members of that group have already died (Cf. δώδεκα, William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000], 266 & Xenophon, Xenophon in Seven Volumes, 1 and 2, trans. Carleton L. Brownson [Medford, MA: Harvard University Press, 1918-1921] 2, 4, 19, 23).  Note also, however, that Matthias restored the number of the Apostles to twelve after Judas’s death (Acts 1:26).

[259]            William Lane Craig et al., Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact or Figment?: A Debate between William Lane Craig & Gerd Lüdemann (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 190.

[260]            Craig L. Blomberg, Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey, 2nd Edition. (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2009), 410.  “[N]owhere within Judaism, let alone paganism, is a sustained claim advanced that resurrection has actually happened to a particular individual” (N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God [London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2003], 28).

[261]            Concerning the historicity of Christ’s burial in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb, Craig notes:

Arimathea is likely to be the town Ramathaionzophim, just north of Jersusalem. Joseph is said to be a member of the Council, that is, the Sanhedrin, which was a sort of Jewish Supreme Court that tried cases dealing with Jewish law. The Great Sanhedrin, which tried important life-and-death cases, consisted of seventy-one prominent and influential men. Even the most skeptical scholars acknowledge that Joseph was probably the genuine, historical individual who buried Jesus, since it is unlikely that early Christian believers would invent an individual, give him a name and nearby town of origin, and place that fictional character on the historical council of the Sanhedrin, whose members were well known.

In addition, some of the gospels’ descriptions of Joseph receive confirmation through incidental details. For example, Matthew says that Joseph was “a rich man” (Matthew 27:57). That fact is confirmed by the type and location of the tomb in which he buried Jesus[.] . . .

Archaeological discoveries have revealed three different types of rock tombs used in Jesus’ time. (1) Kōkīm tombs, in which tunnels about six feet deep were bored into the walls of the tomb, three in each wall, into which the bodies were inserted headfirst; (2) acrosolia tombs, which had semicircular niches in the walls about two and one-half feet above the floor and two to three feet deep containing either a shelf or trough for the body; and (3) bench tombs, in which a bench went around the inner walls of the tomb and served as a resting place for the body. The tombs were sealed with a stone slab to keep out animals. In a very expensive tomb, a round, disc-shaped stone could be rolled down a slanted groove and across the door of the tomb. Although it would be easy to close the tomb, it would require several men to roll the stone back up the groove to open it. Only a few tombs with such disc-shaped stones have been discovered in Palestine, but they all date from Jesus’ day.

When one compiles the incidental details concerning Jesus’ tomb from the gospels, it becomes evident that either an acrosolia or bench tomb is in mind, with a roll-stone for the door. This is very interesting because such tombs were scarce in Jesus’ day and were reserved for persons of high rank, such as members of the Sanhedrin. Furthermore, near the church that stands at the traditional site for Jesus’ grave, acrosolia tombs from Jesus’ time have been found.

In addition, John states that the tomb was located in a garden (John 19:41). The word means plantation, or orchard, and such a site could contain rock tombs. In fact one of the gates in the North Wall of Jerusalem was called the Garden Gate, and the tombs of the Jewish high priests John Hyrcanus and Alexander Jannaeus were in that area. So it could have been a prestigious burial place.

Two more details deserve to be mentioned. First, according to Matthew, Luke, and John, the tomb was new and unused (Matthew 27:60; Luke 23:53; John 19:41). This is very likely, since the body of a condemned criminal could not be placed in an occupied tomb without defiling the bodies of the family members reposing there. Therefore, Joseph would have to find an unoccupied tomb. Second, Matthew says the tomb was Joseph’s own tomb (Matthew 27:60). This also is very probable, since Joseph would not be at liberty to lay the body of a criminal in just anybody’s rock tomb. All the gospels give the impression that Joseph had a specific tomb in mind, and that is best explained by the fact that the tomb in which he laid Jesus was his own property.

That all these details dovetail cannot be simply coincidental. But neither can it be intentional, for the details are entirely incidental and offhand. The tomb used for Jesus’ burial is consistently described as an acrosolia or bench tomb. Archaeology confirms that such tombs were used in Jesus’ day but only by wealthy or prominent persons. The tomb is described as having a roll-stone for a door. Again archaeology demonstrates the use of such tombs in Jesus’ day, but only by the rich. John says the tomb was situated in some sort of garden, a fact shown to be consistent with the location of the tombs of notables. At the same time, the different gospel writers mention that Joseph was a prominent Jewish leader, that he was wealthy, and that he owned the tomb in which he laid Jesus. In other words, he is exactly the sort of man who would own a tomb such as that described in the gospels. The gospels also say the tomb was unused, which is plausible in light of Jewish beliefs about defilement. Joseph is said to be a secret disciple, and that makes sense of his placing Jesus’ corpse in his own tomb. It is the interweaving of all those separate and incidental details that makes the historical credibility of Joseph’s burial of Jesus in his tomb so impressive. (William Lane Craig, The Son Rises: The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus [Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2000, 53–57)

[262]            Yuval Baruch & Anna Eirikh-Rose, “Jerusalem, Sanhedriya,” Hadashot Arkheologiyot:  Excavations and Surveys in Israel 126 (2014), 7/23/2014 final report.

[263]            Fatal problems with the idea that the disciples stole the body include: 1.) The soldiers—the servants of the anti-Jesus leadership that had just conspired to have Christ crucified—were themselves witnesses to the miraculous events of Resurrection morning.  Such unwilling testimony is exceedingly strong.  2.) The soldiers guarding the tomb required a large bribe and a command from Christ’s enemies to propogate the stolen-body idea. 3.) The tomb had been made sure (Matthew 27:64) to prevent such a theft. 3.) The disciples had very recently fled from Roman soldiers when Judas betrayed Christ.  Peter had been so fearful that he had denied even knowing Christ when questioned by a servant girl, and His followers were clearly at this point filled with cowardice and depression—they were in no state to bravely attempt to face a detachment of Roman soldiers to steal the body. 4.) If the soldiers had been sleeping, how could they say that the disciples stole the body? 5.) It is extremely improbable that a whole guard of Roman soliders under explicit command of the highest authorities to guard Christ’s tomb would have fallen asleep, especially since the penalty for sleeping on their watch was death. 6.) Even a large bribe would not likely have been able to convice the soldiers to risk death for stating that they slept on the job were not the fact that the body was indeed gone unable to be denied.  They only were willing to risk death in this manner because they had guarantees of protection and immunity for making what they knew full well was a false claim. 7.) The stone at the tomb was extremely large.  Even had the entire group of soliders fallen asleep, the noise caused by moving the stone would have awakened them. 8.) The position of the grave clothes demonstrates that the body had not been stolen.  No robbers would have taken the time to unwind the wrappings, which were stuck together with the spices, removed the body, and then rewound the wrappings into their original shape, all the while hoping that the Roman soldiers would not wake up, instead of fleeing with the body in its graveclothes as quickly as possible. 9.) The disciples had absolutely no motive for taking away the body, which had been honorably buried.  It would not have been an act of honor to their Rabbi, but one of dishonor. 10.) Only intentional deceit could have motivated the disciples to steal the body and proclaim Christ’s resurrection, but the disciples had no motive for such an action.  Their Master had exalted the virtue of honesty to the highest possible degree.  Nor did they have any prospect of monetary gain or other worldly advancement for making such a claim. 11.) Each of the Apostles was martyred, except for the Apostle John, who suffered banishment.  People will suffer martyrdom for what they believe to be true, but not for what they know to be false.  There is no way that the disciples would have clung tenaciously to their proclamation that Christ had risen from the dead had they known that their proclamation was false. 12.) The stolen-body theory does not even attempt to account for the many appearances of Christ to believer and unbeliever, to individuals and to large groups.

See Josh McDowell, Evidence for Christianity (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006) 323–335 for a more detailed refutation of the absurd stolen-body theory.  Note that this theory concedes the key fact that Christ’s body was not there—His tomb was indeed empty.

[264]            William Lane Craig, The Son Rises: The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2000), 36.

[265]            Compton explains:

The Nazareth Inscription is . . . evidence that the resurrection of Christ was being preached right from the beginnings of Christianity. It is a Greek inscription on a marble tablet measuring approximately 24 inches by 15 inches. The exact time and place of its discovery is not known. The text records an abridged decree . . . instituting the death penalty for tomb robbing, a very unusual punishment. This fact clearly proves that the story of the resurrection of Christ was widely known almost immediately after His crucifixion. In other words, the story of the resurrection of Christ must have been a story that was circulated by his Apostles themselves, and it was not a later invention by Christians of the post-apostolic period, as some modern scholars in the past have argued. The Nazareth Inscription [prods] modern scholars into making a choice of either believing in the resurrection of Christ or of believing that His disciples stole His body from the tomb in order to perpetrate a great religious fraud. Since its original publication in 1930 by M. Franz Cumont, no scholar has published evidence to disprove its authenticity. (Jared M. Compton, “Is The Resurrection Historically Reliable?” Bible and Spade 22:4 [Fall 2009] 104-106)

Scholars note: “Although the present state of research does not allow for absolute certainty, the presence of this authentic decree lends historical credibility to Matthew’s account” (John H. Walton, ed., Archaeological Study Bible [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005], P13375). As “an imperial edict, belonging either to the reign of Tiberius (A. D. 14–37) or of Claudius (A. D. 41–54) . . . backed with heavy sanctions, against meddling around with tombs and graves! It looks very much as if the news of the empty tomb had got back to Rome in a garbled form (Pilate would have had to report: and he would obviously have said that the tomb had been rifled). This edict, it seems, is the imperial reaction” (Josh McDowell, Evidence for Christianity [Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006], 299).

Consider also that Matthew 27:52-53 states that in conjunction with Christ’s death and resurrection in Jerusalem “the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after [Jesus’] resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many,” a situation that might also have contributed to the publication of the decree.

See Craig A. Evans, “Jesus and the Ossuaries,” Bulletin for Biblical Research, Vol. 13 (2003) 26–28 for the text of the inscription and an English translation.

[266]            The Ahmadiyya movement, an Islamic splinter group founded in India in the late 19th century A. D. by Mirza Gulam Ahmad, although not anti-supernaturalists, are required to hold to the discredited swoon theory because of the affirmations of their founder.  The Ahmadiyya make the claims that Christ did not die on the cross but revived in the tomb, escaped from it, and then walked to India, where he died a natural death in Sringar, a city in Kashmir, after working with the ten (allegedly) lost Tribes of Israel, who had likewise migrated to Kashmir since that land, not Canaan, is (allegedly) the Promised Land.  The Ahmadiyya point to the tomb of a Muslim preacher from a few centuries ago (the tomb is first mentioned in the Waqi’at-i-Kashmir [The Story of Kashmir], published in AD 1747 by Khwaja Muhammad Azam Didamari) and claim it is really the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth.  “[N]o historical evidence has been offered to confirm its authenticity except [from] questionable works based on oral legends. In addition, the Ahmadis have failed to produce any archaeological or anthropological evidence that the grave . . . might be that of Jesus” (Paul C. Pappas, Jesus’ Tomb in India: Debate on His Death and Resurrection [Berkeley, CA: Asian Humanities Press, 1991] 154).  Locals claim that the story about the tomb of Christ in Kashmir was “just a story spread by local shopkeepers . . . [t]hey thought it would be good for business” (Sam Miller, A Strange Kind of Paradise:  India Through Foreign Eyes [New York: Vintage Books, 2015], Chapter 2), but Ahmad allegedly discovered that this tomb really belonged to Jesus, despite the total lack of any historical evidence “through divine revelation” (Paul C. Pappas, Jesus’ Tomb in India: Debate on His Death and Resurrection [Berkeley, CA: Asian Humanities Press, 1991] 97).

Furthermore, the Ahmadiyya movement also claims to have found the tomb of Moses in Kashmir (Khwaja Nazir Ahmad, Jesus in Heaven on Earth [Columbus, OH: Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha ‘at Islam Lahore Inc., 1998] Chapter 19), based on writings that go back no further than the sixteenth century A. D. and without any scientific examination of Moses’ alleged tomb ever having been conducted (Paul C. Pappas, Jesus’ Tomb in India: Debate on His Death and Resurrection [Berkeley, CA: Asian Humanities Press, 1991] 107-109). Solomon also flew through the air to Kashmir and ruled that country, for they have his throne there (Paul C. Pappas, Jesus’ Tomb in India: Debate on His Death and Resurrection [Berkeley, CA: Asian Humanities Press, 1991] 108).

While the Ahmadiyya claims sound like a matter for comic relief, tens of millions of people follow the religion’s teachings. See Sam Shamoun, “Ahmaddiyya in the Balance,” Journal of Biblical Apologetics 7 (2003) 20-27 for a critical examination of the Ahmadiyya movement.

For an analysis and refutation of the discredited swoon theory, see Josh McDowell, Evidence for Christianity (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), 316–323 & William Lane Craig, The Son Rises: The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2000), 36–40.  The critique of the leading anti-supernaturalist writer David F. Strauss sounded the death knell for the swoon theory:

It is impossible that a being who had stolen half-dead out of the sepulchre, who crept about weak and ill, wanting medical treatment, who required bandaging, strengthening and indulgence, and who still at last yielded to his sufferings, could have given to his disciples the impression that he was a Conqueror over death and the grave, the Prince of Life, an impression which lay at the bottom of their future ministry. Such a resuscitation could only have weakened the impression which he had made upon them in life and in death, at the most could only have given it an elegiac voice, but could by no possibility have changed their sorrow into enthusiasm, have elevated their reverence into worship. (David Friedrich Strauss, A New Life of Jesus, 2d ed. 2 vol, (London: Williams & Norgate, 1879), 1:412)

The swoon theory has been dead for a long time, and it is not rising again any time soon:  “[N]o contemporary scholar would support such a theory; it has been dead over a hundred years. Only in [Communist] propaganda from behind the [former] Iron Curtain or in sensationalist books in the popular press does such a theory still find expression” (William Lane Craig, The Son Rises: The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus [Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2000] 40).

[267]            Gary R. Habermas, “Resurrection Research from 1975 to the Present: What Are Critical Scholars Saying?” Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 3:2 (2005) 140.

[268]            For representative and devastating refutations of anti-supernaturalist explanations for the resurrection, see:  William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, rev. ed. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1994), 255-298; Josh McDowell, Evidence for Christianity (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), 244–349; Peter Kreeft & Ronald K. Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994) 175-198; William Lane Craig, The Son Rises: The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2000) 23-44; Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 644-670.

[269]            Craig L. Blomberg, Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey, 2nd Edition. (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2009), 409.

[270]            Drury Patteson, “From Evangelicalism To Reluctant Skepticism and Back Again: A Beguiling Journey.” Christian Apologetics Journal 5:2 (Fall 2006) 57.

[271]           William Lane Craig, “Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ,” Truth 1 (1985) 89-95.  Italics are reproduced from the original.  Similarly, Guthrie notes:  “It is undeniable that the fact of the Resurrection of Jesus is one of the best attested facts of history. A change of attitude toward the Resurrection has occurred in the realm of criticism. Earlier critics attempted to explain away the fact of the Resurrection on the basis of a swoon theory, a vision theory, or a hallucination theory, but these attempts failed to square with the evidence. Now the Resurrection is not explained away” (Donald Guthrie, “Jesus Christ,” in Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, gen. ed. Merrill C. Tenney.  [Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1963, Accordance elec. ed.] Par. 27035).

[272]            Drury Patteson, “From Evangelicalism To Reluctant Skepticism and Back Again: A Beguiling Journey.” Christian Apologetics Journal 5:2 (Fall 2006) 56-57.  For example, Sir Edward Clarke KC wrote to the E. L. Macassey as follows:

As a lawyer I have made a prolonged study of the evidences for the events of the first [Resurrection] Day. To me the evidence is conclusive, and over and over again in the High Court I have secured the verdict on evidence not nearly so compelling. Inference follows on evidence, and a truthful witness is always artless and disdains effect. The Gospel evidence for the resurrection is of this class, and as a lawyer I accept it unreservedly as the testimony of truthful men to facts they were able to substantiate. (Cited in John Stott, Basic Christianity, new ed. [Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008] 62)

Thus, “some of the best books on the resurrection have been written by lawyers . . . [who] originally set out to disprove it” (James Montgomery Boice, Triumph through Tragedy (John 18–21), Boice Expositional Commentary, vol. 19 [Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999] 1583).

[273]           It is noteworthy that Dr. Wright does not affirm the inerrancy of Scripture (N. T. Wright, Simply Christian [London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2006], 156–157); his conclusion that the resurrection took place is not a necessary consequence of his embrace of an inerrant Bible, but of his historical investigation.

[274]            Nicholas Tom Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2003) 710-711.

[275]            James Buswell Jr., “Notes and Reflections on the Alleged Genetic Relationship between Christianity and Ancient Contemporaneous Religions,” Bibliotheca Sacra 81:324 (1924) 439. Ironside notes:

[Scholars have] well said that the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is the best attested fact of ancient history. . . . Take any outstanding character or event in ancient history—by ancient history I mean that which has to do with persons who lived or events which took place before the Christian era—and try to think on the testimony of how many witnesses you accept the story which you have received concerning these persons or events. There was a man by the name of Socrates. How do you know he lived? Well, you have the testimony of Plato and Xenophon. Beyond that you do not have the testimony of any other eye- or ear-witness. Others referred to him in later days on the authority of these witnesses. God has given us abundant testimony of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. In order to get the full force of it we need to read what is recorded in all the four Gospels. In addition to that, we have the definite witness of the apostle Paul, and the testimony of the apostles James and Jude, who were related to Christ after the flesh, but who write of Him as the risen One who is now Lord of all. God saw to it that there was all-sufficient evidence of the resurrection that no honest soul need doubt. (Harry A. Ironside, Addresses on the Gospel of Luke [Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1947] 697)

See also, e. g., Leon Morris, “Resurrection of Jesus Christ,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised, ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1979–1988) 150; Josh McDowell, Evidence for Christianity (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 435.

[276]            “Charles Hartshorne,” in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Dan Dombrowski, elec. acc. http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2004/entries/hartshorne/.

[277]            Gary R. Habermas, Antony G. N. Flew, Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? ed. Terry L. Miethe (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1987) 142.

[278]            Stephen T. Davis, Daniel Kendall & Gerald O’Collins, eds., The Resurrection:  An Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Resurrection of Jesus (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1997), 184.  See also Michael R. Licona, Paul Meets Muhammad: A Christian-Muslim Debate on the Resurrection (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006), 141–142.

[279]            “Jesus of Nazareth:  Lord or Legend?” Dan Barker vs. Dr. Justin Bass, June 6, 2015; elec. acc. at “Fact Checking Dan Barker: From Our Recent Debate June 6, 2015,” http://danielbwallace.com/2015/08/01/fact-checking-dan-barker-from-our-recent-debate-june-6-2015/; reaffirmed by Barker in the Dan Barker-Thomas Ross Debate (November 17, 2015, University of Wisconsin, Whitewater), “The Old Testament is Mainly Fiction, not Fact,” 1:49:00ff., elec. acc. faithsaves.net.

[280]           John Peter Lange et al., A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: 1 Corinthians (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 322.

Resources Presenting Evidence that the Bible is God’s Word

More Resources on Evidence for Christianity and Christian Apologetics

Archaeological Evidence for the Old Testament as the Word of God

The Book of Daniel:  Proof that the Bible is the Word of God

The Dan Barker – Thomas Ross Debates on the Old Testament and Archaeology

About the Author:

Thomas Ross