Quotes on the Historical Jesus and Reliability of the New Testment–Re-visited 2014
I’m re-visiting the question of the reliability of the New Testament accounts of Jesus and the apostles.
This quote directly points out by looking at the larger body of research on this question:
“The evidence is all on Christianity’s side. Let’s take a tally: twenty seven books of the New Testament, nineteen pagan writers, and three
Jewish writers testify to Jesus Christ’s historical reality. Christians, indeed, did not follow a cunningly devised fable, but a real person.
There were, as the Bible proclaims, eyewitnesses to His majesty. That historical fact is at the very foundation of the faith we hold” (p. 77)
–D. James Kennedy, doctorate in comparative religions from New York University, Skeptics Answered: Handling Tough Questions About the
Christian Faith, 1997
The apostles had nothing to gain by lying or creating a legend:
“Besides, these disciples had nothing to gain except criticism, ostracism, and martydom. They certainly had nothing to win financially.”
–Dr. Craig Blomberg, quoted in Lee Strobel in The Case for Christ, p. 48
Famous historian and author Will Durant points out that the credibility of the gospels is comparatively better than many people in history like Hammurabi and Socrates:
“The contradictions [in the gospels] are of minutiae, not substance; in essentials the synoptic gospels agree remarkably well, and form a consistent portrait of Christ. In the enthusiasm of its discoveries the Higher Criticism has applied to the New Testament tests of authenticity so severe that by them a hundred ancient worthiers–e.g., Hammurabi, David, Socrates–would fate into legend.”
–Will Durant in the second volume of the History of Civilization
Even noted skeptic Professor Bart Ehrmam agrees:
“I don’t think there’s any serious historian who doubts the existence of Jesus …. We have more evidence for Jesus than we have for almost anybody from his time period.”
-Prof Bart Ehrman, University of North Carolina in an interview by The Infidel Guy
The reliability of Jesus’ miracles is also impressive:
“If all the main reasons for not believing in the Gospel miracle stories fail to convince, what are positive reasons for believing in them? To begin with, they are deeply embedded in every layer, source and finished Gospel in the early Christian tradition. Jewish sources likewise attest to Jesus’ miracles. Faced with the opportunity to deny the Christian claims that Jesus performed such amazing feats, Josephus and the Talmud instead corroborate them, even though they don’t believe he was heaven-sent. The rabbis often made the charge that Jesus was a sorcerer who led Israel astray, much like certain Jewish leaders in the Gospel accounts (Mark 3:20-30) accused Christ of being empowered by the devil.
In addition, the nature of Jesus’ miracles contrasts markedly with most of those from his milieu. There are a fair number of exorcisms and healing accounts from Jewish, Greek and Roman sources but none where a given wonder-worker consistently and successfully works his miracles without the use of magical formulae, paraphernalia, or proper prayer to God or the gods.5 The more spectacular miracles over nature have fewer parallels in the Greco-Roman world; where similar accounts exist there are also often reasons for disbelieving them. For example, the fountain in the temple of Dionysus in Ephesus flowed with wine once a year rather than with water. But Lucian explained that the priests had a secret underground tunnel that enabled them to enter while the building was locked at night and replace the water supply for the fountain with one of wine. This is hardly the background for Christ’s miracle of turning water into wine.”
-Craig Blomberg, Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary
42 Sources in All Specified: Did Jesus ever exist? (link)
Further Research on the Historical Jesus
I would suggest reading the articles here for more reference and context: Dr. Gary R. Habermas (link)
You can read more by Craig Evans here: New Testament Scholar and Professor Craig A. Evans (link)
Answering the Jesus Seminar by William Lane Craig (link)
Books on Amazon About the Historical Jesus:
• Routledge Encyclopedia of the Historical Jesus by Craig A. Evans (link) (you can get it for $28 used in paperback, but most of the other versions are pretty expensive, perhaps getting it on inter-library loan makes more sense or buying it for your preacher or your church library makes the most sense)
• Fabricating Jesus How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels by Craig Evans (link)
• Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts by Craig S Kenner (link). [he also has a book on the Historical Jesus proper here, but I thought the Miracles book would point more toward the divinity of Jesus]
• If you are just looking for a simple overview of this topic, The Case for Christ by Strobel in which he interviews experts on this topic is available here. I’ve also got a list of some of the best quotes on the Historical Jesus available for reading, printing, and studying here.
You can read more of my articles about the Historical Jesus here. (By the way…you have to click on the articles titles to read them)