Wednesday, March 09, 2016

How Historians Examine the New Testament Documents

Many unbelievers and skeptics seem to think that you have to look to sources outside of the Bible to argue for it's reliability and if you quote the Bible some assert that you are quoting the Bible to prove the Bible.  However, this misunderstands what historians do when they examine the documents of the New Testament, as philosopher and theologian William Lane Craig explains:

"They're not treating the Bible as a holy, inspired book and trying to prove it's true by quoting it.  Rather they're treating the New Testament just like any other collection of ancient documents and investigating whether these documents are historically reliable."1

Craig goes to on to explain the error committed by someone who insists that evidence for the New Testament can only be taken from writings outside of it:

"The church chose only the earliest sources, which were closer to Jesus and the original disciples, to include in the New Testament and left out the later, secondary accounts like the forged apocryphal gospels, which everyone knew were fakes.  So from the very nature of the case, the best historical sources were included in the New Testament.  People who insist on evidence taken only from writings outside the New Testament don't understand what they're asking us to do.  They're demanding that we ignore the earliest, primary sources about Jesus in favor of sources that are later, secondary, and less reliable, which is just crazy as historical methodology."2

As we have demonstrated here, we certainly have evidence for the reliability of the New Testament outside of it, but the earliest and most trustworthy sources about Jesus exist within the pages of the New Testament.

And for those who may say, "We can't trust the authors of the New Testament because they were bias," please see here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes:
1. William Lane Craig, On Guard, p. 185.
2. Ibid., p. 186.

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