A leading theologian has claimed there is compelling evidence for the reliability of the Gospels, and spoken directly to the growing public perception of those who doubt Jesus’ existence.
Peter Williams, Principal of Tyndale House and member of the Faculty of Divinity at Cambridge University said: “I now believe I have arguments for the truthfulness of Scripture, which are not generally known by [the public]. So on one side you can say that there can be problems with scholarship that aren’t known by [the public], but I think there can also be arguments for truthfulness that aren’t generally known by [the public].”
His comments, recorded on The Big Conversation video debate show with Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Bart Erhman, are a challenge to the 39% of British adults who in the Talking Jesus study (Barna, 2015) stated they did not think Jesus was a real historical person and the 22% who believed Jesus to be a mythical or fictional character.
In a series of arguments, Williams described a number of elements that prove the historically reliable nature of the Gospels including: the early dating of the Gospels compared to equivalent ancient historical sources; the authorship being consistent with the names attributed and not being ‘anonymous’ as some scholars claim; the geographical knowledge demonstrated by the writers; and the reliability of the transmission of the texts over time.
Responding to Ehrman’s view that the story of Jesus could be undermined because of being handed down simply through oral tradition before being written down as the Gospels, Williams said, “The question is, when we look at the text itself, are there signs of reliability? Because of the consistent pattern of getting Palestinian culture, geography, culture, religion and so on right, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to say that what we have in these Gospels is coming through a very long chain of tradition. So it’s not a question particularly about time – I’m agnostic on the question of time; it’s about the quality of the actual text, when you look at it.”
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SOURCE: Assist News