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Are the Gospels Historically Reliable?


Gospels are historically reliable


As Christians, our knowledge of Jesus comes to us primarily through the teachings of the Bible, and more specifically the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But how can we trust these teachings? There are a few reasons why many historians and scholars believe that the gospels are accurate and trustworthy events of the life of Christ and his teachings. I'll list 5:


• First, the gospels all share a unified general story, yet with enough variance to show that there was no collusion between the writers. There are many incidental corroborating details––called Undesigned Coincidences––in the four Gospels that any individual gospel writer did not know would be in the others. While literary devices and vocabulary may differ, they all share the same common themes and messages.


• Second, while there is scholarly debate on the authorship of many New Testament books, it is believed by many scholars and historians that the apostles either wrote or directly influenced the content of these Gospels. One fact that supports the reliability of the gospels is that the authors had no motive to lie or deceive anyone through false-statements. They didn’t gain power or wealth by writing and spreading these works. Instead, they faced persecution and, according to tradition, most of the Apostles were killed for their beliefs. They still believed and proclaimed basic Christian doctrine with full confidence despite the high price.


• Third, there are many embarrassing details about the lives and actions of the Disciples (and occasionally, Jesus) in the Gospels. To be frank, the Gospel writers often make the Disciples look like idiots. If they were pushing an agenda––“follow this new cult! Give us money!”––why would these details be included? Simply put, they wouldn’t be.


• Fourth, we know––through the academic field of Textual Criticism––the English translations we read today are extremely accurate to the ancient Greek manuscripts we have available. Over the roughly 2,000 years since the Gospels were written, thousands of Greek copies remain and point to the fact that our modern English Bibles are almost identical to the ancient Greek in which the New Testament was written.


• Fifth, the Gospels are commonly believed to have been written within a few decades of the events that they describe (at the latest, towards the end of the 1st Century). By historical standards, this is golden evidence that cannot be easily dismissed. Compared to other historical figures, such as the Buddha or Alexander the Great, the evidence and details available for the historical figure Jesus of Nazareth is overwhelming. For the skeptic who thinks that “the gospels were written too late after the death of Jesus to be trustworthy,” that same person would have to throw out much of what we consider history itself. Most of it is based on less evidence than that which is available for Jesus and the Gospels.


To summarize, I've listed 5 reasons for why we can trust that the Gospels are reliable. There are other reasons I could've included, but this is a good start. You can be confident in your faith, and the book that our faith rests upon (the Bible). If you are interested in this topic, you'll love the Christian study and practice of Apologetics!

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