Why we can trust the New Testament

As Dr. Daniel B. Wallace says, one thing we need to do when talking about the historicity of the New Testament is avoid two extremes: radical skepticism on the one end and absolute certainty on the other.

This is a continuation of my series on Christian apologetics. In these posts I’m making a systematic argument for Christianity in general, and Jesus Christ in particular. Again, I will use videos where it saves me verbiage and the author makes a better point than I could make. I’m neither a formal apologist nor a PhD Bible scholar, so I will appeal to them for authoritative argumentation. In this post I’m arguing for the reliability of the New Testament text that we have available to us.

Let me start by saying that for us to say that the original New Testament text is inerrant (without errors) is not helpful since we have no original manuscripts. To this, agnostics, atheists, and non-Christian apologists love to quote their favorite Christian deconvert and textual Bible scholar, Dr. Bart Ehrman. Here’s what he says:

“Not only do we not have the original, we don’t have the first copies of the originals. We don’t even have copies of the copies of the originals, or copies of the copies of the originals.” (Misquoting Jesus, p.10)

But we also cannot rightly say we don’t have a highly reliable reconstruction of the original wording of the New Testament. And we will see that even Ehrman agrees with this.

What we do have is over 25,000 manuscript copies (more are being discovered all the time) with over 5,800 in the original Greek language. Besides the manuscript copies, we also have over one million quotations from the New Testament by early church fathers.

Here’s what Dr. Wallace said about the early church fathers quotations of the New Testament:

“If you did not have any of these other witnesses, we could reconstruct virtually the entire New Testament many, many times over on the basis of these quotations by the Church fathers alone. And that is something that even Bart Erhman has said.” (Dr. Daniel Wallace, quote from this video)

To put this in context, there is no other classical work of antiquity that comes remotely close to what we have for the New Testament.

A lot has been made by Dr. Ehrman and his followers about the 400,000 + textual variants in the manuscripts. Here’s an excerpt from a debate between Wallace and Ehrman on the textual variants.

If you would like to see the longer version of this debate, you can go here.

But Ehrman’s scholarly, albeit extremely skeptical, position on biblical historicity is quite perplexing, as we can see in the following comments:

In a Q&A section of the paperback edition of “Misquoting Jesus,” Dr. Ehrman is asked, “Why do you believe these core tenets of Christian orthodoxy to be in jeopardy based on scribal errors you discovered in the biblical manuscripts?” Ehrman’s response: “Essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.” (p.252)

Dr. Lane Craig recalls hearing a radio interview where the interviewer asks Bart near the end of the program, “Well, what do you think the original text actually said?” To this, Ehrman replied, “Well, it said pretty much said what we have today says.” The confused interviewer then wondered what he meant after having heard his description of all the changes that have crept in over the centuries. To that, Ehrman replied, “Right, but we’ve been able to reconstruct the original text with a high degree of certainty.” (You can watch and hear the quote here).

What Wallace, Craig, and Ehrman all know is that the New Testament text has been established with over 99% accuracy. As Dr. Craig says, “‘popular Bart’ [as opposed the “scholarly Bart”] misrepresents this to unsuspecting laymen by innuendo and implication, so as to make them think the text of the New Testament is highly uncertain.”

After all, being provocative sells books.

And now for the feature presentation…

This video is of Dr. Daniel Wallace, where he’s talking about the latest research on New Testament historicity. Besides being a New Testament scholar in textual criticism, Wallace founded The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM),  a non-profit organization set out to preserve ancient manuscripts of the New Testament. This aim is accomplished by taking high resolution digital photographs of all extant Greek New Testament manuscripts. This clip is much longer but worth watching if you really want to know why the New Testament is reliable. I queued the video up after his introduction.

If you would like more succinct presentations arguing for the reliability of the New Testament, I highly recommend InspiringPhilosophy‘s playlist found here.

The bottom line is that we can make a very strong argument that the New Testament text we have is highly reliable. And our position will only get stronger as new manuscripts continue to be discovered in the future.

NOTE: Please confine your comments to the subject matter of the post and videos. Also, please keep your comments concise (under 500 words, preferably much shorter).

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 39 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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128 Responses to Why we can trust the New Testament

  1. tildeb says:

    Yes, the New Testament is very reliable: http://bibviz.com/“>to be internally inconsistent and whose different authors reliably make conflicting claims. Because of this fact, the New Testament in particular has very little historical value.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Because of this fact? Says who? Not most biblical scholars and historians (including the non-Christian scholars)! The apparent contradiction in the New Testament have been debated for decades and can be easily refuted. While it’s popular, it’s actually a very weak argument.

      Here’s a playlist of videos refuting the main arguments for New Testament contradictions: “Supposed Bible Contradictions.”

      Here’s one the videos from a playlist I referenced in the post that also deals with some of the main objections.

  2. Arkenaten says:

    Read this post and once you have, and made a comment ( either here or there) maybe I shall take the time to comment on this.
    https://attaleuntold.wordpress.com/2017/07/23/because-its-sunday/

    • Mel Wild says:

      I read your post, Ark. Interesting version of history. And I would actually agree with a lot of it but not for the reasons you’re bringing it up, I’m sure. One thing I’ve never done here is defend state religion.

      And I didn’t post your other comment because I’m not going to be a place where you just continue advertising your posts. If people want to read what you have to say, they can go there on their own.

      • Arkenaten says:

        I can link it easily enough Mel.Why are you afraid to encourage your followers read how Christianity really started and how it obliterate all dissent for over a thousand years?

        And for what it’s worth, it ,makes no difference if we have a million manuscripts or ten million.
        There are tiw things Harry Potter and the bible have in common.
        1. They are two of the most successful books in hoistoery in terms of numbers in circulation.
        2. They are both works of fiction.

        So, it is makes absolutely no difference what Wallace or any apologist tries so hard to show. As the text is simply historical fiction then every manuscript could be in verbatim agreement.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Why are you afraid to encourage your followers read how Christianity really started and how it obliterate all dissent for over a thousand years?

          Haha…nice try. Ark, how the pagan Constantine high-jacked Christianity and turned it into a state religion is hardly a secret! And all you are showing is what evil men do in the name of religion. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the subject of this post or with authentic Christianity.

          So, it is makes absolutely no difference what Wallace or any apologist tries so hard to show. As the text is simply historical fiction then every manuscript could be in verbatim agreement.

          Your ignorant and absurd comparisons and your fallacious arguments may work on gullible Christians but they mean absolutely nothing here. It’s your comments here that are pure unsubstantiated fiction! There is no reputable Bible scholar, Christian or skeptic(including Ehrman), who would make such a claim. And the dumbest argument of all is insisting on verbatim agreement between manuscript copies! It is a non-issue among those who are trained in textual criticism. If you actually watched the videos you would know this. Of course, you don’t want to acknowledge anything like that.

          I would ask you, what are you afraid of that you cannot deal with the actual evidence?

        • Arkenaten says:

          But you are a gullible christian. And if you read the post showing the edicts you will know why.

          As you do not believe the bible is historical fiction …. you do know what this term means I hope? … then why don’t you tell me which parts of the text that are relevant to your faith are factual?
          I’ll bet you couldn’t demonstrate a single one.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Ark, all you are doing is parroting popular fiction, not scholarly evidence. What, is your source Daniel Brown or Dawkins? Haha…

          As you do not believe the bible is historical fiction …. you do know what this term means I hope? … then why don’t you tell me which parts of the text that are relevant to your faith are factual?
          I’ll bet you couldn’t demonstrate a single one.

          Sure I could. That’s a softball question. Even the most skeptical scholars consider seven books in the New Testament verifiable (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon.) There is no debate about these books among textual critics.

          Paul quotes an early Christian hymn in 1 Corinthians 15 that scholars put before Paul, somewhere within a year or two from the crucifixion and resurrection (will be the subject of my next post).

          3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, (1 Cor.15:3-4)

          That’s the heart of the gospel, Ark, right there in the Pre-Pauline creed, recorded by Paul and accepted by almost every scholar, Christian or atheist, as authentic. And I can also reconstruct every element of my faith from these seven books alone (even though I also have good reason to believe they are all authentic).

        • Arkenaten says:

          No, the source is history … the methodology in which the Catholic Church obliterated all heretical beliefs ,
          variant beliefs about the character Jesus, ,and then set about indoctrinating the population to the point they willingly indoctrinate them selves.
          As you do …

          New Testament verifiable (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon.) There is no debate about these books among textual critics.

          Historical FICTION, Mel.
          The subject matter that they are discussing is fiction.
          Who cares if someone called Paul or Stan or Fred wrote these letters?
          Who cares if the churches they are addressed to were real?
          The subject matter is fiction.
          The foundation beliefs of your faith are fiction.
          So it makes no difference if every text is in agreement.
          What is it you do not understand?

        • Mel Wild says:

          First, I am not arguing for or against any edicts of the Roman state religion. I am talking about the New Testament.

          Ark said:

          Historical FICTION, Mel.
          The subject matter that they are discussing is fiction.
          Who cares if someone called Paul or Stan or Fred wrote these letters?
          Who cares if the churches they are addressed to were real?
          The subject matter is fiction.

          And I say that your assertions are PURE FICTION, Ark. Unsubstantiated gobbledygook, not worth talking about. You said I couldn’t demonstrate a single text for my faith and I gave you seven New Testament books and a text that are undisputed among scholars, Ark. So who cares one whit about YOUR opinion? Just calling it “historical fiction” means absolutely nothing at all. You must substantiate your claim that it’s all fiction.

          Here’s how burden of proof works: If I make an assertion then I need to demonstrate such a theory best explains the data and other theories cannot. However, it’s a double-edged sword. Because if one wants to counter the argument that they have a better explanation of the data, then the burden of proof is on them to prove that the claim is insufficient to explain the data.

          “The burden in history is always on the one making the claim. The burden is also on the one making the rebuttal or opposing claim.” (D.H. Fischer, Historians’ Fallacies)

          So you can prattle on all you want. The burden of proof is on you to make a better argument, substantiated by experts in the field (not Internet wannabes and popular novelists)! I don’t agree with you and I have strong evidence to back my claim.

        • Arkenaten says:

          I used the term Historical Fiction . Research it

          The edicts issued by the catholic church quite clearly demonstrate there were numerous beliefs about the character Jesus of Nazareth. Constantine adopted the version his mother adhered to and set about obliterating the rest, and all references to them as well.
          There is no evidence this version holds any more merit than any of the others.

          And we have over 40,000 thousand variants today.
          I wrote …

          then why don’t you tell me which parts of the text that are relevant to your faith are factual?

          What is factual about anything the writer of the epistles is talking about?
          He is not even aware of an earthly Jesus for one thing.

          Your post is about the trustworthiness of the new Testament. Trustworthy about what exactly?
          perhaps you could explain in more detail what you actually mean by this term?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Again, pure fiction. These tired arguments have been refuted by scholars.
          Here’s a clip that refutes the Development Theory by skeptics…

        • Arkenaten says:

          What’s pure fiction?
          The Church edicts are extant! They tell what happened! Where is this pure fiction?
          We know there were many variations of belief about the character Jesus so what the Gehenna are you going on about?

        • Mel Wild says:

          What’s pure fiction is your assertion that the New Testament is historical fiction. I already told you that I wasn’t talking about any edicts of the Catholic Church. That is totally irrelevant to my post and hardly a secret to anyone who knows church history.

          YOU are the one changing the subject. So, what are you going on about?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Your post is about the trustworthiness of the new Testament. Trustworthy about what exactly?
          perhaps you could explain in more detail what you actually mean by this term?

          Perhaps you could actually read the post and watch the videos, then you wouldn’t be asking this question.

        • Arkenaten says:

          I did. It merely discuses the textual variants and how most have little of no bearing on the beliefs of Christians.
          So what? How does this make the text trustworthy?
          Trustworthy about what exactly?
          The ending of Mark or the dead saints rising at the Crucifixion?
          Lazarus, feeding the five thousand, walking on water, cursing a fig tree? The trial with Pilate?
          What exactly is trustworthy about any of these episodes?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Now you’re only showing your naturalist bias against the supernatural, which was a point I made about skeptics and atheists at the beginning of this series.

          The claim of trustworthiness of the New Testament is that over 99% is authenticated by textual critics. In addition, I gave you seven books that are authenticated by almost all scholars, Christian or atheist. But believing what it says is a matter of faith. No amount of evidence is going to make you believe if you don’t want to believe.

        • Arkenaten says:

          What do you mean authenticated? Be specific?
          Doyu bleive this refers to the veracity of the material? That the Miracle at Cana is an historical event?
          That the raising of Lazarus and the feeding of the five thousand . You consider these are all historical and have been validated by textual critics?
          Is this what you are alluding to when you say 99% is authenticated by textual critics?
          As this is certainly not what Ehrman means.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Ark. It means what I said it means. That textual critics believe that what we have is historically authentic and reliable. As I posted, even Ehrman believes it’s very close to the original text. BUT…I have not been talking at all about whether you or Ehrman believe in any of it or not. That’s a different subject.

          You are free to disagree with what it says, the one thing you cannot do is dismiss it as a work of fiction.

        • Arkenaten says:

          I am not arguing whether is iot close to original text. I could care less.
          I am asking whether you believe scholars such as Ehrman are asserting that the content of the texts is historical.
          Do you understand?

        • Mel Wild says:

          I am asking whether you believe scholars such as Ehrman are asserting that the content of the texts is historical.
          Do you understand?

          Yes, of course, the TEXT is historical and reliable, but that does NOT mean they believe it. Of course, Ehrman doesn’t believe in miracles, etc. He’s an agnostic! People during Jesus’ time actually saw Him and did not believe. Evidence doesn’t necessarily lead to faith. At this point, I am merely establishing that the text we have is reliable. And the other video clip I put in the comments shows that the story did not develop over time. Again, believing what it says is another story, of course.

        • Arkenaten says:

          Ah… fair enough. Then you are not actually interested in history or truth. fair enough.

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, I’m showing that the text we have is reliable and attested as a historical document by textual critics and historians. I never made the point that skeptics believe its contents. So spare me your ridiculous conclusions about what I’m interested in.

        • Arkenaten says:

          What? Which historians attest the New Testament is reliable?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Ark, we are talking about scholars who are trained in either textual criticism and historicity, or both. All of the scholars mentioned in the post and videos are trained in these disciplines. And not all of them are Christians, like Ehrman.

        • Arkenaten says:

          Okay, I am getting seriously confused, s help me out.
          If you say that scholars believe the texts are reliable I am assuming you mean that they are to a high degree as close to the original texts as make no meaningful difference.
          Fine by me. It has no serious bearing as far as I am concerned.

          But from an historical perspective, historians do not consider these texts are records of actual historical events.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I agree with the first part. Yes, I’m saying the text is reliable, as being close to the original.

          As far as historical events being considered fiction, I would disagree. There are a lot of events mentioned in the New Testament that are considered actual historical events. For instance, we know Jesus was a real person who was crucified. There are several things mentioned in Luke and Acts that have been verified as accurate to first century Roman empire, and a lot of other things. Of course, the miracles are the events mainly contested because of a naturalist bias against them. But, again, we’re getting off of the subject of the post.

        • Arkenaten says:

          Okay, so if the texts are agreed as being close to the originals … great. It means nothing. We can have a hundred copies f Harry Potter all being regarded as close to the original JK Rowling manuscript. So what?
          There are numerous geographical errors as well as historical errors throughout the gospels.
          Nazareth and its local for one and the episode where JC was going to be slung from a cliff. Nonsense.
          Then more nonsense of the census.
          The geographical errors pertaining to the casting out of demons into the pigs. The closest cliff from the area described is around 8kms I think, if memory serves?

          The trial can be assumed to be nonsense and the gospel accounts differ in each one. We know what Pilate was like.

          And ACTS is these days considered historical fiction by most up to date scholars.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Okay, so if the texts are agreed as being close to the originals … great.

          Of course, that’s the only point I’ve been making so far.

          As far as all the errors, that’s debatable and not the point of this post. That’s been a see-saw conversation for the last 300 years. There’s also been lots of things thought erroneous by historians only to be proven true with later evidence. I don’t really care to get into that endless debate.

        • Arkenaten says:

          Well, this was my point of asking what you meant by ”trustworthy”.
          This could be construed as a misleading statement, and it might suggest to the unwary that you meant their content was trustworthy and that is a fallacious statement and one no historian would ever make, and for the record, neither would an honest Christian.

        • Mel Wild says:

          This could be construed as a misleading statement, and it might suggest to the unwary that you meant their content was trustworthy and that is a fallacious statement and one no historian would ever make, and for the record, neither would an honest Christian.

          It’s only misleading if you take my statement out of context because you didn’t bother to read my points or watch the videos (or purposely ignored them), which makes your accusation absolutely baseless. The post and videos were very clear about the context of the claims.

        • Arkenaten says:

          I watched the Ehrman – Wallace video. I have actually seen it before.

          If I have misunderstood then I take responsibility.
          My bad.
          So, to clarify, so’s we are finally on the same page and I am not accused of wandering off the track again.

          These two scholars agree that 99% of the texts are as close to the originals as makes no meaningful difference. ( except Mark’s ending and one or two other notables, as Ehrman alludes to)
          So we can trust that what we are reading now is more or less what was written when they were compiled, allowing for the points mentioned above.
          Is this fair and accurate?

          But what historians do not accept is the veracity of the content of the texts.

          There. Have I accurately and fairly stated the point you are making in the post?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Yes, with one correction. It is debated among New Testament historians and textual critics whether the events are actual or not. But, again, that was not my subject. Otherwise, we are on the same page.

        • Arkenaten says:

          Which historians consider the events are actual?

        • Mel Wild says:

          I already mentioned some of the events in a previous comment and mentioned the New Testament historians mentioned in the video links, etc. Again, this is off-topic and I don’t have the time to dig all this stuff out for you.

        • Arkenaten says:

          I am not talking about the events I am interested in the historians that consider the events actual historical events.
          Give me two historians.
          I am unaware of any so it will be interesting to read their reason why.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Here’s three classical historians: Michael Grant, Robin L. Fox, and A.N. Sherwin White. And I’m not saying that they necessarily agree with every biblical event mentioned. But that would be normal for all historical events in antiquity, not just with the New Testament.

          As Aviezer Tucker said:

          “Historiography does not reconstruct events; it cannot bring Caesar back to life of reenact the battle of Actium. Historiography does attempt to provide a hypothetical description and analysis of some past events as the best explanation of the present evidence.” (Aviezer Tucker, Historiographical Counterfactuals and Historical Contingency, p.258)

          But also keep in mind that some textural critics are also trained in historiography.

        • Arkenaten says:

          None of these historians consider the events in the gospel as historical, other than what is generally agreed upon, ie Jesus existed and he was crucified by Pilate. And Fox doesn’t look as though he has written anything historical about the biblical events.
          Got any others?

        • Mel Wild says:

          How can you say this? They wrote whole books on the subject! Ark, if we set the bar as high as you suggest, then we have no history! As Wallace said in the video, we’re back in the Dark Ages. We have no historical knowledge that we can rely on.

          Here’s an article I found that actually mentions the historians I listed and quotes their books. You can read it if you want. I have to go away from my computer for awhile…
          http://christiancadre.blogspot.com/2010/02/is-neil-godfrey-right-about-how.html

        • Arkenaten says:


          moreover, some of Grant’s conclusions are supportive of Christianity’s most important claim. For example, Grant accepts the historicity of the discovery of Jesus’ empty tomb

          See what I mean? Palpable bullshit.
          There is no bloody evidence.
          Now go back and read my post on the way the Catholic Church reacted after Constantine took power.

          …for example, Sherwin-White states, “For Acts the confirmation of history is overwhelming” and that “any attempt to reject its basic historicity even in matters of detail must now appear absurd. Roman historians have long taken it for granted.” Ibid., page 189.

          But these days historians and scholars now regard Acts as historical fiction.

          Accept the fact that you are chronically biased as you have to be as an evangelical Christian.
          The gospels can be dosmatled verse by verse and eventually all that will be left ae a few place names … some recognizable and a few peoples names.
          As for events ….

        • Mel Wild says:

          “moreover, some of Grant’s conclusions are supportive of Christianity’s most important claim. For example, Grant accepts the historicity of the discovery of Jesus’ empty tomb”
          See what I mean? Palpable bullshit.
          There is no bloody evidence.

          Thank you for your unprofessional, biased and extremely radical anti-theist opinion. What do you mean by no evidence, Ark? In historicity, evidence includes eyewitness testimony and documentation. We weren’t there. We can only infer to the best explanation. And that includes ALL ancient history.

          Grant also wrote…

          “if we apply to the New Testament, as we should, the same sort of criteria as we should apply to other ancient writings containing historical material, we can no more reject Jesus’ existence than we can reject the existence of a mass of pagan personages whose reality as historical figures is never questioned.”

          And…

          Finally, Grant found that much of contemporary Jesus studies was too skeptical of the gospel sources, saying that such scholarship “is too extreme a viewpoint and would not be applied in other fields.” Ibid., page 201.

          Yup, Grant (who is NOT a Christian) pretty much summed it up. Radical anti-theist bias creeping in modern historiography.

        • Arkenaten says:

          So who cares?
          I am not talking about Jesus’ existence.We are talking about the historicity of the gospel story’s … and they are garbage. Absolute nonsense.
          if you remove all the idiotic ramblings you will be left with practically nothing and this is what the story essentially is … nothing.
          A bloke called Yeshua, an eschatological itinerant rabbi who got himself crucified by Pilate for sedition.
          The End.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Thank you for your unsubstantiated and extremely radical opinion.

        • Arkenaten says:

          Then tell me what you think is a substantiated list of events that are agreed by consensus of all historians to be historically accurate.

        • Mel Wild says:

          After you prove to me that I have no evidence whatsoever.

        • Arkenaten says:

          I’ll add this.
          Give me list of historical events as recorded in Acts and the gospels that are viewed by the consensus of secular historians as factual,.

        • Mel Wild says:

          There is no bloody evidence…
          The gospels can be dismantled verse by verse and eventually all that will be left ae a few place names … some recognizable and a few peoples names.

          Give me list of historical events as recorded in Acts and the gospels that are viewed by the consensus of secular historians as factual.

          No, Ark. I’ve already given you a partial list of non-Christian historians to back to my claim. But you have also made some claims here. Now the burden of proof is on you. YOU must give me credible historians (not anti-theist) and textual critics trained in New Testament historicity who say that there is “no bloody evidence” for anything written in Acts or the Gospels.

          And if you cannot produce a list of unbiased historians who say there is no evidence whatsoever then stop with your ridiculous conjectures. Your statements have no credibility.

        • Arkenaten says:

          No, you have given me jack.
          Why not anti-theist historians?
          Your entire damn religion is anti-theist!
          It liquidated almost every piece of dissent and destroyed any evidence that supported any other version of the Christianity you believe.

          Your entire religion has no credibility!
          You have not produced a single solitary piece of substantiated evidence to back a single farking claim you have made regarding the make beleive god-man Jesus of Nazareth.
          Not one.
          Carrier is one of the best modern Historians on the block. And you haven’t the integrity to even mention him!
          Well I cite him.
          And he says you are wrong!
          And you are …

        • Mel Wild says:

          Again, PROVE your claims.

          Why not anti-theist historians?

          Because they are extremely BIASED, Ark. They have an AGENDA. And if we do accept them, then you must also accept all Fundamentalist scholars with the same weight you give your radical anti-theists.

          Carrier is one of the best modern Historians on the block. And you haven’t the integrity to even mention him!
          Well I cite him.

          Okay, I will mention him.

          Richard Cevantis Carrier (born December 1, 1969) is an American historian, atheist activist, author, public speaker and blogger. (Wikipedia)

          Ark:

          And he says you are wrong!
          And you are …

          And I, and a host of other historians, say you are wrong. Prove that we have no historical evidence whatsoever for the New Testament. Otherwise, I will consider your comments unsubstantiated conjecture.

        • Arkenaten says:

          Then provide a list of gospel events that you consider historical, for which there is a consensus across the board.

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, Ark. You said I have no historical evidence. I don’t need a list for that.

        • Arkenaten says:

          yes, I said you have no evidence. But as you disagree then let’s behave a bit like grown ups and provide the list you consider historical.

          Let me start you off.
          We can dismiss the Virgin Birth and Resurrection as being historical. That at least we can both agree on.

          Now offer me an event that you consider is beyond probable doubt to be historical.

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, Ark. I’m not going to waste my time anymore. You can’t keep making extremely radical claims and not provide proof to back it up.

          Again, you must FIRST prove that we have no evidence for anything in the New Testament. This IS how “grown ups” talk about this stuff. They don’t make wild unsubstantiated conjectures and expect anyone who actually has a brain to take them seriously. Again, the burden of proof is always on the one making the claim

        • Arkenaten says:

          But you have made the claim for Historical reliabilty. This is what your post is about, is it not? That we can count on the texts to be accurate.« to a high degree.
          This I am not particularly interested in disputing.
          What is the crux here is how much of the
          text reflects actual historical events.
          This is the bone of contention, you agree?

          And it is to this I wish to address.
          As I mentioned, even we could reach some agreement as it what historians consider to have historical merit.
          I have stated that the character Jesus was crucified for sedition. Few historians dispute this. And I can live with this. And yo agree obviously agree this was an historical event.
          Now, we can both agree that the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection are not regarded as historical events by any historian who would consider themselves worthy of the title ”historian”.
          So, two out of two.

          Offer me one that you consider all genuine historians regard as an historical event?

          Now

        • Mel Wild says:

          But you have made the claim for Historical reliabilty. This is what your post is about, is it not? That we can count on the texts to be accurate.« to a high degree.

          Yes, of course. And I have shown that scholars believe we have about a 99.5% certainty that we can reconstruct the original text from the manuscript copies.

          What is the crux here is how much of the
          text reflects actual historical events.
          This is the bone of contention, you agree?
          And it is to this I wish to address.
          As I mentioned, even we could reach some agreement as it what historians consider to have historical merit.

          And this is NOT the subject of this post. We’ve already been through this, Ark. You just can’t seem to let it go. If it will make you happy, I have already planned a couple of posts next week on the resurrection.

          So, I can take it that you are backing off on your claim that we have “no bloody evidence” for the New Testament? If you cannot prove this, I will concluded that your claim is false.

          Furthermore, I would also love to see you apply the SAME standard of historicity to any other person, place, or thing we know about the first century. That would be entertaining to see you try.

        • Arkenaten says:

          They can b used as an historical source, much in the same way we can use King Arthur’s tales to gain some insight into certain aspects of life back then. But the events are fictionalized.

          This is pretty much how the gospels are as well.

          Yes, the character Jesus was probably crucified, but not as described in the nonsense of the trial by Pilate. And there was no Virgin Birth. These are simply plot devices.
          So, no, I do not believe we have evidence of actual historical events as they are reflected in the Gospels. and neither do historians.

          We do apply the historical critical method to other historical figures.
          Which is why historians dismiss out of hand all miracle claims and obvious nonsensical hyperbole.

          I am curious why you are ding a Resurrection post?

          YOu are surely not hopng t present a case to suggest its veracity, for goodness’ sake!

        • Mel Wild says:

          They can b used as an historical source, much in the same way we can use King Arthur’s tales…

          Nice try, Ark. When I talk about the standard of historicity I mean real people who influenced the world. For instance, like Alexander the Great. Btw, The closest biography of any kind we have of old Alex is 300 years after his death; the first reliable biographies we have are from Plutarch (“Life of Alexander,” late first century CE) and Arrian (“The Anabasis of Alexander” – second century CE). Both are from about 400 to 450 years after the fact and they’re not even sure of the dates of these biographies!
          (I will add)…yet no one thinks we don’t have good historicity on Alexander the Great. You must apply the same standard, Ark.

        • Arkenaten says:

          We do .. but the gospels aren’t biographies.
          That is the first thing you must accept. if you wish to approach this with any sense of honesty.
          They are not eye witness testimony, and the are anonymous.
          And the miracles tales can be and are dismissed with impunity by all genuine (neutral) biblical scholars and historians.

          Now build your case from here on in.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Congratulations, Ark. You are wrong on all counts! Yes, they are apostolic biographies of Jesus’ life and ministry, including genealogies, eye-witness testimony….and miracles! It’s very clear to me that you do not hold the same standard to any other historical evidence because of your anti-theist bias.

          Now build your case from here on in.

          Of course, but I have to laugh when I read this. Ark, you have proven NONE of your wild unsubstantiated claims! You are a piece of work.

        • Arkenaten says:

          And as you don’t beleive me ….
          read what proper scholars have to say, then …

          E.P. Sanders states that “these Gospels were written with the intention of glorifying Jesus and are not strictly biographical in nature.”
          Ingrid Maisch and Anton Vögtle writing for Karl Rahner in his encyclopedia of theological terms indicate that the gospels were written primarily as theological, not historical items.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Okay, whatever. They’re not “strictly biographical.” Now we’re straining gnats again, missing the whole point of what I was saying about evidence for Alexander the Great. No wonder it takes 100 comments to talk to you!

        • Arkenaten says:

          We are not straining gnats at all!

          Why can’t you just acknowledge that you are not the only one who is able to read and that people such as me will not simply roll over by the evangelical stuff you wish to push?
          And at least recognise that by not doing so you are committing fraud by preaching this to your congregation who are not, in the main, likely to be clued up on the nuances.
          This then becomes sleight of hand with the express intent to push a theological agenda. That is dishonest and you should be ashamed of it.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Haha…right. And, likewise, there are people like me who don’t “roll over” when radical anti-theists like you troll Christian sites and make your wild unsubstantiated conjectures without providing a shred of evidence to back up your hyperbole.

          And what fraud? What, are we having this conversation under a rock? My congregation can and many do read my blog!

          So look squarely in the mirror when you say this nonsense, Ark.

        • Arkenaten says:

          If you teach this as you are trying to push it in our dialogue then your are committing fraud.
          The gospels are not biographies as most people would understand the term and this you are well aware of, Mel.
          That you went on your mini rave and slammed my comment demonstrates this point. And then when I pulled out Sanders, you replied with what may become your epithet . ”Okay, whatever.”

          Apologists approach these issues in this manner all the time.
          If you had the integrity to state up front that your foundational beliefs are based primarily on faith and acknowledge the horrendous factual historical circumstances in which your version of Christianity was birthed, and did not take it any further, I would be perfectly at ease to leave it at that.

          So why don’t we continue as if we are actually playing host to your congregation and be mindful of the words, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth, shall we?
          Do you think you could manage this?

        • Mel Wild says:

          First, you sure like to throw around baseless accusations like a Frisbee. Do you know what fraud actually is?

          Fraud
          1. wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain:
          2. a person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities.

          Am I doing this? Hardly! I have been up front about my agenda, citing my sources from the first. It’s certainly not for financial gain! This is you projecting your imaginations on my intent again.

          If you had the integrity to state up front that your foundational beliefs are based primarily on faith and acknowledge the horrendous factual historical circumstances in which your version of Christianity was birthed, and did not take it any further, I would be perfectly at ease to leave it at that.

          Thank you for making another totally baseless accusation. Why should I agree with you? You have no credibility. I have stated my position and you just respond with ridiculous nonsense, like it’s all fiction. So, what you’re actually saying is that you don’t like the conjectures you keep making without a shred of proof to be challenged?

          Ark, I have admitted when I misspoke or even agreed with your point in the past. You admit to NOTHING! When I prove that your extreme statements are baseless, rather than back up your claim you just change the subject!

          So why don’t we continue as if we are actually playing host to your congregation and be mindful of the words, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth, shall we?
          Do you think you could manage this?

          That’s what I’ve been doing all along. Again, my congregation can read these like anyone else. Why would I have no problem with that? But do you think you can manage to continue without making your ridiculous conjectures and admit the truth when it’s staring you in the face?
          Based on past performance, I’m a total skeptic on that one!

        • Arkenaten says:

          Truth?
          Okay … no problem. Let’s explore the truth of the gospels first, shall we? Bearing in mind we are tacitly addressing your congregation.
          Let’s try to keep it bite size with no tomes.
          We’ll stick to known facts and scholarly consensus.
          1. The gospels are anonymous.
          2. They are not eyewitness accounts, but stories put together supposedly from an earlier oral tradition to convey a theological message.
          3. They are not chronological, but mini pastiches pasted together to look like they are, which is why you see, especially in Mark, joining phrases such as , ‘’immediately’’, and ‘’straightaway”.
          4. Mark is the first gospel. The compiler-redactor has used geography and people simply as props or as scenes to propel the narrative. It features no birth legend and the Resurrection is neither described nor interpreted in the oldest manuscripts and the later verses are considered interpolation.
          5. Matthew, the second gospel, is ostensibly a rewritten version of Mark, and it contains over 600 verses found in Mark, some verbatim. It features the fiction of the virgin birth – the story itself a plagiarization and false interpretation of Isaiah 7:14.

          There you go. That’s enough facts and historical truth to start with.

        • Mel Wild says:

          All you’ve given me are more claims, opinions, and your anti-supernatural bias. You still haven’t done anything to back up your claim. I could do a whole series refuting most if not all of these claims!

          I will just mention one here. You are mistaken about Mark (claim #4). Even the shortened version ends with the resurrection account.

          2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
          4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
          6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
          8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. (Mark 16:2-8 NIV)

        • Arkenaten says:

          What ‘claims’ and ‘opinions’?
          The 600 verses is fact.
          The plagiariized virgin birth is fact
          They are not eyewitness accounts. Fact
          And they are anonymous. Fact.
          They are most certainly NOT chronological as Mark is considered derived from oral tradition, which is why there are so many of the joining words that connect passages.

          Every biblical scholar worth his or her salt acknowledges this so what the Gehenna are you going on about?

          From my encyclopedia where I always turn to first;
          The stories in Mark are woven together with simple stereotyped connectives, such as the use of kai euthus (”and immediately,” ”straightaway”) , which may be thought of as a Semitic style( as a simple connective in the Old Testament style). More likely, however, this abruptness indicated that the compiler-redactor of mark has used geography and people simply as props or scenes to be uses as needed to connect the events in the service of the narrative.
          Pg 825 Biblical Literature .Britannica.

          There are no visions of the risen Lord, however, in the best manuscripts(verses 9-20 are commonly held to be later editions) The Resurrection is neither described or interpreted.
          Pg. 826 Biblical Literature. Britannica.

          And the other points raised are dealt with also. So please, I implore you … pick any or all and refute away.

          And let’s remember your congregation shall we?

        • Mel Wild says:

          While some of your points about Mark are technically true, all you are doing is parroting the most skeptical spin of scholars on the gospels. These arguments are old and tired and most of them can be refuted. And on the resurrection sightings, OLDER testimonies that predate Mark, like 1 Corinthians 15, provide them. As my latest post points out, these were established creeds by the time Paul quoted them in 50’s CE, probably right after the resurrection. And this epistle is not disputed by almost any reputable textual scholar.

          I don’t have time today to set all your claims straight myself so I will include this video clip that addresses some of the claims for now. There is a LOT more I could provide if I had the time.

        • Arkenaten says:

          While some of your points about Mark are technically true, …
          What the Gehenna does ”technically true ” mean? They are true, period!
          You continue to behave like a damn apologist. Just for once recognize there are a world of scholars out there aside from your narrowly focused evangelicals.
          You already posted this apologetic video and Prof Taboo dealt with Corinthians.

          You keep claiming you can refute but you never do.

          You are, as pointed out by myself and pretty much everyone that has engaged you, simply hand-waving away highly regarded scholarly criticism and analysis if it so much as challenges your supernatural worldview.

          I stated up front I would present evidence that is regarded as fact and accepted by the scholarly consensus.

          It is not my view that is extreme or overly sceptical, it is your view that insists theological motifs should be considered and included in the discussion about historical evidence and what is regarded by scholars as fact.
          What will you insist on next? I must say a prayer before submitting a comment?
          Stop being an arse.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Ark, I present evidence consistent with historicity and textual criticism all the time, including in the video clip I just gave you. You produce NO evidence, just more claims.

        • Arkenaten says:

          I wrote out the text from the Britannica which is the currently held scholarly and historical view!
          What scholars believe the gospels are eyewitness testimony?
          What scholars believe the gospels are written by MMLJ?

          Where are you getting this stuff from?

          Answer the damn questions pertaining to the scholars and stop brushing them aside.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Ark, quoting the encyclopedia isn’t exactly quoting scholars! You are still listing claims.
          And I told you that some of your points are technically correct and, yes, many scholars think this. But it’s no more than an argument from silence. It actually proves nothing. Scholars also know that anonymous works were typical of ancient writings. The external evidence points to MMLJ and there is NO alternative authorship put forth during this period. If you watch the video I included on my latest post about oral tradition and authorship you will see the scholars and points I’m making.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Correction: The video I meant was the one I posted in my comments above about authorship and dating.

        • Arkenaten says:

          The names were added in the second century .. at the earliest as well you should know.
          It matters not that there is not alternative authorship.
          Moses didn’t write the Pentateuch much to the howling of man y evangelicals and biblical literalists.
          Only the staunch fundamentalist school consider the gospels were written by MMLJ whereas genuine scholars and historians – which is what I thought we were trying to establish here – historical veracity – merely smile at such a silly presumption.

        • Mel Wild says:

          You better watch the video above. It pretty much refutes what your saying on every point. Anonymity was common in documents like these in the ancient world for protection or to be taken more seriously. Again, sure, most scholars think Mark was first and Matthew copied from Mark, but no one is certain. But if they were making stuff up, it makes absolutely no sense to call it “Mark’s gospel! Why would they? And why Luke? He wasn’t an apostle. If they were making it up they would’ve certainly used more credible names like Peter’s or one of the other twelve. Ark, this dog just won’t hunt. It’s a weak and old argument. And if you can’t give me alternative evidence why should I believe you at all?

          Again, we do have external evidence from several sources within 100 years that MMLJ were the authors, and NO alternative positions. Yet, you know better 1,900 years after the fact! And I personally don’t care either way. But if you were the slightest bit humble like reputable scholars are, you would say that no one is absolutely certain. And you know that these skeptics are not treating this evidence with the same standard they would for other works of antiquity. It’s totally prejudicial.

        • Arkenaten says:

          Wrong. There is no verified evidence that confirms your fundamentalist hypothesis and the best textual scholars know that the gospels are anonymous.
          Of course there are alternate positions. Someone else wrote them and John is reckoned to have a couple of authors.
          Even my encyclopedia says so. But I suppose the page and half of scholarly references at the end of the section on Biblical Literature doesn’t count in you eyes, does it?

          We were looking for historic truth and evidence but you keep throwing in the extreme evangelic position.
          Even after you quote Wallace warning us not to do so.

        • Arkenaten says:

          Oh, and as for videos … why not watch the one on my blog. Only ten minutes.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I watched it last night. It wasn’t that interesting. They were arguing against the Old Testament. I’ve talked about my take on how to understand the Hebrew Scriptures in my blog post “God said what?! – Part Seven“, which was part of the series by the same name. But, again, that’s a totally different subject.

        • Arkenaten says:

          So you obviously missed the comment right at the beginning where the historian stated that very little in the bible is fact. And bear in mind also that, if Jesus of Nazareth believed the OT to be factual … as I understand he did … then we are dealing with a big problem, aren’t we, Mel?

        • Arkenaten says:

          BTW… do you ever notice that I don’t moderate my visitors? Even flat earth half-wits like Colorstorm.

        • Mel Wild says:

          So…what’s that got to do with anything? Did you ever notice that you’re one of the only people that I need to moderate? Not to mention, you’ve gotten yourself moderated or blocked on other sites because you become so obnoxious. And maybe if you stuck to the subject, stayed respectful, and didn’t comment a hundred times, you would have more freedom here. As I told you before, if I answered everyone of your questions and comments that’s all I would be doing all day.

        • Arkenaten says:

          Then don’t reply 101 times, try to be scrupulously honest at all times and not continually disingenuous and so narrowly- focused and refuse to acknowledge the proper scholarly position rather than continually touting your fundamentalist line.

          Stick with verifiable/plausible history that is agreed to by the consensus , backed where possible by archaeology, and we will get on like a house on fire.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Ark, even when I don’t respond to you, you keep commenting,,, or you claim some victory in your imagination. If I moderate (sometimes because I’m busy doing other things, you comment about being moderated!

          And I will respond to your extreme and radical anti-theistic nonsense. So, stop making ridiculous conjectures like there’s no evidence for anything and deal with reality for a change.

          If we used your standard of historicity, there would be NO history. Period!

        • Arkenaten says:

          There is no evidence for your fundamentalist claims.
          Period.
          Does it not cross your mind why not a single non-believer I have ever seen you interact with holds you in any form of respect whatsoever?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Right. Whatever….not exactly an exhaustive survey. I have great conversations with a lot of non-believers that aren’t Internet blog know-it-all’s. They are respectful and balanced in their views, unlike you or your gang you invite along with you (with the exception of a couple who have commented and have been gracious).

          Ark, why should anyone take anything you say seriously when you make wild statements like “no evidence.” You are the one who sounds like a raging Fundamentalists with all your absolute certainty statements. Don’t you realize that just saying these things aren’t refutations. You must back your claim with better evidence. Otherwise, no one should believe you.

        • Arkenaten says:

          But the ‘claims’ I make are all from people who are generally reckoned to be among the top in their field and some of them are even Christian.
          Raymond Brown for example, a Catholic scholar, has stated the Virgin Birth is simply nonsense and must not be considered a biological event and has received Catholic backing.

        • Arkenaten says:

          And you refuse to address the preceding comment and leave it in moderation … again! Shit, but you are a real piece of work.
          Paul would be proud of you.
          Jesus would kick the dust from his sandals.

        • Mel Wild says:

          What comment are you talking about? There are so many of them.

          And haha on Paul and Jesus…quite the ironic statement there, Ark. I think you have it backwards. Jesus didn’t have much good to say to stubborn Pharisees who refused to see the truth when He was staring them in the face!

        • Arkenaten says:

          And while we are talking bias … you leave my comments in moderation and this causes a distorted view of my argument.
          You are holding the comment I made about Sherwin White for a kick off.

        • Arkenaten says:

          And I suggest you take a bit more time to study up on Sherwin-White’s essay before you champion him. Just a thought. His views have been used and abused somewhat in the apologetic cause, have they not?

          Oh, and maybe you could come up with a few modern historians? How about Professor Richard Carrier?

        • Arkenaten says:

          And so are you going to hold more comments in moderation once again?
          Why, in the end, when it comes to the historical evidence for the foundations of their faith are Christians such cowards?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Yes, Ark. You are moderated because you’ve clearly shown that you cannot converse without being totally disrespectful when you’re challenged. You just go on one of your name-calling rants.

          And we’re cowards? Haha…that’s rich. So, we just let you blather on with baseless, unsubstantiated comments as if they are true? You have yet to actually argue against my points and that of the videos I posted. Why should I approve any of these comments? You just go on and on about the Catholic Church.

  3. john zande says:

    What happened to the “design” series. You did say you were going on to explore design, didn’t you? Correct me if I’m wrong, but that was the very reason why you did not allow that particular discussion on a previous post.

    • Mel Wild says:

      John, there is no “design” series here. I merely started with an argument for theism to lay a foundation for my series. Here’s what I said from the beginning.

      My purpose is to first show that theism is a rational inference, and from this position, show that Christianity is the best explanation for theism.

      Then, in subsequent posts I said:

      In these posts I’m making a systematic argument for Christianity in general, and Jesus Christ in particular.

      What I didn’t allow is you (or anyone else) trying to highjack the series to push your agenda.

      • john zande says:

        I see. So you did a post on design but didn’t want to actually talk like adults about design because you knew that would ruin your pantomime version of reality.

        Got it. Thanks.

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, John. I wanted to stay on subject and not go on rabbit trails. Why don’t you grow up.

        • john zande says:

          Stay on subject?

          The subject was “design”

          You didn’t want to talk about THE design.

          That, quite obviously, frightened you.

          So be it.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Okay, whatever, John…believe whatever you want.

        • john zande says:

          Well, did you want to talk about THE design, Mel?

          Yes, or No?

        • john zande says:

          I’ll take your silence to mean, No, I didn’t want to talk about THE design.

          So, like I said: You did a post ON design, but didn’t want to actually talk about THE design.

          Given your frantic efforts and censorship to avoid the topic, one must assume then that the subject absolutely terrified you.

          Don’t worry, I can actually sympathise with the tremendously awkward and embarrassing situation you found yourself in. You brought up the subject, but knew if you did actually talk about THE design (on your post ABOUT design) your pantomime would collapse.

          So, if you ever do feel secure and confident enough in your belief, let me know and we can talk about THE design, OK…

  4. Hello again Mel,

    I really like your opening paragraph and want to reemphasize its flexibility when discussing the infallibility, reliabilities and/or unreliabilities:

    As Dr. Daniel B. Wallace says, one thing we need to do when talking about the historicity of the New Testament is avoid two extremes: radical skepticism on the one end and absolute certainty on the other [i.e. inerrant infallibility].

    Dr. Wallace is being wise and reasonable. There can be numerous reasons why, but here is one possible/probable reason…

    I have a few questions for now, please. For whatever reason(s) one of the two oldest, highly regarded copies of the Gospel of Mark — the very first written/copied gospel by some 15-years earlier than any other gospel — we find inside the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus both simply STOP at Mark 16:8. There is no more, and more significantly there is nothing about a resurrection and subsequent appearances of a “risen” Jesus! The implications of such “omissions” in TWO of the oldest complete New Testaments are paramount to say the least. Why? Because both Codices are some the two most highly treasured copies of the New Testament from the 300’s… some 280+ years after the events in question, the execution of Jesus the Nasorean. This is very, very peculiar.

    I’m curious, what are your personal thoughts about why these two oldest extant gospel copies have no Mark 16:9-20 and yet (much) later versions do? What and why is something being compensated much later, and why wasn’t vv. 9-20 originally included?

    Thanks Mel

    • Mel Wild says:

      Hello Professor Taboo. Thank you for your question.

      From what I understand most textual critics would say that Mark 16 ends at verse 8. Of course, if we find older manuscripts in the future that have 9-20, that will change their take on it. I’m not sure why 9-20 would be added later, if it actually was. But most modern Bibles notate this variant, so it’s well known to all Bible students.

      While Mark does not have post-resurrection appearances, it would be wrong to say there is no mention of the resurrection, for that’s how the gospel of Mark actually ends…

      2 Very early on the first day of the week, they *came to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3 They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 4 Looking up, they *saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large. 5 Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed. 6 And he *said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. 7 But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.’” 8 They went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. (Mark 16:2-8 NASB)

      As far as post-resurrection appearances, we have earlier accounts talking about them. Most scholars place Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians before Mark (51-55 CE), and he quotes a very early Christian creed in 1 Cor.15:3-4 (scholars believe this creed is from within 1-3 years of the crucifixion), then Paul adds eye-witness accounts of Jesus’ appearances to the apostles and over 500 people in this early letter. Almost all textual critics accept 1 Corinthians as authentic, and all of this is before Mark’s gospel.

      • Mel Wild says:

        NOTE: I make a correction above. I meant “older” manuscripts.

      • But most modern Bibles notate this variant, so it’s well known to all Bible students.

        Yes, most MODERN bibles, but the most earliest copies of the first original Mark, in existence, do NOT have those critical passages of a “risen” Jesus and him popping up here and there. Do these “students” really understand those massive implications? And wouldn’t it be possible (if not probable) that there is a divide, a confusion between a very clear long-standing tradition of Jewish spiritual-resurrection and that of Greco-Roman Gentile ideas of spiritual-resurrection? See:

        [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/12697-resurrection#anchor4]

        Regarding Saul/Paul…

        As far as post-resurrection appearances, we have earlier accounts talking about them.

        Ah, yes. However, what has always bothered me about other accounts (especially accounts that are 100-300 years past the events in question) are that none of them are independent accounts. In other words, they are written, or scribed, or modified, or embellished — as in the case of Mark 16:9-20 — from those who cannot possibly be impartial to the impact, influence, or significance of the stories/teachings. Everyone involved in the creation of the entire New Testament had some sort of conflict-of-interest in the telling of the narratives: Jewish-Roman, Judeo-Christian, Pauline-Christian. For example, there are no pure-Roman accounts about a physical, risen to the sky, body. More significantly, Paul never mentions or hints about an actual “empty tomb” anywhere in his epistles. As far as a Jewish resurrection tradition, Paul side-steps or avoids that discussion with Gentile churches. That is also very significant, suggesting there is a LOT of confusion and heretical or apostate teachings going around already during Paul’s travels! And many/most biblical scholars know well how contentious & oppositional Paul was with the members of the Jerusalem Council — Paul wrote about his severe bitterness toward Judaism, in particular specific sects of Judaism around and outside of Jerusalem, e.g. Galatians 1:1-24; Galatians 2:11-16; Acts 6:1 thru 8:4; Romans 2:21-24.

        Then perhaps Paul’s most hateful discourse on Judaism/Judaizers (inclusive of course to maligned disciples/apostles), is Romans 9 thru Romans 11 and then slamming Judaism/Judaizers in 9:31. Paul’s antinomianism culminates in Galatians 3.

        My point? Paul’s severe animosity toward Judaism and its “traditions” (including resurrections of the dead) post-Damascus Road doesn’t necessarily make him the “perfect” testimony of any Mark 16:9-20 either. He obviously has serious conflicts-of-interest.

        If there were INDEPENDENT accounts, so so very much of the confusion and ambiguity of the Synoptic Gospels and of what actually happened could be verified, contrasted, compared, and confirmed with 98.999999% reliability, something Wallace seems to understand. But as far as I know, there are no independent accounts ever found or known to exist. To-date, everything is partial DEpendent accounts. 😦

        Thanks Mel

        P.S. Apologies for any of my personal errors, syntax, semantics; I believe I caught most of them. LOL

        • Mel Wild says:

          You are bringing up a lot of points here that would be hard to comment on adequately. I suggest you watch the playlist I mentioned, if you would like. It answers most of the points you raise about the New Testament issues. That playlist is here.

          I will do a post next week specifically on the resurrection so I won’t comment here on that.

          The point I’m making here is that Paul’s quoting the creed (1 Cor.15:3-4) shows that the central tenets of the gospel were well known by 50 AD. Omissions in the various gospel writers do not necessarily mean that there is disagreement, confusion, or later development. Each author was writing for a different reason.

        • On Jewish vs. Pauline semantics in his epistles and the Genitle confusions of “resurrection” versus an actual empty tomb… I understand; fair enough. Thanks for your responses. The glaring differences between Hellenistic-Jewish resurrection, that of the “Judiazers” like Peter, Stephen, James the brother of Jesus, etc, in Jerusalem, and those Gentiles Paul was preaching to… are three very distinct different variations of Judaic Messianic traditions. That was my implied point(s).

          Regarding the creed in 1 Cor. 15:3-4, was that “creed” a unanimous consensus around the entire Mediterranean “Way” churches/synagogues, or primarily/strictly among Paul’s partial northern Mediterranean groups? After all, some 300-years of disagreements, confusion, dissension, gospel variants everywhere, there finally HAD TO BE a discussion, debate at the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE to put together a canonical New Testament. The primary purpose of those two councils: the nature and purpose of a/the Christ.

          Thanks again Mel. I wish every single modern Christian asked a LOT MORE questions about the roots & origins of their own faith. It sure would help tremendously in a much more unified church.

  5. Arkenaten says:

    then Paul adds eye-witness accounts of Jesus’ appearances to the apostles and over 500 people in this early letter.

    WHAT eyewitnesses?

    • Mel Wild says:

      5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. (1 Cor.15:5-7)

      • Arkenaten says:

        This is unsubstantiated hearsay.

        • Mel Wild says:

          What proof do you have to dispute this?

          Paul said this during a time when people could’ve easily disputed their claim because they were also alive when the events took place. There is no record of anyone refuting their claim. The fact that the Jews said they stole the body shows the tomb was empty.

          In addition, these eyewitnesses were willing to die for what they witnessed (which is far different than dying for a cause, like suicide bombers). If they were lying, then they would know they were dying for a lie which is an untenable conclusion.

          Again, we’re getting off-topic. I will cover the resurrection next week.

        • Arkenaten says:

          My great great great etc granny was there and she said Jesus wore a pink G string. What proof d you have to dispute this?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Do you have eye-witnesses that can attest to your great, great Granny’s assertion? Show me the documents.

          Ark, you can make any ridiculous comparison you want, you’re wasting your time. Irrelevant and fallacious.

        • Arkenaten says:

          I have a document in my safe.
          It was handed down through every generation of my family, smuggled out of Syria by relatives when they emigrated to the UK. Each member of the family has a copy, but as I was my grandmother’s favorite grandchild and the only one really interested in our history she gave the oldest document to me to look after. It certainly looks authentic to me .
          And as far as I am aware, no one was butchered or tortured along the way.

          But why would you trust the word of a known epileptic and not me?
          And exactly how did he come by the figure of 500?
          Why not 486 or 514?

  6. Neil Rickert says:

    I trusted the New Testament, and it persuaded me to leave Christianity.

    Jesus called himself “son of man”. I could not find anywhere that he claimed to be the son of God, except in a metaphorical sense (such as “our father, which art in heaven …”). Because I trusted the New Testament, I was persuaded that the Christian claim he was God was made up by theologians.

    I trusted the gospel description of the aftermath of the crucifiction. It described people who where highly distraught at the events. It does not give a persuasive account of resurrection.

    I became a Christian, because I trusted my pastor. But I knew that I had an obligation to read the New Testament for myself. And doing that reading, and trusting the New Testament, persuaded me that much of Christianity was made up.

    Jesus, as described in the New Testament was an inspiring person. I could have remained a Christian on the basis of that inspiration, while doubting some of the Christian doctrines. But I was beginning to learn that the church was full of pious hypocrites, people who did not themselves follow the teachings of Jesus.

    So I left.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Sorry to hear that, Neil.

      I would agree with you that many in the church are not themselves following the teachings of Jesus. That was pretty much my point in my blog post, “Religion vs. Following Jesus” and other posts along those lines. There is no shortage of pious hypocrites! But I would hope you keep your heart open to Jesus.

    • Congratulations Neil. It takes a lot of courage to do what you did by staying true to yourself rather than popular opinion. “Fear stifles. Courage fulfills” and always, always asking a lot of hard questions. Questions that do not always conform to “popular” orthodoxy because orthodoxy doesn’t make something true. 😉

  7. Mel, you’re a good one to go back and forth trying to provide clarity to others point for point. I’ve learned that those who harden their hearts don’t want to be receptive to the Good News! This really is a mission for someone with your patience.
    WP deleted (?!) your comment on my site right after I opened it, I like your analogy far better than mine.
    B Blessed and continue to fight the good fight! 🙂

  8. Citizen Tom says:

    Reblogged this on Citizen Tom and commented:
    Here is a excellent post on the authenticity of the Bible. One of the items Mel deals with is Biblical inerrancy. Since we don’t have any of the original books of the Bible, and we have copy errors, the discussion of the implications of that problem makes post worth reading.

  9. Pingback: New Testament hymns and creeds | In My Father's House

  10. Citizen Tom says:

    I have read one of Dr. Ehrman’s later books. Was not especially impressed. Since it built his reputation, I suppose his first book would be better. Still, instead of proving we should not trust the Bible, it seems to prove the opposite. Hence, as you say, the man is perplexing.

    • Mel Wild says:

      I think you’re right, Tom. Ehrman is a respected scholar and even a brilliant one. But I think he argues against himself sometimes. He said that what made him an agnostic was his issue with the problem of evil. That explains a lot. He wants to be a skeptic because of his issue with God but also has to be honest about the evidence that refutes his position.

  11. directorfsm says:

    Mel, thanks for this I have reblogged this on FSM and FSMWO website and FB page and commented:

  12. Pingback: Why we can trust the New Testament | Faithful Steward Ministries and FSM Women's Outreach

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