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If Jesus was real how do you know what is written about him

Postby Chef Fatty » Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:46 am

If Jesus was real how do you know what is written about him in the bible is true?
Chef Fatty

Re: If Jesus was real how do you know what is written about

Postby jimwalton » Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:57 am

There are many tests for truth, so we need to evaluate the writings about Him the way we would examine writings about anything or anyone else.

1. The Intention Test. Can we responsibly look at the Gospel accounts as attempts at historiography? Luke claims to have written what actually happened (Lk. 1.1-4). Matthew is close to Luke in genre. It seems that his historical intent would be similar to Luke's. The Gospels are written in a sober and responsible style, with accurate incidental details, obvious care in the telling, and some exactitude. Generally speaking, you don't find outlandish flourishes and blatant mythologizing that is common in many other ancient writings.

Remember also that Christianity was born out of Judaism, known historically as careful preservers of sacred words. Given that Jesus’s followers looked upon him as being even greater than a prophet, it seems very reasonable that they would have tried to preserve his words and actions reliably, as well as the events surrounding his life and especially his death.

There were plenty of controversies in the early church that could have been conveniently and efficiently resolved by the early Christian writers fictionalizing the account. This doesn't seem to have happened. The continuance of these controversies demonstrates that Christians were interested in distinguishing between what happened during Jesus's lifetime and what was debated later in the churches.

2. The Ability Test. So what if they intended to write reliably historiography, were they able to do so? Can't we expect faulty memories, wishful thinking, theological insertions, and the development of legend?

First of all, in a culture where almost all teaching was by word of mouth and memory rather than by books, oral tradition placed a great emphasis on accurate memorization. They took care to memorize and pass such stories along accurately, especially of a person they truly considered to be the Son of God. The community would constantly be monitoring what was said and intervening to make corrections along the way to preserve the integrity of the message.

3. The Character Test. Is there anything in the Gospel authors' writing to make us think he's a loony toon or a demented or hopelessly inaccurate source? We don't have much information to go on here, but neither do we have any reasonable evidence to suggest they were anything but people of integrity. After all, they are reporting on Jesus, who called them to as exacting a level of integrity as any religion ever known. The records we have say many of them were willing to die for what they were claiming. In terms of honesty, truthfulness, virtue and morality, these people had a track record that should be envied.

4. The Consistency Test. There was obviously no collusion among the Gospel writers. They were unarguably independent narrators of many of the same stories, but each Gospel also contains unique stories. There is no contradictory evidence against their accounts.

5. The Bias Test. Did the Gospel writers have reason to skew the material? It's obvious they weren't neutral observers, but it was part of their Christian worldview to show their love for Jesus by recording his life with integrity. Besides, they had nothing to gain except criticism, ostracism, and martyrdom. They certainly had nothing to win financially. While everyone (that's everyone) writes with some kind of bias (since they have a viewpoint), what we have to prove is that the Gospel writers had detrimental bias, which I don't see. If you do, you'd have to make your case.

6. The Cover-Up Test. Might the Gospel writers be covering up something that would be embarrassing to themselves, the other disciples, or to Jesus? Just the opposite. They tell many things in the open that a fictionalizer would have ignored. Telling this story makes people look askew at his whole story. Telling this story is not in their self-interest. It's not even necessary to the Gospels. If it were left out, no one would know or care.

7. The Corroboration Test. We only have slight corroboration of these events in the Church Fathers. Corroboration is, for the most part, not available to us.

8. The Adverse Witness Test. Were others present who would contradict or refute this story? There's no evidence of such. The early Christian movement was subjected to great persecutions, first from the Jews and later from the Romans. Critics were not shy about attacking the young faith system. We have no records of this event being contested.

Given these 8 tests, we can reasonably conclude that the Gospel accounts are historical, reliable, from the hand of authors who had integrity, with detrimental bias, and not shunning embarrassing pieces.

What's your case that what is written about Jesus is untrue?
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