The Historic Accuracy of the Gospels


Justin Taylor interviews Craig L. Blomberg, biblical scholar and author, about the historical reliability of the gospels. (And hey, he just happens to have a book by that name!)

Could you give us a couple of examples of alleged contradictions that have plausible solutions? 

Did the centurion come to Jesus right off the bat and ask him for his servant to be healed (as in Matthew 8) or did he first send some Jewish elders as an embassy to ask on his behalf (as in Luke 7)? 

Probably, the latter, since to act on behalf of another person could have been reported as acting oneself. We have the same convention when the media report that “the President today announced. . . .” when in fact it was his press secretary. 

Did the Sanhedrin condemn Jesus to be sent on to Pilate for execution during a nighttime trial (as in Luke) or first thing after dawn in the morning (as in Matthew and Mark). 

Probably both. It was illegal to come to a capital verdict at night, but in the flurry of events and eagerness of the authorities to do away with Jesus, it is hard to imagine them not beginning to interrogate him during the night and come to provisional conclusions. But to create the aura of legality, a quick rubber-stamp formal hearing involving the legal essentials, first thing in the morning, is equally likely.

Not this.

Atheists (and other Bible haterz) often act like there’s no such thing as historical biblical scholarship–like the Bible has been analyzed with all the intellectual rigor of an image of Jesus in a grilled cheese sandwich. Meanwhile, there are volumes–libraries–of texts on biblical history, even the hard parts, like seeming contradictions and things that don’t necessarily line up with Sunday School stories.

I’d love to see Christians promote this scholarship more often and more vocally. There’s nothing in history to be afraid of.

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