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Can We Trust the Gospels? Paperback – 30 November 2018
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- Publisher : Crossway Books (30 November 2018)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 160 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1433552957
- ISBN-13 : 978-1433552953
- Dimensions : 13.34 x 1.04 x 20.32 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 72,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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About the Author
Peter J. Williams (PhD, University of Cambridge) is the principal of Tyndale House and the consulting editor and coordinator of this project. He is also chair of the International Greek New Testament Project, which is producing the largest scholarly edition ever attempted of a single book of the New Testament, namely the Editio Critica Maior of John's Gospel. He is the author of Early Syriac Translation Technique and the Textual Criticism of the Greek Gospels.
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The author reminds us that the majority of the 27 New Testament 'books' (the four Gospels, and the other epistles, letters, etc.) were composed/written/copied/accepted, both inside and outside of Palestine, in various widely separated parts of the Greco/Roman/Egyptian world, each area of which had its own lifestyle and history; and yet these 8 or 9 different New Testament authors nevertheless give us a compelling overall unity of message and an astonishing fidelity to the overall eastern Mediterranean world of Jesus' day. Their common testimony would be unthinkable if all these converging testimonies were just separately invented by different unconnected authors from all over that Mediterranean world. For a compelling overview of what was going on, read the second half of the Acts of the Apostles, describing St Paul's travels all over the eastern Mediterranean world (Greece, Asia Minor, Rome, Palestine ... ). And what is reflected is the amazing political and religious world - Roman governors in Jerusalem, Scribes, Pharisees and Sadduccees among the traditional Jewish families, Temple worship, converts to Christianity from both the Jewish mainstream (who wanted to make gentile converts undergo circumcision and keep all the trimmings of washings, blessings, etc., which 'fringe' practices St Paul said they must now abandon), and converts from more 'liberal' Jews who backed Paul, etc. Paul's story is full of inner-Christian and inner-Jewish conflict. Read Acts!!!
I quote: "[Each author separately, for his story and his area] would have to investigate its architecture, culture, economics, geography, language, law, politics, religion, social stratification, weather, and much more. [Each author] would even need to ensure that the characters in [his] tale were given names that were plausible for the historical and geographical setting of [his] narrative. All this requires effort and is not easily done" [pages 51,52].
My second immediate quote is from page 35. I agree very strongly with this point also. "If a non-miraculous but otherwise similar set of beliefs was attested in documents as close to the events as were the Gospels and among people as widespreaad as were early Christians, few people would have any difficulty in believing these facts to be true. This would especially be the case if sincere family members were around for the opening decades of the spread of the message".
Peter Williams, the author of this book, gives numerous tables which analyse the PURELY SECULAR , AND PURELY 'PAGAN' writings of the New Testament period, and compares these tables with similar tables analysing the Christian writings. These two sets of tables clearly establish that the New Testament records, and the Christian archaeological remains of the first Christian centuries, and the copies of the New Testament records in so many locations and languages, are overwhelmingly more historically numerous than the surviving purely historical records which establish the existence and work of the kings, pharaohs, philosophers and generals of the same period. Yet we gladly accept the purely secular testimony!
Ordinary honest historical scholarship compels me, and should compel us all, to accept, too, the historical trustworthiness of the New Testament records.
"In returning, then, to the question of trustworthiness of the Gospel text, it is rational to have a high degree of confidence in the text of the Gospels as it appears in modern editions"
Having said that, I would recommend it to others with the caveat that it takes close reading