Douglas Groothuis

Defending Christian Faith, October 26, 2004




part 2



III.       The Reliability of the New Testament (Moreland, Scaling, chapter 5; Groothuis, On Jesus, chapter 2; W. Corduan, No Doubt About It, chapters 8 – 9. See also Douglas Groothuis, Jesus in An Age of Controversy, chapter 2 – 3)


A.        Back to the past:  problems with ancient, historical documents (Corduan, chapter 9)


1.         Prejudiced


2.         Incomplete


3.         Removed in time


4.         Male-oriented


B.        Evaluating ancient, historical documents


1.         Hermeneutical circle


2.         Appropriate tests for truth


C.        The manuscript test; textual criticism (integrity).  Note Anthony Weston’s error in A Practical Companion to Ethics (Oxford, 1997), 16 – 17


·         Muslims claim the Bible has been corrupted where it contradicts the Qur’an. But extant manuscripts contradict this.  Qur’an itself may not make this claim.  See Chawkat Moucarry, The Prophet and the Messiah (InterVarsity, 2002), Part I.


D.        External corroboration (D. Groothuis, On Jesus).  (See also, for much more depth, Robert E. Van Voorst, Jesus Outside the New Testament.  Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000.)


1.         Extra-biblical literature: Josephus, Tacitus, Thallus, Pliny the Younger Suetonious.  Existence of Jesus, beliefs of his followers


2.         Archaeological artifacts: pool of Bethesda; existence of Pontius Pilate; etc.


E.         The internal test; the nature of the documents


1.         Eyewitnesses (Luke 1:1 – 4; 2 Peter 1:16; John 19:35; 21:24; Galatians 1; Hebrews 2:3)


2.         Arguments against eyewitnesses:  ongoing revelation of Jesus


3.         Jewish oral tradition and Jesus


For more on the reliability of the Gospels, see Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels (InterVarsity Press, 1987); The Historical Reliability of John (InterVarsity, 2002)