Douglas Groothuis

Defending Christian Faith, November 2, 2004




part 3



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)


E.         The internal test; the nature of the documents


4.         Marks of historicity in Gospel material


a.         The traditional authors argument


b.         The form of Jesus’ sayings


c.         Other distinctive features


d.         Presence of irrelevant material


e.         Seemingly counterproductive features (Durant quote in Groothuis, On Jesus, 16)


5.         The time factor


a.         The expansion of Christianity


b.         Paul’s letters (50s AD)


c.         The outer limits of Gospel dating (late first century), known by NT citations in other literature


d.         The Synoptic Gospels and dating Acts


i.          Luke precedes Acts (Acts 1:1)


ii.         Luke used Mark (probably not Matthew, contra Morelant)


iii.        If we can date Acts/Luke, we can date Mark as earlier than Acts/Luke


iv.        Six arguments for dating Acts 62 – 64 AD


(1).       Does not mention of the fall of Jerusalem (would apply to all other NT books).  See John A.T. Robinson, “The Significance of 70” in Redating the New Testament (Westminster Press, 1976), 13 – 30.


(2).       No mention of Nero’s persecution in mid-60s


(3).       Martyrdom of James (61), Paul (64), Peter (65) not mentioned


(4).       Acts addresses subject matter of pre-70 AD; not post


(5).       Terms used in acts very primitive: “Son of Man,” “Servant of God” (Jesus) “first day of the week,” “the people” (Jews)


(6).       Jewish war against Romans (66) not mentioned


v.         Not an argument from ignorance; an argument from conspicuous absence


vi.        Argument form: denial of the consequent (modus tolens)


·         If p, then q; not-q; therefore: not-p


(1).       If a later date than 70 AD for Acts, then (likely): facts (1) – (6)


(2).       Not facts: (1) – (6)


(3).       Therefore, (likely) Acts not written later than 70 AD


6.         The Historical Jesus of Radical Critics


7.         The speeches of Acts 1 – 12


F.         The Gnostic materials (not really “gospels”).  See Elaine Pagel’s bestseller, Beyond Belief.


1.         Theological differences


2.         Far removed from Gospel events, except Thomas


a.         Problems with the Gospel of Thomas: derivative, no early attribution, etc.


b.         On the reasons behind the interest in exotic materials about Jesus, which are historically suspect, see Phillip Jenkins, Hidden Gospels (Oxford, 2001)


G.        Buddhist Scriptures and the NT: no comparison historically


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)