There are certain tests that any ancient literary document must pass, in order to be considered a reliable source and accurate in the events they describe.
1. It must be validated by manuscript evidence.
2. It must come from a reliable source.
3. It must be written close to the time of the events.
4. It must have substantial copies.
5. It must be found in the custody of a relevant source.
In every case, the New Testament meets all of these criteria–above and beyond those of all other literary documents of antiquity.
Can you imagine a person coming into to the world who has the power to heal every sickness and disease of mankind as well as raise a person from the dead, simply by speaking to them or touching the afflicted person? The only human being who has ever possessed these abilities is Jesus of Nazareth, as evidenced by the New Testament. Jesus presence on the earth was an event of unparalleled importance in the history of the world. This is the reason that so many copies of the original record of His life was distributed to cities all over the earth in the first century. It is preposterous to claim that the New Testament we have in our possession today is not reliable because we don’t have the original documents which recorded these events.
Logic dictates that if there are over 24,000 copies of the original documents for any event, this event must have been of enormous importance to those who meticulously copied and redistributed these letters all over the world. The fact that all of these records of Jesus life have been used by the Christian church for 2,000 years, and were found in the custody of the church, add tremendously to their authenticity. There are no other documents of antiquity which can match the substantial record of the New Testament.
The fact that we have so many copies of the New Testament in various forms, in different languages scattered all over the face of the earth, and they all agree in the basic tenets of the Christian faith, is an amazing and substantial proof that these events actually took place. No other document of antiquity can match this record.
Validating ancient documents
If we take any ancient event that has been recorded and handed down to us over the centuries, in every instance, there are no complete original manuscripts from those events that have survived intact for more than 2,000 years. In supporting any event of ancient history, scholars rely upon the available copies of the original manuscripts.
In validating all secular literature, scholars accept copies of original documents that are in far greater distance to the time the events actually took place, than any book of the New Testament.
All of the major documents of ancient history, such as Plato, Aristotle, Homer, or Tacitus, were written at much greater distance from their occurrence than any event of the New Testament; yet, no scholar today disputes the authenticity of these secular documents.
We notice from the graphic below, the New Testament has the rare distinction of being the only ancient documents which are written within 23 years of the actual occurrence of the events they portray.
See the chapter: Historical Evidence for Jesus Resurrection.
Fragments of Matthew’s Gospel, confirmed by modern Paleography, date these portions of Matthew at 60 A.D. These three papyrus fragments must have been written between the time of the crucifixion at about 32 A.D, and the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus is 70 A. D. This places the date of the writing for Matthew’s gospel at the time that Matthew was alive and witnessed the events recorded in his gospel account. 
This means that our New Testament which contains the narrative of Matthew, describing Jesus as crucified under Pontius Pilate, placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, and risen from the dead on the third day, are from an eye witness–who recorded these events while he was still alive.
The accounts of almost all ancient historical events were very often recorded much later than they occurred. Only the historical accounts of Jesus Christ are written by the actual men who witnessed His resurrection and then recorded these events for us.
Some liberal scholars have criticized the Gospel narrative as unreliable due to no original manuscripts surviving to the present day.
The most likely scenario which occurs when a significant event takes place is that first, someone writes about the event. This writing is then copied and distributed to others, and the process is repeated many times. Eventually, over the course of several hundreds of years, the original writings are lost by time and decay. What remains are later writings which have survived and are recopied over and over. This is the case regarding the New Testament documents that we have in our possession today. We know for certain that the records of the New Testament which were written by Paul and the other disciples, were distributed to the local churches by a circular postal route in the region of Asia. Often the letter would have the name of the church on the top of the document which is evidenced by the titles given to many of the New Testament letters. “Ephesians,” written to the church at Ephesus; “Corinthians,” written to the church at Corinth, and so on.
The fact that so many copies of the original documents exist today, confirms these were extremely important events that took place regarding the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth. From the beginning of Jesus church, these documents were recopied and distributed to Christians all over the known world. According to the rules for validating documents for their authenticity; when a record of antiquity is found in the custody of the institution which has maintained and protected these documents for hundreds or thousands of years, these documents must be accepted as authentic and reliable records of the events they record.
The vast number of copies which were made of the four gospels are great evidence of their historical reliability–describing the original events.
Even considering later copies were written by persons other than the original eyewitnesses, does not discount their reliability; in fact, it confirms it. The events must have taken place, for there to be so many copies of the document to be in existence. This is especially true when there are such a vast number of very early copies of the original writings. The New Testament contains somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty four thousand of such copies. When these copies are compared with each other, they are virtually identical in their basic content.
With this stellar authority of written testimony for the events that occurred in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have absolutely no valid reason to question the authenticity or reliability of any account given for Jesus Christ in the New Testament.
Opposition to the New Testament record
In spite of the massive evidence in favor of the New Testament, some liberal Biblical scholars claim that these accounts of Jesus life, death, and resurrection are not reliable because we don’t have the original documents.
Modern Agnostic scholars such as Dr. Bart Ehrman state that the historical arguments for the resurrection of Jesus are unreliable because they were written by secondhand knowledge, not by eye witness accounts. He states that these accounts: were written 35 to 65 years after Jesus’ death—35 or 65 years after his death, not by people who were eyewitnesses, but by people living later.
If we used Dr. Ehrman’s argument that any document which has been written from 35 to 65 years after the events took place, are not reliable, then all ancient historical accounts are unreliable. From the chart above you can see the the secular document written in closest proximity to the events they describe, is Homer, at 500 years.
We notice from these charts that all ancient documents which are considered reliable and have been accepted as valid accounts of ancient history, are written and copied at much greater distance from their occurrences than any of the New Testament documents.
If we did not have a single New Testament in our possession today, we could completely reconstruct all the events that it records, from the 24,000 copies that we have accumulated over the past 2,000 years of history.
It is very easy to use the power of a scholar’s platform to inaccurately make statements which are not only untrue but unscholarly. Dr Ehrman’s conclusions come from the premise that Jesus could not have said and done the things that the New Testament records, because he believes these events are not possible for any human being to accomplish.
The importance of eye witness testimony
Irregardless of whether or not we might believe these events are possible, the integrity of the testimony given by the New Testament narrative, demands our respect. Those who were there when these things took place, said that they happened and recorded their occurrence for our posterity. We may chose not to believe in Jesus Christ, but we must believe that the events happened, because they are a firm and established part of ancient history.
Dr. Ehrman freely admits that he lost any resemblance of true faith in the Bible as the word of God when he attended college and began to listen to the liberal theological arguments, which he himself embraces today.
Impossibility of fraud
If the writers of the New Testament were intending to deceive us into believing that Jesus Christ said and did the things that are written of Him, when in fact they never happened, the level of deception required to accomplish such a feat would be impossible. Experts have examined the narrative of the four gospels for indications of fraud for nearly the entire 2,000 year period of time since their composition. There are many key indicators that would signal fraud that are absent from the writings of the New Testament. What some critics see as inconsistencies or contradictions in the gospels are actually indications of authenticity. At the same time, there is an element of supernatural structure to the four gospels. Matthew is writing his account of Jesus for the Jews to prove from the Hebrew scriptures that Jesus is the fulfillment of all the prophecies concerning the Messiah. Mark is writing to demonstrate that Jesus is a servant who has come to give His life for us. Luke writes from the perspective of a medical doctor, showing us the humanity of Jesus. Finally, John writes to prove beyond any doubt that Jesus is God in human flesh.
As each of these writers presents their own distinct testimony of Jesus, they do so through the lens of the particular view of Jesus they want the reader to see. What Matthew observes in Jesus, Mark may have missed. The points highlighted by John are absent from Luke’s account.
A sure sign of fraud would have been four gospel accounts of Jesus life, death, and resurrection, that were all in perfect symmetry, stating the precise same points in all four gospels.
One of the world’s great experts in determining valid written testimony in the area of evidentiary authenticity, is Dr. Simon Greenleaf. Of the four gospels, Dr. Greenleaf has written extensively that it is his professional opinion that in every area that could possibly be tested, the four accounts of Jesus Life, death, and resurrection, are authentic, true accounts of the actual events that took place.
If any man came to earth and accomplished the things that the New Testament records of Jesus of Nazareth, we would expect to find the precise evidence that is in our possession today, and nothing more.
Secular validation of the New Testament
There is also a substantial secular record of Jesus life, death, and resurrection found in the annuls of Rome’s history and the history of the Jews.
As early as the second century Tacitus writes in his “Annals” of the Roman Empire, 116 A.D, (Annals 15,44) that under Caesar Nero, Pilate ordered the execution of Jesus of Nazareth by crucifixion.
“Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus.”
This record of Jesus execution by crucifixion under Pontius Pilate, written by Tacitus, is of immense value for the historicity of Jesus Christ.
Professor Peter Schäfer, in his book: “Jesus in the Talmud”, records that Talmud Sanhedrin 43a contains the following text regarding Jesus of Nazareth:
“On (Sabbath eve and) the eve of Passover, Jesus the Nazarene was hanged and a herald went forth before him forty days heralding, “Jesus the Nazarene is going forth to be stoned because he practiced sorcery and instigated and seduced Israel to idolatry…
I have taken the time to make these important points because this 197th Old Testament prophecy states that when the Messiah arrives, He will have the power to heal every sickness and disease. Couple this prophecy with the actual accounts of Jesus Christ which are left to us in the New Testament and you have a record of over 2,700 years, from the Old Testament period through the New Testament period, that are consistent in thousands of copies of the original documents, right up to the present day. All of the prophecies of the Old Testament agree that the Messiah will possess supernatural abilities—unknown to any man in the history of the world. Jesus of Nazareth did in fact possess these great powers over sickness and disease, and even death itself.
Those who observed what Jesus said and did, recorded these events for us, and when under the threat of death to recant their claims regarding Jesus, refusing to change their testimony. All of those who recorded the testimony of Jesus were all killed, except the Apostle John.
All of the arguments against the authenticity of the New Testament are invalid, based on the massive record of evidence that we have in our possession today.
Would they die for a lie?
The men who saw Jesus’ alive three days after He was crucified, were compelled to record, preserve, and give their lives in defending the certainty that they looked upon His living, physical body, alive after having watched Him die by such a brutal and horrific execution.
• Matthew—killed by a sword.
• Mark—dragged through the streets until dead.
• Luke—hanged on a large olive tree in Greece.
• John—According to Tertullian: John was placed in a boiling pot of oil but was unharmed, John was later banished to the isle of Patmos—where he wrote the book of Revelation.
“Since, moreover, you are close upon Italy, you have Rome, from which there comes even into our own hands the very authority (of apostles themselves). How happy is its church, on which apostles poured forth all their doctrine along with their blood; where Peter endures a passion like his Lord’s; where Paul wins his crown in a death like John’s[the Baptist]; where the Apostle John was first plunged, unhurt, into boiling oil, and thence remitted to his island-exile.”
• Peter—crucified upside down in Rome.
• James—beheaded in Jerusalem, with his accuser who turned to Christ.
• James the younger—beaten with a club and thrown off of a cliff.
• Phillip—scourged, thrown into prison, and crucified.
• Bartholomew—whipped until dead.
• Andrew—crucified, preaching to those in attendance until he died.
• Thomas—run through with a lance.
• Jude—killed by arrows.
• Matthias—stoned at Jerusalem then beheaded.
Originally written as “Acts and Monuments,” modern accusations today that “Foxe’s Book of Martyr’s” is a list of contrived stories about the writers of the New Testament Gospels, is absolutely false.
This latest attack on the Gospel of Jesus Christ is simply an effort to distort the facts concerning the men who chose violence deaths at the hands of the Roman government, rather than recant their testimony that Jesus had risen from the dead. John Foxe describes these men as so certain that Jesus had risen, they would not save their own lives when compelled to recant. All of the men, with the exception of the Apostle John, were brutally executed because of their testimony. When this evidence is examined, we find that John Foxe faithfully recorded the deaths of the Apostles, and in many cases, copied precisely—the words of early church writers, in an effort to accurately record the true events of that time. Later, Foxe was accused of Plagiarism for his literal recording of these words.
John Foxe obtained his evidence for the accounts of the Apostles deaths, from trusted—earlier Christian leaders and secular writers: Eusebius, Bede, Matthew Paris, Tertullian, Clement, and Tacitus. Many of the sources for the detailed descriptions of Foxe’s descriptions, came from the early Episcopal registers of the early Christian church, as well as trial reports and the testimonies of eye witnesses, recorded by the early church.
Adversarial Atheists such as Bob Seidensticker have remarked that these accounts of early church leaders—which detail the deaths of the Apostles, are written at too great a distance to be considered authoritative. The accounts of John the Apostle, written by early church leader; Tertullian about 160 A.D., originated from the eye witness accounts of John himself, recorded in the trial reports of the early Christian church, and later described in the writings of Tertullian. How this evidence could could be categorized as “too far from the original event,” is a mystery to this author. Having tried to have an open discourse with Mr. Seidensticker, regarding the historical evidence for Jesus death and resurrection, I found it impossible to put forth any evidence which was not refuted by him. It was clear to me that Mr. Seidensticker and many other Atheists like him, will not accept any credible evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus, Christ, irrespective of its integrity and reliability—due to their unwillingness to accept that Jesus could have risen from the dead.
This has become a common thread of difficulty in discussing the historical Jesus amongst the modern Atheists—who are firmly entrenched in their assertions that Jesus Resurrection is a myth. Although the evidence today is compelling and irrefutable, coming from reliable and empirical sources, it will not be accepted by those who refuse to believe.
John Foxe meticulously recorded the deaths of the men who had seen with their own eyes, the risen Christ after His resurrection, and refused to relinquish their testimony—even under the threat of death. According to the research of John Foxe, all of these men died horrible and vicious deaths, defending their testimony of a Risen Jesus.
The claim that Foxe embellished his work to please the Catholic church is false. In fact, Foxe wrote rather unfavorably concerning the early Catholic church and rule of the Papacy.
Warren Wooden wrote in 1983:
“Foxe’s reputation as a careful and accurate, albeit partisan, historian especially of the events of his own day, has been cleansed and restored with the result that modern historians no longer feel constrained to apologize automatically for evidence and examples drawn from the ‘’Acts and Monuments’’
Noted English Historian, Patrick Collinson, acknowledged Foxe’s work as a valid historian and said:
“John Foxe was the greatest [English] historian of his age….and the greatest revisionist ever.”
J. F. Mozley stated that John Foxe “preserved a high standard of honesty… and proclaims the honest man, sincere seeker after truth.”
Mozley quotes the words of John Foxe, on page 168 of his book: “Acts and Monuments:”
“What the intent and custom is of the papists to do, I cannot tell: for mine own I will say, although many other vices I have, yet from this one I have always of nature abhorred, wittingly to deceive any man or child, so near as I could, much less the church of God, whom I with all my heart do reverence, and with fear obey.”
The 2009 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica, describes the work of John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs as:
“Factually detailed and preserves much firsthand material on the English Reformation unobtainable elsewhere.”
The false charges that John Foxe did not accurately recored the actual deaths of the early believers of Jesus—is further impeached by those who have investigated this early Christian author.
Dr. Herbert Samworth writes:
“There is probably no other book that accomplished the repudiation of the Roman Church in England as did the Acts and Monuments. However, I believe that a strong case can be made that this was not the original intent of the work. Certainly it possesses an anti-Roman bias but this was because of the intolerance and cruelty imposed on those who disagreed with its teachings. However, Foxe did not limit his disagreement against temporal forms of punishing heresy to the Roman Church. He was totally opposed to any form of temporal punishment against false teaching whether it was practiced by the Roman Church or the Protestant Church.
However, if we are to understand this we must know something of the man himself. Foxe matriculated in 1534 and graduated from Oxford University around four years later because he became master in 1539. There was always one consistent thing about John Foxe and it was his pronounced Protestantism. Indeed, his faithfulness to its teaching cost him his fellowship because it required ordination to hold it. However, to be ordained meant to take the vow of celibacy and Foxe remained unconvinced that this was what the Word of God taught even though the Church had made it a sacrament.
Not only was Foxe a person of integrity he was also known for his unwillingness to seek preferment in the church for the sake of material gain. The case of those who used the religious changes in England under Henry VIII and Edward VI to enrich themselves is not pleasant to read.”
All of the Apostles who wrote that Jesus was alive three days after His crucifixion—died horrible deaths, defending their testimony as absolute truth. A man may contrive a story and stand by it until he is required to give his life for his testimony.—but no sane person would voluntarily die for a lie. Job records the fact that all that a man has, he will give to save his own flesh.
Job 2:4 … Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life.
The men, who witnessed what Jesus of Nazareth had said and done, safeguarded the accurate and worldwide distribution of their testimony—finally dying themselves for the affirmation that Jesus rose from the dead. There is no greater evidence for authenticity than when a man is willing to die for what he believes. All that a man has is his own life. To surrender that which is most valuable to defend a truth so vital, of such infinite importance, is all the testimony that we need to confirm that Jesus had, in fact, risen from the dead.
￼See: “The Certainty of the Resurrection,” for further validation that these men who recorded the Gospel of Jesus Christ–willing to die for what they had seen, is a valid empirical proof of their true and honest testimony.
Virtually, everything we believe regarding past history is because of the eyewitness testimony of others who were there at that point in time. How do we know that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were actual persons in past history? We read the testimony of those who saw them, heard them, and then recorded the events of their lives, for us. The man Jesus Christ is a real person from history whose life has been recorded for us by honest men who saw, and heard the amazing things they recorded. There is more historical evidence for the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ than any other historical person in the history of the world.
Isaiah recorded that one of the ways in which we would be able to identify the Messiah, was by His ability to open the eyes of the blind, the ears of the deaf, and make whole the limbs of the disabled.
Are You the Coming One?
John the Baptist was the last of the Old Testament prophets. His coming was predicted by Malachi.
Malachi 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.
Jesus confirmed that John the Baptist was intended by God to fulfill the ministry of Elijah, as described by Malachi 4:5. Due to Jesus rejection and crucified by the leaders of Israel, John’s ministry as Elijah was also cut short and delayed by necessity, until a later time.
Matthew 11:14 And if you are willing to receive it, John (the Baptist) is Elijah who is to come.
When John was arrested and placed in prison, as he sat there all alone, he began to wonder whether Jesus was the promised Messiah. “If Jesus is the one whom God promised, why then am I sitting here in prison? After all, I was appointed by God to go before the Messiah and announce His arrival. If Jesus is the One, why has all this happened to me?”
John sent a message from prison to Jesus to ask Him if He was the promised Messiah.
And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?
Jesus’ reply back to John is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in chapter 35:5-6: Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb sing.
Jesus instructed the messengers who were sent by John: Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: ‘The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.’
...Blessed is he who is not offended because of me...
NEXT: See the following articles which continue your discover of the facts regarding Jesus of Nazareth and the certainty that He lived, died, and rose from the dead.
The Historical Record of Jesus Life from Secular Sources
Historical Evidence For Jesus Resurrection
The Overwhelming Empirical Evidence for Jesus Death and Resurrection
The New Testament Passes Every Literary Test of History
Empirical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
Empirical Integrity of the New Testament
 Chart by Robert Clifton Robinson, compiled from the research of F.F. Bruce and Josh McDowell. F.F. Bruce; “The New Testament Documents, are they Reliable?” Publisher: Wilder Publications (September 8, 2009) ISBN-10: 1604598662 SBN-13: 978-1604598667, Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict.
 1. Dr. Carsten Peter Thiede, the director of the Institute of Basic Epistemological Research in Paderborn, Germany 2. Thiede, Carsten Peter & D’Ancona, Matthew, The Jesus Papyrus, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1996.Thiede, Carsten Peter & D’Ancona,
 Matthew, The Jesus Papyrus, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1996. 2. Thiede, Carsten Peter & D’Ancona, Matthew, The Jesus Papyrus, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1996 3. “P064-Mat-26.7-8-26.10-26.14-15-II” by unknown writer in 3rd century – http://chrles.multiply.com/. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:P064-Mat-26.7-8-26.10-26.14-15-II.jpg#mediaviewer/File:P064-Mat-26.7-8-26.10-26.14-15-II.jpg%5B1%5D
 Simon Greenleaf. The Testimony of the Evangelists: The Gospels Examined by the Rules of Evidence (Kindle Locations 125-133). Kindle Edition, Location 107 of the Kindle version.
 Ibid, F.F. Bruce. McDowell, Josh (1999-03-02). Evidence That Demands a Verdict, 1 (Kindle Locations 1208-1209). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
 A Debate between William Lane Craig and Bart D. Ehrman, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts March 28, 2006
 Dr. Simon Greenleaf, “A Treatise on the Laws of Evidence, Hardcover: 2456 pages, Publisher: The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. (January 30, 2001), Language: English, ISBN-10: 158477116X, ISBN-13: 978-1584771166
 Green, Joel B. (1997). The Gospel of Luke : new international commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co.. p. 168. ISBN 0-8028-2315-7
 Peter Schäfer, Jesus in the Talmud, Princeton University Press, 2007. p 64-65 Bernhard Pick, The Talmud: What It Is and What It Knows of Jesus and His Followers, 1887 (reprint Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2007. p 115) Talmud Sanhedrin 43a
 Fox’s Book of Martyr’s: Chapter 1 History of Christian Martyrs to the First General Persecutions under Nero
 Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 225 AD), was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. T. D. Barnes, Tertullian: a Historical and Literary Study (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985), 58
 According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Tertullian, the 2nd-century North African theologian, reports that John was plunged into boiling oil from which he miraculously escaped unscathed. During the 7th century this scene was portrayed in the Lateran basilica and located in Rome by the Latin Gate; it is still annually commemorated on May 6. John’s feast day otherwise is December 27, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/305163/Saint-John-the-Apostle
 Tertullian, Prescriptions against heretics, Chapter 36: This is the first mention of Peter’s crucifixion, but cf. John 21:18 and Tacitus, Annals, XV, 44, which speaks of the victims of Nero as crucibus adfixi. Origen adds head downwards (ap. Eus., H.E., III, i). Paul was decapitated, according to tradition, like John the Baptist; this would be his right as a Roman citizen. This is the first appearance of the story of John and the boiling oil. Location: http://www.tertullian.org/articles/greenslade_prae/greenslade_prae.htm also found at: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/tertullian11.html
 John Foxe’s copying of the actual words of the early church writers, who described the deaths of the Apostles by violent means, labeled him a “Plagiarist.”
 Freeman, Thomas S. “Foxe, John”. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/10050
 Warren Wooden, John Foxe (Twayne, 1983), 110
 Patrick Collinson, “Foxe as Historian” TAMO
 The Writings of J. F. Mozley – John Foxe and his Book
 John Foxe, “Acts and Monuments,” chapter 3, page 393