If you read the comments of Liberal Atheist Theologians, you will notice that they often say the four Gospels of the New Testament were written anonymously. These men write many comments regarding why they think this is true, while never offering any empirical proof to validate their assertions. The reason given is most often that there are no names attached to these manuscripts.
The assertion is made that the church later added the names, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and included their names as the authors.
First of all we must understand that there are no original autographs of the four Gospels. Time and decay have eliminated them from the historical record. It is also important to understand that there are no original secular autographs which have survived antiquity. All that we have today are copies of these documents which are know to us as manuscripts or manuscript fragments.
The New Testament has presented us with 24, 593 manuscript copies, while the greatest number of surviving secular manuscripts are Homer’s Iliad with 643 documents.
Since we do not have the original autographs of the four Gospels, it is impossible to prove that the author’s did not attach their names to them. To state with certainty that this is true is simply a misrepresentation of the facts.
Understanding that the New Testament and the Gospels of Jesus Christ were written and distributed so many times over the past 2,000 years it is not surprising that many did not have the author’s names. We see several cases of copyist errors in spelling, punctuation, and incomplete words in the copies that have survived. It is highly likely that in an attempt to distribute copies to other readers, the names of the Gospel authors were omitted as an oversight. If this happened only once, each subsequent copy afterwards would not have the author’s name.
This is the likely reason that manuscript copies we have in later versions did not have the author’s name.
According to Dr. Bart Ehrman, he writes with confidence that the original writers did not place their names on the four Gospels. It is for this reason that Dr. Ehrman states that we cannot know for sure who wrote them and therefore they are not reliable.
It is a far leap from the author’s did not include their names, to we cannot rely upon them, particularly since Dr. Ehrman does not know whether the original autographs had the authors names. Until we find the original autographs, we cannot state with certainty that the four gospels were written anonymously.
We can say that the early Church father’s believed that the four Gospels we have in our possession, were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Origen quoted from all four Gospels in his extensive writings from 230-250 A.D. Origen seldom wrote a commentary without the inclusion of a Bible text to support his commentary. We have nearly all of the four Gospels in fragments, within Origen’s writings. The eventual canonization of the New Testament came about, largely due to the scholarly work of Origen in using all 27 of our current New Testament books, by 250 A.D.
Once thing is certain, Bart Ehrman does not know if the original Manuscripts had the author’s names attached. When you read his website and books, remember that he is an atheist first of all. Second he is guessing about most of the comments he makes about Jesus and the New Testament. If you think I am wrong, read his words and look for actual evidence to support his statements. You will find that there is almost no evidence presented. He writes with the alleged authority of a New Testament Scholar, but he doesn’t believe in God, or that Jesus is God.
For these reasons, Bart Ehrman does not believe the New Testament is true when it records that Jesus is God and the only Savior of the world.
Are you willing to accept the expertise of a New Testament scholar who doesn’t believe God exists?
See my refutations of Bart Ehrman’s Theses of Jesus and the New Testament in my new book: “Why Jesus Is God, And Others Are Not,” Now at Amazon.
Categories: Abhorrent teaching about Jesus, Anonymity of the Four Gospels, Atheists, Bart Ehrman, Common objections by Atheists, New Testament Manuscripts, Origin of the four Gospels, Principles of Biblical Interpretation, Robert Clifton Robinson, The Historical Jesus, Why Jesus Is God And Others Are Not