Why I Don’t Rely On Other Scholars For My New Testament Conclusions

It doesn’t take long to notice that there are many opinions from many liberal scholars regarding the text of the New Testament. I have read a great number of the conclusions published by these men and women. There is one underlying principle that is true in a majority of these opinions: They make many assumptions that cannot be supported by evidence and often rely upon the conclusions of other liberal scholars rather than what the text itself actually proves.

What this means is that there is no possibility of knowing who is right or if any group is correct in their conclusions regarding the New Testament.

We must ask ourselves if the men who wrote the New Testament at the beginning, intended that people later in history would have to rely upon the opinions of scholars in order to understand what the New Testament is saying.

I say no. God intended that the Bible could be read by any person and by a sincere and seeking heart, they could know God and find salvation in Christ Jesus. All that results from modern criticism of the New Testament is confusion, doubts, and chaos. It is not possible that God would want anyone to look to a human source in order to understand what He has written for the whole world.

Most of the 27 books of the New Testament are really just personal letters of communication between real persons. By standing over their shoulders and examining their conversations from afar, we learn a great deal about Jesus and the events that took place at that time. These letters are written matter-of-fact, not as myths, tales or novels. It is well known in examination of ancient literature that personal letters are not vehicles for fraud.

These letters were considered so valuable, accurate and instructive by people of that period, that they were copied tens of thousands of times and distributed all over the known world.

Evidence Of Ability To Write The Gospels

We don’t know what language the original autographs were written, or who it was that may have assisted the Apostles in transcribing them. We don’t know that the Apostles were not able to write Greek. We don’t know that the original autographs were first written in Aramaic or Hebrew and later copied as Greek texts. In the third decade of the second century, Papias said: “Matthew gathered the sayings of Jesus in the Hebrew tongue, and each person translated them as he was able.”[1]

We can’t accurately conclude what language the original autographs were written because they don’t exist any longer. There are no original autographs for any ancient texts of that age, secular or religious. All that we have today to prove any ancient event are the surviving manuscript copies. For this reason, no scholar can accurately state a precise date for their writing. For this reason, it is presumptuous to rely upon a scholar who claims to know these dates.

Luke writes at the beginning of his Gospel that he was very familiar with all of the events of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, states that he personally interviewed the eyewitnesses who saw Jesus and heard Him. Luke was a Greek speaking Physician who was highly educated. Matthew was a tax collector and must certainly have acquired the ability to write well. The Romans would have required every tax collector to possess the ability to write and speak adequately in order to carry out their appointed tasks. Mark was a Greek speaking Jew, who was able to write in Greek, and was the scribe for Peter.

When we examine the text of Acts 21:37, we see that Paul was also able to speak Koine-Greek.

Then as Paul was about to be led into the barracks, he said to the commander, (in Greek λληνιστ) “May I speak to you?” He replied, “Can you speak Greek? ~Acts 21:37

The commander of the barracks was surprised that Paul, a Jew, could speak Koine-Greek. From this we can demonstrate that Paul, a proficient scholar of the Pharisees, was also able to assist the writers of the Gospels in writing their texts in Greek, if this was necessary.

Could Uneducated Men Write The Gospels?

Ehrman often states that the writers of the four Gospels were uneducated men who did not have the capacity to write the elegant Koine-Greek text we see in the New Testament. He refers to Acts chapter 4 where Peter and John are standing before the council of leaders at Jerusalem. In this text we find the statement: “they could see that the Apostles were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures.”

From this statement, Ehrman has concluded that it was impossible for these men to have the skill necessary to write the Gospels. The problem is that Ehrman leaves out the rest of the text which helps the reader understand how uneducated men could have the ability to write what we find in the four Gospels. “They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.” It was Jesus who gave these uneducated men the ability to understand and communicate everything that He had said and done during His three and one-half years of ministry. Jesus told these men: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” ~John 14:26

It was these unique abilities to remember and write all they had seen and heard that Jesus imparted to these men, which made it possible for them to write what we see today in the New Testament.

When Were the Gospels Of The New Testament Written?

Surprisingly, this depends upon whom you ask. Conservative scholars often date the New Testament Gospels much earlier that liberal scholars. We might ask why this is true, if there is so much written by so many who claim to be scholars, shouldn’t there be a general consensus amongst alleged experts?

Many conservative scholars write that the Gospels of Matthew was written from early 60 A.D., to 80 A.D. Turning to the guidance of liberal scholars, both analyzing the same texts, they conclude that Matthew was written from 80 A.D. to 100 A.D.

Conservative scholars state that the Gospels of John was penned near 60 A.D. to 100 A.D. Again, looking at the same evidence, liberal scholars conclude that John’s Gospel was written from 90 A.D. to 100 A.D.

From seeing these varying dates by scholars we realize that either there is some degree of bias from both sides regarding the actual dates, or both sides don’t really know when the Gospels were written.

I have written extensively in proving from the historical record that Jesus died in 32 A.D. Before Jesus went to the cross He told His disciples that after He was crucified, risen from the dead, and returned to heaven, He would send the Holy Spirit who would empower these 12 men who saw and heard all that He did, the ability to remember everything He said and did during the three and one-half years of His public ministry.

These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. ~John 14:25-26

After Jesus was risen from the dead, again He reminded these 12 men that He had called them specifically to be His witnesses, and to immediately take all they had seen and heard and reveal it to the whole world.

What Does The Evidence Prove?

Listen to what Jesus told the Apostles after He had risen from the dead:

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me—everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” ~Acts 1:8

Does this sound to you like Jesus wanted these twelve men who had seen the most spectacular events in the history of the world, to wait 20, 30, 40 years or more before they wrote a record of all that Jesus had said and done?

Jesus called these twelve men to testify as eyewitnesses at that moment. All the miracles that they saw could never be repeated; yet all these things must be known to the world for all time. Jesus wanted the people of that moment who were still alive to know these things, and also every person throughout history.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus promised that He would remind these men of everything they had seen and heard so they could write a reliable account. ~John 14:26

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would testify of Him  to these men. Then they must testify about Him to the world, because they had been with Him from the beginning. ~John 15:26

The evidence that the Gospels were written immediately after Jesus rose from the dead, is found in the text itself where Jesus makes this requirement an imperative.

There is absolutely no evidence anywhere that these men waited for decades to write their testimony. This idea comes from a few New Testament scholars as their opinions, but not because there is any proof that this is really true.

How could any scholar know the precise decade when the Gospels were written? Those who guess say later; those who read Jesus’ words, see He said: “What you see, write in a book and send it now..” The two Gr. imperatives “write” (γρφω) and “send” (πμπω) are peremptory, authoritative aorists. “Do It Now!”

Until it can be proven by evidence that the Gospels actually were written late in the first century, I will maintain an early date for their writing. There is no proof they were written late, there is tremendous internal proof within the New Testament the Gospels were immediately written.

A Demonstration In The Lack Of Knowledge By Liberal New Testament Scholars

What Did The Writers Intend?

It is inconceivable that these writers wrote in such a way that their texts were shrouded in mystery and the meaning of what they wrote could not be understood by even the least educated persons.

If we need scholars to tell us whether the text is reliable, has been changed, or really records actual events, then the God who claims to be the author of these texts must be an impotent God, incapable of ensuring that His words could survive intact for the world to read.

The Errors Of Liberal Scholars In Disregarding Evidence

The writers of the New Testament state in their narratives that all that they are saying, even they themselves did not understand or believe at first. It is a common agreement amongst the writers that the miracles they saw Jesus perform and the raising of Lazarus from the dead, did not fully convince them at first. It was not until after Jesus was brutally crucified and these men knew that He was dead, and they saw Jesus alive in the flesh, that they really believed that He is the Messiah and God in human flesh.

The New Testament Prefaced By The Old

Any person who has adequately studied the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah, understands that these texts make it clear that God would send the world a Messiah who would have the power of miracles to validate that He is the One whom God sent. These prophecies also state that He would be crucified and raised on the third day. There are over 400 of these Messianic Prophecies that I have personally documented and published in two books, which fully validate that Jesus is the only person in the history of the world who has completed these prophecies with great precision.

The Prophecies Of The Messiah

If Jesus had failed to fulfill even one of these prophecies, He could not be the Messiah. The fact that He did complete these predictions with such care and precision, is testimony to the power that God has to accomplish all that He promised.

Who Is Telling The Truth?

If we start with the assumption that the writers of the New Testament are honest men who are telling the truth about what they recorded, then we do not need the opinions and conclusions of modern scholars. The texts of the New Testament have survived for nearly 2,000 years, intact, with virtually all of the fundamental truths about Jesus coming to us with no substantial alterations to the original text. We have greater surviving manuscripts to validate these events that are described in the New Testament than any other event in the history of the world. The comments and conclusions of modern critical scholars are completely based upon their own opinions that originate by speculation and conjecture.

Why The New Testament Is a Valid Historical Narrative

All we must do is read the New Testament for ourselves to see whether the narratives about Jesus make sense, are credible, and are trustworthy. After nearly 45 years of just studying the text of the New Testament apart from the opinions and conclusions of other scholars, I am convinced that this is all that is necessary.

If we begin with the idea that God exists and He has the power and technology to conceive, engineer, and produce the universe we inhabit, then it is no stretch of the imagination to accept that He also has the power to communicate a message to us through men that He might choose, and preserve their testimony intact so that every person on earth might have a reliable copy to read.

Learn How God Created The Universe From Science

If we rely upon scholars for our confirmation of the New Testament, we will always find that their conclusions vary depending upon their particular mindset. Those who are atheist scholars begin with the idea that God does not exist, therefore the miracles of Jesus cannot be true, the New Testament is a fabrication.

Those who come from the Catholic church and carry a particular feeling about how the texts were written, preserved and arrived to us today, will have their own opinions. Those who are from a protestant background with a fundamentalist mindset, will see the text in a different light.

Many of these modern scholars were participants in the “Jesus Seminar,” in which 50 critical Biblical scholars and 100 laymen in 1985, assembled to determine the reliability of the New Testament narratives of Jesus. Do you know how they determined whether a particular text was actually said by Jesus or any text should be considered reliable? Each member presented a colored bead that indicated whether they felt that the text was reliable or not. Depending upon the number of colored beads these participants presented for each text in question, the texts were authenticated or rejected by a vote. There was never any presentation of evidence to support any supposition, it was merely their opinions that determined whether the text of the New Testament is accurate and reliable.

In all of the books by New Testament scholar, Bart Ehrman, very rarely does he present any evidence to support his assertions. Ehrman expects us to take his word for it concerning the statements and conclusions he makes regarding New Testament reliability. I have examine the claims of Ehrman and found that all of his assertions regarding whether Jesus ever claimed to be God, are in error. My book “Why Jesus Is God, And Others Are Not,” examines Ehrman’s inaccuracies and reveals the truth about Jesus’ claim to be God.

It is my opinion that we do not need the opinions of these men and women to arrive at our own conclusions regarding the reliability and authenticity of the New Testament. In fact, if we listen to these scholars we are more likely to be confused rather than gain any clarity regarding who Jesus is. In times past, a person could learn all they needed by simply reading what the men who saw and heard Jesus, said about Him in the letters of the New Testament. In the past 50 years, liberal scholars who do not believe God exists, while obtaining Ph.D.’s for the purpose of impugning Jesus, write books that state that the Jesus of the Bible is a fabrication.

The public reads these articles and books by noted scholars and assume that they know what they are talking about, without ever knowing these persons secretly oppose Jesus in their hearts. We might ask if we can really trust someone who begins with the idea that God doesn’t exist, and then makes conclusions about the Bible. Would you trust a physician who you find out doesn’t believe in medicine?

Bart Ehrman is a self avowed atheist. In spite of this, he is acclaimed as a New Testament scholar. Every book that Ehrman writes, deprives Jesus of His identity as God and ability to save those who come to Him for salvation. Jesus said that offenses must come into this world, but woe to the man who causes these offenses. It would be better if that man had never been born (Matthew 18:6-7).

I discovered these truths many years ago and discarded all that liberal scholars have said and just studied the original text of the New Testament and let the writers speak for themselves.

  1. The New Testament exists today because of 24,593 surviving manuscript copies.
  2. These Manuscripts are dated closer to the time of the events than any other ancient manuscripts in history.
  3. Although the manuscripts came from locations all over the world and in multiple languages, they all tell the same fundamental story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
  4. The writers themselves state they saw the events they are recording. There is no impeaching evidence anywhere in the historical record that these writers did not tell the truth.
  5. We have complete copies of the New Testament that have survived time and decay, from 240 A.D.
  6. We have manuscript fragments of the New Testament as early as 60 A.D.
  7. Since we have manuscript copies from the second century, the original autographs were certainly written early in the first century.
  8. History confirms that the New Testament, except Revelation, was written before 70 A.D. Not one of the books mentions the siege of Titus on Jerusalem and the obliteration of the Temple that took place in 70 A.D. If the New Testament was written after 70 A.D., this event would have been described in the letters of the New Testament.
  9. Scholars from the first century have already validated these texts as authentic and reliable. We do not need experts today who have no ability to impeach the conclusions of those who originally wrote the text, 2,000 years ago.
  10. The writers of the New Testament intended that the texts were historically accurate and true.
  11. The 27 books of the New Testament are actually personal letters, not stories. Personal letters are the epitome of ancient reliable documents. Personal letters have long been known as the most reliable of all ancient evidence.
  12. Everything that Jesus said and did, was predicted by over 400 Messianic Prophecies. Jesus fulfilled every Messianic prophecy with great precision. Jesus’ story did not begin in the New Testament. It was foretold by 1,500 years of history that took place before Jesus arrived.

Is it Reliable?

You might ask, how do we know that what we are reading today, is what the original writers wrote? This is certainly a very reasonable question and one that I have also considered. Again, discarding what all other scholars have written or said, I examined the surviving manuscripts of the New Testament for myself and looked for any significant changes in the text.

All that I found were minor differences such as misspelled words, punctuation errors, different words that say the same thing, but no changes in any of the primary principles about Jesus and the total story that the New Testament tells us.

How Does Criticism Of The New Testament Relate To Its Reliability?

I also considered the enormity of the surviving New Testament manuscript copies that we have today. In any large body of ancient manuscripts which have survived time and decay, coming from several different places around the world, in several different languages, we would expect a great number of differences in the important texts. This is not the case with the 24,593 copies of the New Testament. Despite their great numbers and vast locations and languages that they came from, they are all in symmetry regarding the same story they tell about Jesus.

We do not need a scholar to help us know whether the New Testament is a narrative that we can trust. I believe that we can know this ourselves if we simply read the text and study it as it is, without commentary from anyone else.

The Power To Preserve The Text

A God who has the power to create this magnificent universe we inhabit, and may I say, the scientific evidence proves that intelligence was essential to its existence, this God is also capable of producing a reliable text about the true events of the Savior He sent to us and ensuring its survival for every generation.

Throw out the comments and opinions of all scholars, including my own, and just read the New Testament for yourself. If you do, then you will see that these men specifically state that what they are writing, they saw with their own eyes and heard with their own ears.

We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. his one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy. ~1 John 1:1-4 (NLT)

There Are 391 Eyewitness References To Jesus’ Crucifixion And Resurrection In The New Testament

Modern scholars say the New Testament was not written by eyewitnesses, the text says that it is. I choose to trust the men who were theres and wrote it 2,000 years ago and not the men and women today who say it is not eyewitness testimony. These critics were not there and they rely largely upon what other liberal scholars say; that the text is not reliable or written by eyewitnesses.

Examining The New Testament For Reliability And Eyewitness Accounts

The New Testament letters that I have intensely studied for almost 45 years, defiies all the comments of critics who claim it is not true or reliable. Any intelligent person who reads the text will very quickly see that is genuine, sincere, and truthful. I believe it because of how these letters are written and the manner in which they are constructed. Remember that the 27 books of the New Testament are really just personal letters of correspondence between persons early in the first century. Each of you will have to decide whether you will believe the texts or the critics who write today and say that it is not trustworthy.

And this is the most important point, isn’t it? We each have to make our own decision.

NOTES:
[1] Eusebius Ecclesiastical History 3.39.16



Categories: Empirical Evidence for God, God's Sovereignty, Jesus is God, Jesus is the Messiah, Literary authenticity of the New Testament, New Testament Manuscripts, Robert Clifton Robinson, Salvation is a free gift, Secular Sources for Jesus, The age of the Universe, The Creation of the Universe, The Four Gospels, The Historical Jesus

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