Opinions And Speculation Permeate New Testament Criticism

One of the frustrating difficulties for me in the current trend of New Testament criticism, is the prevalence of opinions and speculation over actual facts, that are known or can be known. I grow weary reading about how the “Q” document affected the writing of the New Testament. No such document has ever been found, but in reading the commentaries of modern scholars one would think that it exists in extant form and has been fully vetted. The Q document doesn’t exist and therefore cannot be used to reach valid conclusions about how the New Testament exists today. What we do have are 24,593 surviving manuscripts that tell us everything we need to know about the New Testament narratives. From these extant manuscripts we can derive exactly how and why they exist today.

I find the opinions of scholars who take liberties in stating, as facts, certainties about the New Testament that they could not possibly know. For instance: The idea that New Testament was not written by eyewitnesses. Even Richard Baukham skirts the issue of eyewitness testimony by his statements that the narratives are “drawn on eyewitness testimony as it circulated in early Christian circles, but more like oral history.

In other words, there is great doubt as to whether the text that we are reading was actually written by men who saw the events, or simply repeated words and phrases that some men remembered that eyewitnesses had once said. Essentially, this become hearsay, and completely deprives the New Testament of its power of eyewitness testimony.

Atheists and critics love it when men like Baukham, who claims to be an evangelical Christian, make statements like these. I sometimes wonder as one who has devoted over four decades to Biblical scholarship, if these men really understand what comments like these mean to the cause of Christ.

This is especially grievous when we consider that the entire text of the New Testament itself, states that the writers saw and heard what they have written. If we believe Baukham, then the writers of the New Testament are liars when they say they are eyewitnesses. Again, it is clear that the men who say these things and write them in articles, seem to oblivious to what they are really voicing. In my opinion, those who state such things are enemies of Christ.

If I sincerely believed what Baukham has said in this regard, I would immediately cease from believing that Jesus is God and the Messiah that God promised the world.

These men fail to understand that the God who authored these texts by calling faithful men to write His words and remember what He had said and done, is certainly capable of assembling true and genuine eyewitness testimony. Eyewitnesses were of critical importance to Jesus, as is evident by His final statements to the Apostles after His resurrection:

Then Jesus said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. ~Luke 24:46-48

In John 17, Jesus prays to the Father and states in this prayer that He has revealed Himself to the men the Father gave Him, and they know everything came from the Father. Jesus passed to these men the message of the Gospel and sent them into the world to write and tell everyone the story of what Jesus said and did.

“I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, 8 for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me. 14 I have given them your word. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. ~John 17:6-20

Without firsthand and eyewitness testimony, the events that took place in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are impotent and meaningless.

Examine the text of the New Testament for yourself and see how many places the Apostles and Disciples of Jesus state that what they are writing, they saw and heard.

There is not a single shred of evidence in existence that the narratives of Jesus were strictly an oral tradition that exited for a great many years, passed on to scribes who wrote the text. There is every indication that the actual men who saw and heard the things that exist in the New Testament text, was written directly from those who saw the events. Even Luke states that he personally interviews the eyewitnesses and had examined for himself the other texts by eyewitnesses at that time. Many of the early church Fathers such as Papias, Justin Martyr, Clement, Tertullian, and Origen, all state that Peter dictated the text to Mark, or that Mark was present when Peter described the events he recorded in his Gospel before crowds of people in Rome.

The following are a few of the articles I have written on this site to document the eyewitness testimony of the New Testament that exists in the actual text itself.

The New Testament was written by eyewitnesses because this is what the writers themselves claim. Those who say otherwise today, are guessing. There is no evidence to support these ideas in existence anywhere.



Categories: Common objections by Atheists, New Testament Criticism, Reliability of the New Testament, Richard Baukham, Robert Clifton Robinson, The Four Gospels, The Historical Jesus

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