Modern atheists often say that “a majority of scholars…” say certain things regarding the reliability of the Bible. When we press these individuals on precisely who these scholars are, we find that they are most often liberal scholars who do not believe God exists in the first place.
Unknown to a majority of people is the existence of the atheist New Testament scholar. These are people who don’t believe God exists, or that the Bible is true, yet seek to write about these important subjects as experts. Imagine going to a doctor for medical advice and he tells you that he doesn’t believe in medicine. Today many people accept the conclusions of atheists regarding whether the New Testament is a reliable record of truth.
The methods that atheist scholars use to try and prove their assertions that Jesus was contrived by the writers of the New Testament, are the fundamentals of New Testament criticism. The problem is that they do not use these methods in the same way that they were intended, but to further their attempts at discrediting Jesus and the testimony about Him in the books of the New Testament.
We might wonder why an atheist would seek an advanced degree in Biblical studies just to use their status to try and impeach the reliability of the New Testament.
The answer is obvious. Atheists don’t believe the Bible is true, that God exists, or that Jesus is who the writers of the New Testament present Him as. When we examine the commentary written by modern atheist New Testament scholars, we find that their comments and conclusions are largely based upon their opinions, not on any evidence that would prove the texts are unreliable.
Jesus also said that in the Christian church, satan has planted false believers who look and sound like true believers. They work from within the church to undermine and hurt the faith of other believers. Jesus taught this principle in the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares.
When we examine the books and essays of these atheist scholars, we cannot find any evidence in their works to prove their assertions of unreliability. The modern atheist scholar believes that because they have a Ph.D, the reader should trust their judgment and conclusions.
The problem for the average reader of these books and essays is that most people don’t know these writers are atheists and don’t believe the Bible is true in the first place. In the conclusions of the conservative scholars who also write about the New Testament, we find they do believe the New Testament is an accurate narrative of true events. Who is correct? Those who provide evidence to support their conclusions. In the case of the atheist scholar, we do not find evidence, we find opinions. It is very easy to prove the reliability and truthfulness of the New Testament by actual evidence. I know this because I have published books with the historical evidence to prove the reliability and truthfulness of the New Testament.
The Two Methods Of Textual Criticism Used In Evaluating The New Testament
There are two ways that people examine the surviving manuscripts of the New Testament letters. Both of these methods are on opposite ends of textual criticism; both are considered extreme in the manner they use to evaluate documents of antiquity.
The Conservative Position states that the Bible is already perfect as the word of God, and it does not need textual criticism in order to understand the texts or have confidence in its narrative. The conservative position also examines the surviving manuscript copies of the New Testament, but seeks to validate these documents based upon the text, historical evidence, forensic evidence, archeology, and scientific processes that prove these works of antiquity came to us from the period of history they claim.
The Liberal Position states that there is no possibility of finding the original texts and therefore the surviving texts must be proven by certain methods. Many who hold the Liberal Position, do not believe the Bible is anything more than ancient literature that must be evaluated and proven. The liberal position uses outside, human methods to validate the texts that often confuse and obscure the simple meaning of the texts themselves. The liberal view is that God does not exist, miracles are not possible and the man called Jesus is a fabrication of history.
Those who hold that the New Testament is merely the fulfillment of all that is promised and predicted by the Old Testament scriptures, believe that the same Being who created the universe by infinite intelligence and power, also created and preserved His word in the New Testament scriptures.
People who subscribe to the idea that the New Testament is nothing more than works of antiquity, created processes of examination that they often use to evaluate the texts of the New Testament manuscript copies.
This page is provided to give the reader a partial list of those who hold the traditional, conservative view of the Bible that is it true, reliable, and inspire by God. The second list represents the minor category of those who do not believe any of the fundamental tenets of the Bible and work to impeach it in the world. For those trained in the Bible, it is quite easy to impeach the impeachers. The text of the Bible is the authority, for it comes to us through antiquity, tested by thousands before us and found reliable and accurate.
The facts of evidence that is included in the following essays, proves that it is possible to know for certain whether we can trust what is written about Jesus. The following are the resources available at this site which contain evidence to prove each of these important issues:
- When Were The Gospels Written?
- Were The Gospels Written By Eyewitnesses?
- Did The Gospel Writers Borrow From Each Other?
- Has The Text Of The New Testament Been Changed?
- Is The New Testament Filled With Errors?
- Were The Four Gospels Written Anonymously?
- The Body Of New Testament Evidence
- Are There Sources For Jesus Outside The New Testament?
- Is The New Testament A Valid Historical Narrative?
- Did Jesus Really Claim To Be God?
The ratio of conservative scholars to liberal scholars is about 90 percent to 10 percent. Some estimates are that less than 7 percent of the total population of Biblical Scholars are liberal.
List of Conservative Scholars
- Joseph Alexanian, Trinity International University
- Carl E. Armerding, Schloss Mittersill Study Centre
- Bill T. Arnold, Asbury Theological Seminary
- David Baker, Ashland Theological Seminary
- William H. Barnes, North Central University
- Ronald A. Beers, Wheaton College
- Linda Belleville, Bethel College, Mishawaka, Indiana
- Barry J. Beitzel, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
- Daniel I. Block, Wheaton College
- Gerald Borchert, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary
- Dale A. Brueggemann, Assemblies of God Division of Foreign Missions
- Robert Bergen, Hannibal-LaGrange College
- Darrell Bock, Dallas Theological Seminary
- Frederic W. Bush, Fuller Theological Seminary
- Joyce Baldwin Caine, Trinity College, Bristol
- Greg Beale, Westminster Theological Seminary
- Craig Blomberg, Denver Seminary
- Gary M. Burge, Wheaton College
- Eugene Carpenter, Bethel College, Mishawaka, Indiana
- D. A. Carson, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
- Joseph Coleson, Nazarene Theological Seminary
- Philip W. Comfort, NT Coordinating Editor, Coastal Carolina University
- Peter Davids, St. Stephen’s University
- Raymond B. Dillard, Westminster Theological Seminary
- David A. Dorsey, Evangelical School of Theology
- Norman R. Ericson, Senior Translator, Wheaton College
- Terry Eves, Erskine College
- Daniel C. Fredericks, Belhaven College
- Mark D. Futato, Reformed Theological Seminary
- Robert Gordon, Cambridge University
- Douglas Green, Westminster Theological Seminary
- Douglas Gropp, Catholic University of America
- Robert Guelich, Fuller Theological Seminary
- George Guthrie, Union University
- Victor Hamilton, Asbury University
- R. K. Harrison, Wycliffe College
- Roy Hayden, Oral Roberts School of Theology
- Ted Hildebrandt, Gordon College
- Andrew Hill, Wheaton College
- Paul R. House, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
- David M. Howard Jr, Bethel Theological Seminary
- David Hubbard, Fuller Theological Seminary
- August Konkel, Providence Theological Seminary
- V. Philips Long, Regent College
- Tremper Longman III, Senior Translator, Westmont College
- Donald A. Hagner, Fuller Theological Seminary
- Harold W. Hoehner, Dallas Theological Seminary
- William Lane. Seattle Pacific University
- William J. Larkin. Columbia International University
- G. Herbert Livingston, Asbury Theological Seminary
- Elmer A. Martens, Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary
- Kenneth Mathews. Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
- Gerald L. Mattingly, Johnson Bible College
- J. Gordon McConville, University of Gloucester
- Scot McKnight, North Park University
- Eugene H. Merrill, Dallas Theological Seminary
- J. Ramsey Michaels, S. W. Missouri State University
- Roger Mohrlang. Whitworth University
- Robert Mounce. Whitworth University
- Douglas J. Moo, Wheaton College
- M. Robert Mulholland Jr., Asbury Theological Seminary
- Mark R. Norton, Coordinating Editor
- Raymond C. Ortlund Jr., Immanuel Church, Nashville, Tennessee
- Grant R. Osborne, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
- Douglas A. Oss, Central Bible College
- John N. Oswalt., Asbury Theological Seminary
- Richard Patterson, Liberty University
- Richard Pratt, Reformed Theological Seminary
- Allen Ross, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
- Thomas R. Schreiner, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
- Richard Schultz, Wheaton College
- Moises Silva. Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
- Robert Sloan. Houston Baptist University
- Gary Smith. Union University
- Klyne Snodgrass. North Park Theological Seminary
- Lawson Stone, Asbury Theological Seminary
- Robert Stein, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
- Daniel W. Taylor, Bethel University, Senior Stylist
- Kenneth N. Taylor, Translator, The Living Bible
- David Thompson, Asbury Theological Seminary
- John A. Thompson, University of Melbourne
- Marianne Meye Thompson, Fuller Theological Seminary
- David Turner, Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary
- J. Robert Vannoy. Biblical Theological Seminary
- John Walton, Wheaton College
- Gordon Wenham. Trinity College, Bristol
- William C. Williams, Vanguard University
- H. G. M. Williamson, Oxford University
- Raymond C. Van Leeuwen, Eastern College
- Willem VanGemeren, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
- Al Wolters, Redeemer College
- Bruce Metzger is considered one of the world’s leading scholars concerning the text of the New Testament. He taught, for many years, at Princeton Theological Seminary. In his book, “Text of the New Testament,” he stated that when we compare the record of all other secular documents with the massive number of existing manuscripts for the New Testament, these secular documents are “embarrassed by the wealth of the New Testament material.”
- F.F. Bruce (1910-1990) was a Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at the University of Manchester in England. During his distinguished career, he wrote more than forty best-selling commentaries and books. Dr. Bruce also served as the general editor of The New International Commentary on the New Testament. In regards to the reliability of the New Testament, in his book “The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?” he said this:
“There is no body of ancient literature in the world which enjoys such a wealth of good textual attestation as the New Testament.”
Sir Frederick Kenyon—author of “The Bible and Archeology,” Biblical scholar, and one of the world’s greatest authorities in the New Testament textual criticism—said:
“No fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith rests on a disputed reading…. It cannot be too strongly asserted that in substance the text of the Bible is certain: Especially is this the case with the New Testament. The number of manuscripts of the New Testament, of early translations from it, and of quotations from it in the oldest writers of the Church, is so large that it is practically certain that the true reading of every doubtful passage is preserved in some one or other of these ancient authorities. This can be said of no other ancient book in the world.”
- Impeaching Bart Ehrman
- Were The Gospels Written By Eyewitnesses?
- Were The Four Gospels Written Anonymously?
- When Were The Gospels Written?
- Has The Text Of The New Testament Been Changed?
- The Primary Issues Of New Testament Criticism
- Jesus Said The Deep Truths Of The Bible Are Hidden From Unbelievers
The preceding persons hold that God exists in the person of Jesus the Messiah. The Bible is true, reliable, and represents God’s revelation of Himself to the world. The miracles of Jesus, His crucifixion and resurrection, are all true events that took place just as the writers of the New Testament describe them. Conservative New Testament Scholars hold that the Gospels were written early in the first century, by eyewitnesses who saw and heard what is written in the text.
List of Atheist New Testament Scholars
- Bart Ehrman, Wheaton College
- Mitchell G. Reddish, Southern Seminary
- Marcus Borg, Union Theological Seminary
- Robert Price, Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary.
- Robert Funk, Vanderbilt University
- John Dominic Crossan, Patrick’s College, Maynooth
- Burton Mack, Claremont School of Theology
- Barbara Thiering
- Harold Attridge
- Lloyd Geering
- Stephen Harris
- Karen King
- James F. McGrath
The Doctrinal Beliefs Concerning The Bible, Of The Liberal Scholars Listed Above:
Beginning as an evangelical Christian; attending the right Christian colleges; trained under the best of mentors; graduating with a Ph.D, magna cum laude. How is it then that Ehrman is one of the chief adversaries of the New Testament? No one can truly know what was really in the heart of Bart Ehrman at the beginning or what transpired during the time of his education and period of doubts thereafter. These are matter that are his along to know and the God who made Bart Ehrman.
What we do know is that Jesus taught extensively on this very subject. The Pharisees were the Ph.D’s of their generation. No one knew the Hebrew texts better than these men. In spite of their tremendous education, they did not recognize the Messiah when He arrived. The prophet Isaiah predicted that when Messiah arrived, He would be “despised and rejected by men” (Isaiah 53:3). Jesus taught that “the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.”( Mark 8:31). The term “Son of Man,” is a key phrase from the book of Daniel in the Old Testament which described the coming of the Son of Man, the Messiah, in the last days. Jesus used this term to describe Himself 81 times in the koine-Greek texts of the New Testament. This usage by Jesus is unmistakable. Jesus was asserting that He is the Messiah whom all the prophets wrote about.
Despite this well known fact throughout the Old Testament, Ehrman has stated repeatedly that Jesus did not claim to be God in the Synoptic Gospels.
Jesus Faces the Sanhedrin In Matthew’s Gospel
Matthew describes Jesus before the high priest as He is questioned about His true identity. The high priest uses an ancient Hebrew imperative to interrogate Jesus by placing Him under oath: are you the Christ, the Son of God?
There is no ambiguity regarding what is being asked or asserted concerning Jesus. The high priest is demanding an answer from Jesus because it was well known by this time that He had, on several occasions, claimed to be the Son of God.
And the high priest arose and said to Him, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”Jesus said to him, “It is as you said.
Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! What do you think?” They answered and said, “He is deserving of death.” ~Matthew 26:62-66
Jesus answers in the affirmative that He is the Son of God, just as the high priest has said. Then Jesus uses two confirming scriptures from Daniel chapter 7 where the prophet describes the Messiah as the Son of Man, coming with the clouds.
I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed. ~Daniel 7:13-14
Daniel is the first to use the term Son of Man to describe the Messiah, and the only writer to use the phrase, coming with the clouds, in the Old Testament.
John also writes in the Book of Revelation, that Jesus will be coming with the clouds when He returns.
Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him (Zechariah 12:10). And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. ~Revelation 1:7
The term clouds is used in Hebrews 12:1 to describe those who are in heaven as witnesses, watching our progress here on earth. John said that when Jesus returns, these cloud of witnesses will be coming with Him to reign over the earth as Messiah.
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. ~ Hebrews 12:1
Here, Jesus applies both of Daniel’s terms, clouds and Son of Man, to Himself. Jesus also confirmed to the Pharisees in Matthew 26:62-66, above, that He is the Son of God.
By these three declarations to the Pharisees, that He is the Son of God, The Son of Man, and Coming with the clouds, Jesus is confirming three things:
- He is God.
- He Is Messiah.
- He Is coming again to rule over the kingdom promised to David that will never end.
There is no mistake in what Jesus has told the Pharisees. We see by the response of the high priest in tearing his garments, that he clearly understood that Jesus was claiming to be God. It was upon this declaration that the high priest pronounces “blasphemy,” and declares that Jesus should be put to death.
Did you also notice here that in addition to Jesus saying He is God and the Messiah, we also see that the Old Testament predicted the Messiah would be God? How is it that Ehrman could make such a blunder? Clearly Jesus asserted throughout all four Gospels that He was God. This was the very reason He was crucified, yet Ehrman doesn’t seem to know this.
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.
Faulty Perception Determines Errors Of Assumption
One of the problems that the leaders of Israel consistently exhibited, was their false perception that Jesus and His Apostles were uneducated.
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. ~Acts 4:13-14
It is important to notice here that the rulers, elders, and scribes of Israel “perceived” that Peter and John were uneducated. This does mean that they actually were illiterate, it was merely the perception of these men that they were not capable of reading or writing the scriptures. The Pharisees had previously stated the same thing about Jesus, and they were also wrong:
They were surprised when they heard Jesus. “How does he know so much when he hasn’t been trained?” they asked. ~John 7:15
Jesus repeatedly demonstrated that He was far more proficient in the scriptures than all of the Pharisees, and chief priests, who were the Ph.D’s of the Hebrews scriptures during that time.
Jesus answered and said to them, “Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God? ~Mark 12:24
In the next chapter you will see this further demonstrated when Jesus challenges the Pharisees understanding of Psalms 110.
Evidence Of Peter’s Proficiency
Examine the text of Acts chapter 2 where Peter is before thousands at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. He delivers one of the most spectacular dissertations describing Jesus’ fulfillment of the Hebrew prophets, that has ever been recorded.
Does it seem to you in Acts 2 that Peter is uneducated and unable to communicate the scriptures?
Beginning at Acts 2:14-41, Peter systematically describes Joel 2:28-32, Psalms 16:8-11 (Greek version), and Psalms 110:1, all as fulfilled by Jesus as the Messiah. There were few men in Israel at that time who were capable of accomplishing such a dissertation, and with such accuracy.
Peter even quotes from the Greek version of the text in Psalms 16:8-11, which would only be possible if He knew Greek.
The idea that Peter and John, with the other Apostles of Jesus, were illiterate, is not supported by the text of the New Testament.
Jesus Imparted Supernatural Abilities To His Apostles
Just before Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead in John chapter 14:25-26, Jesus said that after He is gone the Holy Spirit will come and remind these men of all that Jesus had said and done, so that they could write an accurate account and send it out to the world.
I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. ~John 14:25-26
How do we know that these men had supernatural abilities to remember and write the elegant Gospels we find? Read the last part of Acts 4:14 above: But since they could see the man who had been healed standing right there among them, there was nothing the council could say.” The Pharisees had before them, a man who had been healed by Peter and John, so it was impossible for them to condemn these men for their good work. This tells us that these uneducated men, who had been with Jesus, also had supernatural abilities given to them by Jesus. Peter and John were able to simply speak to this man and he was healed. Notice how skilled Peter is in communicating the truth of Jesus to the leaders of Israel:
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” ~Acts 4:8-12
Again, Peter quoting scripture from Psalms 118:22, as one proficient in the Hebrew prophecies written for Messiah. The first line of this text tells us why this was possible, Peter was “filled with the Holy Spirit.”
There is no question that these simple men had been given the ability write an accurate and elegant narrative of Jesus in the four Gospels, because Jesus made this possible.
Scholar, Bart Ehrman, On The Eyewitnesses
According to New Testament scholar, Bart Ehrman, because the narratives of Jesus found in the New Testament were written in Greek, they could not have been written by the followers of Jesus. According to Ehrman, the Apostles of Jesus were not educated men who would have been able to write Greek. For this reason, Ehrman concludes that the four Gospels could not have been written by eyewitnesses, but were written by others much later, who had not seen Jesus. Do you think that Jesus called 12 men to see what He had done, so they could tell the world, but they could not write?
There are several problems with Ehrman’s conclusions. First, and most important; the surviving manuscript copies for the four Gospel that we have in our possession today are copies of the original autographs, not the original writings. To assume that because the surviving manuscript copies we have today were written in Greek, therefore the original autographs were also written in Greek, is a conclusion that cannot possibly be proven. The entire hypothesis of Ehrman is based on this assumption.
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.
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,Ἐλληνιστί) “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.
There are numerous errors made by Ehrman in all of his books. In reading the publications of Bart Ehrman, the diligent student immediately notices that there is rarely any evidence to support the conclusions He makes. Ehrman expects the reader to take his word for it because He does not prove most of the ideas He puts forth in all of his books.
Mitchell G. Reddish
Notice the following statement in the book, “An Introduction To The Four Gospels,” by New Testament scholar, Mitchell G. Reddish,” in the first chapter, called: “The Formation Of The Four Gospels,” written in 1997.
“Since the four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—begin the New Testament, readers often assume that these works were the earliest written products of the Christian church. This assumption is often coupled with the beliefs that the authors of the four Gospels were eyewitnesses of the events they narrate and that the composition of the four Gospels was relatively simple process of preserving in writing what they had seen and heard firsthand. Such assumptions about the Gospels, however, are inaccurate. All the letters of Paul in the New Testament were written prior to any of the Gospels being completed. The authors of the Gospels, or at least the persons responsible for the final form of the Gospels, were almost certainly not eyewitnesses; and the Gospels themselves are the end products of traditions that were transmitted and preserved in various forms, both oral and written.”
This book is listed as a primary source at Wikipedia for information regarding the writing of the four Gospels.
Reddish continues with the statement:
“Jesus of Nazareth was not an author, but a teacher and preacher. His method of communication was exclusively oral. Furthermore, there is no indication that Jesus expected or desired that his message would be preserved in writing and passed along for generations.”
Here is the problem with the above statement that is often repeated many times, in many other books; there is absolutely no evidence to prove that any of these statements by Mitchell Reddish are true. In fact, there is evidence in the New Testament text that impeaches all of Reddish’s assumptions. Jesus repeatedly tells His disciples to write all they had seen.
Twelve times Jesus tells John to write everything that he has seen:
- “Write in a book everything you see…” Rev. 1:11
- “Write down what you have seen…” Rev. 1:19
- “Write letters…” Rev. 2:1, 2:8, 2:12, 2:18, 3:1, 3:7, 3:14
- “Write this down…” Rev. 14:13
- “Write this…” Rev. 19:19
- “Write in a book everything you see…” Rev 21:11
Mitchell Reddish said: “there is no indication that Jesus expected or desired that his message would be preserved in writing and passed along for generations.”
This man is considered a New Testament scholar who is teaching young people at university these unprovable posits with no evidentiary proof. This is the reason that so many young people, who start out with great faith in Jesus, end up with a dead faith by the end of their first year at seminary.
Mitchell Reddish intends that his book would be used as a textbook for seminary students. He states in the author’s comments for this book, the following:
“An Introduction to the Gospels is designed to be a textbook for courses on the Gospels, for use at the college and beginning seminary level.”
If you purchased this book or were given it as part of your seminary or university class, this is the information you would first see regarding the New Testament.
- The assertion by Reddish that the Gospels were not written until much later, is based upon his assumption that Jesus never told the disciples to write a record for Him. In fact, Jesus told the Apostles immediately after He was risen from the dead, to take what they had seen “to all the nations,” in Luke 24:47. In Acts 1:8, just prior to Jesus’ ascension back to heaven, He said “But 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.” It would not be possible to accomplish this without a written record that was distributed to all the known parts of the world. Paul was able to reach the people of the known world, only by publishing written letters that were distributed throughout Asia Minor early in the first century by known postal routes.
- The assertion by Reddish that the writers were not eyewitnesses, cannot be proven by anyone. This conclusion is based solely on opinions, conjecture, speculation, and general consensus amongst other scholars holding the same view of the New Testament. Again, using the text itself as the authority, the writers themselves clearly state that they saw Jesus with their own eyes. See the first chapter, “Eyewitness Accounts,” for detailed proof that these texts were written by eyewitnesses.
- The claim by Reddish that Paul’s letters were written before the Gospels has no actual physical evidence to prove this assertion. It is based upon his opinion and the opinions of other liberal scholars. In fact, we can prove from the evidence of the New Testament itself that the letters of Paul were not all written before the Gospels. We have textual evidence that the text Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 5:18, he received from Luke’s Gospel, 10:7, which must have existed before Paul wrote his letters.
- The idea of Reddish that because Jesus did not write anything Himself, He did not intend that the men who He called to be His witnesses would also not write a lasting record of all they had seen and heard, is preposterous. This was the very reason that Jesus called these men to follow Him and witness what He was doing. Jesus was fulfilling the Old Testament scriptures of the Messiah and unless these men wrote a permanent record of how and when He did this, it would never be known to later generations.
- The entire purpose of Jesus’ arrival on earth was to herald the arrival of the Messiah that God promised the world. If this was not accomplished by eyewitnesses who heard and saw Jesus do the things that He accomplished; if the text was not immediately written and sent to the world; if Jesus never intended that a record would be written at all, the coming of the Messiah to earth to die for the sins of the world and offer redemption to every person, would be useless. Of course Jesus called eyewitnesses to record what they saw and write their testimony immediately. Of course Jesus wanted a permanent record to be made. If not, then the entire narrative of Jesus makes no sense at all.
In John chapter 17, Jesus is praying to the Father and asking Him to protect the men who have been with Him and have heard and seen all that He has said and done. Jesus said: “Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world.” ~John 17:11. He continues in verse 20 with the words: “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.” ~John 17:20
Jesus is specifically stating that the men who have seen Him and all He has done, will write their testimony about Jesus and many others will believe in Jesus through their message.
Evidence From Paul’s Letters
A vigorous and compelling proof for the earlier writing of the four Gospels is also supported by Paul in his epistles. From a simple observance of what Paul wrote, we can accurately conclude that Luke’s Gospel was already in existence when Paul wrote to Timothy.
In Paul’s letter to Timothy, chapter 5, verse 18, he quotes from Luke’s gospel. It is Jesus who is saying the words that both Luke and Paul record.
Paul: For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” ~1 Timothy 5:18
When we examine Luke’s Gospel, we see that what Paul had written in 1 Timothy 5:18, came from what Luke had already written before in Luke 10:7.
Luke: And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house. ~Luke 10:7
The first part of this verse that is quoted comes from Deuteronomy 25:4. However the second part of the verse is a direct quotation from Jesus Himself, as recorded by Luke: “The laborer is worthy of his wages” (Luke 10:7). This text is not found in the Old Testament. Paul quotes the exact same Greek texts that Luke first used in his Gospel. This proves that Paul knew that Luke’s Gospel was already written before he wrote to Timothy, and he considered Luke’s’ Gospel genuine scripture.
This dates the Gospel of Luke as written before Paul’s letter to Timothy—corroborating a very early writing for the Gospels. Luke’s Gospel was written after Matthew and Mark, as described in the first paragraph of Luke where he defines the source of his Gospel as coming from the eyewitness reports from the early disciples.
This proves that Reddish is wrong. The Gospels were written first, before Paul wrote his letters in the New Testament. Remember that Reddish has never provided any proof of a later writing for the Gospels. Like all modern liberal scholars, these men and women take great liberties in forcing their opinions, without any evidentiary support.
Marcus Joel Borg (1942–2015) was an American New Testament scholar and theologian. As fellow of the Jesus Seminar, Borg was a major figure in seeking to impeach the traditions views of the Bible.
Robert McNair Price (born July 7, 1954) is an American New Testament scholar who argues against the existence of a historical Jesus (the Christ myth theory). Price is a fellow of the suspended Jesus Project. He is a religious skeptic, especially of orthodox Christian beliefs, occasionally describing himself as a Christian atheist.
Robert W. Funk (July 18, 1926 – September 3, 2005) was an American biblical scholar, founder of the Jesus Seminar. His approach to hermeneutics was historical-critical, with a strongly skeptical view of orthodox Christian belief, particularly concerning the historical Jesus. He and his peers described Jesus’ parables as containing shocking messages that contradicted established religious attitudes.
John Dominic Crossan (born February 17, 1934) is an Irish-American New Testament scholar, historian of early Christianity, and former Catholic priest who was a prominent member of The Jesus Seminar. His work portraying the Second Coming as a late corruption of Jesus’ message and saying that Jesus’ divinity is metaphorical. He and Burton Mack are notable advocates for a non-eschatological view of Jesus, a view that contradicts the more common view that Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher.
Burton L. Mack (born 1931) is an American author and scholar of early Christian history and the New Testament. Mack’s approach is skeptical, and he sees traditional Christian documents like the Gospels as myth as opposed to history. He sees the gospels not as reliable accounts of the life of Jesus.
Mack suggests that Jesus was a wandering sage, similar in style to the Greco-Roman Cynics, and that the earliest “Jesus Movements. “He is a noted scholar of the hypothetical Q Document, a hypothetical ancient document that does not exist, used to try and refute the authenticity of the synoptic Gospels.
Barbara Elizabeth Thiering (15 November 1930 – 16 November 2015) Challenging Christian orthodoxy, espousing the view that new findings present alternative answers to its supernatural beliefs. Her analysis has been rejected by both New Testament scholars and scholars in Judaism.
 Bruce Metzer, “Text of the New Testament”, “In contrast with these figures, the textual critic of the New Testament is embarrassed by the wealth of his material.” Chapter 62, Page 34.ISBN-13: 978-0195161229
 F F. Bruce: “The New Testament Documents, are they reliable?” Chapter 15 Page 178. ISBN-13: 978-0802822192
 The Bible and Archeology New York: Harper & Row, Sir Frederic George Kenyon GBE KCB TD FBA FSA (15 January 1863 – 23 August 1952) was a British paleographer and biblical and classical scholar. In regards to any of the so-called disputed texts of the New Testament.
The above descriptions for each liberal scholar came from the Wikipedia entries for these persons. Some text is quoted verbatim, others have edits for the purpose of limited space.