Every generation needs to examine for itself the reliability of the Gospels. Is the depiction of Jesus accurate? Can they be trusted? Are they reliable enough for us to anchor our faith in Jesus? There are now “three bears” in this battle, three books that argue for the reliability of the Gospels, three books that bring us good news at Christmas time. I begin with Mark Roberts.
Formerly a Presbyterian pastor in California and now heading up a ministry in Texas, Mark Roberts’ book, Can We Trust the Gospels?, will become the FF Bruce book of this generation. This book is personal, it is readable, it is wide-ranging, and it is incisive. And what I like about this book is that Mark proceeds by asking the kinds of questions students ask: Did the Evangelists know Jesus personally? Are there contradictions? If they are theology, can they be history? Miracles? Archaeology? Well, this is the book I will give my students if they ask … and they will.
Two Twin City scholars, Paul Eddy at Bethel and Greg Boyd at Woodland Hills Church, offer to us the most complete book now available on the historical reliability of the Gospels: The Jesus Legend. I was taken off guard by the buzz about this book at the recent academic conference. This book does something no other book does: it focuses on those who are most skeptical of the Jesus of the Gospels and the Church (like Robert Price). It is into method, ancient witnesses, the oral tradition, and assessing the evidence. If you need a complete study, this is it.
But I can’t go on without mentioning the book of my generation. A former fellow classmate of mine and now a distinguished scholar, Craig Blomberg wrote the definitive book that led the evangelical defense of the Gospels for twenty years. The book is now updated and it remains a fine study that focuses on the historical reliability of the Gospels in the face of critical methods. I’ll admit I’ll still turn to Craig’s book first because I’m so familiar with its earlier form. It is called The Historical Reliability of the Gospels.