Dr. James Arlandson, my first guest blogger, has just finished an in-depth series on the reliability of the Gospels. James in a fine scholar and an excellent communicator. I’ve been proud to supply a platform for his work. His final post includes a review of all previous fourteen posts, as well as some concluding thoughts. I’ll quote an extended excerpt from his post below. If you haven’t checked out this series, I encourage you to do so. And then save the link for the future.
Thanks, James, for your great work, and for allowing me to share it with my blog readers.
Excerpt from “The Historical Reliability of the Gospels: Summary and Conclusion,” by Dr. James Arlandson
To explore the thesis that the four Gospels are historically reliable and accurate – that is the main goal. I did not discuss their inerrancy or infallibility, for how can we go that far if we do not first find out whether they are historically reliable, as inerrancy and infallibility have been traditionally understood? I leave those two doctrines to professional theologians, who have worked out clever means to argue for them.In case this Summary and Conclusion has not been clear already, let me state it categorically:
The four Gospels are historically reliable and credible and accurate, particularly measured by the standards of their own historical and literary context.
Still another goal: critics of the Bible get onto the mass media airwaves and throw mud on the Gospels, implying that these historical (and sacred) texts were imaginative fictions invented by anonymous disciples who did not witness the ministry of Jesus.
This series, however, contradicts that widespread belief that had been circulating even since the first-fifth of the twentieth century. To counter this belief, I brought onto the web scholarship that supports a traditional view of the Gospels. But rather than depending too much on the details of this high-quality scholarship, I chose those parts that uncover a lot of textual evidence (e.g. Richard Bauckham’s books). This kind of evidence stands the test of time. Or I chose to bring onto the web the conclusions that have in fact stood the test of time (e.g. Birger Gerhardsson’s books).
Finally, a minor theme that was threaded through all of the articles is coherence. The four Gospels cohere together remarkably closely (see Part Fourteen), despite the variations, which, it should be noted, all histories and biographies have about an historical person in the Greek and Roman world. In fact, the coherence of the Gospels is much closer than various versions of the life of Socrates, for example (see Part Four and Q & A Seven). Coherence is a good standard by which to measure truth and accuracy, but this criterion received only minor attention in the series.