I was browsing around one of my favorite websites, Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed, when, lo and behold, I found a post on “Three Bears of Reliability” of the Gospels. I was delighted to find that my book Can We Trust the Gospels? is one of the three bears. Scot, as you may know, is a recognized biblical scholar, prolific author, and top-notch blogger. He is also the Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies at North Park University.
I hadn’t seen this post before, probably becuase Scot put it up on Christmas Eve 2007, when I was otherwise occupied. I thought I would reproduce (AKA plagiarize) Scot’s post, adding a few comments of my own along the way. So here you go:
Three Bears of Reliability, by Scot McKnight
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.
[MDR: Thanks, Scot. This is high praise, indeed. If my book does 10% of the good that Bruce’s book has done, I’ll be pleased and grateful.]
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.
[MDR: I’ve purchased and scanned this book. It looks quite good. It’s especially helpful in response to those who go for the “Jesus was a legend” line.]
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.
[MDR: In Can We Trust the Gospels? and in my blogging I’ve praised this excellent book by Blomberg. I’m glad to know it has been updated and re-released. Thanks, Scot, for bringing this to our attention. I have, in fact, just ordered a copy of the second edition.
Thanks again, Scot, not only for mentioning my book, but for bringing these other resources to our attention. And have a Merry Christmas!]