Blog May 4th “Can We Believe The Gospels? Part 2”

“Walking with Jesus” featuring The Mustard Seed Soul Band from the album “Heart and Soul” recorded and produced by Ross Gill

So I have been looking at whether or not the Gospels are true or fairy- stories and this week I wish to draw on the book “The Case Against Christ” by John Young to consider the procedure for assessing the reliability of the New Testament. Young says the procedure is the same as for assessing any ancient document and is founded on two vital factors both of which depend on the discovery of copies of the original:

  • The first factor involves the number of copies which have been found
  • The second concerns the age of these copies, the time lag between the original document and the copies which now exist is very important.

The problem is how can we tell that the copies which have survived are accurate copies of the original? We can be confident an accurate record is possessed when we find several copies which are basically similar and the copies were penned fairly near to the time that the original document was written.

The date of the original document of Caesar’s Gallic War was AD 58-50 BC, the oldest surviving copy AD 850 (a gap of 900 years) and there are 10 copies in existence today For the Gospels the date of the original documents would have been AD 65- 90 with the oldest surviving copy dated less than 300 years later and with over 2000 copies in existence today. (In fact one fragment of a manuscript is dated only AD 130.) So the wealth of manuscripts and the narrow interval of time between the writing of the original and the earliest existing copies make the New Testament by far the best attested text of any ancient writing in the world.

Young quotes Professor FF Taylor

There is much more evidence for the New Testament than for any other ancient writings of comparable date.

And Dr. M C Tenney

In spite of the numerous possibilities for error, the New Testament s probably the most trustworthy piece of writing that has survived from antiquity.