How historically accurate are the Gospels? - Part 1

An expert on the historical Jesus reflects
Craig Evans
Bible reference(s): 
Luke 1.1-4
Sun 31 Jul 2022
Jesus' life
Bible as history
historical Jesus
eyewitness testimony

Did the stories written about Jesus really happen or are they just made up? We confront this big question with one of the world's leading experts in the field. A riveting conversation even for those who find history boring.

Our guest: Professor Craig Evans. Craig is the John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins at Houston Theological Seminary in the United States. He is a New Testament scholar, a prolific author, and popular speaker. He is well-known for his contribution to work on the Gospels, the Historical Jesus, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and archaeology of the New Testament. This is part 1 of a two part conversation.

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Bigger Questions asked in the conversation

Love for history

You seem to love history: the historical Jesus, the dead sea scrolls, archaeology - what made you love history?

Why specifically your interest in the historical Jesus?

Ancient Fiction

Today we’re talking about the historical Jesus and the historical accuracy of the key source of information about Jesus - the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. There has been a lot of debate over the nature of the Gospels. A number of thinkers claim them to be ‘ancient fiction’ - stories which can’t be trusted for historical accuracy and certainly not something to base your life on. So how do you react to that claim?


Now some skeptics doubt the historical accuracy of the Gospels because they are uncertain about who wrote them. Well known atheist Matt Dillahunty recently said that we can’t trust the Gospels because they’re anonymous, none of the Gospels are signed and they’re not likely written by the people attached to them. So is this problematic?


Do historical accounts need to be written by eyewitnesses?

So how do we know that they’re writing history and telling the truth?

Language and manuscripts

Now it is true that we don’t have the original manuscripts of the Gospels, but you have done some work in researching the longevity of ancient manuscripts. So how long did manuscripts last?


How would you respond to this statement: Never believe an extra-ordinary claim (such as a dead person sighting) when the eyewitness status of the person making the claim is in dispute.


How can any reasonable person believe that the Gospels are historically reliable sources after reading Matthew's Dead Saints Shaken Out of Their Graves by an Earthquake tall tale?

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