Questioning the Credibility of the New Testament.

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Center for Tanakh Based Studies

By: William Jackson

 

When I was a Christian, I made certain assumptions about the New Testament.  Firstly, that it’s books were written by the Apostles as the events happened.  Secondly, that the 27 books were accepted by the Christian Community after they were penned. Understandably, if anyone in church gave the actual history, other questions would have arised and the book’s credibility would have been challenged.  Of course, this would have led to compromising the integrity of Christian theology.  So, to quote Christianity, “For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man” (2 Corinthians 8:21), thus said, let’s put all the cards on the table and allow the truth to speak.

For starters, the four gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not written by their namesake 1. Point and case is, Justin Martyr, a second century Christian apologist, who quoted verses from each of the gospels.  He, however, never referred to any the gospels by their given names. Instead, he referred to them as the ‘Memoires of the Apostles’ 2 . The reason for this is that the original gospels were not named.  So why were they give the names Matthew, Mark, Luke and John?  Well, around the second century, the church felt the need to give them Apostle authority.  What better way of endorsing a gospel then giving it an Apostle’s name. Obviously, Luke was not an Apostle, but Luke being Paul’s traveling companion gave instant credibility to the book of Luke by using his name.

Additionally, the probability that the gospels were written by either the Apostles or another firsthand observer of the event is highly unlikely.  For starters, they were not written in Aramaic, the language of the Apostles. They were written in Greek.  Some might say the lost originals were written in Aramaic.  There are a couple of problems with this; firstly, any word play in the gospels is uniquely Greek, secondly the authors made mistakes in the Jewish culture of that day 3 .  Adding to all this, is that the accounts are written in the third person versus  being first hand accounts. Clearly, if they were written by their namesake, they would have been written in the first person.

Compounding the situation was that there were more than 27 Christian books.  Actually, sources say there were from 79 4 to over 200 1 Christian writings and over 50 gospels (see listing below).  So why are these books not part of the New Testament?  It is simple, many of these books contradicted one another.  Likewise, with early Christianity, there was much end fighting between different theologies.  This caused the church to accept only certain books which supported their theology  This was known as canonization.  However, this would not take place until 393 CE or over three centuries after Christianity was born. Giving Christianity 300 years to form before committing to a written doctrine challenges it’s purity from its original foundation.  Likewise, this gives cause for concern about the authenticity of the New Testament books.

Conclusion:

To validate the New Testament, we use the Tanakh (Old Testament).  I am pretty sure that’s why Christianity glues it to the first half of their bible.  In His written word, God does give authorizations for added books beyond His Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy).  This is found in Deuteronomy 18:15 – 22.  Here, God says that he will provide Prophets , and He did.  This is where we have the books of the Prophets, which combined with the Torah, helps to make up the Tanakh (or Christian Old Testament). If you study these 8 verses you will find one needs to be a proven Prophet and an Israelite for the authority to write God’s written Word.   God also warns in these passages about wrongful teachings.  So, at the end of the day, if somebody insists that the the New Testament books were written by Apostles and friends of Apostles.  You need to remind them that these were not Prophets, making their credibility void.

 

References:

  1. Crabtree, Vexen. “Who Wrote the Four Gospels of the New Testament? An Introduction to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.” Www.humanreligions.info. N.p., 2015. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.
  2. Ehrman, Bart D., Forged: Writing in the Name of God–why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are Paperback, 6 Mar 2012
  3. Stait, L. Paul, Ph.D. “Is It True That Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John Were Named Centuries after Publication, and Were Not Actually Penned by Those Named?” Quora. N.p., 16 Feb. 2016. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.
  4. Carpenter, Chris – Director of Internet Programming, “The Missing Gospels: Unearthing the Truth Behind Alternative Christianities.” CBN.com (beta). N.p., 11 Nov. 2016. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

List of all Gospels:(Waite, Charles B. History of the Christian religion, to the year two hundred. Chicago: C.V. Waite & Co., 1884. Print. )

The Canonized Gospels:

  1. Gospel of Mark
  2. Gospel of Matthew
  3. Gospel of Luke
  4. Gospel of John

Gnostic gospels:

  1. Gospel of Thomas
  2. Gospel of Marcion
  3. Gospel of Basilides
  4. Gospel of Truth (Valentinian)
  5. Gospel of the Four Heavenly Realms
  6. Gospel of Mary
  7. Gospel of Judas
  8. Greek Gospel of the Egyptians
  9. Gospel of Philip
  10. A Syriac language
  11. Gospel of Perfection
  12. The Gospel of the Lots of Mary

Jewish-Christian gospels

  1. Gospel of the Hebrews
  2. Gospel of the Nazarenes
  3. Gospel of the Ebionites
  4. Gospel of the Twelve

Infancy gospels

  1. Armenian Infancy Gospel

  2. Protoevangelium of James
  3. Libellus de Nativitate Sanctae Mariae (Gospel of the Nativity of Mary)
  4. Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew
  5. History of Joseph the Carpenter
  6. Infancy Gospel of Thomas
  7. Latin Infancy Gospel
  8. Syriac Infancy Gospel

Other gospels

  1. Gospel of the Lots of Mary

  2. Gospel of Peter

Fragmentary preserved gospels

  1. Gospel of Eve

  2. Gospel of Mani
  3. Gospel of the Saviour
  4. Coptic Gospel of the Twelve

Reconstructed gospels

  1. Secret Gospel of Mark
  2. Gospel of Matthias

Lost gospels

  1. Gospel of Cerinthus
  2. Gospel of Apelles
  3. Gospel of Valentinus[5]
  4. Gospel of the Encratites[6]
  5. Gospel of Andrew
  6. Gospel of Barnabas
  7. Gospel of Bartholomew – mentioned by only two 5th-century sources which list it as apocryphal.[8]
  8. Gospel of Hesychius
  9. Gospel of Lucius
  10. Gospel of Merinthus
  11. Gospel of the Adversary of the Law and the Prophets [12]
  12. Memoirs of the Apostles

Fragments of possibly unknown or lost (or existing) gospels

  1. Papyrus Egerton 2
  2. Fayyum Fragment
  3. Oxyrhynchus Papyri
  4. Gospel of Jesus’ Wife
  5. Papyrus Berolinensis
  6. Papyrus Cairensis
  7. Papyrus Merton 51
  8. Strasbourg Fragment
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