William Lane Craig and R. T. France on the Historical and Textual Reliability of the Gospels

At 5:59, William Lane Craig says (this quote can also be found at the book referenced at the bottom of this post, below the video):

 “R. T. France, who is a New Testament scholar, writes:

‘At the level of their literary and historical character, we have good reason to trust the Gospels seriously as a source of information on the life and teaching of Jesus.  Ancient historians have sometimes commented that the degree of skepticism with which New Testament scholars approach their sources is far greater than would be thought justified in any other branch of ancient history.  Indeed, many ancient historians would count themselves fortunate to have four such responsible accounts written within a generation or two of the events and preserved in such a wealth of early manuscript evidence.’

“And then listen to what [R. T. France] concludes:”

‘The decision as to how far a scholar is willing to accept the record they offer is likely to be influenced more by his openness to a supernaturalistic worldview than by strictly historical considerations.’

 “In other words, skeptcism about the Gospels, let’s face it, is not rooted in their historical and literary quality, which is very good.  It’s rooted in an anti-supernatual bias.”

Does the Resurrection Require Extraordinary Evidence? – YouTube.

This quote can also be found in Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact or Figment?: A Debate Between William Lane Craig and Gerd Ludemann, Edited by Paul Copan and Ronald K. Tacelli, InterVarsity Press, 2000, Kindle location 2119.

Here is the quote from the book, which which is longer than what Craig gave in the video thought not materially different in the point it makes.  I include it here simply for the sake of being thorough, since the point is an important one.  Also, it is this fuller quote that I used in the post that links to this one (i. e., Double Standards in Reception of Ancient Documents and Their Authors).

At the level of their literary and historical character we have good reason to treat the gospels seriously as a source of information on the life and teaching of Jesus, and thus on the historical origins of Christianity. Ancient historians have sometimes commented that the degree of scepticism with which New Testament scholars approach their sources is far greater than would be thought justified in any other branch of ancient history. Indeed, many ancient historians would count themselves fortunate to have four such responsible accounts, written within a generation or two of the events and preserved in such a wealth of manuscript evidence as to be from the point of view of textual criticism virtually uncontested in all but detail. Beyond that point, the decision as to how far a scholar is willing to accept the record they offer is likely to be influenced more by his openness to a “supernaturalist” world-view than by strictly historical considerations.

The book gives as the source of this quote:  R. T. France, “The Gospels as Historical Sources for Jesus, the Founder of Christianity, Truth (1985): 86.

 

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