Scholars Agree: Luke and Acts are History 

In this short post, Lenny Esposito quotes respected scholar Craig Keener on the issue of the historicity of Luke’s writing.

(2 min read; 417 words)

Source: Scholars Agree: Luke and Acts are History | Come Reason’s Apologetics Notes

Conclusions About Historical Accuracy of the Bible by Glenn Smith

This post is mainly about the historical reliability of Luke-Acts.

Excerpts:

– The best evidence shows that Luke and Acts were composed by 60 A.D.

– Luke and Acts are so well attested historically and archaeologically that they have more support than any other book in ancient history.

– There is no reasonable way that Luke/Acts could have been written by anyone other than someone living in the region in the first century.

(4 min read; 1,021 words)

Conclusions About Historical Accuracy of the Bible | Thomistic Bent
(
HT: Greg West at The Poached Egg from Ratio Christi)

The Bible Is Not One Book | J.W. Wartick

When one part of the Bible confirms another part, it is not one book confirming itself – which would be circular reasoning.  Rather, it is one book confirming a different book.  This is because the Bible is a collection of books.

(3 min read; 798 words)

The Bible Is Not One Book | J.W. Wartick -“Always Have a Reason”.

(HT: Greg West of The Poached Egg at Ratio Christi)

3 Ways Not to Use Greek in Bible Study | Justin Dillehay

Excerpt:

  1. Usage Trumps Etymology: Avoiding the Root Fallacy
  2. Scholars Are Necessary: Avoiding the Cult of the Amateur
  3. Context Is King: Avoiding the Overload Fallacy

(7 min read; 1,795 words)

3 Ways Not to Use Greek in Bible Study | TGC | The Gospel Coalition.

New Website to Foster Biblical Literacy: “Bible Fluency”

A new website has been launched combat declining biblical literacy.  It is an effort led by Professor Kenneth Berding of Biola University.  From the “About” section of the website:

Bible Fluency is a free learning program for those who desire to know the Bible but don’t know how to find their way around it!

Our vision is to come alongside churches, Bible societies, schools, and other groups to address head-on a growing epidemic—biblical illiteracy.  We who have worked on this project believe that no one should accept the status quo where people know so little about the Bible they claim to believe.  The fluency program employs high-quality music, visuals, flashcards, workbooks, small group activities, and much more to equip people to recognize and locate the Bible’s 400 most important events, characters, and themes.  Someone who has gone through the program will instantly be able to recall that the story of Abraham is in Genesis, the “suffering servant” is described by Isaiah, the parable of the Good Samaritan is recorded in Luke—not Matthew, Mark, or John—and “faith apart from works is dead” is in the letter of James.

Welcome! / Home / Bible Fluency.

New website explores the history of the Bible and takes questions from site visitors

Opening paragraphs:

Whether you know next to nothing about the Bible and want to become more knowledgeable or you consider yourself an expert, it might be worth checking out a new website entitled “Bible Odyssey: People Places and Passages.”

Bibleodyssey.org explores the origins of the Bible and includes contributions from what’s described as the world’s leading scholars who share the latest historical and literary research.

New website explores the history of the Bible and takes questions from site visitors | cleveland.com.  [Editorial note, November 22, 2016:  Cleveland.com is no longer maintaining this page so I had to delete the link. Sorry.  The link above to Bibleodyssey.org above, however, still works.]

Are The New Testament Documents Historically Credible? – William Lane Craig

The questioner in this video demonstrates a common but seldom-admitted skepticism about the New Testament documents – a skepticism that is abandoned when it comes to practically all other ancient literature.

The questioner leads me to imagine a court case where a man is convicted of murder based on ample evidence, to which his defense attorney replies, “Yes, but do you have any other evidence?” – thus implying that all the existing evidence is tainted but without offering any reasonable argument as to why we should consider it tainted.

Such people think that we believe the story of Jesus because we believe the New Testament to be the word of God.  No.  We believe the story of Jesus because we treat the New Testament documents the same way we treat all other documents from antiquity.  Only after we are convinced of the reality of Jesus – what he said and did – do we need to come to a conviction about the New Testament being the word of God.

At about the 4:50 mark, Craig notes that the earliest biographies we have of Alexander the Great come from Plutarch and Arrian about 400 years after the fact.  This compares with the four Gospels which give us Jesus’ life within a generation or two at the most.  The questioner is employing a double standard, regarding the New Testament documents with a far greater skepticism than is applied toward other documents from that time period.

Are The New Testament Documents Historically Credible? – YouTube.

A Deeper Look at the Reliability of the Bible by Craig Keener

In this post, Craig Keener looks at three different historical periods covered by the Bible – the times of Abraham, Israel’s Kings, and Jesus – and explains how our historical knowledge of each period differs.  In providing this nuance, Keener helps us to see how unwarranted skepticism about the historical reliability of the Bible really is.

(16 min read; 3,897 words)

A Deeper Look at If the Bible Is Reliable.

(HT:  The Poached Egg from Ratio Christi)

Mike Licona’s Research on Plutarch’s Lives Relative to the Gospels

On July 12, 2014, Nick Peters interviewed Mike Licona about research on Plutarch’s Lives (links below).

Some data points mentioned by Licona beginning about the 30:00 mark:

– Licona wanted to research ancient biographies written 150-200 years either side of Christ for comparison purposes.

– He made a list of these, identifying about 80-90 of them.

– Of these, Plutarch wrote about 60 of them, 50 of which are extant.

– Of these 50, Licona has identified 9 that involve contemporaries which would give rise to multiple accounts of the same events.

– In these, Licona has identified 42 stories that appear 2 or more times in these 9 biographies.

– Of these 42 stories, he has studied 32 of them so far.  He’s found lots of differences in the stories and has been able to see 5 distinct types of differences, leading him to conclude that there are “compositional devices” that account for the differences.

– In the Gospels, Licona has identified 50 pages of differences between them which he now sees as perhaps being explained to a signficant degree by these very compositional devices.

– Here are the 5 literary devices used by Plutarch, as identified by Licona.  First, he gives an example of how Plutarch uses each device and then he gives at least one example of how he sees the device being used in the Gospels.

— Compression (about 56:00)
— Displacement (about 1:07:00)
— Spotlighting (1:15:30)  –  most frequent of the five
— Transferral (1:26:50)
— Simplification (1:32:30)

– Licona has spent the last six years working on this project.  He plans to spend the rest of this year completing his analysis of the remaining 10 stories (33 to 42).  Then the next year writing a book on the subject, which he expects to be published in November 2016.

– Licona refers to ancient Greco-Roman biographies as writings intended to illuminate the character of the subject.  (I think he was quoting Plutarch on this point.).  History is for reporting events, but biography is selective regarding events in order to convey the character of the subject.

Here are some miscellaneous notes I made on the recording:

– Michael Licona is 53 years old and is Nick Peter’s father-in-law.  Mike has been a Christian since age 10.

– Licona covers the difference between Acts 9, 22, and 26 accounts of Paul’s conversion in his big book on the resurrection of Christ.

– In the 1st Century, a single scroll had a maximum limit of 25,000 words.  Luke’s is the longest Gospel and comes in just below that at about 24,000 words.  Is this why the Luke 24 account of Christ’s post-resurrection appearances is compressed when compared to what Luke wrote about them in Acts 1?

– Licona has spent the last three years reading the Gospels (especially the synoptics) almost exclusively in Greek.

– Licona has ADD and an average IQ.  He has worked extra hard to achieve his academic status.

(Deeper Waters Podcast Schedule:  Mike Licona Interview:  Plutarch research and its impact on the Gospels)