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

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)

How Ancient Eyewitness Testimony Became the New Testament Gospel Record by J. Warner Wallace

(4 min read; 1,093 words)

How Ancient Eyewitness Testimony Became the New Testament Gospel Record | Cold Case Christianity.

(HT:  The Poached Egg from Ratio Christi)

Ancient and Modern Historiography: What Are The Gospels? | THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM

I think the writer here is Eric Chabot.  In any case, he is focused on the genre of the gospels.  In the conclusion, he writes:

It is my hope that more people will take the time to look at the genre of the books of the Bible and actually attempt to know what it is they are trying to interpret. While this may be a challenge for some people, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience.

The post is replete with facts and sources relevant to understaning the genre (literary framework) through which the gospel writers deliver their message.

Although there are many portions of this post that are worthy of excerpting, here is one that is particularly pithy [emphasis added]:

Michael Bird has recently noted that the content of the Gospels is singularly determined by Jewish Christian content, while the literary form of the Gospels is a clear sub-type of Graeco-Roman biography.

(8 min read; 2,020 words)

Ancient and Modern Historiography: What Are The Gospels? | THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM.