The fourth chapter of the book is entitled, “Defending the Deity of Jesus in the Face of Islam”, written by Adam Francisco. Dr. Francisco has a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Oxford and is an Associate Professor of History at Concordia University, Irvine. He is a “frequently sought speaker on the subjects of Islam and apologetics”.
(Correction: Dr. Francisco’s degree is a Doctorate of Philosophy. I apologize to Dr. Francisco for this error.)
I am going to list some excerpts from Dr. Francisco and then give brief responses.
“(Muslim apologist Fatoohi) is particularly fond of, and relies largely upon (as do a number of other Muslim apologists), the work of Bart Ehrman, especially his ‘Misquoting Jesus’.” p. 99
“The canonical gospels, on the other hand (as compared with the many non-canonical gospels) were written by eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life (Matthew and John) or companions of the eyewitnesses (Mark and Luke).” …(Fatoohi) believes that the authorship of the four Gospels was made up to guarantee their acceptance over against emerging gnostic and other non-canonical gospel traditions.” p. 107
Gary: Oh boy. Here we go again. Another seminary trained LCMS theologian who believes that Matthew the tax collector, John Mark, Luke the physician, and John the son of Zebedee wrote the four gospels! Seriously, the LCMS must update their apologetics courses in LCMS seminaries. The majority of modern NT scholars do NOT believe that the traditional authors wrote the four Gospels. LCMS theologians and pastors have got to stop selling this nonsense to LCMS laypeople. They should at least be honest and admit that this position is held by a small minority of scholars, mostly fundamentalist evangelicals.
“The events recorded in the Gospel accounts were written with the assumption that the reader could, if he or she desired, verify their facticity.” p.107
Gary: And how do you know this Dr. Francisco? The first Gospel was not written until circa 70 AD (in the opinion of the majority of NT scholars), that is 40 years after Jesus’ death. The majority of NT scholars believe that the first Gospel (Mark) was written in a foreign country, possibly Antioch, possibly Rome. How was someone in Rome going to verify the claims in a book, detailing alleged events occurring four decades earlier, in a land far, far, away??
“Further, the question of the authorship of the Gospels is not an unsettled issue. Both Irenaeus (c. 130-202 AD) and even earlier Papias (c. 70-155 AD) identify the authors of the Gospels as those who were either eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life or their close companions.” p. 108
Gary: Good grief. As I mentioned in my review of chapter two, Papias never states that he ever spoke to an eyewitness of the life of Jesus. Never. He simply retold stories he heard about Jesus and the apostles from “disciples of the disciples of the disciples”. Not exactly eyewitness testimony, folks. Papias says that he had heard from an unnamed source that John Mark had written a gospel containing the preaching of Peter, however, he never identifies this gospel.
The Gospel we today call the Gospel of Mark never mentions its author and no Church Father or any other Christian identifies the current Gospel of Mark as having been written by John Mark until—the late second century. So if the book to which Papias was referring in the early second century, really was considered the work of John Mark, why does no one ever refer to this gospel by its author until the late second century? No one knows.
But the fact is this: no Christian refers to today’s Gospel of Mark as a gospel written by John Mark until the late second century. And who is this Christian? —Irenaeus, the heretic hunter. Therefore, many scholars would agree with Fatoohi that Irenaeus, or other Church officials, most likely selected and named the four Gospels to give orthodox Christianity four “authentic”, officially-sanctioned texts, all with alleged apostolic authority, with which to combat the gnostics and other “heretics”.
Can scholars prove this theory? No, but the evidence makes this a very strong possibility. Bottom line, NO ONE in the first century or in the first half of the second century, ever identifies the authors of the books we today refer to as the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. No one. They quoted passages from them, but no one ever identified their authors as being apostles or having apostolic authority.
In summary of chapter four: Dr. Francisco continues the false assumption first begun by Mr. Pierson in chapter two, picked up by Mr. Parton in chapter three, that the four Gospels were written by the traditional authors; two of Jesus apostles (Matthew and John) and two close associates of apostles (Mark and Luke). The consensus of modern New Testament scholarship is that this is false. Shame on LCMS theologians for disseminating this false information to gullible laypersons, or, shame on them for their lack of knowledge in up-to-date apologetics.