Dear Conservative Christians, the Majority of Scholars Agree: the Gospels were NOT written by Eyewitnesses

Image result for image of the gospels

Keith, fundamentalist Christian:

[In response to Gary’s claim that Christian attorney and apologist, Simon Greenleaf, built a hypothetical court case confirming the historicity of the Resurrection based on a false assumption:  that the Gospels were primary source documents, authored by eyewitnesses or the associates of eyewitnesses.  Gary had pointed out that, in a real court case, the Gospels would not be admissible as de facto primary source documents due to the fact that the majority of  “experts” (modern NT scholars ) do not believe that the anonymous authors of the Gospels were eyewitnesses or the associates of eyewitnesses.  The court would consider the Gospels to be:  “hearsay”.]

If you are implying that Simon’s [Simon Greenleaf] expertise on the quality and admissibility of evidence is in question given that his book on Evidence is used even today in major law schools means you have no ability to judge the relevance of his works. I assume you are not a legal scholar of his magnitude and therefore have zero credibility in your rather silly assertion that he would not be able to admit the NT writing [The Gospels, specifically] into court.

By the way I note you commit the sophomoric fallacy of composition of two distinct concepts the scribe whomever and the source of the material being an eyewitness. As a CIO in the Fortune 500 years back I dictated my memoranda to my Exec Asst.which she took in shorthand and then typed. I signed it and no one questioned whether the material was firsthand though in the strict sense I didn’t write it and wherever my report was claimed as eyewitness or direct personal experience based there was no issue.

Further it is fallacious to note [scholar, NT] Wright believes in the raising of Christ which is one of the best accepted historical events and then conclude that that makes him absolutely authoritative on the question of eyewitness accounts as the basis of the texts, regardless of who penned the writings. I commend for your review the article on the instant case in The Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics on Greenleaf of 288-289.  When you have properly grasped the Ancient Document Rule and associated Chain of Custody in the case of the NT writings perhaps your vision will be cleared. In closing your appeal to authority via Wright and ad populum support from UNIDENTIFIED SCHOLARS is less than impressive…perhaps even cherry picking.



Good morning, Keith:

I have not read Simon Greenleaf’s work, but I have read the work of one of his pupils, Craig Parton, an attorney, graduate of Simon Greenleaf School of Law, Christian apologist, and co-author of at least two books on the subject of the truths claims of Christianity, “Making the Case for Christianity” and “The Resurrection Fact”.

In both of these books, Mr. Parton builds his case for the historicity of the Resurrection/the veracity of Christianity upon the assumption that the Gospels are primary source documents; that they were authored by eyewitnesses.

According to the majority of New Testament scholars, this assumption is incorrect. Therefore in a court of law, Mr. Parton (and Mr. Greenleaf) would first need to contend with the fact that the position they are defending contradicts the position of the majority of experts in the field in question. They would not get a modern, western, court of law to agree to a request to admit the Gospels as de facto primary source documents if the opposing attorney can easily present evidence that the majority of experts disagree with this claim. Parton (and I assume, Greenleaf) build an entire case on an assumption!  The majority of scholars at one point of time in the past may have believed that the Gospels are primary source documents, but that is no longer the case.  It would be no different than an attorney arguing in court for the earth as the center of the galaxy and appealing to the majority expert opinion which existed prior to Copernicus.

Parton and Greenleaf are using out-dated expert opinion.

Now, you and Dr. Strauss have brought up the issue of whether or not a document dictated by an eyewitness, but written down by a scribe, is still eyewitness testimony. I WOULD AGREE THAT IT IS! I don’t know where both of you obtained the misunderstanding that I did not.

However, that it NOT what the majority of New Testament scholars believe is the case with the Gospels. The majority of experts in the field of New Testament Studies believes that the authors of the STORIES/CONTENT in the Gospels (regardless of who wrote the stories down) were NOT eyewitnesses nor the close associates of eyewitnesses. They were persons living in distant lands who received their information from stories circulating about Jesus in their communities; stories which had been circulating, in oral form, for several decades.

THAT is the issue, folks. The majority of experts do NOT believe that the authors of the Gospels were eyewitnesses or associates of eyewitnesses. It is irrelevant whether these authors penned their Gospels themselves or dictated their stories to a scribe.

Is it possible that some of the stories in the Gospels are historically accurate facts? Sure! The problem is, since the authors of the Gospels are unknown, we cannot know what is historical fact and what is not for the MAJORITY of the stories told in the Gospels. Did Jesus really turn water into wine at Cana? We don’t know because we have no CONFIRMED eyewitness source for this event.

Some of Paul’s genuine epistles are believed to have been penned (written down) by someone else, such as a scribe. This fact does not disqualify these letters from being attributed to Paul as the author. I accept that position. I accept that at least some of the letters of Paul are genuinely Pauline letters, even if they were written down by a scribe.

Above excerpt from this online discussion here

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