How often have you heard the following from conservative Christians: “Skeptics of the Bible are so hypocritical. Skeptics do not question the honesty of Herodotus, Tacitus, Pliny the Elder, or Plutarch regarding their writings, so why do they question the honesty of the authors of the Gospels? Shouldn’t the authors of the Gospels be given the same benefit of the doubt as any other author from Antiquity?”
Regarding the internal evidence test, John Warwick Montgomery reports that literary critics still follow Aristotle’s dictum that “the benefit of the doubt is to be given to the document itself, not arrogated by the critic to himself.” Therefore, “one must listen to the claims of the document under analysis, and not assume fraud or error unless the author disqualified himself by contradictions or known factual inaccuracies.” (John Warwick Montgomery, EA, 29)
–evangelical Christian authors, Josh and Sean McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, p. 68
Do skeptics hold the authors of the Gospels to a different standard? I don’t think so, and here is why: If Herodotus, Tacitus, Pliny the Elder, or Plutarch had claimed in their writings that they knew a man who had been fathered by a god, born of a virgin, walked on water, turned water into wine, healed lepers, raised people from the dead, had been resurrected from the dead himself, and finally, had levitated into outer space, I would bet that most skeptics would question the veracity of these claims just as strenuously as we do the very same claims made by the authors of the Gospels!