Debate the evidence for the alleged resurrection of Jesus with any evangelical or conservative Protestant Christian and you will usually get this claim: “The historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is as good if not better than any other event in ancient history. This is true because we have multiple eyewitness accounts of this event, found in the four Gospels of the New Testament.”
When presented with the fact that most modern New Testament scholars doubt or even reject the eyewitness/associate of eyewitness authorship of the Gospels, the conservative Christian will usually respond: “Most modern New Testament scholars are liberals, agnostics, or atheists. They are biased against the supernatural. Therefore, conservative Christians can ignore the opinion of the majority of New Testament scholars.”
But there is a big problem with this argument. If the only scholars who doubt the eyewitness authorship of the Gospels were liberals, agnostics, and atheists, then the claim that this position is based on a bias against the supernatural might be credible. The fact is, however, that a large percentage of New Testament scholars who very much believe in the supernatural, miracles, the virgin birth, and the literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus also doubt or reject the eyewitness/associate of eyewitness authorship of the Gospels. Who are these scholars? Roman Catholic New Testament scholars.
So conservative Christians must ask themselves this question: If the evidence for the eyewitness/associate of eyewitness authorship of the Gospels is good, why do so many scholars who do not have a bias against the supernatural doubt or reject it? Let’s see what the Catholic Church says about the next Gospel in the New Testament, the Gospel of Mark:
Statement by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
The Gospel According to Mark:
Although the book is anonymous, apart from the ancient heading “According to Mark” in manuscripts, it has traditionally been assigned to John Mark, in whose mother’s house (at Jerusalem) Christians assembled (Acts 12:12). This Mark was a cousin of Barnabas (Col 4:10) and accompanied Barnabas and Paul on a missionary journey (Acts 12:25; 13:3; 15:36–39). He appears in Pauline letters (2 Tm 4:11; Phlm 24) and with Peter (1 Pt 5:13). Papias (ca. A.D. 135) described Mark as Peter’s “interpreter,” a view found in other patristic writers. Petrine influence should not, however, be exaggerated. The evangelist has put together various oral and possibly written sources—miracle stories, parables, sayings, stories of controversies, and the passion—so as to speak of the crucified Messiah for Mark’s own day.
Traditionally, the gospel is said to have been written shortly before A.D. 70 in Rome, at a time of impending persecution and when destruction loomed over Jerusalem. Its audience seems to have been Gentile, unfamiliar with Jewish customs (hence Mk 7:3–4, 11). The book aimed to equip such Christians to stand faithful in the face of persecution (Mk 13:9–13), while going on with the proclamation of the gospel begun in Galilee (Mk 13:10; 14:9). Modern research often proposes as the author an unknown Hellenistic Jewish Christian, possibly in Syria, and perhaps shortly after the year 70.
End of post.