Several weeks ago I mailed out a survey to some of America’s top conservative Christian NT scholars, theologians, and apologists regarding the authorship of the Gospels. I asked them the following questions:
Dear Conservative New Testament scholar or apologist: I am conducting a survey on topics related to the authorship of the Gospels. Would you kindly participate?
1. Do you agree with this statement by conservative NT scholar Richard Bauckham that a significant majority of NT scholars rejects the eyewitness/associate eyewitness authorship of the Gospels:
“The argument of this book [“Jesus and the Eyewitnesses”]–that the texts of our Gospels are close to the eyewitness reports of the words and deeds of Jesus–runs counter to almost all recent scholarship. As we have indicated from time to time, the prevalent view is that a long period of oral transmission in the churches intervened between whatever the eyewitnesses said and the Jesus traditions as they reached the Evangelists [the authors of the Gospels]. No doubt the eyewitnesses started the process of oral tradition, but it passed through many retellings, reformulations, and expansions before the Evangelists themselves did their own editorial work on it.” p. 240
Your answer: Yes or No
2. If you agree with Bauckham’s statement that “almost all recent scholarship” believes that the texts of our Gospels are NOT close to the eyewitness reports of the words and deeds of Jesus, do you believe that this scholarly consensus is due to an objective evaluation of the evidence, or due to a bias against the supernatural, as some conservative Christian apologists allege (see here)?
Your answer: Evidence or Bias
Gary: Many did not respond, but a few did by email. You can read their responses here. Only one, evangelical NT scholar Craig Evans, responded by US mail. Here are his responses to the above questions:
Answer to Question 1: Yes
Answer to Question 2: Evidence (but often the evidence is not well understood)
Gary: This is evidence that at least two prominent evangelical New Testament scholars (Richard Bauckham and Craig Evans) agree that a significant majority of scholars rejects the eyewitness/associate of eyewitness authorship of the Gospels. Evangelical and fundamentalist Protestant apologists need to stop denying the existence of a significant majority scholarly consensus on the non-eyewitness authorship of the Gospels!
End of post.