The Gospels Must Be Historically Accurate Because There Were Only 5,000 Christians in the Mid First Century

Everything You Need to Know about Pentecost – St. Lucy Catholic Church

Conservative Christian theologian:

[T]he majority of scholars acknowledge that Mark, Matthew, and Luke were all written somewhere around 40 years after the ministry of Jesus, and John around 60 years after the ministry of Jesus.

Given the fact that, as scholars like Rodney Stark estimate, the Christian movement probably totaled only around 10,000 by the end of the first century, and probably only around 5,000 by mid century, we’re not dealing with massive numbers here. So if the Synoptics were written around AD 70, and the entire Christian population was only slightly above 5,000 at that point, that pretty much narrows the possibility for where the source material came from. And therefore, it is by no means a stretch to think that much of the stories about Jesus came from eyewitnesses and the original disciples.

And given that, along with [Craig] Evans’ argument, it is easy to conclude that they [the Gospels] are historically reliable.

Gary:

“Given the fact that, as scholars like Rodney Stark estimate, the Christian movement probably totaled only around 10,000 by the end of the first century, and probably only around 5,000 by mid century, we’re not dealing with massive numbers here.”

The author of Acts (whom most scholars believe was also the author of the Gospel of Luke) says that within FORTY DAYS of Jesus’ death, the number of Christians was at least 3,120. If this is true, then the conversion rate to Christianity dramatically declined after Pentecost, if twenty years later, at mid century, the total number of Christians was only 5,000.

“So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” –the Book of Acts, chapter 2

So either your scholar is wrong, or “Luke” was inflating his numbers. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that “Luke” was a reliable historian!

Celebrating Woodstock » Three Hundred Thousand Strong
This is what a crowd of three thousand people looks like. Are we really to believe that this many people converted to Christianity in ONE day…and no first century Jewish author mentioned this fact?? I think “Luke” was a big fat liar.

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End of post.

9 thoughts on “The Gospels Must Be Historically Accurate Because There Were Only 5,000 Christians in the Mid First Century

  1. 😮 Wow, the erroneous dates and numbers this theologian writes abound! It’s littered with misinformation and BROAD useless generalities. That first paragraph is the worst.

    • There is no such “majority” of scholars stating the Synoptics were written around 40 years after Jesus’ death/ministry. That is simply wrong.

    • There is however a near majority that conclude Mark was written c. 70 CE, Luke between 80 – 110 CE, and Matthew about 85 CE. This would make the average date of the Synoptics around 53-years after Jesus’ death/ministry, give or take 4-years depending on whether you prefer Christian scholars, or a mix of Jewish or Secular scholars.

    • The Gospel of John was authored between 90-110 CE, hence about 69-70 years after Jesus’ death/ministry, again depending on which scholars one prefers to believe. So let’s remember that just 1-2 years after events is more than enough time for errors and misperceptions or misinterpretations to enter a human’s memory and change/twist the facts.

    • Finally, determining how many Christians were in Judea between 30 CE and 60 CE is like determining how many Innocent boys in Bethlehem were slaughtered by King Herod in Matthew’s Gospel. Estimates by Christian historians, theologians, and various church denominations are between 33 to 14,000 boys! Even if that number was around 800 just for a tiny village at that time like Bethlehem—ONE village out of around 25 villages—that means minus Jerusalem, about 20,000. A far cry from 5,000 “Christians.” Then there is a bigger problem for this theologian…

    • How does one today distinguish between Judeo-Christians and pure(?) Christians by a number? In the mid- 1st-century in Judea 98% of today’s definition of a Christian… were Judeo-Christians. See the gross generalities and oversimplifications this theologian is stating, let alone the ambiguity in every other word he wrote?

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  2. Ha…I knew Gary was mining for stuff on his blog.
    Nit-picking, Professor Taboo. Scholars generally date the Synoptics anywhere between 70-80ish AD, with John around 90 AD–Hence the “Synoptics were AROUND 40 years later” and “John was about 60 years later.”

    Concerning Bethlehem–In the first century, it was a village of about 300 people. So, do some logical calculation, and you can assume that at any point there MIGHT have been a couple of babies in the village. Pretty hard to calculate 800 baby boys within a village of 300!

    You’re going against what most scholars say about the size of the early Church in the first century. Try to show me a scholar that claims the early Church in the mid-1st century numbered in the tens or hundreds of thousands. You won’t be able to.

    Never mind that Gary doesn’t even provide the fuller argument. lol

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    1. And given that, along with [Craig] Evans’ argument, it is easy to conclude that they [the Gospels] are historically reliable.

      When you say ”historically reliable” could you narrow this down to specifics?

      Examples: Do you consider the raising of Lazarus and Jesus walking on water to be historically reliable. If so, what is the evidence to support this?

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        1. This is why I find the term historically reliable so baffling when used by Christians.
          What do they mean by this term?
          Why do they always seem to equivocate when asked such a straightforward question?
          Out of interest, so I can get a ‘handle’ on this, when you were Christian what did you understand/mean by the term Historically Reliable, and how would you have answered me, for example?

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          1. I would have said, “Of course Jesus walked on the Sea of Galilee! It is an historical fact. The authors of Matthew and John saw it with their own eyes. The author of Mark received this story verbatim from Peter, who also walked on water that day. We have three eyewitness statements that Jesus walked on water! What more do you want you skeptical, Hell-bound sinner???”

            Joel may not believe that the authors of the Gospels were eyewitnesses so his answer may be a little different.

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              1. I would have quoted Papias (Eusebius’ quotes of Papias) and Irenaeus. I also would have probably asserted that since there is no evidence of anyone contesting the traditional authorship of the Gospels that that is sufficient evidence to accept the traditional authorship, and if you refuse to do so, it is because you have a bias.

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