Can I trust the Bible? - Part 2
Once again, it's all about Jesus
As the word suggests “Christianity” is all about a person, Jesus Christ. Christianity could be defined simply as “responding appropriately to Jesus Christ”. But can we know that the accounts of Jesus recorded in the Bible are accurate/historical/reliable? Here's some evidence to help you make up your mind.
Non-Christian evidence about Jesus
Jesus obviously appears in the Bible. But does he appear in any other works of history? Yes!
Some interesting pieces of information about Jesus can be discovered in the writings of non-Christian authors in the period shortly after Jesus:
- Josephus, the Jewish historian (80 AD), mentions Jesus and the execution of Jesus' brother James.
- Tacitus, the Roman historian (110AD), mentions the time and place of Jesus’ execution.
- Pliny, the Roman politician (110 AD), mentions the practices of some of Jesus’ followers.
Historical evidence in the New Testament is confirmed at a number of points by these non-Christian writers. Many events, people and places in the Bible have also been corroborated by archeological discoveries.
Christian evidence about Jesus
We have 4 separate accounts of Jesus’ life in the Bible, written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
- Matthew: written by one of Jesus’ disciples (also known as Levi). He was a tax collector before he became a disciple.
- Mark: written by a travelling companion of the apostle Peter. It’s safe to assume that the majority of information in his biography came from Peter.
- Luke: a travelling companion of the apostle Paul. At the beginning of his biography he explains that he had carefully investigated everything he wrote.
- John: written by Jesus’ best friend and disciple. He was the only one of the twelve disciple not to be executed.
Can you trust the Christian evidence?
The gospel writers were “Christians”, but that does not necessarily make their accounts of Jesus biased. Being pro-Jesus doesn’t mean they would have told us lies (especially when Jesus told his followers to speak the truth). Plus the original followers almost all lost their lives for their beliefs in Jesus - they almost certainly wouldn't die for something they knew was a lie.
The gospel accounts were in circulation at the time when many of the eye-witnesses to the events recorded were still alive. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 Paul writes about the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and how he appeared to over 500 people who were still alive and kicking. If the accounts were false, surely someone would have spoke up and corrected them.
The gap between the events and the recording of them is very small, compared to other important figures in the first century. Again, there were more eye-witnesses still alive at the time of recording, raising the likelihood of the accounts being truthful.
So read the Bible yourself and see if it all adds up – Mark’s Gospel is a good place to start.