Interiew with Dr. Timothy McGrew, PhD

The Nathan Report

Dr. Timothy McGrew is Professor of Philosophy at Western Michigan University. He specializes in theory of knowledge, logic, probability theory, and the history and philosophy of science, and he has published in numerous journals including Mind, The Monist, Analysis, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, and Philosophia Christi. His most recent publications include the article on “Evidence” in The Routledge Companion to Epistemology (forthcoming), a co-authored anthology in The Philosophy of Science (Blackwell, 2009), and a paper (with Lydia McGrew) on the the argument from miracles in The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (Blackwell, 2009).

Please read the entire interview below:

Nathan: What is your view on the authorship of Gospels?

Dr. McGrew: I am persuaded that they were written, in more or less the form in which we have them today, by their traditional authors, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Nearly every piece of external evidence we have indicates that this has always been the view of the church. Contrary to what Bart Ehrman likes to say, there is no evidence that any of the Gospels ever circulated anonymously. And there is very strong internal evidence for the authorship of John, as well.

There are of course some difficulties with any view of the authorship of the Gospels. But that is true with almost any interesting historical investigation. The question is not whether there is some view that is free from all difficulties; it is which view suffers from the least difficulties,

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which view is open to the fewest objections. And I am firmly persuaded that the traditional attributions of authorship are open to the fewest objections.

Nathan: Why aren’t the Gnostic gospels considered to be historically reliable sources by most biblical scholars as well as theologians?

Dr. McGrew: The simple reason that the Gnostic “gospels” are not generally considered to be historically reliable sources is that we know they were written much later than the four canonical Gospels, that their authors had no firsthand or even secondhand knowledge of Jesus, and their content shows them to be works fabricated for the purpose of promoting gnostic teaching, which did not become popular until the second century.

Take the Gospel of Thomas, for example. It is a string of unconnected aphorisms: “Jesus said …; Jesus said …; Jesus said …; His disciples questioned him and said …; Jesus said …; Jesus said …” Some of these sayings are drawn or adapted from the canonical gospels; some are just gnostic weirdness. There is no context, no setting, no detail, no realism. The only geographical reference in the entire work is a vague mention of Judea


THE NATHAN REPORT: Exclusive Interiew with Dr. Timothy McGrew, PhD