Did the Gospel Writers Intend to Write Accurate History?

by Jonathan Morrow

In a post-Christian culture that no longer “speaks Bible,” one of the first objectives in any conversation is to stake out some common ground wherever possible. To do this I recommend starting with history.

Most people–unless they have been educated out of it–still believe that you can know some things about the past. In other words, we can discover important historical truths about people like Plato, Alexander the Great, and Julius Caesar (and I would argue Jesus of Nazareth…but that’s another post).

So when it comes to the New Testament documents, it is important to investigate whether the writers of these first century biographies and letters intended to write accurate history.

Good Intentions (Historically Speaking) Matter!

New Testament scholar Ben Witherington observes, “The most the historian can establish about events in the past is a good probability one way or another that this or that event did or did not happen. There is no such thing as absolute certainty on such matters.” Again, this doesn’t mean that we should become historical skeptics, only that we should have realistic expectations.

Thucydides, writing in the fifth century BC, stated his approach to history and the importance of eyewitness testimony…

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Did the Gospel Writers Intend to Write Accurate History? | Think Christianly