How Can the New Testament Be Trusted If the Writers Are Biased?
by Lenny Esposito
There are many people who are skeptical of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection. Atheist Michael Martin, in his book The Case Against Christianity, asserts “many biblical scholars have argued that the Resurrection story was shaped by the theological aims of the evangelists.”1 Basically, Martin holds that the gospel writers were led to construct the resurrection accounts “shaped by the purposes of the evangelists.”2 The New Testament writers were obviously writing to sell Christianity to their audience, so why should we believe their accounts?
There’s No Escaping Bias
The charge of bias is an easy one to make, but because an author is biased doesn’t mean we can’t have a certain level of assurance that the events he described did indeed happen. We are all biased in our views; there’s no way to escape bias on one type or another. Mike Licona notes that it is common practice for those who record history to “select data because of their relevance to the particular historian, and these become evidence for the building the historian’s case for a particular hypothesis.”3 Licona compares such actions with a detective as a crime scene who “survey all of the data and select specific data which become evidence as they are interpreted within the framework of a hypothesis. Data that are irrelevant to that hypothesis are archived or ignored. Historians work in the same manner.”4 There’s no escaping bias.
Bias Doesn’t Mean Unreliable
Even though all ancient historians had a bias, it doesn’t mean that their writings are unreliable or useless. Indeed, if we were to reject ancient historical sources because with writers were biased, we would have to reject pretty much all the accounts of history that have been left to us by folks like Josephus, Herodotus, Pliny, Lucian, and every other author from antiquity…
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