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KEITH CAMPBELL, PH.D. The Bible…Why Trust It?

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Presentation on theme: "KEITH CAMPBELL, PH.D. The Bible…Why Trust It?"— Presentation transcript:

1 KEITH CAMPBELL, PH.D. The Bible…Why Trust It?

2 Review/Preview Review Oct. 26: Four Sources of Authority Preview Scripture Nov. 2: “The Bible…Where did it Come From” Today: “The Bible…Why Trust It?” Nov. 30: “The Bible…How to Read It?” Tradition Reason Experience For full schedule of Dinner Lectures and for PPT’s visit

3 Introduction For many: there difficult-to-believe parts of the Bible No time to discuss every issues Our focus: 2 most important NT claims about Jesus:  Deity (God of the OT)  (Mostly) Resurrection

4 Introduction: Tonight’s Focus Why these two claims? Because if Jesus is God and if he resurrected from 3-days dead, then…  Other biblical miracles believable, possible, and (perhaps) expected  His trust in, authoritative usage of, and claimed fulfillment of the OT Scriptures is significant (Matt 5:17; Luke 24:44)  If NT writers are trustworthy about Jesus, then more likely trustworthy about other things We don’t have time to discuss:  Bible’s complete infallibility and trustworthiness of (see resources at PPT’s end)  Potential Bible contradictions Today: a minimalist approach

5 Introduction: My Argument My (simple) argument: I trust what the NT writers said about Jesus’ deity (as OT God) resurrection. This lends (although not complete) validity to other biblical issues. I’m not arguing/suggesting:  Belief in a resurrected Jesus comes easy for all people  You’re stupid if you disagree

6 Introduction: Discussion Plan Who claimed Jesus was God and rose from dead? When claims made? Claims hearsay/rumor eyewitness testimony? Why trust claims? Common Rebuttals/Counterarguments Questions/Discussion * A word about this PPT: I Left lengthy for use as a later reference

7 Who Claimed that Jesus was God and that He Rose from the Dead?

8 Who Claimed that Jesus was God and that he Rose from the Dead? Matthew (Matthew 1:23…28:20) Mark (Mark 2:5-11; 16:1–8) Luke (Luke 5:20-24; 24:1–53; Acts 3:15: “Author of life”)  Acts 13:31: Seen by many people over “many days” John (John 10:30; 20:1–31) Paul (Philippians 2:5–6; 1 Corinthians 15:3–6)  1 Cor.: Records that over 500 people claimed the same thing Peter (1 Peter 1:3; 3:21) More generally. All these writers call Jesus “Lord” (a term reserved for their OT God) and worship him (an act only reserved for their OT God). And later, 2 nd Century, writers (Early Church Fathers)

9 A Quick Note about NT Authorship Debate in NT studies whether Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote the Gospels (but few argue that Paul didn’t write at least 6 letters)  Example: Bart Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings (2011). I argue that they did  See Andreas J. Köstenberger, The Cradle, The Cross, and The Crown (2009), and D. A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament (2005). But, let’s assume I’m wrong. I suggest minimally that  Historically unlikely: every document written by someone else.  Historically unlikely: most content, especially big claims like resurrections, did not derive from the original apostles (eyewitnesses).  Richard Bauckham (Senior Scholar, Cambridge) in Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: Mark, Luke, and John represent multiple eyewitness testimonies though someone else wrote them.  Strengthens my case: implies more eyewitnesses than even I suggest.

10 Who Claimed that Jesus Rose from the Dead? An Example: Paul (mid A.D. 50’s): “ 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) All historical claims deserve investigation.  The remainder of this presentation focuses on these claims.

11 When were These Claims Made?

12 When did they write these claims? Paul (1 Corinthians: 55–56 A.D.) Mark (late 50’s–60’s A.D.) Matthew and Luke (prior to 70 A.D.) Peter (prior to 64–65 A.D.) John (late 80’s/early 90’s A.D.) Jesus died about 33 A.D. My point: Wrote in same generation of JC’s death. * Arguments for these dates: Köstenberger, The Cradle, The Cross, and The Crown (2009), Carson and Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament (2005). Contrast with Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings (2011).

13 Were These Claims Hearsay/Rumor?

14 These Writers as Eyewitness Testimonies Eyewitness testimonies (especially about JC’s resurrection): very important for NT writers  Luke 1:1–3  Acts 2:32; 3:15; 5:32; 10:39; 13:31  1 Cor 15:3–8  2 Peter 1:16–18  1 John 1:1

15 These Writers as Eyewitness Testimonies Matthew: One of Jesus’ original Apostles John: One of Jesus’ original Apostles  Also wrote 1–3 John and Revelation Peter: One of Jesus’ original Apostles  Wrote 1 st and 2 nd Peter Paul: Professed to see the resurrected Jesus (1 Cor 15:8)  Wrote as many as 13 letters in the NT

16 These Writers as Eyewitness Testimonies Possibly not eyewitnesses but lived among them (but, note: they were eyewitnesses to other important events):  Mark (close companion of the Apostle Peter)  Wrote in close connection with Peter (Papias, writing before A.D. 130). Perhaps present with Jesus in Gethsemane (Mark 14:51–52).  Luke: Explicitly interested in eyewitness testimonies (Luke 1:1–3; Acts 2:32; 3:15; 5:32; 10:39; 13:31).  Close companion of Paul—an eyewitness (Col 4:14).

17 500 Eyewitnesses (going further with 1 Cor 15) “ 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep [died]. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also…” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8) These Writers as Eyewitness Testimonies

18 500 eyewitnesses (1 Cor 15:3–8):  Paul, in the mid-50’s A.D. claimed to be an eyewitness to Jesus’ resurrection and lists over 500 similar eyewitnesses, some by name: James (Jesus’ half brother and author of James), Peter, and the Twelve (1 Corinthians 15:3–6)  Most of these people and groups still alive when Paul wrote and could be consulted for corroboration (1 Cor 15:6)  Paul’s claim was written in a public document (written for broad circulation: 1 Cor 1:2), so it was open to public criticism and scrutiny  It is historically less likely that Paul would make such a public grandiose claim if it were not true

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20 The Point: A lot of people (at least hundreds) living at the same time as Jesus claimed, often independent of others, to have seen Jesus alive after being dead for three days. These Writers as Eyewitness Testimonies

21 MY TRUST DEPENDS ON THE CUMULATIVE WEIGHT OF THE FOLLOWING EVIDENCE Why Trust Them?

22 Why trust what they wrote about Jesus? Most early Christians were terribly persecuted (which began right after Jesus’ death [Acts 8:1]) and many of them horribly died for claiming Jesus’ resurrection:  John: Doomed to an island as a political prisoner (Revelation 1:9)  Paul: Beheaded under Nero (Polycarp [AD 69–159])  Peter: Crucified upside down under Nero (1 Clement 5:1–6:2 [A.D. 95])  James (Jesus’ half brother): Beheaded (Acts 12:2)  It was simply dangerous to write and speak about Jesus’ resurrection All they had to do? Deny what they said they saw

23 Why trust what they wrote about Jesus? No motives for lying: No wealth, fame, etc. Only (extreme) hardship and ridicule. No indication of lunacy  Wrote independently coherent literary works.  The odds of many, independent, lunatics quite low.  Don’t exhibit modern psychological profile of mentally deranged people:  Egotism, inflexibility, dullness, inability to understand and love others as they really are, inability to creatively relate to others, unbalanced, paranoia or schizophrenia, rash, and impulsive. There are no records of these behaviors found in these followers of Jesus Close historical proximity to Jesus: JC just executed!

24 Why trust what they wrote about Jesus? Women: first resurrection-eyewitnesses (Matthew 28:1) Make themselves and early Christian leaders look bad Make all claims initially in Jerusalem, the very town where they said Jesus rose from the dead.  If you’re going to lie about something as significant as a resurrection, it is advisable to go elsewhere first!

25 Why trust what they wrote about Jesus? They were eyewitnesses  Bauckham: “The appropriate historical method is that of judging the general reliability and character of a testimonial source and, if it is judged trustworthy, trusting it” (Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 6 [2008]) They unlikely forgot:  Human memory about major, unique (and especially horrific) life-events is remarkably accurate (see Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses).  Example: My Haiti experience with a dying thief  Example: 9/11.

26 Why trust what they wrote about Jesus? Immediately began worshipping on Sunday (the day of Jesus’ claimed resurrection); a huge cultural shift for a Jew.  Major cultural shifts rarely happen quickly (especially in the ancient world) without a major event causing it Monotheistic Jews immediately calling Jesus God and worshipping him (ex. Philippians 2:5–6).  What could cause a millennia old tradition to literally change overnight?

27 Why trust what they wrote about Jesus? The Point: The cumulative weight of all these facts incline me simply to trust what they say about Jesus

28 Rebuttals/Counterarguments

29 Rebuttals/Counterarguments: Jesus lied, was crazy, or faked the resurrection 1. Jesus lied about being God. - If so, he died tortuously for what he knew to be a lie. 2. Jesus was crazy/misguided - No evidence of lunacy: Modern psychological profile of a mentally deranged person: Egotism, inflexibility, dullness, inability to understand and love others as they really are, inability to creatively relate to others, unbalanced, paranoia or schizophrenia, rash, and impulsive. There are no records of these behaviors found in Jesus 3. Jesus fooled them by faking his own resurrection - Unlikely: a crucified man would have the strength to fake a resurrection convincingly enough for others to follow him as God to the point of death.

30 Rebuttals/Counterarguments Miracles: unscientific and do not occur.  A presupposition (based on David Hume) that doesn’t address the historical evidence  Ignores a plethora of evidence today (see Keener [Ph.D. Duke University], Miracles [2011]) People during Jesus’ time did not have our scientific knowledge about the world and were easily fooled or mistaken about Jesus’ resurrection.  Not so ignorant as to misunderstood death! They lived much closer to death than we do  Less likely that he fooled that many people!  Universal view of the time: A bodily resurrection of an individual was impossible (N. T. Wright, Simply Christian, 113, and Wright, Jesus and the Resurrection)  They were skeptical (John 20:24–29) They simply forgot what happened.  Recall earlier discussion on human memory.

31 Rebuttals/Counterarguments They hallucinated  Odds of multiple and independent attestations of same hallucinations unlikely.  Assumes the idea that an individual bodily resurrection was an option within their worldview. It wasn’t (N. T. Wright, Simply Christian, 113, and Wright, Jesus and the Resurrection).  Example: hundreds hallucinating about internet in 1950’s The Disciples stole the body  Why would they, independently of the others, brutally die for a known lie.  Again, assumes an individual bodily resurrection was expected and convincing for certain ends. Trusting eyewitness testimony = historical investigation  Almost all historical investigation relies on testimony  Those in the discipline of jurisprudence assume: eyewitness testimony can lead to accurate understanding history

32 Argument Summary

33 Summary My argument rests on the cumulative weight of the evidence. The Gospel writers and others claimed that Jesus is God and that he rose from the dead. These claims make: eyewitness testimonies about Jesus’ life, deeds, words, and ministry. They can be trusted. Jesus did not fool them.  He was either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. Their claims are trustworthy: Jesus is God, and he rose from the dead. These claims are two of the most important claims in the Bible. If they are true, then trusting in many (but admittedly not all) other biblical records is more reasonable.

34 For Further Research (Note Accompanying Bibliographies of Each Work) Advanced:  N. T. Wright (D. Div., Oxford University), The Resurrection of the Son of God  Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels Novice:  Tim Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism Internet:  bible-part-1 ***************************** “The Bible…How to Read It” November 30 (in two weeks!)


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