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Mark – Peter’s Eyewitness Gospel

Mark – Peter’s Eyewitness Gospel

The Gospel According to Mark
Is Mark’s Gospel an early memoir of the Apostle Peter?

The early church is unanimous that the Gospel According to Mark was written by John Mark. (Acts 12:12; Acts 12:25; Acts 13:5; Acts 13:13; Acts 15:37; Col 4:10; 2 Tim 4:11; Phm 24)

Papias – c. 140 quotes an earlier source saying:

  1. Mark was a close associate of Peter, from whom he received his information. (1 Peter 5:13) Peter regards Mark with such warmth and affection that he calls him his son.
  2. This information didn’t come to Mark as a finished, sequential account of the life of Jesus, but as the preaching of Peter – preaching directed to the needs of Christian communities.
  3. Mark accurately preserved this material and arranged and shaped it.

The title “According to Mark” appears in all the ancient canonical lists and many ancient manuscripts and is thought to have been added very early in the history of the text.

Early church fathers all affirm Mark wrote the Gospel:

  • Papias (140)
  • Justin Martyr (150)
  • Iranaeus (185)
  • Origen
  • Tertullian
  • Clement of Alexandria (195)
  • Eusebius (326) – quotes Papias saying “elder” (John) attributed to Mark

Second and third century books falsely claimed apostles as authors rather than secondary figures such as Mark. read more

Matthew the Tax Collector – A Proven Eyewitness

Matthew the Tax Collector – A Proven Eyewitness

Matthew the Tax Collector
Matthew was an eyewitness to the events he wrote about

Why would Matthew, a tax collector, rely so much on Mark’s account? The answer?  He didn’t. He was an eyewitness.

Matthew the Tax Collector

Matthew was presented as a tax collector – “As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?'” (Matthew 9:9-11) read more

Is the New Testament based on eyewitness testimony?

Is the New Testament based on eyewitness testimony?

Is the New Testament based on eyewitness testimony? Let’s examine the Bible to find out.

Is the NT based on eyewitness testimony?
Is the NT based on eyewitness testimony?

“Draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses.” (Lk 1:1-2 NIV) The Bible writer Luke based his accounts on eyewitness testimony.

“You are eyewitnesses of these things.” (Lk 24:48 NIV) Jesus told his disciples they were eyewitnesses.

“This report is from an eyewitness giving an accurate account. He speaks the truth so that you also may continue to believe.” (Jn 19:35 NLT) – Spoken by the Apostle John. read more

Jude said apostles’ writings were authoritative

Jude said apostles’ writings were authoritative

Some Christians today believe only the actual spoken words of Jesus to be divinely inspired and to be taken as the authoritative word of God, and other Bible writings to be merely the words of man. This is not the way the early Christians viewed things. For example, Jude viewed the Apostles’ teachings and writings as authoritative Scripture, the word of God:

“But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, ‘In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.'” (Jude 17-18) read more

Peter’s view of the Old Testament and Paul’s writings

Peter’s view of the Old Testament and Paul’s writings

Some modern Christians believe the Old Testament (OT) was simply the word of man and is fallible, and some even believe that only the words of Jesus were divinely inspired. Below, we will examine the Apostle Peter’s view of the OT and also his view on his fellow apostle Paul’s writings:

“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21) read more

Jesus believed the Old Testament to be the infallible word of God

Jesus believed the Old Testament to be the infallible word of God

Some modern Christians believe the Old Testament (OT) was simply the word of man and is fallible. However, Jesus Christ Himself believed the OT to be the infallible word of God. Below, we will use scriptural quotations followed by comments to show why this is true:

“But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set.  If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” (John 5:45-47) read more

Regarding Paul’s view of the Old Testament

Regarding Paul’s view of the Old Testament

Some modern Christians believe the Old Testament (OT) was simply the word of man and is fallible. However, the Apostle Paul viewed the OT as the infallible word of God. Below, we will use scriptural quotations followed by comments to show why this is true:

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Paul affirms God’s active involvement in the writing of Scripture, an involvement so powerful and pervasive that what is written is the infallible and authoritative word of God. read more

Is Esther Religious Fiction?

Is Esther Religious Fiction?

The book of Esther is viewed today by a majority of scholars as non-historical. Yet the story itself is recounted candidly, and there is nothing within it to suggest that it is fictional. Mir­acles or other “impossible” occurrences are totally absent. Critical scholars are bothered, however, by apparent exaggerations or suspected inaccuracies:

  • The length of the 180-day feast (1:1-4) seems excessive.
  • The six months of perfuming with oil and the additional six months of beautifying with spices (2:12) seem extreme.
  • The book claims that there were 127 Persian provinces (1:1), while the historian Herodotus speaks of only 20.
  • The notion of a Persian decree being irrevocable (1:19; 8:9) is regarded as doubtful—but see Daniel 6.
  • Planning for a massacre of Jews a year in advance (Est 3:8-15) strikes scholars as unlikely.
  • It seems too coincidental that Haman would turn out to be a descendant of Agag the Amalekite, the enemy of Israel who cost Saul his crown (3:1;see1Sa15).
  • Contrary to the Biblical account, Herodotus identified Xerxes’ queen as Amestris, not Vashti.
  • Although the name Mordecai and that of Haman’s son Parshandatha (Est 9:7) are attested elsewhere during the Persian period, Xerxes is the only indisputable historical figure in the book.
  • Archaeological data from the Persian period has not specifi­cally confirmed the story’s historicity.
  • Thus, Esther is often read as a satire addressing the needs of Jews outside of the Holy Land. Yet these challenges, though not insignificant, are not in fact as overwhelming as they might first appear:
  • The apparent exaggerations may be a result of narrative tech­nique. The 180-day banquet may have been primarily a gather­ing of leaders to strategize the Greek invasion.2 Similarly, the six-month preparation periods for the women were probably also intended for training in court decorum and protocol. The author apparently wished to highlight the splendor of the Persian court, but this does not signify that the events were manufactured.
  • The discrepancy in the number of provinces in the empire is founded on the notion that the Greek satrapeia (in Herodotus) and the Hebrew medinah (in Esther) mean the same thing, but this has not been established. The higher figure in Esther may refer to smaller subdivisions.
  • The idea that a royal decree was irrevocable is not docu­mented outside the Bible, but this is probably best understood as a matter of royal etiquette and/or tradition—not as formal law.
  • Regarding the length of time needed to plan a pogrom, two facts stand out. First, such a matter would require time and plan­ning, given the size and makeup of the empire. Second, it is entirely credible that a man of the ancient world would cast lots to determine an auspicious day for following through with such apian.
  • The text does not state that Haman was descended from the Agag of 1 Samuel 15.The meaning of “Agagite” in Esther is actu­ally unknown.
  • It is possible that the queen Herodotus called Amestris was in fact Esther, since the two names appear to be linguistically related (others suggest that Amestris is to be equated with Vashti).
  • There are remarkable similarities between the book’s state­ments about fifth-century Persia and what is known about that country and society from archaeology. That the author had more than a casual knowledge of Persian life during this period is displayed in his references to Persian vocabulary and customs as well as in his awareness that the king had seven advisors (Est 1:14), that eating was undertaken while reclining on couches (7:8) and that royal horses could wear crowns (6:8).

It is rare for archaeology to provide direct evidence for a his­torical event. More often, reconstructing ancient history is a mat­ter of combining the stories found in texts with the artifacts discovered in archaeology, though such work always requires a measure of confidence in the reliability of the texts. If every nar­rative from the ancient world had to be specifically confirmed by archaeology, we would have no ancient history at all. read more

The Resurrection of Jesus as a Historical Event

The Resurrection of Jesus as a Historical Event

empty_tomb

In recent years, studies of Jesus’ resurrection have taken surprisingly positive directions. This does not mean that contemporary critical scholars now accept exactly what Scripture states. However, there is a newfound respect for some of the New Testament (NT) reports. We will mention key areas leading to these developments and address their significance.

Early Traditions Embedded in the New Testament Writings

Arguably the most exciting development in recent decades is the almost unanimous recognition of scholars that the NT contains many items that predate the book in which they appear. This means the NT authors frequently made use of earlier sources–traditions, creeds, or confessions that they had gathered or received from others. Examples include a reliable statement received from others (1Co 11:23-26; 15:3ff), repeating the words of what was likely an early Christian hymn (Php 2:6-11) and summarizing an early sermon (such as Ac 1:21-22; 2:22-36; 3:13-16). These sources had different applications, such as keeping a reliable record, passing on doctrine, or serving liturgical functions like worship. read more

The Origin, Transmission, and Canonization of the Old Testament Books

The Origin, Transmission, and Canonization of the Old Testament Books

Escribano

The term canon is used to describe the list of books approved for inclusion in the Bible. It stems from a Greek word meaning “rod,” as in a straight stick that serves as a standard for measuring. Hence, to speak of the biblical canon is to speak of authoritative books, given by God, the teachings of which define correct belief and practice. Obviously, only books inspired by God should be received as canonical. The Bible before you includes 39 books in the Old Testament (OT). Are these the right books? Who wrote them? What were their sources of information? These questions are asked by friends and foes of biblical faith. The present essay will touch on such issues with an aim to bolster Christian confidence in the OT. read more

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