I have always wondered about this...I would like to know the historical story behind them.
asked 07 Feb '10, 09:10
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I have come to see the two sides of this particular debate. There is much controversy on this subject. Actually, any biblical question is controversial.
You ask the question, "Since the Gospels were written down so long after Jesus' death, can we really trust them to give an accurate story of His life?"
By the way you wrote your question, you assume, according to the information you have come across that the gospels were written down so long after Jesus' death.
In my research I had come across certain manuscripts that were dated 50-90 AD. Among these were the gospels of the new testament canon.
Having said this you will come across other scholars who dated the same manuscripts 150-180 AD. After the fact.
This becomes contradictory, let alone confusing. As lay people there is no way for us to know what the real dates of these manuscripts are.
As you probably know there seems to be two very opposing sides to a story, in general. Both cannot be right. Truth is exclusive. Know for a fact that one of these sides is true. You have to be like a detective to search out a matter. How bad do you want to know, is how much you will discover.
For myself. I try as much as humanly possible to look at 'questions' as objectively as possible. I try to leave out my opinion on the subject. I get all (as much as possible) the facts on the subject. Then deduce from what I have collected what the natural conclusion would be. If the time comes when new information is available to me concerning a question I had, I want to be honest enough to change my conclusion or opinion about it. Truth will sent me/you free.
In most cases, whatever evidence you will find or deductions you make, will position you on what side of the debate you will stand on.
As an example of what I mean, look at the way you wrote the question. You basically assumed that the gospels were written many, many years later after the fact. This positions you on the side that the gospels were produced 150-180 AD. This deduction lends to ask the question that you posed.
If, on the other hand, your research leads you the other way, that is, the gospels were contemporary with there respective writers, you would never ask this question.
Having said all of this, I would like to answer your question by sharing with you somethings to think about.
Besides the research I did into manuscript evidence, giving me an idea of where these ancient text were situated on a time line, I asked questions along the lines of motive, why, etc. Let me illustrate.
One reason I believe that the gospels were contemporary with their writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), was the reason why they had written it in the first place. It was to document what was said and done about a man called Jesus.
What ulterior motive would they have had to write those gospels? Was it for money? I don't think so. Was it for fame? I don't think so. The gospels were never sold and as for fame, being a 'christian' or anything associated with that movement back then meant signing your own death warrant.
Another reason why I believe the gospels were written in the first century is the fantastic events that had transpired at that time (such as: healing the sick on the spot, giving sight to the blind, feeding multitudes in the thousands at a time, raising of the dead, the wisdom and understanding that came from his lips, his personal resurrection (as per the account), the fulfilled prophecies concerning Jesus Christ the Messiah, etc). When great events like this happen it would seem normal to document those events in the same time period that they occurred.
Most history is recorded in the same time period it happens. When history is recorded many years later, it's usually because people have it brought down through time by word of mouth.
I don't think this was the case. There were translations of the original copies dated from the first century, preceding the 150-180 AD dates. These authenticate the gospels being written in the first century.
Also, if they were written a century later why forge the authors names to whom the gospels are accredited to. This practice of lying was not customary to the early church. One account of lying and what happened is found in Acts 5:1-11.
In today's context, news reporting is as stingray explained (well done by the way). The motive could be understood. Basically, every news outfit or organization wants to be first with a story, have a special angle etc. Motive: It's a race for the prize, $$$. There is always a reason why news is distorted.
What reason would those people back then have to distort the story of Jesus' life, even if it was written a century later?
In context of the first centuries (when this movement was unadulterated), why write the account of one named Jesus. Anyone associated to that movement was killed, tortured, mocked, ridiculed, ostracized, etc.
What is there to distort even if it was written a century later?
Where I differ with stingray, is the assumption he makes in implying that the same unscrupulous methods of today's practices were applied back then when the gospels were written. Also, he assumes that the writings came long after the fact.
Given that, and given that scholars seem to be saying that the Gospels were written decades after Jesus's death, how accurate do you really think the Gospels are likely to be?
Since the Gospels were written down so long after Jesus' death, can we really trust them to give an accurate story of His life?
If this was the case, we cannot trust the gospels. We have no foundation of it being true.
But on the other hand, what was written in the gospels that seems unaccurate and promted this question.
answered 06 Mar '10, 19:22
Frank I enjoyed this deep and precise investigation, you have made some very good points! +1 from me.
(06 Mar '10, 21:19) Wade Casaldi
Agreed. Almost infallible argumentation. Admirable your interest for this topic and excellent the results of your seeking for.
(07 Mar '10, 00:18) Gleam
I'm glad I was able to shed some light on the subject.
(27 Mar '10, 22:32) Frank 1
@ Frank: Your answer is very informative, great point!
(09 Feb '11, 03:33) Inactive User ♦♦
If you look at Codex Sinaiticus, you will see that what is written there is not the same exact words of the bible today.
Matthew 28:19 tells people to baptize in the name of "father, son, holy spirit" but the earliest bibles only said baptize them in the name of the father so the biblical support of the trinity in Matthew was added.
In one part it claims Judas saw Jesus crucified but in another - no he killed himself.
The bible can't be trusted as accurate with such contradictions.
(23 Feb '13, 03:24) arpgme
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Is the story of the Bible accurate? How nice we are free to choose. The reason I studied the Bible was, and is the teachings. "The Father within does the work." Here we are 2000 years later learning the process and putting it to work in our lives. It may not be the birth death and life of Jesus to me. But the lessons what a gift. This was supposed to be a novel idea at the time. Who has since said anything greater than this?
answered 06 Nov '10, 03:38
I have the Gospel of Q which was written earlier than the four Gospels and seems to be something the four came from, aside from this we have the Nag Hamadi that could supplement the gospels then later the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, these more on early Judaism.
Plus we have the lost books of Edan and the Apocrypha to look at as well, so there has been much written not just what is in the Bible it self. I think with all of this writing there is much that was preserved. Now the council of Niece it is true that the many books were reviewed and many tossed out because they were either thought redundant or too much empowering and liberating for the masses to be kept control over.
Another thing is we understand ancient Jewish idioms very little if at all today, so something said back then would mean something entirely different to someone that doesn't understand the culture.
If we look back to idioms our great grand parents knew and understood even to us we have no idea what that is suppose to mean. Example my great grandparents said this one "That's between a bull bitch and a window shutter." They knew exactly what that meant I have no idea what that means the closest thing I can think it might mean is what we say today "That's between a rock and a hard place." Now imagine a hundred years passes and "that's between a rock and a hard place" makes no sense to our ancestors.
In this light I do believe that this must all be greatly considered while reading the bible, to awaken to greater understanding of it's mysteries.
answered 07 Feb '10, 09:42
Not having a religious upbringing (through my own personal choice), I can't shed much light on the actual Gospels you are referring to.
But I would like to point out an analogy in our current world.
Look at any big news event that happens in today's world that is covered by the global or national media.
Today we have teams of news reporters (print, broadcast and online media) hunting for facts, teams of editors and sub-editors behind the scenes checking for accuracy and omissions, newsdesk discussions about what angle and spin to put on a story, and now even the general public are involved with social (micro)blogging networks like Twitter and mobile phone pictures.
Now go over the news reports from all these hundreds, perhaps thousands, of different news-generating organizations and people, and look at how much variation there is in the actual story that is reported.
It may surprise some people on this website to know that I was actually one of those news reporters for a number of years and one thing that news journalists learn early in their careers is that there is no such thing as truth, only your own personal interpretation of events.
You hope, through interviews and background checking, that these reports are often a fair reflection of what actually happened but I think any conscience-driven reporter knows that real truth is an unobtainable ideal despite all the technology currently available.
So that's a brief summary of how accurate reports of current events are in today's globally-connected world.
Given that, and given that scholars seem to be saying that the Gospels were written decades after Jesus's death, how accurate do you really think the Gospels are likely to be?
answered 07 Feb '10, 10:53
There's a difference between provable facts and unprovable interpretations; if the only truth that exists is that which can be interpreted, I suggest that the notion of finding any truth through reporting or the writing of books is ultimately hopeless.
(07 Feb '10, 19:43) Vesuvius
It's one thing to have your own personal interpretation of an event but to say there is no such thing as truth, personally I can't buy that for the sole reason that truth is exclusive. There always is a truth to every question that is asked or event that has just transpired.
(05 Mar '10, 00:42) Frank 1
@Frank - yes, there is always a truth, but not the truth
(05 Mar '10, 06:18) Stingray
there may be a truth for each situation, something best on target for your capabilities; so for you each choice is a truth. for how much time do you ponder before manifestation
(09 Feb '11, 01:04) fred
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I had been brought up in a strictly atheistic household and don't know much about the gospel; however, what I do know is that the being of Jesus must have been such an awsome one! I have lived in the middle-east for a while, and to imagine such a beautiful entity going to such people and spreading his love is most amazing! So I wouldn't bother much about going "by the book" for his loving deeds speak louder than any Roman emperor decree.
Thank you, namaste
answered 06 Nov '10, 08:44
Well since were all being honest, question about the gospels. I heard discussions that Gospel of Matthew got his source from Mark, Since Mark is the First Gospel written. Then How come Luke and John each had different writings of what Jesus said, It shows more of Jesus's words in John then Luke, Mark and Matthew. Can anyone explain The "Q" method that Scholars agree upon. It is supposedly to be a source from which the gospels orginated from. So if that's the case how can i know if the people who wrote the gospels who are unknown is reiable and accurate. The gospel is recorded not by Matthew, Luke or John but by people who passed on the scriptures from them. Can anyone give me any facts on the reiablity of the scriptures per say? I want a logical and good answer not a stupid aggronant responise. That i will not pay no attention too. Thank u
answered 08 Feb '11, 21:19
I suppose my thought to this wouldnt be WHEN they were written , but are they inspired by what i will loosely describe as God. You can fill in your own name for God.
I know little of the historicity of the scriptures, i dont know which bible is the real one, there are 900 million Roman Catholics who have their own version and i would GUESS that that particular organisation or pendulum has access and ownership of very many of the oldest documentary evidence available. Im sure within the vaults of the vatican lie many mysteries.
One thing i do know is that any scripture, bible, inspired reading etc has one thing in common. They were written, typed or word processed by flesh and blood physical entities. Thats just a plain fact.
So my next question would be, ok.....which ones are divinely inspired? fair question isnt it?
But that would then lead me to ask " so "WHO" is to decide which is inspired or not" ?
You see this is the REAL question. I would prefer to take this responsibility myself. I dont want to be drawn in to what the Pope thinks, or Constantine thought, or evangelical christianities opinion, or indeed any of the new age movements....whoever they are.
We take this decision ourselves, individually on our own . Now we can dress our own decision with some facts however tenuous these may be.
But WE decide.
When we say " this is gods word" weve decided it.No one else.
answered 23 Feb '13, 09:26
love this answer :)
(23 Feb '13, 09:39) ru bis
The one thing that stands out for me believing the gospels to be acurate and written just after JESUS's death is that all of the accounts in one gospel is so detailed and similar to what is in the other gospels. If they were written around the same time , with great distances between one author and another, (wich they were) The only conclusion that makes sense is they were written just after the crucifiction and are true and accurate.
answered 05 Nov '10, 20:37
what was initially written has been transcribed and / or translated by many different people and many times;
answered 05 Nov '10, 23:20
Now that I am entering the last year of my degree in Christian Studies, I can answer my own question! I have to say that I certainly have learned a lot about the Gospels since I first wrote that question!
The Gospels were written by followers or followers of close relatives of Jesus. The Book of James was written by Jesus' brother. Despite the common thought that the Gospels were written years after Jesus' death, they were not. We also have to remember that this age was one of memorization and professional story-telling. People memorized the Old Testament, word for word, and shared it with those who could not read. Paul, of course, though not an author of a Gospel, was very close to many people who had witnessed the life of Christ, and I think we can certainly trust his works.
People gathered at night to hear the stories of Jesus, told by eyewitnesses, in homes and synagogues. The story started a flame of new life in the Jewish community, and the Christian sect grew by leaps and bounds, which scared the Romans, who were used to the Jewish faith, and were frightened by this "new" sect which ignited much controversy and faith. The Romans began putting these new Christians in jail, and of course, killed many of them; despite this, the Christian faith grew. Wade mentioned the "Q" Gospel, which simply refers to the fact that scholars believe that there must have been an original document that the Gospel writers were using to write their own gospels.
I am glad I asked the question- I am also glad that I have learned so much in the year since I asked the question! Thank you all for your great answers.
answered 08 Feb '11, 23:55
there are many writing in history some even before jesus. Some are milk and some are meat. Yet not many could accept the meat. the proof is in human history of all those wars and conflict between religion and nation. yet they all speak about the same thing. here is a quick proof i will show you 2 example: I know that I hung on a windy tree nine long nights, wounded with a spear, dedicated to Odin, myself to myself, on that tree of which no man knows from where its roots run.
(21 Feb '13, 20:19) white tiger
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yggdrasil Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. http://bible.cc/john/19-34.htm see both of them a men hanging on a tree or cross perced with a spear. it all relate together,yet they fight to be praised,they build temple and palace of stone,to praise them self,But the first palace that was given to them they do not honor,out of self-rightenous,jesus said it to the pharises.
(21 Feb '13, 20:26) white tiger
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23vBzocKINU What is the first palace they are in when born to this world? Then why do they not honor this palace and love and respect each other? the second commendment:love thy neighbor as thy self. They make house of desolation out of self-rightenous.Do they think they can confine God in a house of stone? That house of stone serve them more then it serve God. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53Pqw20xK10
(21 Feb '13, 20:28) white tiger
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If I were to create a society, and it was in the early first century, I would not want people to look to myself for answers and ways of life..being that history has showed people sometimes turn on their kings or whoever because they think they were wrong, the people are mistreated, or believe that if they overpower him, things might be better. Instead, I would want to create a belief system for the people that they can look forward to and know that there is a greater purpose (heaven)...and not just that, but a good way to keep them in control is by guilt..by saying that a person has died for them (jesus), they are able to create "sin" and if they do sin, then you will be judged and punished (hell)..and maybe there were different times where the gospels were written..but that could easily just be an update! the nowadays bible covers so much in proverbs and other books, and so much sin, that I could definitely see that it took time to create the perfect bible..one that worked to create a society where people would WANT to help eachother get to heaven and STRIVE towards it, that the majority of the people turned out to be somewhat decent...and if it turned into different religions like jewish or whatever else, then as long as the main purpose and reason is still in tact, it just gives them the freedom to pick whichever religion they want and still works.
answered 13 Jul '13, 01:48
to answer your question:it is a testimony of men that have been witness according to their understanding. If you have been playing the phone game in this life, you know that the first message is not the same message when it comes back to you. yet it is perfect in is imperfection since it is made for men. By reading this book they can find what is in truth and what is in error, yet to do this they will have to be able to have the understanding of the witness, and learn from is water(heart and mind), and find what is in truth and what is in error. also overtime this book as been re wrote over 5000 time. you can believe in the words of the one that as the sword of truth. Yet there are mystery that you will understand by growing in understanding and truth. Do not be surprise at my saying verily verily I tell you,We speak of what we know and report what we have seen.
let there be light, be the light that you can be, experience and enjoy.
answered 13 Jul '13, 10:33
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canonical gospels have 3 complementary views on christ: 1) Johannine - christ as the WORD 2) Pauline - Christ in you, the hope of glory.,Where is the house you will build for me? and temple 3) Synoptic_gospels