Can we trust that what we read in the Gospels are really the words of Jesus?
Many Christians like reading from so-called “Red Letter” Bibles because they are told that the words spoken by Jesus are written in red ink. It can be helpful for some readers, since in the King James Version, there are no quotation marks used to identify when someone is speaking.
The idea of “Red Letter” Bibles goes back to 1899, when the editor of the Christian Herald magazine, Louis Klopsch, was inspired by reading Luke 22:30: ” Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. (KJV)” Klopsch was passionate about getting God’s Word out to people, and so he envisioned a new Bible where the words of Jesus could be represented by the color of His blood.
However, the use of a “Red Letter” Bible can be misleading, as it may give some people the impression that the words of Jesus are somehow more important than the other words in the Bible. But theologically, this is wrong-headed since everything in the Bible is inspired by God, according to 2 Timothy 3:16. In that sense, every word in the Bible should be printed in red!
Reading from a “Red Letter” Bible might set you up to have some skewed expectations about Scripture. What are the appropriate expectations we should then have?
Andreas Köstenberger, whom several of us Veracity folks met a few weeks ago when he came to speak at the College of William and Mary, co wrote a book The Final Days of Jesus with the Gospel Coalition’s Justin Taylor. On this Good Friday, I took a peak at some 5-minute videos that the authors put out, walking through each day of Holy Week, interviewing different New Testament scholars about the significance of each day. An excellent resource for thinking about these final days of Jesus… a feast for the mind and heart!
Here is the entry for today, Good Friday, featuring one of those interviews (towards the end) with Andreas Köstenberger. Below are some links to the videos for the other days of the week.
Who wrote the Bible?
Welcome back to our series on the authorship of the Bible. In this post we will explore evidence that points to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as the writers of the four canonical gospels.
Setting aside for now discussions about canonicity, inerrancy, and textual criticism, how much confidence can we have that the four gospels were written by their traditionally-accepted authors?
Because none of the gospel writers identified themselves by name as the author of the text, these foundational books of the Christian faith remain technically anonymous. It is no surprise therefore that skeptics seek to discredit the claims of Christianity by questioning the traditional authorship of the gospels. Likewise it is no surprise that well-meaning proponents of the faith get in over their heads when it comes to defending the traditional authorship. As you can see from spirited discussions like this one (be sure to read the comments), the facts can easily become blurred by the voices entangled in debate. Our position on Veracity is that we’re all about the truth and that readers can decide for themselves without being told what to think. Personally, I think scholars give themselves too much credit for what they ‘know’−on both sides of the debate. Worldviews influence interpretation. Got it. Continue reading
How God Became Jesus, by multiple evangelical scholars, is a popular-style, accessible rebuttal to Bart Ehrman’s book, How Jesus Became God.
From the preface of How God Became Jesus, by editor and Australian scholar Michael Bird:
[Bart] Ehrman is something of a celebrity skeptic. The media attraction is easy to understand. Ehrman has a famous deconversion story from being a fundamentalist Christian to becoming a “happy agnostic.” He’s a New York Times bestselling author, having written several books about the Bible, Jesus, and God with a view to debunking widely held religious beliefs based on a mixture of bad history, deception, and myth. He’s a publicist dream since in talk shows and in live debates he knows how to stir a crowd through hefty criticism, dry wit, on the spot recall of historical facts, and rhetorical hyberbole. He also has a global audience…
For conservative Christians, Ehrman is a bit of a bogeyman… Conservatives buy his books if only for the purpose of keeping their disgust with him fresh and find out what America’s favorite skeptic is up to now… For secularists,… Erhman is a godsend. He provides succor and solace that one need not take Jesus too seriously, confirming that religion is the opiate of the masses and that the whole God thing might be just a big mistake.
Why is Bart Ehrman, a professor of religion teaching at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, on a lot of people’s radar?