Responding to an Argument Against Scripture

The Bible is the revelation of God in word form, teaching us who we are, who God is, and how we can live in a relationship with him. It begins and ends in the Garden of Eden with perfect peace between God and man, showing that the Bible is all about how we can live in a relationship with God and what it looks like to do so. However, it would be an understatement to say that today’s culture no longer views the Bible as reliable or inspired. Armin Navabi, who was once a Muslim and left the faith after concluding that God does not exist, is just one of many who do not believe the Bible is the Word of God. Navabi wrote a book in 2014, Why There is No God: Simple Responses to 20 Common Arguments for the Existence of God. In his second chapter, he discusses, in essence, why the Bible (and religious texts in general) is not reliable or from God. In this article, I will discuss and respond to some things he says in this chapter of his book and attempt to make a case for the reliability of Scripture. For the record, many things I discuss about the Bible are not in great detail given the amount of content I want to discuss.

Armin Navabi is taking a “common argument” for the existence of God which states “God’s existence is proven by scripture” and showing why God does not exist by attempting to reveal why this claim is false. On one hand, I agree with Navabi. The existence of scripture does not prove God exists (if Scripture by itself proved God, would that mean every god from all religious texts are true?). However, many Christians do believe the Bible alone proves God’s existence. This argument is given by Christians who hold the presuppositional view. Presuppositional apologetics asserts that the Bible’s authority must be assumed to have an apologetic discussion[1] In other words, you can only prove the Christian worldview by presupposing that the Christian worldview is true. It also suggests you can only prove the Bible is truly from God by assuming so before setting out to prove it. While I do not entirely subscribe to the presuppositional approach to defending the Christian faith, I respect those who do and love them as my own family in Christ, since that is what they are above all else. That being said, even though the chapter’s title seems to only represent presuppositionalism, I still want to look at some of what Navabi says because many things he says are meant to disprove the Bible in a general fashion.

This article will be presented in seven separate parts:

  1. Navabi defines ‘scripture’ and responds to the chapter’s claim
  2. Navabi claims “documents are not self-authenticating,” but he may have missed something about the nature of the Bible as a whole
  3. Navabi asserts that Scripture fails to document historical reality
  4. Navabi attempts to show inconsistencies in the resurrection account
  5. Navabi explains the errors: fallible human authors, originally oral traditions, and anonymous Gospel authors
  6. Navabi refers to the “gap” between the writings of the New Testament and the events described by the writings
  7. Concluding thoughts

1. Navabi defines scripture and responds to the chapter’s claim

Navabi begins the chapter with a general definition of scripture. One should understand Navabi does this because he is not directly referring to the Christian Bible, but he is talking about scripture in the broad spectrum of world religions. He mentions the Quran a few times in this chapter, but because this is a Christian apologetics blog, we will focus on what he says about the Scripture of Christianity. Navabi’s working definition goes as followed

Many religions have certain holy books that are revered as true accounts. These are called scripture, a text considered sacred and either inspired or directly dictated by a deity. (Navabi, 19)

The first sentence is correct that many religions have holy books that are regarded as true accounts. However, regarding the Bible, the first sentence is the consequence of what the Scriptures are, that is, God’s written revelation to his people. Thus, because the Bible is God’s written revelation to man, it is sacred, yielded as trustworthy accounts of reality, and inspired.

Navabi then proceeds to state that “many believers claim that their holy book of choice is uniquely perfect, thus suggesting its divine origin” (Navabi, 19; italics added). However, he does not give any clarity as to what he means by “perfect.” For someone who loves to ask clarifying questions such as “what do you mean by that,” it’s a little hard to do when the author is not here with me. What does perfect mean? Does he mean grammatically perfect? Historically perfect? Theologically perfect? Perfectly translated? Perfectly preserved? Many different things can be thought of as perfect, and while the Bible may or may not be perfect in every one of these ways, it does not disprove Christianity or the existence of God.

Navabi offers his response in the next paragraph, bringing to attention the issue with the presuppositional claim that scripture proves the existence of God. Navabi is correct to point this circular reasoning out. However, keep in mind the claim Navabi chose is not representing all Christians. For example, I am not represented because I do not think one must assume the Christian worldview or the Bible is true to prove it. Why? Because, for me, I know it is true by the evidence God has graciously provided us with today. It is not an assumption. It is, however, a conclusion. Thus, I can be assured it is true without having blind faith that it is true.

2. Navabi claims “documents are not self-authenticating,” but he may have missed something about the nature of the Bible as a whole

Navabi opens this paragraph off on the right foot: “Just because something is written in a book does not mean that it’s true. This is obvious” (Navabi, 19). He is correct in saying this, for if everything written in a book were true, then “truth” would contradict itself. The next thing Navabi brings us as a way to prove this point is where I think he goes in the wrong direction

There are millions of fictional stories throughout history and plenty of other books that claim to be factual but have been proven to be false. The existence of scripture does not automatically prove anything about the veracity of what those scriptures contain. (Navabi, 19)

Navabi could be implying that scripture is only regarded as reliable through blind faith. For Christians, it is the opposite of the Bible. The Bible does not have to be considered God’s word without reason that it is God’s word. Again, Navabi is correct in saying that the existence of scripture itself does not prove anything that the scripture is claiming. However, the contents of the Bible have been verified through historical verification time and time again.

This is one of the major differences between the Bible and other texts claiming to be divine. The Bible puts itself at risk of inquiry, as pointed out by Dr. Daniel Wallace, for it gives specific names, locations, dates, and other historical elements which can be traced and either verified or disproved with the unbiased methodology used by historians today, Christians and non-Christians alike.[2]

Navabi’s opening to end this section is the misused (and overused) idea that “the scriptures themselves are rife with contradictions” (Navabi, 20). In a moment, he will elaborate on this, to which I will then address many of the missteps Navabi takes to reach this conclusion (about alleged Bible contradictions, at the least).  His closing statement misses the Christian claim about the inspiration of Scripture completely. His conclusion ends with “Ultimately, they [the scriptures] are books that were written by fallible humans, and though there may be some grains of historical truth within them, there is also ample hyperbole, speculation and mythology” (Navabi, 20). Navabi does what most skeptics do in this case, which is to presume the non-Christian view of the way the Bible ultimately came to be. The Christian claim is that the Bible was written by fallible humans who were carried along by the Holy Spirit. This second step is the key distinction between what Christians know happened with the production of God’s written revelation and what non-Christians think happened with the production of the Scriptures. This, of course, is no tangible evidence in itself, but Navabi’s argument should be discredited because he misrepresents Christianity’s claim of how the Bible was written.

3. Navabi asserts that Scripture fails to document historical reality

Navabi will now elaborate on what he touched on in the previous part, namely the inconsistency with Scripture and the contradictions therein. Let’s begin with his first stereotypical arguments of this section

Every holy book is full of internal errors, inconsistencies, and differing accounts. This makes sense when you consider that these books were pieced together by multiple authors over a span of centuries. If scripture was a document describing historical reality, the basic facts should be consistent from one account to another. (Navabi, 20)

Navabi seems to have a problem with holy books, obviously. They seem to be full of errors and inconsistencies, as he says above. Has he considered that, given that these alleged holy books have these errors, how much worse nonholy books must be? If there is no divinely inspired book (as assumed by his worldview), his criticism, then, can be applied to any book ever written. By his logic, a history book cannot be trusted, nor can any book, which is ironic considering he made this claim when writing a book.

It will take no time at all for anyone to see how silly this is, for we all know by now that while informative books have many true things in them, you can also decide if/what parts of the content are false. Yet, if the Bible even seems to have some details that disagree, then it’s off the table completely! However, for years there have been Christian fundamentalists who have made a huge emphasis on the “perfection” of the Bible, causing others to judge the Bible with an exaggerated standard. Many scholars today, such as Darrell Bock and Daniel Wallace, do not take this extreme fundamentalist view. Instead, they offer the Bible as another ancient source, giving the Bible the ability to be judged with the standard of every other ancient text and consequently showing why the Bible meets the criteria of historical authenticity. This provides the opportunity to talk about the Bible and why it is true without having to defend every single minor detail raised into question. Although I do believe those minor details can be explained, this approach allows someone to focus on the bigger questions about the Bible, such as whether or not the resurrection of Jesus is true.

Navabi then explains how we can know the Bible is full of errors and inconsistencies. Ironically, once again, Navabi misses the point and consequently hurts his position, strengthening the position of Christians on the matter. Norman Geisler notes that the Bible is a collection of books “written by 40-something authors and over 1,500 years on dozens of different topics that have absolute unity. Most of the people did not know each other who wrote it, so it has amazing unity within great diversity, which is best accounted for by deity.”[3] When you consider the Bible’s narrative as a whole with the backdrop of the different authors, different geographical locations, and the Bible’s ability to present the narrative that it does, you can see quite clearly how this is not an argument against the Bible but instead in favor of it.

Lastly, I would like to note that Navabi gives absolutely no elaboration on what a “basic fact” is. Is it a date? Is it the correct number? When you see that the core events are consistent throughout (ex. Jesus died on a cross, was buried, and raised on the third day as he predicted), these details can seem quite specific rather than simply “basic facts.

4. Navabi attempts to show inconsistencies in the resurrection account

Alas, Navabi arrives upon the problem of internal contradictions (when a conclusion is opposite of what should be concluded given the evidence one has considered) concerning the Gospels

Other scriptural problems are internal contradictions. For example, the resurrection story – arguably the single most important event in the Bible from a Christian perspective – is told in several different ways. (Navabi, 21)

Navabi then gives us three examples of these internal contradictions. It must be considered that if the same standard he holds these passages to were applied to eyewitness testimony today, then many more criminals would be free because eyewitness testimony would likewise not meet the unrealistic high standard that Navabi and many skeptics place on the Gospels (as well as the whole Bible) that they would not place on any other ancient text or eyewitness testimony.

For the sake of time, we will look at one out of three of the alleged contradictions, but to be certain I am not avoiding the challenge he brings to the other two “inconsistencies”, I will either provide a handful of works that address it or write a separate article on it or both.[4]

Alleged inconsistency #1:

Matthew (28:2-5) and Mark (16:5) report that the women at Christ’s tomb saw one person or angel. Luke (24:4) and John (20:12) say there were two. (Navabi, 21)

Does the mention of only one angel constitute a denial that there were two? I think not. Just because a fact or detail is not specifically affirmed does not mean it is a direct denial. What was affirmed in all passages? That the resurrection event had taken place and Jesus was alive. That’s the core event that stays consistent all through the Gospels. The small details surrounding that (like how many angels there were) do not have to be word for word, detail for detail, the same for one to know that Jesus is alive today. The differences presented by Navabi have no bearing on the truth of Christ’s resurrection. Likewise, these differences do not lead to the conclusion that God does not exist.

According to Navabi, this is supposed to lead us to conclude that the resurrection never happen. Navabi once again shows no resolve to understand basic human practices of recalling events, practices that are extended even beyond Greco-Roman biographies in the first century.

As explained by the founder of Inspiring Philosophy, Michael Jones notes that the specific human practice, in this case, is one called spotlighting, where you only direct or give attention to a particular person or detail that is significantly important to the event being described.[5] I’ve often used this illustration to help people understand spotlighting:

In high school, if you went to a birthday party you were invited to and there were people there from your school, you still probably only talked to and gave particular attention to your specific friend group more than those you never really talked to before. After returning home, your parents may have asked who was there. It’s unlikely you stopped, thought about every person there, and made sure not to miss anyone. Why? Because the only people who mattered in this instance were the ones with whom you were friends, the ones you talked to and associated yourself with, and the ones your parents would know. This would not be a lie either because it’s a normal human practice to spotlight significant people in recalling events and omitting the rest who had little to no part in your experience.

Given that only one angel talks to the women in all four Gospels, we can be certain that’s exactly what Matthew and Mark do. They simply spotlighted the angel who gave the message while leaving the other out. There need not be a specific or extraordinary explanation except that, once again, it was a normal human practice to spotlight details related to an event being described both then and today.

5. Navabi explains the errors: fallible human authors, originally oral traditions, and anonymous Gospel authors

Navabi transitions to his last section of the chapter. In the first paragraph, he claims that

There’s a simple explanation for the errors in the [Quran and] Bible: these documents were written by humans, and in many cases, were stitched together from oral traditions and transcribed decades or even centuries after the events described. Bear in mind, also, that the books of the Bible are largely anonymous. Names like Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were all added after the fact by editors and scribes. The actual identity of these authors is unknown. *(note that Navabi ends this with a footnote to Bart Ehrman’s Jesus, Interpreted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them) * (Navabi, 22)

In this quote, we have three explanations provided by Navabi to account for the errors in the Bible: fallible human authors, the fact that they come from oral traditions, and the fact that the Gospel authors are anonymous.

1. Fallible human authors

This objection was brought up in the second section of this article. Refer to it for information on this issue. Pay careful attention to how Navabi misrepresents the Christian claim completely when making this objection.

2. originally oral traditions

This objection can commonly be heard as followed: “the stories in the Bible were only orally preserved for a long time before being written, and they must have changed over time from being persevered in a way such as this.” First of all, let’s point out the speculation in this objection. “they must have” is another way of saying someone thinks something rather than looking at what the evidence says. There is no quest for truth in this objection. This is the sacrifice of clear, objective thinking whose purpose is to lead people to truth (and as it turns out, Jesus Christ IS truth!). But instead of simply pointing out why this argument is wrong, I want to offer why oral tradition, which is also described as collective memory, can be trusted. Collective memory in essence refers to the shared range of memories, information, and knowledge of a community that is significantly associated with the community’s identity.

Robert McIver notes that “experimental protocols have been used to generate false memories,[6] but they almost all share a common trait: false memories may be induced, but they are memories consistent with the stimulus. Social contagion may introduce a false memory, but that false memory is, to a degree, consistent with what is being remembered.”[7]

According to Matthew 4:13 and Mark 2:1, Capernaum was where the ministry of Jesus was centered. Capernaum was a small village off of the sea of Galilee, and its population ranged anywhere from six hundred to one thousand five hundred people. Anyone who once lived in a small town of this size (as I did) or still does should be familiar with the fact that interesting things said or done would have been circulated in the community with freedom. Since we are discussing the first century, it’s obvious that there was no newspaper, radio, or any form of entertainment. Along with this, once nighttime approached, the only sources of light were fires and inefficient lamps, making it nearly impossible to work. Consequently, social engagement and discussing the latest “news” would have been the norm for most evenings. The actions and teachings of Jesus would have made “headline” in many conversations and Capernaum’s limited number of social groups would have developed a “collective memory” of him and his teachings.[8]

Jesus was known as a teacher (Matt. 7:28-29; Mark 4:38; 5:34; 9:17; John 6:59, etc.)[9] and would have taught his disciples to memorize his teachings like any other rabbi from the ancient Near East.[10] Memorizing in this time and culture meant something different than what the modern reader knows it to mean today. Verbatim memorization for longer texts is not possible unless there is first a written text. Specifically for oral traditions, this is the case, so a saying or parable would have been considered to be memorized if the student of a rabbi could recite the core meaning. The core meaning is the purpose of the saying or parable to start with, so this would make sense. Such is the case for Jesus and his disciples.[11]

To end my defense for oral traditions in the ancient Near East, I want to point out that the problem many have with it is that the stories preserved in oral tradition were not written down until years after the events, and therefore they are likely changed. This would be something to consider unless the teachings and sayings of Jesus were being repeated and memorized (which they were, as we previously saw) and taught with accurate memory while Jesus was still on earth. This is exactly what the Gospels tell us. As Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem, he told his disciples to go ahead of him to share his teachings in the villages he was planning on entering (Matt 10:5-8; Mark 6:7; Luke 9:1-6; 10:1). It’s not as if Jesus just began to teach and mentor his disciples. The amount of time spent with Jesus before this shows that the disciples would have been prepared to share the bedrock teachings Jesus had taught them. The fact that the disciples are going ahead of Jesus to teach about him would have created more impetus for them to ground these teachings in their memories (it was their “practice,” if you will). Teaching these things on their own would have forced the disciples to continuously rehearse and memorize Jesus’ words and actions even in the first year of Jesus’ ministry, about two years before Jesus ascends to Heaven, leaving them on their own (physically, not spiritually) to teach the things they had been repeating for months and years.[12]

3. anonymous Gospel authors

The authors of the Gospels never ascribed their names in the texts, and they did not write their Gospels with a title identifying themselves. They did write their Gospels anonymously, but this does not mean they did it so that no one would know who they were. If that were the case, why is there such an emphasis on apostolic authority and association with the apostles in the early church and on eyewitness accounts in places like 2 Peter 1:16-18?[13] In it, Peter says that they (he and the apostles) were eyewitnesses of Christ’s majesty! He is saying that he saw Jesus Christ transfigured in glory, that Christ is who he said he was, and you can be sure of it because these are things that happened in history.

On his blog, Bart Ehrman says that “… as the books [Gospels] were copied and circulated, names were still not attached to them. As a result, the identities of the authors were soon lost. Then later readers, rightly or wrongly, associated the books with two of the disciples (Matthew and John) and with two companions of the apostles (Mark, the companion of Peter and Luke, the companion of Paul).”[14] Again, if the Gospel authors wrote these books and they were known in the community to be the authors, then that would have been something people knew and would have remembered because of the apostolic authority and association with the apostles the authors of the Gospel possessed. It’s unlikely, nearly impossible, that the communities the Gospels were written in would forget the authors’ names because the early church was unanimous that these were the authors which were rooted in the tradition which started from the very beginning of their circulation. There were no arguments for a reason.

While Mark was a companion of Paul, the early church fathers were unanimous that he got his Gospel from the teachings of Peter, one of the three people in Jesus’ “inner circle.” If it were true that these names were attached to the Gospels after the authors were already forgotten or to give them status, why would they choose Mark? Why not call it the Gospel of Peter? Peter has a better reputation than Mark does, and the early church fathers knew this. This begs the question, what do we know about Mark for him to have the credibility to be the one to whom the early church credits his Gospel? Darrell Bock, Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, says:

We know only a couple of luminary things about Mark: he went home to momma after the first missionary journey because he couldn’t take the pressure, he was the cause of a dispute between Paul and Barnabas before the second missionary journey, and Barnabas took him along when Paul did not want him to go along… So, you’re given a choice between Peter and everything you know about him and Mark with what you know about him- if you were to make the calls of the church, which person would give the highest attestation to the second Gospel [Mark’s Gospel]? Who would you choose? You make the call![15]

It goes without saying that if the authors were at any point “unknown,” there would have been some disagreement somewhere about who wrote what book. In the early church, there was absolute agreement about the authors of the Gospels. If the early church, consisting of those living much closer to the writings of the Gospels than we are today, did not disagree on who wrote what book, I suspect we should follow their lead. After all, the argument against the authors holds little to no grounds on if Jesus was resurrected from the dead. If Jesus resurrected from the dead, case closed. Christianity is true.

6. Navabi refers to the “gap” between the writings of the New Testament and the events described by the writings

Nearing the end of the chapter, Navabi discredits the Apostle Paul as a trustworthy source:

Biblical scholars estimate that the oldest books of the New Testament, Paul’s letters, were written around 20 years after the date of Christ’s supposed resurrection. Paul was not present for any of the events described in the gospels, and he did not know Jesus personally. (Navabi, 22)

Navabi brings up a good point about Paul. He wasn’t there! How could he know what happened? How could he know enough to be able to have as much of an impact as he had?

Like Navabi, many skeptics point to this “gap” between what is found in the Gospels and the actual events themselves as evidence that the Gospels are not trustworthy. Oftentimes, this gap is largely exaggerated and gets Christians who have not considered this a bit uncomfortable. In this final response, my attempt to show that this gap is not nearly as large as many people think it is. However, in my opinion, specifically to those who exaggerate this gap, it can be used quite often as a scapegoat for those who don’t want to believe Christianity is true.

The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Corinthian church (this is one of the undisputed letters of Paul) around A.D. 52-23. In that letter contains a creedal tradition in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7. This creedal tradition contains the central message of Christianity, “That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…” (1 Cor. 15:3b-4). This is a fundamental source of Christianity because of how early this creedal tradition dates back. New Testament expert Michael Licona quotes “Many scholars believe Paul received this creed from Peter and James while visiting with them in Jerusalem three years after his conversion. That would be within five years of the crucifixion.”[16] The fact that it had been formulated into a creed when Paul was writing this pushes it even closer to the actual event. At the beginning of verse 3, Paul says, “For I passed on to you what I also received: that Christ died for our sins…” Paul uses language suggesting that he received this message before he planted the Church in Corinth (hence, “I passed on to you what I also received”). The message of Christ was so well known that it became a formulated statement that was taught to Paul.[17]

Since this letter was written shortly after Paul’s third missionary journey, this is a message he has kept and preached with him throughout the ancient world. How far back does this resurrection theology date back to? Before his conversion on the Damascus road (Acts 9). The reason we know that it dates back before this experience of Paul’s is that for him to be able to understand and respond to this experience, he has to know what the Christian message is for it to make sense to him! Also, don’t forget that he was on the hunt for those who were preaching this message, so he had to know what the message was to know what to look for. This is what Paul was against as one who persecuted Christians. These facts take us to within 18 months of the resurrection (Paul’s conversion was about 18 months after the resurrection). This gap is now shrunk from 20 years (as Navabi states) to about 2 years, where the events are now right on top of themselves. The theology of Christ and his death and resurrection preached by the early church was preached from the very beginning of the Christian faith.[18]

7. Concluding thoughts

What can we take away from this? On a practical level, I would give two things. The first one is that Christians need to be ready to give a reason for why we believe the Bible is the Word of God. We don’t have to know everything about every detail of the Bible that might be raised into question, but to be sure we can answer adequately, the question, “does my response give the person asking me an understanding of why the Bible might be from God?” might help. If your response can answer this question with yes, then I believe you are okay. We don’t have to answer everything and it’s not about that. It’s about interacting with the person we are talking to and letting them know that we have thought about why we believe the Bible is true. Let’s aim to show the world that we are not simply Christians out of blind faith without considering why we believe what we believe. At worst, they will respect our view; at best, they will take our view as their own and be drawn to Christ and accept his gift of salvation. Nothing gets better than that!

Obviously, Armin Navabi has thought a lot about the things he wrote in his book. I am encouraged by his courage to not let his former religion keep him from seeking truth and publicly voice what he truly believes. On one hand, I believe his intention in writing the book was not to purposely mislead the reader but to tell the reader why he thinks there is no God. On the other hand, Navabi could do a better job at representing the true Christian view of Scripture and provide better explanations for why Christians believe Scripture is God’s word to his people. Overall, while I don’t agree with Navabi’s position, I want to make it clear that I still care about him. Navabi is God’s creation and God loves despite Navabi’s actions. Christians should also follow God’s example and love Navabi, as well as anyone who opposes God’s existence so that the love of Christ might be seen in their lives. I look forward to reading more of Navabi’s book and pray that Navabi will follow the evidence leading to the Truth, Jesus Christ.


Footnotes

[1] What is Presuppositional Apologetics?

[2] Daniel Wallace in The God who Speaks feature-length documentary which aims to trace the evidence for biblical authority and reliability. Written and Directed by M.D. Perkins. Starring Darrell Bock, Josh McDowell, Bill Mounce, Daniel Wallace, Ben Witherington III, Michael Kruger. (American Family Studios, 2018), 47:53.

[3] Norman Geisler in The God who Speaks, 2:45.

[4] Navabi’s second alleged inconsistency is a reference to the difference between Matthew 27:57-60 and Acts 13:27-29, which are differing accounts about who it was that buried Jesus, according to Navabi. His third one deals with the differences between Mark 14-15 and John 18-19. Navabi claims that Mark places Jesus’ death the day after Passover meal while John places the death of Jesus the day before the Passover meal (I fully intend to write on this third one as even some Christian scholars agree with liberal NT scholar Bart Ehrman on this.

[5] Michael Jones, “Bible Contradictions & the Principle of Charity,” in the Defending Christianity Podcast, host Levi Dade (Defending Christianity Podcast: 2020), 20:19. Click this link to listen to the full episode

[6] A number of these are described in Robert McIver, Memory, Jesus, and the Synoptic Gospels (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2011), 60-70.

[7] Robert McIver, “Collective Memory and the Reliability of the Gospel Traditions” in Jesus, Skepticism, and the Problem of History, ed. Darrell L. Bock and J. Ed Komoszewski (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2019), 130.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Note that Jesus is addressed as Lord no fewer than 83 times and as rabbi or teacher 56 times, which may be an indicator that while he was a great teacher, his familiarity with those who personally learned from him knew that his identity extended beyond that of any other rabbi, leading them to emphasize that he is the “Messiah, the Son of the Living God” (Matt 16:16; Mark 8:29).

[10] Rainer Riesner, “Jesus as Preacher and Teacher,” in Jesus and the Oral Gospel Tradition. Ed. Henry Wansbrough (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1991), 186-87.

[11] McIver, “Collective Memory,” 134-135.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Peter draws a contrast between myths and eyewitness accounts. He emphasizes that they say what they testify about Jesus with their own eyes, something not found in any other world religious text as well as the Gnostic gospels.

[14] Bart Ehrman, “Why are the Gospels Anonymous?” from The Bart Ehrman Blog. 2019. Why are the Gospels Anonymous? The Bart Ehrman Blog. According to Ehrman, this article is from a discussion in his book, Forged.

[15] Darrell Bock, “The Gospel Authors and Jesus,” in the Defending Christianity Podcast, host Levi Dade (Defending Christianity Podcast: 2020), 11:43. Click this link to listen to the full episode

[16] Dr. Michael Licona, as quoted in an interview in Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007), 115.

[17] Mark Mittelberg, The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2010), 75.

[18] Darrell Bock and Justin Bass, “The Bedrock of Christianity,” in The Table Podcast, hosts Darrell Bock and Mikel Del Rosario (Dallas Theological Seminary, 2020), 40:21. “The Bedrock of Christianity” – The Table Podcast

Resources

Armin Navabi, Why There is No God: Simple Responses to 20 Common Arguments for the Existence of God (Scotts Valley, CA: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014).

Bart Ehrman, “Why are the Gospels Anonymous,”  https://ehrmanblog.org/why-are-the-gospels-anonymous-2/.

Darrell Bock, “The Gospel Authors and Jesus,” in the Defending Christianity Podcast, host Levi Dade (Defending Christianity Podcast, 2020). Click this link to listen to the full episode

Darrell Bock and Justin Bass, “The Bedrock of Christianity,” in The Table Podcast, hosts Darrell Bock and Mikel Del Rosario (Dallas Theological Seminary, 2020). “The Bedrock of Christianity” – The Table Podcast

Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007).

Mark Mittelberg, The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2010).

Michael Jones, “Bible Contradictions & the Principle of Charity,” in the Defending Christianity Podcast, host Levi Dade (Defending Christianity Podcast, 2020). Click this link to listen to the full episode

Rainer Riesner, “Jesus as Preacher and Teacher,” in Jesus and the Oral Gospel Tradition. Ed. Henry Wansbrough (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1991).

Robert McIver, “Collective Memory and the Reliability of the Gospel Traditions” in Jesus, Skepticism, and the Problem of History, ed. Darrell L. Bock and J. Ed Komoszewski (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2019).

Robert McIver, Memory, Jesus, and the Synoptic Gospels (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2011).

The God Who Speaks documentary, Written and Directed by M.D. Perkins. Starring Darrell Bock, Josh McDowell, Bill Mounce, Daniel Wallace, Ben Witherington III, Michael Kruger. (American Family Studios, 2018). Click this link to watch the full documentary

ZA Blog, “What is Presuppositional Apologetics,” https://zondervanacademic.com/blog/presuppositional-apologetics

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