The authors of the four gospels were not eyewitnesses

raymond brownAs a child I was taught the traditional view that the four Gospels were written by disciples who were eyewitnesses of the events they spoke of. Yet the biblical scholarship of the 20th century argues that the evidence strongly suggests the authors of the Gospels were not eyewitnesses.

In a book commenting on the fact that the Roman Catholic Pontifical Biblical Commission changed its stance, rejecting the dogmatic position that the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses, Raymond Brown, a leading Catholic biblical scholar writes:

“The view that the evangelists were not themselves eyewitnesses of the public ministry of Jesus would be held in about 95% of contemporary [biblical] scholarship.

The designation that you find in your New Testament, such as “the Gospel According to Matthew” are the results of late-second-century scholarship attempting to identify the authors of works that had no identification. No evangelist indicated who he was.”


The many voices of the Bible often disagree

I once preached that “the bible is a elegantly cohesive book that contains one voice and story” which is a very common idea among the most conservative of Christians.

However, the Bible, as it turns out, does not really reflect this simple declaration, instead it’s a complex book with many voices, and sometimes, these voices disagree.

Ronald J. Allen, a New Testament Professors at ‘Christian Theological Seminary’ writes that:

“Some biblical writers disagree with one another. The Deuteronomist, for instance, assumes that obedience begets prosperity while disobedience calls forth a cures, but the book of Job says, “not necessarily.” Readers are advised in 1st Peter to be obedient to the emperor since the emperor is Gods agent, but the book of Revelation regards the Roman empire as an instrument of Satan. The Bible is not a rigid anvil… [there are] many forms of pluralism in the Bible.”

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Dan Wallace thinks that 99% of liberal bible scholars started out as conservatives

According to one of the world’s leading conservative evangelical scholars, most “liberal” Biblical scholars start out as devout conservatives.

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Daniel Wallace, a leading evangelical scholar of textual criticism writes:

“Some years ago, I was on a committee that was working on a revision of the standard Greek grammar of the New Testament. In one of our annual two-day meetings about ten years ago, we got to discussing theological liberalism during lunch. Now before you think that this was a time for bashing liberals, you need to realize that most of the scholars on this committee were theologically liberal.

And one of them casually mentioned that, as far as he was aware, 100% of all theological liberals came from an evangelical or fundamentalist background.

I thought his numbers were a tad high since I had once met a liberal scholar who did not come from such a background. I’d give it 99%. Whether it’s 99%, 100%, or only 75%, the fact is that overwhelmingly, theological liberals do not start their academic study of the scriptures as theological liberals. They become liberal somewhere along the road.” (1)