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This article first appeared in the Christian Research Journal, volume 28, number 1 (2005). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to:


The usual attempts to defend the historical reliability of the New Testament are often fairly general in nature. These arguments are typically based on the quantity, quality, and early date of the available New Testament manuscripts; the traditional authorship of the books; extrabiblical confirmation; and a few archaeological discoveries. This evidence for the trustworthiness of the New Testament is often contrasted with ancient classical Greek and Roman writings, which do not exhibit the same wealth of data.

Lesser known among conservative scholars, however, are several, more recent and specific approaches that critical scholars apply to the Gospel texts. One of these approaches involves applying certain critical criteria of authenticity to particular texts, namely, to events and sayings that are reported in the four gospels. These contemporary techniques have mined many gems that indicate the historical richness of the Gospel accounts, while illuminating many aspects of Jesus’ life.