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New Testament Documents - are they Reliable?

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posted on Apr, 2 2008 @ 11:43 AM
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So many threads and comments are based around the common fallacy that the documents of the New Testament are unreliable. It is high time to point out that these claims were put to rest long ago, but urban myth perpetuates them.

To get to the bottom of such a weighty matter - after all it relates to whether God really has spoken to man, and whether his words have been accurately preserved - does require a bit of time and effort. I just want to suggest a straight-forward rebuttal of the above-said myth in the form of a highly respected and readable paperback: "The New Testament Documents: are they Reliable?" by F.F. Bruce.

At the very least, those who read this might refrain from using long-disproved preconceptions based on crass misinformation.




posted on Apr, 2 2008 @ 04:55 PM
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Originally posted by pause4thought
At the very least, those who read this might refrain from using long-disproved preconceptions based on crass misinformation.


could you highlight examples of these "long-disproved preconceptions" that are used and how they've been disproved?

and can you highlight any particular "crass misinformation" in particular?

and can you just highlight the main arguments of the book here since not everyone has the time to read it?



posted on Apr, 2 2008 @ 07:40 PM
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reply to post by madnessinmysoul
 


I read the book years ago. It laid to rest many of the old chestnuts, such as "If your source of information is the New Testament, it is not reliable unless substantiated elsewhere."

A simple example is a comparison with the life and deeds of other characters who lived in antiquity. For many of them we have no collection of first-hand eyewitness testimony comparable to the documents of the New Testament, by a long way, yet we all accept without question that they lived and influenced history, and study what has been handed down concerning them largely in good faith.

The book provides specific examples of people no-one would dream of questioning existed, and relates how much documented evidence is actually available. The sum total is sometimes nothing more than a shoe-string compared to the New Testament documentation concerning Jesus Christ.

Extra-biblical sources that have a bearing on the life of Christ are not ignored. In fact numerous tangental and commonly raised questions are addressed in a very readable manner.

So, madnessinmysoul, will you actually make the effort and read it? Or the other book I mentioned to you (in your other thread called 'An Experiment for Brave Christians'), namely "Does God Believe in Atheists"?

I ordered the book you were promoting, "The God Delusion", from Amazon today. I've taken up your challenge. Will you take up mine? (Boy, then we can really have a party on here...)

Meantime I'm off to bed. It's 1:38 am in the UK. Does anyone sleep around here?...



posted on Apr, 2 2008 @ 08:06 PM
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Originally posted by pause4thought
A simple example is a comparison with the life and deeds of other characters who lived in antiquity. For many of them we have no collection of first-hand eyewitness testimony comparable to the documents of the New Testament, by a long way, yet we all accept without question that they lived and influenced history, and study what has been handed down concerning them largely in good faith.


...you just made the massive assumption that the new testament is full of first hand eyewitness testimony. considering that it's at least once removed from the events (i'm being very generous here, considering that the early church relied on oral tradition), it's not a first hand account at all

secondly, we actually have physical evidence with those other historical characters.

could you give me an example of a historical figure that fits into this framework?

just don't say julius caesar, unless you want to make things really, really easy for me.



The book provides specific examples of people no-one would dream of questioning existed, and relates how much documented evidence is actually available. The sum total is sometimes nothing more than a shoe-string compared to the New Testament documentation concerning Jesus Christ.


...people such as?

it doesn't actually prove the validity of the new testament.
it seems like the argument goes:
the new testament is reliable, eyewitness testimony
thus they are reliable

it starts and ends in the same place, circular argument.



So, madnessinmysoul, will you actually make the effort and read it? Or the other book I mentioned to you (in your other thread called 'An Experiment for Brave Christians'), namely "Does God Believe in Atheists"?


not sure which one, but i'll read one of them (probably whichever is easiest to acquire)



I ordered the book you were promoting, "The God Delusion", from Amazon today. I've taken up your challenge. Will you take up mine? (Boy, then we can really have a party on here...)


oh, i probably will...though i'm running out of...i've completely run out of shelf space and have quite a reading list, i'll bump it up to the top whenever i get whichever book i pick



Meantime I'm off to bed. It's 1:38 am in the UK. Does anyone sleep around here?...


it's 3:03am as i'm posting from malta...so not really.



posted on Apr, 2 2008 @ 08:34 PM
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I'm sure AshleyD will be here, soon.

I'll try to get on some tidbits in the morning.



posted on Apr, 3 2008 @ 02:39 AM
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The book is available to read, online. Just google it. You do not have to buy it.
I have read this author and owned a couple of his books, F.F. Bruce, and he is good.
After all that, you can go ahead and believe the new testament.
I know a lot of people who do.
My personal opinion is to not attack it, unless you just do not want to be a Christian.
I have never run across anything I would trust, to replace it with.
I look at the new tesament as the minimum mention of happenings over a very short period of time.
The biggest problem with the new testament is what happend after it was written.
The combination of church and state by people who were not compitent to run either Church or State.
They went to work interpreting the meaning of the new testament without having any understanding of it other than what would work out well for maintaining their own power.


[edit on 3-4-2008 by jmdewey60]



posted on Apr, 3 2008 @ 06:08 AM
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reply to post by madnessinmysoul
 



...you just made the massive assumption that the new testament is full of first hand eyewitness testimony. considering that it's at least once removed from the events (i'm being very generous here, considering that the early church relied on oral tradition), it's not a first hand account at all


This is a bold accusation with no basis in fact. I'm afraid you may be confusing the way the Old Testament relied on oral tradition thousands of years before Christ, before the early parts, such as Job, were committed to writing. Alternatively you may be referring to the way the New Testament writers may be forgiven for not issuing a limited first edition, personally signed by Christ, within a year or two of His resurrection...

The crucifixion occurred somewhere in the 30s in the first century. Probably the last book to be written, the book of Revelation, was completed before the end of the century. I quote:


Only two suggested dates for Revelation have received serious support. An early date, shortly after the reign of Nero (A.D. 54-68) is supported by references in the book to the persecution of Christians, the "Nero redivivus" myth..., the imperial cult (ch.13), and the temple (ch.11), which was destroyed in A.D. 70...

The alternate and more generally accepted date rests primarily on the early witness of Irenaeus (185), who stated that the apostle John "saw the revelation... at the close of Domitian's reign" (A.D. 81-96)...


Taken from the 12-volume "Expositor's Bible Commentary", F.E. Gaebelein, general editor

I'm afraid you are way off beam here, friend. You are mistaken or misinformed.


The Gospels are all based on eye-witness accounts which, having been completed within a few decades of the events in consultation with many who saw and heard what is recorded, bear all the marks of witness statements as provided in a court of law - each writer emphasises different aspects, but it all fits together like a glove. (People who claim it has contradictions are just peddling hearsay. They forget that those who say it is 100% coherent are those who study it most - daily, in fact.)

Why do we have four Gospel accounts of the life of Christ? Because according to Jewish (Old Testament) law "A fact must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses" (Deuteronomy 19:15) Plus one for good measure, as the eternal destiny of the entire human race depends on them...

Luke's Gospel begins: "Many have undertaken to compile a narrative about the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as the original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed them down to us" Luke 1:1&2

The second letter of Peter states: "For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty". (1 Peter 1:16)

Even liberal theologians admit that much of Mark's Gospel is based on Peter's testimony.

One of the main original qualifications of an apostle were that they experienced the whole of Christ's preaching ministry and witnesses his miracles from beginning to end (Acts 1:21&22). The entire content of the New Testament is based on their testimony. The apostle Paul, who despised their teaching and pursued eye-witnesses even to death, until he met the risen Christ for himself, subsequently spent a great deal of time with them in order to accurately propogate the Gospel throughout the Roman Empire.

I, and hundreds of millions who believe as I do, do not base our beliefs on assumptions. We live our entire lives on the basis that we have, in fact, the very words of Christ and his teaching in the New Testament.






[edit on 3/4/08 by pause4thought]



posted on Apr, 3 2008 @ 11:40 AM
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reply to post by pause4thought
 


seriously, i've tackled these arguments before, they've always crumbled to dust
just look in some threads i've posted in, dig way back in the conspiracies in religion and FST vault, the arguments against what you've posted are all there

i'm just going to have to point out one mistake. the dating. there is no set date for the NT
here's an example, this site has compiled many dates that have been given for the NT books from both skeptics and believers, there's a variance of several decades to a century with some of them

www.errantskeptics.org...



posted on Apr, 3 2008 @ 03:26 PM
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On You Tube, search "The Case for Christ" and watch it. It will answer your questions from the perspective of an atheist looking for proof. EXCELLENT show and recommended for both believers and non-believers.



posted on Apr, 3 2008 @ 09:54 PM
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oops! sorry, my bad.

[edit on 3-4-2008 by crazywoot12atgmail.net]



posted on Apr, 4 2008 @ 12:09 AM
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reply to post by pause4thought
 


Good thread, P4T. Yes, it does seem the NT texts are very reliable. Please allow me to be very brief with my response. Since you're a Christian, it's refreshing to know you will know what I am about to say so this doesn't turn into a debate.


There are eye witness accounts to validate the authorship of most NT books and we know who wrote various books with the exception of the Epistles to the Hebrews. The authorship of Hebrews remains a bit of a mystery although there are some well founded theories. Then we have the whole 'Paul Argument' in that some claim since he never technically met Jesus he should not have much of a say so.

The easy solution to that is to simply start with the books that were created by eye witnesses to Jesus' ministry, whose authorship is validated by extrabiblical eye witnesses, and who even died for their testimony. It gets pretty fascinating when you study it all and see it from that view. You can completely take the Pauline epistles, the book of Hebrews, or the Gospels by scribes out of the equation and still meet the above criteria for reliable NT books.

There will still be arguments in the end as to whether or not Jesus was the Son of God or as to whether or not embellishment occurred but on that level, the texts themselves are reliable. Not to mention accurate historical facts that were later corroborated through external evidence like archeology.

Compiled by the fact there are some 5,000 complete and 25,000 fragmentary extant manuscripts of the original Greek, we can see how little the texts have changed.


reply to post by Clearskies
 


hehe. Thanks for the link, CS. Truth be known I often forget the Faith Forum on BTS exists without a little nudge from a friend.


[edit on 4/4/2008 by AshleyD]



posted on Apr, 4 2008 @ 06:31 AM
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reply to post by jmdewey60
 


Thanks for mentioning that the book is available online. Here is the link:

www.worldinvisible.com...

I'm not sure whether many people would actually read that much small text online, although I suppose you could paste it into Word and 'up' the font size. Some might print it out. Maybe I'm sentimental, but I still think there's nothing to compare with a book in hand. Easier to put down when you're in the bath...


The biggest problem with the new testament is what happend after it was written.
The book actually provides concrete explanations of how we know today's New Testament remains faithful to the original, after all this time. Surprising to many, but the evidence is there.

Nice surprise to hear back so quickly that you can recommend this author. As you probably know, this particular book is regarded by many as the standard text on the subject, despite it's small size...



posted on Apr, 4 2008 @ 06:56 AM
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reply to post by madnessinmysoul
 

Question for you. Why don't any of the New Testament books reference the Roman's seige and destruction of Jeruslalem and the Temple in 70 A.D.? Surely a significant event like that would not go unnoticed. The two possible answers are:
A. - The Temple in Jerusalem was not important to the Jews.
B. - The New Testament was written before this event.



posted on Apr, 8 2008 @ 02:43 PM
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Originally posted by dbates
reply to post by madnessinmysoul
 

Question for you. Why don't any of the New Testament books reference the Roman's seige and destruction of Jeruslalem and the Temple in 70 A.D.? Surely a significant event like that would not go unnoticed. The two possible answers are:
A. - The Temple in Jerusalem was not important to the Jews.
B. - The New Testament was written before this event.


C: the canon was written in greece a decade or two removed from the event by the decade and thus uninterested
subpoint 1: insert any other place in the empire where news of the siege of jerusalem would have been nonexistent

D: the passages citing those events were removed later

E: those writing the gospels were intentional misleading those who they were writing for to make it seem that their writings were older and that would somehow lend more credence to them (except paul, that one i'll give to you)

F: all the books that would have no reason to reference the events in 70 AD (like the gospels) were written after 70 AD

...4 off the top of my head

but the point i was making was that there is disagreement, so i provided a link to a site that had many different positions, even ones that disagreed with me.

now here's a question for you
where's the evidence outside the bible to show that jesus existed?



posted on Apr, 8 2008 @ 02:51 PM
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I forgot about this thread!
I think Pause4thought said it , pretty much in a nutshell.....
Why I use The King James Bible



posted on Apr, 8 2008 @ 04:43 PM
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reply to post by Clearskies
 


because jesus spoke the english of the court of king james?

i've heard of a lot of people that say the king james bible is the inerrant word of god to the extent that if the original hebrew contradicts it, they say that is wrong

question: are you one of those people?



posted on Apr, 8 2008 @ 08:03 PM
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Absolutely Not.
That's why I ALSO have a Strong's Concordance.
The King James version was translated the best they could........



posted on Apr, 12 2008 @ 04:35 PM
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reply to post by madnessinmysoul
 



now here's a question for you
where's the evidence outside the bible to show that jesus existed?


Come on, MIMSy. You're scraping the barrel here.

Contemporary writings are often scathing due to the fact that the Christians, or 'Galileans', as they were sometimes referred to, followers of Christus/Chrestus did not honour the traditional Roman 'gods' or go along with pagan rituals, but even they aren't so daft as to pretend Jesus hadn't actually existed...

MIMS, I honestly don't believe you're interested in the evidence. The whole thrust of your contributions is to destroy people's faith. You are clearly driven by an agenda, even though in the day-to-day melee you are simply playing intellectual games. You've shut your eyes to the evidence so tight you're going blue in the face, and the ear-plugs are so tight they're forming adhesions.

For anyone who does not enjoy blissful ignorance,

here is the evidence:


www.rationalchristianity.net...


In summary:


Quite simply, one must ignore a great deal of evidence, and treat what evidence is left most unfairly, in order to deny that Jesus existed.


Source: www.tektonics.org...

Why, then, in the light of all the evidence do you kid yourself that a key historical figure wasn't real? The answer is apparent from what you said in another thread:


bible vs koran is quite the prize fight for which book i most disagree with while still liking some of the teachings...


Source: www.abovetopsecret.com...

You disagree with the content of the Bible, (despite the nod to 'some of the teachings'), i.e. you are prejudiced against it, which is why you don't want people to follow it, and actively try to undermine its veracity and trustworthiness.

If you were to reply with some indication that you actually acknowledge that the evidence outside the Bible is real, I would gladly withdraw my assertion that you ignore it and mislead people by claiming it isn't there.



posted on Apr, 13 2008 @ 05:08 PM
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Hold the bus...


Originally posted by pause4thought
The book provides specific examples of people no-one would dream of questioning existed, and relates how much documented evidence is actually available. The sum total is sometimes nothing more than a shoe-string compared to the New Testament documentation concerning Jesus Christ.

Extra-biblical sources that have a bearing on the life of Christ are not ignored. In fact numerous tangental and commonly raised questions are addressed in a very readable manner.


Ok...so in another forum you said the following in a statement I had made:


Originally posted by HIFIGUY
With recent appearance of additional doctrine, it is clear to me that the entire image of Christ and his teachings are not here in their entirety.



Originally posted by pause4thought
It is clear to Christians that you are a false teacher on very dangerous ground. These are virtually the final words of God's authentic Word:


So you call me a false teacher but then make reference to extra biblical sources?
You said " Virtually final words of Gods authentic Word ".
I merely said that I dont think that all of his teachings made it into the New Testament as many witnessed Christ and not all of the doctrine made the New Testament.

To respond to the OP, I do believe they are reliable, but Im not blind to the possibility that perhaps there may be others that were not included.

Now that we have this in the right thread, Im all ears.

Peace


[edit on 13-4-2008 by HIFIGUY]

[edit on 14-4-2008 by HIFIGUY]



posted on Apr, 14 2008 @ 02:12 PM
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reply to post by HIFIGUY
 


Greetings.

My response is simple. When I said:


Extra-biblical sources that have a bearing on the life of Christ are not ignored.

I was merely referring to secular documents that corroborate circumstances of Christ's life - as some people are unaware of their existence.

The theme that you are referring to is whether there was further revelation after the completion of the New Testament or outside its boundaries. I would have thought it was obvious that documents could exist that mention Christ, but which are not revelation from God. Your critique makes no sense.

As to my point that your doctrine is dangerous and false, let the reader decide. Here are some points you made in the last few days:

you refer to 'new revelation' and recommend a source of information that provides


an interesting read into the correcting of Biblical doctrine
(emphasis added)

and say that you want to adapt


the entire image of Christ and his teachings

in keeping with extra-biblical documents that you regard as revelation from God

Readers can see the discussion here:

www.belowtopsecret.com...

(even though you changed some of your wording after my comments)

You also said in another recent thread entitled "What is God's name?":


I once had a dream where I was standing in front of a man.

He looked at me and said:

"I AM the Universe "

As a Mormon you accept many things outside the Bible as revelation from God. My response is the same as before: Christians recognise that your doctrine contradicts the teaching of the Bible. This contradiction explains why you feel the Bible needs to be changed to fit your beliefs!

As previously, I maintain that your promotion of extra-biblical material for the sake of "correcting" the Bible is divisive, and incompatible with the authentic Christian faith, based on the authentic Bible -


...the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all.
Jude v.3b


But you, dear friends, remember the words foretold by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; they told you, "In the end time there will be scoffers walking according to their own ungodly desires." These people create divisions and are merely natural, not having the Spirit.
Jude v.17-19

As to your comment regarding books not included in the NT:


Im not blind to the possibility that perhaps there may be others that were not included.

-I can only say that you are deaf to the response I gave in the other thread
(after you said common sense tells any sensible individual Jesus said much more than was documented):


Correct. Common sense also tells any sensible individual that false teachers added and subtracted from Jesus' words according to their own agenda, and that their writings were regarded as spurious. It was common sense they should be excluded from the Bible, and they were.



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