I finally read Lee Strobel's book, The Case for Christ. All I can say is wow! It is a well written book for both believers and non-believers. He ask the hard questions and makes the case for a true living, dying, and resurrected Christ. He shows historically through eyewitnesses, documentary, corroborating evidence, scientific evidence, rebuttal evidence, identity evidence, psychological evidence, etc. He interviewed experts in each field to get this information, using his journalism degree. If this sounds like a lawyer it may be because Lee has a law degree. I trust you will enjoy the quotes and will purchase the book.
What criteria did they use in determining which documents would be included in the New Testament?
Basically, the early church had three criteria. First, the books must have apostolic authority-that is, they must have been written either by apostles themselves, who were eyewitnesses to what they wrote about, or by followers of apostles. So in the case of Mark and Luke, while they weren't among the twelve disciples, early tradition has it that Mark was a helper of Peter, and Luke was an associate of Paul
Second, there was the criterion of conformity to what was called the rule of faith. That is, was the document congruent with the basic Christian tradition that the church recognized as normative? And third, there was the criterion of whether a document had had continuous acceptance and usage by the church at large. p. 66
Let's pretend we didn't have any of the New Testament or other Christian writings. Even without them, what would we be able to conclude about Jesus from ancient non-Christian sources, such as Josephus, the Talmud, Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, and others?
We would still have a considerable amount of important historical evidence; in fact, it would provide a kind of outline for the life of Jesus.
We would know that first, Jesus was a Jewish teacher; second, many people believed that he performed healings and exorcisms; third, some people believed he was the Messiah; fourth, he was rejected by the Jewish leaders; fifth, he was crucified under Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius; sixth, despite this shameful death, his followers, who believed that he was still alive, spread beyond Palestine so that there were multitudes of them in Rome by A.D. 64; and seventh, all kinds of people from the cities and countryside-men and women, slave and free-worshiped him as God. p. 87
Dr. James Strange of the University of South Florida is an expert on this area, and he describes Nazareth as being a very small place, about sixty acres, with a maximum population of about four hundred eighty at the beginning of the first century. p. 103
I wanted to ask about one other commonly cited discrepancy. "Jesus said in Matthew 12:40. 'For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.' However, the gospels report that Jesus was really in the tomb one full day, two full nights, and part of two days. Isn't this an example of Jesus being wrong in not fulfilling his own prophecy?"
"Some well-meaning Christians have used this verse to suggest Jesus was crucified on Wednesday rather than on Friday, in order to get the full time in there!" Craig said. "But most scholars recognize that according to early Jewish time-reckoning, any part of a day counted as a full day. Jesus was in the tomb Friday afternoon, all day Saturday, and on Sunday morning-under the way the Jews conceptualized time back then, this would have counted as three days. p. 217
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