The Historical Reliability of the Gospels by Craig Blomberg
This book is a condensation of the 6 volume series, Gospel Perspectives, which was “written by scholars for scholars” to make available to the “thoughtful layperson” in non-technical language what has been discovered regarding the historical reliability of the Gospels at a technical, scholarly level. In the foreward to the first edition, F.F. Bruce postulates that Dr Blomberg set out to answer the following questions.
“Is it possible for intelligent people nowadays to approach the Gospels as trustworthy accounts of the life and teaching of Jesus? Must they be read with skepticism until their detailed information is confirmed? Or can we, in the light of present knowledge, take it for granted that their authors intend to record things that really happened? The answer Dr Blomberg gives to these questions is positive and satisfying, because he gives ample evidence of accurate and up-to-date acquaintance with the subject of his work and the relevant literature.
From the preface, Dr Blomberg makes this observation (p. 11), which he reinforces throughout the text.
It may have been just barely understandable twenty years ago that some scholars were not aware of the strength of the case for the Gospels’ trustworthiness; it is inexplicable today in light of the voluminous quantity and excellent quality of relevant works that have appeared in the last two decades.
There is one additional quote from the book which I will include (p. 279).
After widely scanning a broad panorama of ancient sources outside the New Testament, little has been uncovered that impinges on the historical reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The probability that any of the extra-biblical sources preserve accurate information, otherwise unknown, about the life and teaching of Jesus is very slight, apart from the possibility of a few unparalleled sayings surviving.
There are much more that could be included but I’ll let the reader discover this on their own.
The extensive bibliography and various indexes would be beneficial for those wishing to do additional research on the subject. The two appendices were helpful in clarifying why some things were not addressed at length in the main text of the book, such as the books published by Bart Ehrman and others. Dr Blomberg does offer additional resources which address those issues more specifically, some of which I have read and would recommend.
I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to learn more about some of the apparent controversies regarding the original documents which are used to translate the gospels and other matters of concern regarding the gospels in particular. It is not an “easy” read but will be well worth the time and effort the reader would invest.
Below is the Table of Contents to help you see what issues are addressed in this book.
Table of Contents
Foreword to the first edition (1987)
- Traditional approaches to the reliability of the Gospels
- Harmony in the Gospels
- Dissonance in the Gospels
- Evaluating the debate
- The Synoptic problem
- Newer methods in Gospel study
- Form criticism
- Redaction criticism
- The Gospel as midrash
- Literary criticism
- Conclusion and case study
- The problem of credibility
- The problem of identification
- Contradictions among the Synoptics?
- Conflicting theology?
- The practice of paraphrase
- Chronological problems
- Composite speeches
- Apparent doublets
- Variation in names and numbers
- Problems in the Gospel of John
- The distinctives of John’s Gospel
- Similarities between John and the Synoptics
- Authorship and date
- The alleged contraditions and reconsidered
- The Jesus-tradition outside the Gospels
- Apparent historical errors
- The testimony of non-Christian writers
- Extra-biblical Christian traditions
- The Jesus-tradition in Acts—Revelation
- Final questions on historical method
- The genre of the Gospels
- The burden of proof
- Criteria of authenticity
Appendix A: Archeology and the Gospels
Appendix B: Textual criticism and the Gospels
Ancient Sources Index
Blomberg, Craig. The Historical Reliability of the Gospels. 2nd ed. Nottingham, England : Downers Grove, Ill: Apollos ; IVP Academic, 2007. Print. [Christianbook] [Amazon] [Barnes and Noble] [Alibris]
I don’t own these but thought I would include the information in case someone might want to invest in them.
France, R. T, and David Wenham, eds. Studies of History and Tradition in the Four Gospels. Reprint edition. Vol. 1. Eugene, Or.: Wipf and Stock Pub., 2003. Print. 6 vols. Gospel Perspectives.
France, R. T, and David Wenham, eds. Studies of History and Tradition in the Four Gospels. Reprint edition. Vol. 2. Eugene, Or.: Wipf and Stock Pub., 2003. Print. 6 vols. Gospel Perspectives.
France, R. T, and David Wenham, eds. Studies in Midrash and Historiography. Reprint edition. Vol. 3. Eugene, Or.: Wipf and Stock Pub., 2003. Print. 6 vols. Gospel Perspectives.
Wenham, David, ed. The Rediscovery of Jesus’ Eschatological Discourse. Reprint edition. Vol. 4. Eugene, Or.: Wipf and Stock Pub., 2003. Print. 6 vols. Gospel Perspectives.
Wenham, David, ed. The Jesus Tradition Outside the Gospels. Reprint edition. Vol. 5. Eugene, Or.: Wipf and Stock Pub., 2004. Print. 6 vols. Gospel Perspectives.
Wenham, David, and Craig Blomberg, eds. The Miracles of Jesus. Reprint edition. Vol. 6. Eugene, Or.: Wipf and Stock Pub., 2003. Print. 6 vols. Gospel Perspectives.