We have established in previous blogs the strict oral traditions to control the authorship of the gospels. Now how do we know the accuracy of the authors about the events of Christ that they talked about? How do we know which verses belong in the Bible and which ones do not? Which verses are attributed to Christ etc. Critical scholars use a rule called multiple Attestation.
Def; (n.) The act of attesting; testimony; witness; a solemn or official declaration, verbal or written, in support of a fact; evidence. The truth appears from the attestation of witnesses, or of the proper officer. The subscription of a name to a writing as a witness, is an attestation.
Simple analogy of multiple attestation. A friend of yours comes up and ask you if you saw the fire on first street. No you did not but then multiple people come up to you repeating the same story. The probability of the accuracy of the story increases due to multiple witnesses.
When it comes to the gospels you have five traditional streams of authenticity. The first stream we use is the gospel of Mark which is a commentary on Peter. The things Christ said and did. You have another stream which is a document called Quella in German or just Q.
Def: Quella, A literary source; the source from which a concept, piece of information, etc., derives.
You can look at Matthew and Luke and the contents in some places are the same which indicate that they came from a historical document that is not in use today. Matthew and Luke are clearly citing from another source. Although in other places they are citing from Mark. It is hypothetical that they were citing from another source but it seems to fit the motif of the similarities.
The third stream is called M (Matthew). This is information that is only found in Matthew. Information about Christ that is not in the other gospels.
The fourth stream is called L (Luke) this is only material found in Luke.
The fifth stream is the gospel of John which is his own material.
To simplify it Mark sits down and writes his own material.
Q is a literary document.
Matthew comes along and writes his own material with the help of Q and Mark. The texts that had already been written.
Luke comes along and writes his own material with the help of Q and Matthew. The texts that had already been written.
John as we have stated wrote his own material.
There is another literary device in play here called, “stream of consciousness” which means; an uninterrupted and unhindered collection and occurrence of thoughts and ideas in the conscious mind. The phrase refers to the flow of these thoughts, with reference to a particular character’s thinking process.
Stream of consciousness is like looking at a handwriting expert. Your looking at the flow of words, how they are used and correlating events within the three gospels that distinguish the three authors. In layman’s terms if you look at the way I compose words and my sentence structure. You could readily ascertain that I wrote this blog and not assign it to someone else. It is the way I perceive things and put it to words which is different then others around me within my sphere of influence. The same holds true for Matthew, Mark and Luke. Their literary language consisted and was influenced by their upbringing and the sphere of influence they walked in. As Christians we are all constrained by those forces.
With the writers we have to look at also at why the early church would let embarrassing events ascribed to the authors? Christ picked out 12 disciples and one of them Judas who decided to kill Jesus. Why would you make up that story. Christ was man incarnate God according to the writers. Would the church make up these stories? I do not believe that would be the case.
Was it important for the authors to be historical accurate? You have the embarrassing situations how about the harsh sayings for instance;
But of that day and [that] hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father
Christ is part of the godhead why would the authors include that in their writings. Perhaps because it actually was said by Christ? Were the writers just reflecting the humanity of Christ? What remains is that Christianity is grounded in historical fact. There are no revised biased manuscripts or revision of history. Did Christ walk? The answer would be yes! Were the authors reflecting the events as they say them? Yes! Why would they create another God in a land that had hundreds of gods, what would be the gain? There would be no gain in this endeavor.
The only gain would be to wash the filth of death that encompassed their soul every day and to give them hope for the future. The known world in the time of Mark, Matthew and Luke was small in comparison to our age with the internet. We can spread truth across the world. The only difference now is that we are unable to convey empathy to the Christians that are suffering. Empathy conveys unconditional love to another.
So to understand the first century and the lifestyle you would almost have to have been there. To walk in their shoes. They did not have sanitation facilities, they did not have bathtubs, they did not have cars, they did not have hospitals and the list goes on. The point being there was no gain to revise history as it happened. Did the writers really wanted to preserve history? Would the gospel writers have changed history? There are alot of religions that would change history because there is no historical fact to support the assumption. Christian theology is grounded in history. So the writers knew these things of Christ actually occured or otherwise it would have been forgotten. Could we prove these things happened? No. Does it mean it is not true the history of Christ and the answer is no.
The end result is that Mark, Matthew and Luke wrote their respective gospels and the events were true. Their expectations of Christ coming were real as are they should be. The second coming is when you accept Christ in your heart and you bathe in the waters of righteousness.
Accept Christ in your heart and bathe in the warm waters of righteousness and dry off with the truth. Clothe yourself in fine linens.
Tomorrow starts another series in Apologetics.