The four Gospels speak of Jesus the Christ. Together they speak about the life of Jesus in a number of ways. They tell of his virgin birth, his arguments with religious leaders, his miracles, his teachings, and more. They highlight his crucifixion on a Roman cross and his resurrection from the dead. But what are we to make of all of this? Are these simply untrue narratives by authors who were either duped or made it up? Is there a case for the reliability of the Gospels?
This post highlights a number of reasons why we should believe the gospels are reliable. This does not entail that they are 100% true, flawless, or anything similar. Instead, the gospels are something we should trust, and if we can trust them then we might have to rethink what we believe about Jesus of Nazareth.
Suppose we do not have the four Gospels at all. What can we know about Jesus of Nazareth? We will look at a number of non-Christian sources in order to figure out this answer.
Tacitus was born soon after Jesus was crucified. He held a number of Roman offices, but he is most famous today for his writings. While speaking about the fire in Rome in 64 AD, Tacitus mentions a number of relevant facts. Nero blamed a group of people called Chrestians (a common early spelling of Christians). He mentions a Christus, the founder of the name. This Christus was put to death during the reign of Tiberius by the sentence of Pontius Pilate. The disease (of Christians) started in Judea, which soon spread to Rome.
There are two main reasons to trust this part of his Annals comes from Tacitus.  First, scribes during the Middle Ages faithfully copied religious literature from the Greeks and Romans that differed from their own. If they were faithful copyists in this way, we need good reason to not trust them in other cases, especially when we have confirmation based on earlier findings of the relevant literature. Second, Tacitus’ style is known as silver Latin. So, preserving this style when Latin was a constantly evolving language would have been nearly impossible.
Pliny the Younger
Pliny the Younger was also born soon after Jesus was crucified. While governing Bithynia and Pontus from around 109-111, he wrote a number of letters to the emperor Trajan. In one of the most famous letters, he asks for advice on how he is supposed to deal with Christians. Interestingly, we also have Trajan’s reply. We can gather a number of points from this correspondence. Neither of them liked Christians. It was also often hard to be a Christian. Pliny also suggests there were a large number of Christians by talking about the number of people endangered by the trials, that this would include many persons of all ages and ranks and both sexes, and that the Christian contagion is not confined to cities but has spread to the villages and rural districts too. He says that temples were becoming nearly deserted and demand for sacrificial meat had tanked.
The Christians also believe in one God while singing to Christ “as to a god.” Since mere worship of the Roman gods meant that the worshiper was denying Christianity, Jesus is here seen as being the one God of the Christians.
Josephus is invaluable in understanding first century Palestine. Since there is considerable debate about one of the passages in his works that mentions Jesus, we will only focus on the other passage. This passage recounts the death of James, the brother of Jesus. Thus, it shows that Jesus has a brother, like the Gospels say. According to Acts and Galatians, James was the leader of Christians in Jerusalem, so this would explain why the high priest Ananus was involved in his death. The accusation is that they were violators of the Jewish law, just as Jesus had been accused before them. Josephus also tells us the valuable information that family members of Jesus were involved in the Jesus movement for several decades after his death. Given James’ death, a relative of Jesus must have really believed that the crucified Jew from Nazareth really was the Jewish Messiah. This knowledge of Jesus and role in the church makes major new teachings arising within the church improbable.
From non-Christian sources alone, then, we can learn the following facts: (1) confirmation of basic facts of the Gospels like Jesus’ death under Pilate; (2) Jesus was worshiped as God early on; (3) Jesus’ followers often experienced persecution; (4) Christianity spread widely and quickly; and (5) some early Christian leaders would have known of Jesus’ family origins. 
Next we will see what the four Gospels are.
What the Gospels Are
Contrary to some popular beliefs, the four gospels are not the result of some conspiracy by the church. Instead, they are the four earliest extended accounts about the life of Jesus. Already by the early third century we have attestation about the four Gospels being special from Egypt (Papyrus 45 in the Chester Beatty Library), France (Irenaeus), and Syria (Tatian). As Williams puts it, “[T]hese four books were treated together as the best source for information about Jesus long before any central city, group, or individual in Christianity possessed enough power to impose the collection on other people.” 
The four gospels are something of an anomaly in antiquity. The closeness to the life of Jesus, how close our copies are chronologically to when the original was composed, and the manuscript attestation are astounding. Comparing these and other facts to our sources about Emperor Tiberius shows that we have good information about Jesus relative to a well known figure from antiquity.
The Gospel Authors Knew Their Stuff
Here is what I want you to do. Without any outside help, come up with some places and names for a work set in the nation state of Germany in 1850. Stop here until you have done this, even if only in your head.
Well, let’s see how you did. Here’s the first thing: there was no nation state of Germany in 1850 (if you knew this and came up with places and names, then feel free to see if you can fact check your guesses). The point is that trying to come up with fictitious places and names for a place we do not know well is extremely difficult. This is so even though we have the internet at the tip of our fingers. This is the case even though many of us probably learned at some point that Germany did not become a nation state until 1871. So let’s see what happens when we apply this test to the Gospel authors.
Here are some charts from Williams: 
These tables show three things: (1) the writers have knowledge about a ranger of localities from well known to obscure; (2) no Gospel writer gains all of his knowledge from another because they all have unique information; and (3) the writers display knowledge about a variety of geographical information. All of this is extremely surprising if they are written well after the fact in some place outside of Palestine. As Williams says, “The four Gospels demonstrate familiarity with the geography of the places they write about.”  They must have received their information from experience or through listening closely to those who had such knowledge.
When Williams figures out the frequency of geographical references, the results are even more surprising. The locations mentioned per 1,000 words is as follows: Matthew = 4.905; Mark = 5.404; Luke = 5.087; and John = 4.921.  To wit, “The even distribution of place names in the four Gospels is unlikely to be the result of each of the four writers making a deliberate effort to spread names out, but is exactly the sort of pattern that might occur through unconscious behavior, recording places naturally when relevant to their stories.” 
Williams then looks at bodies of water, roads of travel, gardens, and more. He shows that not only are the Gospel authors accurate, but the Gospels themselves are valuable source of geographical information. This is especially obvious when you compare the four Gospels with later Gospels. There simply is no comparison.
I know you love charts, so here are a few more from Williams, who draws on the work of Richard Bauckham: 
Simply put, you could not live in another part of the Roman Empire and magically come up with names that would fit Palestine during the time of Jesus.
There is further confirmation here. When a number of people share the same name a reference can be ambiguous. This is why people take on nicknames or you add a descriptor like “Mike from accounting.” What we see when we study the gospels is that disambiguators are used for the most common names, but not for the less common ones. We saw that the naming patterns fit Palestine during the first century. Not only that, “but the disambiguation patterns are such as would be necessary in Palestine, but not elsewhere.”  Again, we find further evidence in the way that the narrator and the characters in the narrative are distinguished by their usage of names and disambiguators and the fact that the name of Jesus sometimes needs an extra identifier. So, “[t]heir knowledge of local names reinforces this pattern of local familiarity.” 
The Gospels Jewishness also serves as evidence for their early testimony. Here are a few interesting examples. When Jesus is being tempted in the wilderness a matter of dispute is the correct reading of Psalm 91. Through the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (11Q11, specifically), we learn that this psalm was used to exorcise demons.  Moreover, Jesus prayer in Luke 23:46 is a direct quotation of Psalm 31:5, “the traditional deathbed prayer of an observant Jew.”  This stands in contrast to later Gospels. Given the split between Judaism and followers of Jesus, the pervasive Judaism favors an earlier date.
Botanical terms, finance, local languages, and unusual customs all serve as further evidence about what the Gospel authors knew.
Simply put, the Gospel authors knew their stuff. They had detailed knowledge about place names, names of people, Jewishness, botanical terms, finances, languages, and customs. This is not simply minor knowledge, but a depth that is rather astounding. For us, it can be difficult to fathom how hard it would be to try and make this fit into a time and place that you are not familiar with. With the internet at our fingertips, we think such a task is easy.
However, it is difficult even with the internet, as you can discern if you look into the writing process of someone like Thomas Pynchon. Given that this process is already difficult and that the Gospel authors did not have the internet or the resources we do, these are strong arguments in favor of the Gospels being connected with someone that really knew first century Palestine during the time of Jesus. This is a strong argument for reliability.
Mary and Martha
Take Luke 10:38-42. There we see Martha as the one who is busy at work while Mary sits and is more contemplative. Now consider when Jesus goes to raise Lazarus from the dead. Well, Martha is at work in going to welcome and speak with Jesus while Mary sits. Once she goes to see Jesus, she fell at his feet, just as she was sitting at his feet in Luke. In Luke, Martha is concerned with practical necessities: she needs help. So it comes as no surprise that when Jesus says to remove the stone from Lazarus’ tomb in order to raise him from the dead that Martha is worried about practical concerns: he’s going to stink.
In terms of content, the narratives are vastly different because they are talking about different situations. However, in terms of character portrayal, the two line up very seamlessly. There is no reason to think that this is because of deliberate effort by one of the authors. Williams explains undesigned coincidences like this, “In an undesigned coincidence, writers show agreement of a kind that it is hard to imagine as deliberately contrived by either author to make the story look authentic.”  So one could imagine that this is somehow deliberately contrived, but the upshot is that “then you imagine that they are among the most brilliant of all ancient authors.”  The better explanation is that the authors are reliable.
Lest you think this is a once off incident, I will give a few more examples.
Sons of Thunder
In Mark 3, Jesus refers to James and John as sons of thunder. Nothing more is said about this. Yet in Luke 9 we learn that they wanted to call down fire from heaven on a Samaritan village. That certainly fits the character one would infer from their nickname.
A really interesting example is the feeding of the 5,000. Both Mark and John make a note about the grass, but they do nothing more with it. Mark says that they retreated to a more desolate place because many people were moving about, yet he does not make more of this. John alone adds that the miracle took place when Passover was approaching. This explains the movement noted in Mark. He does not make anything about the crowds moving about, but simply mentions the coming Passover. When Jesus sees the large crowd, he asks Philip where they are supposed to get bread. Why does he ask Philip specifically? Moreover, Andrew is the one who answers. Why does he answer? John gives no reason.
Yet there is a clue. Earlier John wrote that Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Guess where Luke locates this miracle. You got it, near Bethsaida. So we have all of these interweaving accounts that are explaining one another.
Williams put it like this, “So in this narrative, John explains the many people traveling in Mark, and Luke explains the dialogue in John. Even the little detail in John that the boy has barley loaves (John 6:9) fits nicely with the nearness of Passover, which immediately follows the barley harvest.”  But, to merge the descriptions of Mark and John, what about the abundance of green grass? Based on precipitation records from nearby Tiberias and the calendrical range that Passover would have to fall on, the description of an abundance of green grass fits perfectly.
Yet all of these undesigned coincidences surround a miracle: the feeding of the 5,000. To understate the point, it is a bit odd to think that the Gospel writers preserved the details so well and somehow the main event was corrupted. It is hard to see this as anything but special pleading.
The Gospels and Josephus
One final undesigned coincidence comes from look at the Gospels and Josephus. In Antiquities of the Jews, the people link John the Baptist’s death with the defeat of Herod’s army. There is no clear explanation of why this is. Josephus informs us that the cause of contention between Herod Antipas and Aretas was that Herod married Aretas’s daughter and then divorced her later in order to marry Herodias. Yet the Gospels tell us that John opposed Herod’s new marriage and this was the cause for his arrest and eventual death. Williams shows how these diverse sources explain one another: “the Jews connected the destruction of Herod’s army with his execution of John the Baptist precisely because John’s execution had been for publicly opposing the new marriage that was the root cause of the conflict.” 
This is only to scratch the surface of undesigned coincidences. Yet even these are impressive. Citing Lydia McGrew’s book on this topic, Williams points out that “on nine occasions the Synoptic Gospels [Matthew, Mark, and Luke] explain John, on six occasions John explains the Synoptics, and on four occasions the Synoptics explain each other.”  Now, you could contrive all sorts of explanations for each one of these, but each additional explanation adds complexity. The better explanation is that we are dealing with truthful records.
The Words of Jesus?
The way we quote people cannot be read back into the Gospels. Take some of the quotes in this post. You probably expect me to use the exact words quoted. If I make omissions, you expect me to indicate this with ellipsis. If I add words, this is done with brackets. However, we cannot read this back into the Gospels in order to figure out whether we have the words of Jesus.
So, when we look at the Gospels and see that they have Jesus saying different words in the same incident, that does not entail that we do not have the words of Jesus. The classic distinction here is between having the ipsissima verba (the very words) and the ipsissima vox (the very voice). To use a modern example, our modern understanding of direct quotation is focused on the very words. When we paraphrase someone’s thoughts or put it into our own words, we are focused on the very voice.
So, do we have the very voice of Jesus in the Gospels? Let’s look at some of the evidence.
Setting the Stage
If the Gospel authors were putting words into Jesus’ mouth, quite a bit of the text is surprising. In the early church, the role of circumcision was hugely debated. Why would the Gospel authors not have Jesus speak on this topic? Similarly. the Jesus movement spread rapidly in order to include Gentiles. Yet the Gospels can refer to Gentiles as the outsider, evil, and as dogs. And why would the Gospel authors ever have Jesus say that his followers were supposed to do everything that the Pharisees say (Matt. 23:3)?
We all know the Golden Rule: “whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Matt. 7:12) and “as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” (Luke 6:31) Whether this is the first articulation of the positive form of this command, tracing it to some form that Jesus would know is difficult. Since it is simpler to think that one person came up with it instead of Matthew and Luke coming up with it independently or positing some unknown third source that is then supposed to influence the two in a way that makes them put it on the lips of Jesus, this is an indication that we have the words of Jesus.
Jesus spoke in short stories. Jesus tells more than 40 parables in the Gospels. Here are some reasons to suppose that Jesus actually said them: (1) there are few or no parables in preceding Jewish literature (the Old Testament, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Apocrypha) and few used by early Christians outside of the New Testament; (2) if we want to deny that Jesus said them then we need to multiply inventors and so make the explanation more complicated (especially once we note that they essentially died out after the Gospels); and (3) parables like the sower, the good Samaritan, and others are seen as the work of genius and so are better explained by having a singular fountainhead.  Further confirmation is seen in the fact that Jesus’ parables often include traditional elements (a king, servants, a banquet, for one example) in order to arrive at a surprising conclusion. So a setting in first century Palestine makes great sense.
Son of Man
This is another factor that seems to irrupt with Jesus and then die out. The phrase “Son of Man” is found on the lips of Jesus often. Yet it is rarely found in the rest of the New Testament and widely absent from the rest of early Christian literature. Since the phrase is found in all four gospels and all different types of material, it is best to see this as going back to Jesus.
What about John?
To first shake our expectations, I want us to think about our normal experience. Consider yourself and the people you know. Do you typically only talk in short, pithy statements and parables? Or, instead, do you often talk in longer forms of discourse, maybe talking for 5-10 minutes straight, if not longer once we include some interjections by others. Most likely we are much heavier on the longer forms of discourse. Based on that, the form of discourse in John seems more likely to come from someone over the short, pithy statements and parables in the Synoptics (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). So the fact that John is how John is should not be surprising at all.
Yet Williams also cites some reasons for thinking that John and the Synoptics draw on common material.  First, he highlights what is known as the Johannine thunderbolt. Here it is from Matthew 11:25-27, “At that time Jesus declared, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.'” Now, maybe you have not read the Gospels in order to get a sense for their language and writing. However, if this passage was not found in any of the Gospels, someone made it up, and then they asked scholars to figure out what Gospel it would fit in best, the clear answer would be John. So, when John has long sections about Jesus talking about God as his father and himself as the Son, this finds confirmation in the Synoptics.
Second, consider the use of Son of Man in all four Gospels. While there is considerable debate about the phrase, Daniel 7 is certainly in the background in some sense. There two common themes are picked up on at points: (1) coming and (2) authority. Yet it is exactly these themes that lie behind the use of Son of Man in John. This fits well with going back to a common speaker, Jesus.
Third, consider the resurrection appearances in Matthew and John. Both have the woman or women clinging to Jesus. Both have Jesus telling them what to do. Both have Jesus referring to his followers as “my brothers.” So there is large overlap here on what is more minor details. For another example, John does not record the prayer in the garden of Gethsemane about removing the cup, but at his arrest John has Jesus referring to his coming suffering with the word cup (John 18:11).
Here we should also not forget the undesigned coincidences discussed above. To jog your memory, revisit the section on the feeding of the 5,000.
What about Aramaic?
The first point to make is that even if Jesus did primarily speak in Aramaic then this does not mean we do not have the very voice of Jesus in the Greek text. While there is no perfect translation, that is a far cry from saying that there has been mistranslation. Even so, Jesus’ linguistic knowledge is debated: “the still popular idea that Palestine was an exclusively Aramaic-speaking domain probably owes more to the romance of the idea than to any hard historical evidence.” 
Here is an interesting tidbit I learned on this matter. Jerusalem’s ruling council was called the Sanhedrin. Most of us with some familiarity with the Gospels probably know that. So here’s the interesting part: Sanhedrin is a Greek name. So the influence of the Greek language clearly spread quite a bit.
Jesus grew up in Nazareth, which was close to Sepphoris. Given the occupation of Joseph and Jesus, it is likely that they would have been involved in construction projects in Sepphoris and thus had contact with the Greek language. Further attestation is found in Jesus’ interactions with the Greeks in John 12:23, the centurion in Matthew 8:5-13, the Greek woman in Mark 7:26, and maybe the Herodians in Mark 12:13. 
None of this means Jesus only spoke Greek. However, all of this does cast doubt on Jesus only knowing Aramaic. The complex interplay between different cultures and languages is clearly going on in first century Palestine. It is not therefore surprising if Jesus knew, and sometimes taught in, Greek. No matter the verdict, none of this should lead to doubt about the reliability of the Gospels.
We have covered a number of reasons to think that we have the words of Jesus. While this should not be taken in the modern sense of exact quotations, the fact that Jesus does not address circumcision, the genius of the sayings, the parables, and the phrase Son of Man all support that we reliably have Jesus’ words. John does not cast doubt on this because of the agreement in material. It is also noteworthy that John seems like a better fit for how people speak over the shorter sayings of the Synoptics. Finally, while the extent of Jesus’ knowledge about various languages is debated, none of this casts doubt on the reliability of the Gospels.
A Corrupted Text?
Williams approaches this question by looking as the work of Desiderius Erasmus. He produced the first published and printed edition of the Greek New Testament. He only had two manuscripts available for his work on the Gospels. Moreover, both of these manuscripts came from the 12th century. So Erasmus was working from a very small text base and with manuscripts that were separated from the Gospels by over a millennium. If scribal copying is poor, then we would expect all sorts of errors in Erasmus’s Greek New Testament.
We now have a couple of thousand Greek manuscripts for the Gospels. We also have two manuscripts of all four Gospels that are from 350 AD–Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus. On top of this, some early fragments and copies may even come from the second century. The text base has been considerably expanded while the chronological distance has massively shrunk. So what do we find when we compare modern critical editions to Erasmus’s Greek New Testament?
There are two major differences. First, there is the longer end of Mark, the text that comes after Mark 16:8. Second, there are twelve verses in John, John 7:53-8:11. What is interesting here is that Erasmus would have knew about these possibilities. One of his two manuscripts told him about the uncertainty about the longer ending of Mark and omitted the verses from John. As Williams writes, “In other words, the most learned man on earth in the sixteenth century would not have been surprised by any discoveries in the last five centuries that have called these verses into question.”  The doubtfulness of these verses actually shows that there was no overarching authority imposing uniformity on the text.
Soon after Erasmus there arose a man named Robert Estienne, also known as Stephanus. He is famous for introducing verse numbers in 1551. Besides the two longer blocks of text just mentioned, a comparison of Erasmus’s Greek New Testament a modern critical edition brings to daylight that there are eleven verses that are not found in modern editions (as an example, Matthew in the English Standard Version skips from 18:10 to 18:12. Of these eleven verses, Erasmus knew about uncertainty for three of them. So when total up the difference in verses between Erasmus’s edition and ours today, Erasmus knew about uncertainty for at least 27 out of the 35 verses. That’s 77%!
There are still a few cases where modern scholars think our current versions have too much text. These verses are Matthew 16:2b-3, Luke 22:43-44, and Luke 23:34a. This is only about four verses out of around 3,750 verses in the Gospels. In other words, about 0.1%.
But what about before the earliest copies that we have? A few considerations point against this. First, there is no reason to think the earliest texts were in a state of flux. In fact, based on the information covered above, we have every reason to think the opposite. Given the rapid spread of Christianity and thus its writings, the idea that the earliest text is somehow lost is extremely improbable. Finally, given that scribes in the ancient world were not authors but were, well, scribes, they have every reason to faithfully transmit the text.
The purpose is not to dispel every supposed contradiction. For one, even if there are contradictions that does not mean the Gospels are not reliable. The argument is that the Gospels are reliable and trustworthy, not that they are inerrant.
William’s approach is a roundabout approach. Instead of dispelling the most commonly cited contradictions or the hardest ones, he wants us to think more deeply about the topic. To this end, he highlights “deliberate formal contradictions” within the Gospel of John itself and with 1 John, a book that bears stylistic similarities with the Gospel of John.
He gives six examples: (1) God loves the world (John 3:16) and we are not supposed to love the world (1 John 2:15); (2) people believed when they saw Jesus’ signs (John 2:23) and they did not believe (John 12:37); (3) they know Jesus and where he came from (John 7:28) and they do not know him and where he came from (John 8:14, 19); (4) if Jesus bears witness about himself then his testimony is not true (John 5:31) and the opposite (John 8:13-14); (5) Jesus judges no one (John 8:15) and he has much to judge (John 8:16, 26); and (6) Jesus did not come to judge (John 3:17; 12:47) and he came to judge (John 9:39).
These “contradictions” are deliberate. They make us think more deeply about the words and subject matter at hand. So if we only have a passing familiarity with the Gospel of John and are out looking for contradictions, we will actually miss out on the subtleties at hand.
Given that background, Williams next looks at a quote from Bart Ehrman. In the quote, Ehrman highlights a contradiction in the Farewell Discourse (John 13-17) that he missed for years. He highlights that Peter asks where Jesus is going (John 13:36), as does Thomas (John 14:5), but then at the same meal and a few minutes later Jesus asks why none of them ask him where he is going (John 16:5). Ehrman concludes that there must be differing sources behind these chapters that give rise to the contradiction.
But the points highlighted above should temper such a conclusion. After all, this means that the final author created a work that (1) somehow put together various sources so well that they were missed for ~1900 years yet (2) contains a blatant contradiction within a few minutes of reading. That is quite the feat. Instead, given the nature of John’s Gospel it seems more likely that Ehrman has missed the irony: Jesus is going to the cross and then his Father, but the disciples are wondering about more mundane matters like where is he walking next. The problem is that proving or dispelling contradictions has become a point scoring matter.
The Gospel of John, then, uses what looks like formal contradictions in order to make the reader think more deeply. To use a personal example, I find that often when I am interacting with people that I want to say the near opposite of what they say even if I agree formally with their statement. This is reflected in the old adage, a half truth is a whole lie. Pushing in one (even true) direction can end up distorting the whole.
None of this entails that there are no contradictions in the Gospels. It does, hopefully, reorient the way we approach these matters though. To take another example, we cannot assume that different authors use the same word in the exact same way. We tend to understand this in everyday life, but it is easy for all of us to forget when we start reading the Gospels. No matter what one ends up concluding about this matter, mere contradictions do not prove that the Gospels are untrustworthy. If contradictions with other pieces of literature proved something untrustworthy, there would be no reliable piece of literature.
One can, of course, make up explanations for all of these facts that still leave the Gospels unreliable. But to come up with these explanations and then stack them together is exceedingly improbable. The evidence therefore leads to the conclusion that the Gospels are reliable.
Yet those tricky miracles are left. Apart from the miracles, most people probably would not have much of a problem with the Gospels being reliable. So what about them? Well the philosophical objections do not get off the ground. If you assume miracles cannot occur, well that is simply begging the question. The idea that miracles break the laws of physics simply assumes that God cannot work in the world. And if one wants to suppose that they are so improbable such that one can never rationally believe in miracles, well that is simply not borne out probabilistically. The most one could say is that no miracle has overcome the necessary threshold, but that cannot be used to beg the question.
There is good evidence for a miracle though. Here Williams focuses on the resurrection. We have covered this topic on Capturing Christianity before, so feel free to check out these links. So even the miracles can be trusted.
The Gospels are not only reliable for the history, but also for the message. Again, humans are ingenious and can come up with a million explanations. But we must step back and ask what is the best explanation of it all. If all of history hangs upon Jesus, then so much is explained: the historicity of the Gospels, the resurrection, the correspondence between the Old Testament and Jesus’ life, the genius of Jesus, his character, and more. This, though, is a supposition that involves more than mere cognitive assent. It is not simply asking for one to sign on to some facts. If this is true, Jesus truly is Lord. The one thing Jesus cannot be is moderately important.
As an introductory case on the reliability of the Gospels, Peter Williams’s Can We Trust the Gospels? is a standout. It is a book that can easily be read within a few days, yet, if this review shows anything, it is a treasure trove of information. Can we trust the Gospels? To be sure. Jesus speaks today as he spoke to his first followers, “Follow me.”
Notes Peter S. Williams, Can We Trust the Gospels?, loc. 193ff.
 Ibid., loc. 400ff.
 Ibid., loc. 500.
 Ibid., loc. 754ff.
 Ibid., loc. 888.
 Ibid., table 3.5.
 Ibid., loc. 936; emphasis original.
 Ibid., loc. 1058ff.
 Ibid., loc. 1140; emphasis original.
 Ibid., loc. 1259.
 Ibid., loc. 1300.
 Ibid., loc. 1308; citing R. Steven Notley.
 Ibid., loc. 1527.
 Ibid., loc. 1529.
 Ibid., loc. 1606ff.
 Ibid., loc. 1644.
 Ibid., loc. 1574.
 Ibid., loc. 1730ff.
 Ibid., loc. 1763ff.
 Ibid., loc. 1809.
 Ibid., loc. 1853.
 Ibid., loc. 1938.
About the Featured Image
This is an early manuscript of Luke 9.26-41; 9.45-10.1.
Object Number: BP I f.10
Description: Folio from the Gospel of Luke from a codex containing the Four Gospels and Acts (P45), written in Greek with ink on papyrus; made in Egypt and dated to the early to mid-third century AD. This manuscript is the earliest undeniable example of a four-gospel codex and 30 of the original 112 leaves survive. The gospels here were probably ordered according to the ‘Western’ sequence (in descending length): Matthew, John, Luke, Mark. The manuscript, together with the ten other books collectively known as the Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri, was acquired by Chester Beatty in the early 1930s.