Phew, so after grading 200 undergraduate exams, submitting finals and seminar papers, and tutoring clients with their finals, I have finally finished the Fall quarter! Some good news for the Fall is that I passed my Roman History qualifying exam, so that is at least one Ph.D. requirement out of the way.
Somehow in the chaos of it all I felt inclined to do a rather lengthy blog on why the majority of New Testament scholars doubt the traditional authors of the Gospels. I think it is my longest blog yet.
I think it is important to do blogs on methodology, since apologists like Cliffe Knechtle often try to put non-believers on the spot when asking loaded questions to college freshmen like, “Well, what criteria do you use to determine historicity?!” I think such questions are manipulative rhetorical tactics, since, obviously, someone cannot realistically respond to such a question on the fly. I’ve literally written hundreds of pages on historical issues, and even I couldn’t answer such an open-ended question in an immediate, extemporaneous response. Apologists who ask such questions are not really concerned with getting thought out answers, rather than putting non-believers on the defensive, as if they have to construct an entire historical theory, merely not to believe in a few ancient myths.
Fortunately, my holiday present for the year is that I have now written three very extensive posts on methodology and skepticism towards the Gospels. For refuting the traditional authors and alleged “eyewitness” status of the Gospels, see here. For refuting the claim that the Gospels are historical in genre, see here. For an analysis of historiographical criteria and why we can doubt the historical reliability of the Gospels, see here.
In all of these articles I apply the same criteria to non-Christian texts, showing how it is not hyper-skepticism but fair historical treatment that leads informed and reasonable people to doubt the reliability of the New Testament.
That is my answer to apologists like Cliffe who try to catch laymen off guard in order to bombard them with questions they can’t answer. As someone who studies Classics and Ancient History, I answer them.
In any regard, I will be traveling to Phoenix these next couple weeks to spend time with my parents and relatives. I’ll still be around occasionally to answer emails and comments, but, as it is the Holiday Season, I will be a bit slower in responding. However, feel free to keep sending your thoughts!
I hope that we can all catch up on some rest and enjoy the end of the year!