If you’re anything like me, you find the study of textual criticism fascinating. But, most folks in the pews today do not. They instinctively or subconsciously trust the translators down through the centuries that the Bible they have is God’s Word. Moreover, they trust the Lord that He has given them His Word. And that’s OK. However, what about the man on the street who struggles with questions of the age, transmission, accuracy, and therefore the truthfulness of the Bible. Can We Trust the Gospels? by Peter J. Williams seeks to answer those questions and does so successfully.
I have personally encountered these objections from people who reject Christianity based almost solely on the rejection of Scripture and therefore they reject God. This is one area that we who accept Scripture as God’s Word must have a basic understanding in order to defend what we believe. I was drawn to this book as soon as I read the title.
At 160 pages, it is not an in depth study of the Gospels or their defense and was not intended to be so. This work offers a basic understanding for evidence to believe the Gospels are worth trusting. It is, however, also more than just a cursory walk through of the evidence. Each chapter is written to enable the reader to have confidence that what they are reading in their Gospels is not superfluous nonsense written long ago.
1 What Do Non-Christian Sources Say?
2 What Are the Four Gospels?
3 Did the Gospel Authors Know Their Stuff?
4 Undesigned Coincidences
5 Do We Have Jesus’s Actual Words?
6 Has the Text Changed?
7 What about Contradictions?
8 Who Would Make All This Up?
What stood out, among many, many things, is why we have four Gospels. What was the focus of each one? Why do they seemingly disagree at times (chapter 2 & 7)? How the Gospels authors were aware of people, places, names, and culture (chapter 3). Where the Four Gospels differ from the later non-canonical gospels and why. Contradictions – are they really contradictions (chapter 7)? How it would be impossible for four independent authors, at different geographic locations, at different times within the first century, be able to relate the same accounts in the life of Jesus. Chapter 4 is uniquely interesting. It demonstrates how small details that may appear in one Gospel account but not in another Gospel, such as the feeding of the 5000, corroborate the accounts as accurate and true and impossible to coordinate between the independent authors if they were not true. Thus authenticating the accuracy of the individual accounts and the Gospels themselves.
This is a five-star work. Easy to read, easy to digest and easy to enjoy. Well worth your time and effort.
Crossway has provided a complimentary copy of this book through Beyond the Page. Thoughts and opinions are my own.