Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The Gospel Conspiracy Theory

Atheists, skeptics and others who attempt to debunk various areas of the Christian faith have long insisted that the four Gospels we have in the New Testament are there only because a certain faction, "won out" over others and, supported by the Emperor Constantine, finally imposed their views regarding the canon of Scripture at Nicaea. They say it is an illustration of history being written by the winners. This of course was quite arguably not at all the case.

I came across an interesting article on the subject at, of all places, the Huntington Post website, in a post by Charles E. Hill.
There once were, of course, other Gospels...

...Yet before there were the many Gospels, there were only the four. Not that the four were necessarily the very first writings about Jesus ever scribed, but they are the earliest which we now have. And they are the earliest whose existence we are actually sure of.

Read it all here...

It brought to mind something I had written when one of my liberal seminary professors questioned the authorship of the Gospel of John;
The earliest tradition of the Church held John to be the author. Culpepper [R. Alan Culpepper, author of the course textbook] and others have made the accusation that the superscription, "According to John," was added some time in the second century, but Martin Hengel [in his book, 'The Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ'] gives, in my opinion, a convincing argument otherwise. His position is that

1. The superscriptions were not secondary additions, but part of all four Gospels as originally circulated, and
2. The Gospels did not first circulate anonymously.

Hengel says, "Nevertheless, the fact remains that it is utterly improbable that in this dark period (the first half of the second century) the four superscriptions of the Gospels, which had hitherto been circulating anonymously, suddenly came into being and, without leaving behind traces of earlier divergent titles, became established throughout the church. Let those who deny the great age and originality of the Gospel superscriptions give a better explanation of the comletely unanimous and relatively early attestation of these titles, their origins and the names of the authors associated with them. Such an explanation has yet to be given, and it never will."

Interesting stuff. Once again, the orthodox Christian need not apologize to his critics for holding to his faith.
Take Care

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