What evidence supports the Gospels as reliable history?
This question is one worth answering because the evidence is not only readily available, but also because the majority of skeptical scholars have to acknowledge it even if it goes against their assumptions. First, we need to clarify what evidence is. Simply put, it is something that makes something else more likely to be true. If that’s what we’re looking for, what counts as historical evidence? People, places, and things that fall in line with the history someone is trying to prove would fall into this category. With the names we are given in the gospels, we can conclude it was written during the time Jesus is claimed to have lived in history. Their names would include; Herod the Great, Caesar Augustus, Quirinius, Herod Agrippa, Pontius Pilate, Caesar Tiberius, Ananias, and Caiphas. All of these people are verifiable historical figures that are all mentioned in the Gospels to help set the date. Likewise, the places mentioned aren’t fictional at all. Judea, the Roman Empire, Samaria, Galilee, Jerusalem, Asia Minor, and geographical details that fall in line with other 1st century writings about these areas also fall in line to make the gospels more believable based on the evidence we have available. But most significantly, we also are told a lot about when it was written in history because of what isn’t mentioned. According to Jewish historians, the destruction of Jerusalem was the most horrific event for a Jew, Christian or otherwise, to ever imagine. This took place in 70 AD. Since the authors of the gospels were all Jews or came from Jewish sources, the fact that they never record the Temple’s destruction says a lot about when it was written. Based on this we can conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the Gospels were written during the lifetimes of the people who saw Jesus firsthand. That is the next salvo of evidence to prove the Gospels as reliable. They identify themselves all as eyewitnesses of everything they recorded. And these same people all endured lives of torture, persecution, and death showing their sincerity. To dismiss this as deception would only hold water if the writers of the Gospels weren’t the eyewitnesses themselves. Unfortunately for the skeptic, we also have the writings of early church fathers like Polycarp, Clement, and Ignatius who knew one or more of the eyewitnesses and affirm/quote/treat the four Gospels all as history given by the eyewitnesses themselves. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but handled properly would lead anyone to conclude the gospels are historically reliable.
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