Dr. Rene' Lopez, author of the book, The Jesus Family Tomb Examined: Did Jesus Rise Physically?, has graciously granted permission to ABR to publish Chapter 10 of this important and well-researched book. This is the first part of a three part online article. Concerning this book, Dr. Darrell Bock writes: 'This work by Rene A. Lopez covers the issues ranging from every angle: archeological, historical, and theological. Rene has gone through the many discussions these claims have generated, giving them a close look. He is well equipped to guide one through the myriad of questions these claims have raised. This is the book to get on the Jesus Tomb claims. In it, you will be able to assess what the discussion is about. I commend the book with enthusiasm. I think you will discover a great deal in the process.'
People who believe in a physical Resurrection would not be affected by the discovery of Jesus bone box.... With respect to his Ascension to heaven, the New Testament also does not tell us that its chroniclers believed that Jesus, when he ascended, needed to take his entire body with him. So if you believe in a physical Ascension, the ossuary is a problem. But if you believe in a spiritual one, it becomes an object of veneration.1
Most scholars have admitted that early witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection believed they really saw Him alive after He had died.2 But these scholars differ on how they explain what the witnesses saw. They attempt to explain the Resurrection in one of three ways: the natural view, the supernatural view, and the agnostic view.3 The agnostic view pleads ignorance to what early witnesses saw, while the other two views are each subdivided into two categories.
For example, the natural view seeks to explain Jesus’ resurrection by either a subjective internal means or objective external means.
The subjective internal theory says that the witnesses experienced hallucinations. While many believed they saw Jesus alive, this was just their imagination.4 Willi Marxsen held that Peter was influenced to believe in the risen Jesus by a vision, whose faith then influenced others to promote the idea that Jesus rose though they themselves did not personally experience the vision. Marxsen adds that it is impossible to know “the actual reality” of what Peter saw.5 To hold this view, however, one would have to reinterpret the normal meaning of the word “see” when perceiving someone or something objectively, redefine the straightforward testimony of the Gospel accounts of seeing, touching, and eating with the risen Jesus, and reinterpret Paul’s terminology in 1 Corinthians 15:1–9 that mentions that a number of people had “seen” the risen Jesus. Hence this view has not been prominent among scholars.
Some who hold to an objective external theory interpret Jesus’ resurrection with fantastic explanations. For example, one of the most famous explanations is the “swoon” or “apparent death” view. This view postulates that Jesus merely fainted on the cross, and that after being taken down from the cross and taken to a tomb He somehow survived. Though this view has its advocates, the majority of scholars have rejected this theory since far too many assumptions and exceptions must occur for it to be true, besides having to discard extrabiblical and biblical testimony that says otherwise.6
Variations of the naturalistic view exist, but basically this view alleges that Jesus never rose from the dead. Gary R. Habermas concludes, “Each of the naturalistic theories was attacked piece by piece by the liberal scholars in the nineteenth century, as each criticized the other’s approaches. In the twentieth century, critical scholarship has largely rejected wholesale the naturalistic approaches to the resurrection.”7
On the other hand, the supernatural view claims that something actually happened to Jesus after He died. In this view there are also subjective and objective elements as well. The subjective idea of having a personal “vision” was debunked by Theodor Keim, who held that Jesus appeared objectively to the disciples “in the form of heavenly ‘telegrams,’ revealing his glorified state and convincing them he was alive and well.”8 Although in this view the tomb was not empty, Jesus made supernatural appearances in a noncorporeal way.9
Likewise the Jesus Family Tomb (JFT) book and Lost Tomb of Jesus (LTJ) film advocates, along with some scholars, believe Jesus’ resurrection appearances were spiritual in nature. Hence when interpreting the Resurrection accounts of what the early followers saw, they allege that one should not jump to conclusions that their visions prove that Jesus rose bodily. This helps the JFT theory that possessing an ossuary belonging to Jesus of Nazareth is not incompatible with the biblical accounts of the Resurrection or contrary to the historical Christian view of the Resurrection.
Furthermore, some reject the idea that Jesus rose bodily since fallible men wrote the Bible, and since it has a number of errors, who can trust it? This is the allegation made recently by the best-selling author Bart D. Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus.10
Because many books, monographs, and articles have thoroughly addressed the issue of Jesus’ resurrection and whether the Bible is a trustworthy historical document, there is no need to repeat that information exhaustively here.11 Our scope will be much more limited to address arguments on whether Jesus rose from the dead, and whether He had a spiritual or a physical body.
Before discussing the Resurrection, however, one should first validate the document (the Bible) used to testify of Jesus’ resurrection. That is, can the Bible be trusted and thereby give credence to the Resurrection accounts of Jesus of Nazareth?
The Bible as an Accurate Historical Document
A number of scholars agree with the sentiment of Earl Doherty who writes, “We have nothing in the Gospels which casts a clear light on that early evolution or provides us with a guarantee that the surviving texts are a reliable picture of the beginning of the faith.”12 Along with this opinion, people also make an unwarranted assumption: “difference = contradiction, error, or lack of credibility.”13 Another assumption, popularized by Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, asserts that all of the Bible books were accepted as authoritative on the basis of an unfair vote by the Roman emperor Constantine in the fourth century at the Council of Nicea (A.D. 325).14
Before clarifying such allegations of errors, assumptions, and historical blunders, it must be openly stated that showing whether Jesus rose bodily from the grave does not depend on whether one believes in the inerrancy of Scripture. Gary R. Habermas and Michael R. Licona present the “minimal facts” arguments,
Too often the objection raised frequently against the Resurrection is, “Well, the Bible has errors, so we can’t believe Jesus rose.” We can quickly push this point to the side: “I am not arguing at this time for the inspiration of the Bible or even its general trustworthiness. Believer and skeptic alike accept the facts I’m using because they are so strongly supported. These facts must be addressed.”... Historians recognize that most writings of antiquity contain factual errors and propaganda. They still can identify kernels of historical truth in those sources. If they eliminated a source completely because of bias or error, they would know next to nothing about the past. Thus, [if one rejects]... the inspiration of the Bible, there was still the collection of historical facts that remained to be answered.15
These historical facts, which must be answered by those who reject the inspiration of Scripture, are discussed in this chapter to argue for the veracity of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Having said this, however, the evidence shows the Bible can be trusted as an accurate historical document that conveys the truth of what happened in Jerusalem over two thousand years ago.
It is a colossal historical blunder to allege that all twenty-seven New Testament (NT) books were deemed authoritative by a mere vote that occurred in the Council of Nicea A.D. 325.
First, the Council of Nicea had nothing to do with forming the canon (or the official recognized list of inspired books) of the NT. Instead this Council convened to settle the long-held belief about the deity of Jesus and His relationship to the Father, since a debate arose between two prominent men of the time. Presbyter Arius of Alexander believed Jesus was created and is not of the same nature as God the Father. Conversely Athanasius believed Jesus is distinct from the Father, but is similar in nature as God.16 After an almost unanimous vote of 316 to 2, the matter was settled and the long-held belief of the church for two hundred years now officially stood: Jesus is God.17
Second, within the first century the Bible claimed for itself to be inspired and people trusted it as God’s Word (Matt. 5:17; Luke 10:7; 24:27; Acts 2; 17:11; Gal. 6:16; Eph. 2:20; Col. 4:16; 1 Tim. 5:18; 2 Tim. 3:16–17; Heb. 1:1–2; 2 Pet. 1:19–21; 3:16; Rev. 1:3). Almost all scholars date all NT books within the first century, and some even believe they were all written before A.D. 70.18
Followers of the apostles, called church fathers, believed that these books were the inspired Word of God. Men like Ignatius of Antioch (A.D. 35–107) and Polycarp, a disciple of the apostle John (A.D. 65–115), and writings including the Epistle of Barnabas (A.D. 120) and the Epistle of Second Clement (A.D. 140) referred to the NT books as “Scripture.” Thus by the middle of the second century most of the books were already considered Scripture by church leaders.19 By the end of the second century most of the NT books appeared in a list called the Muratorian Fragment (Roman origin), except Hebrews, James, and 1 and 2 Peter. These books were still in question, which proves a rigorous process took place in the early church before accepting any book as authoritative.20
Because fast communication systems (airplanes, telephones, and computers) did not exist in those days, it took a while before all twenty-seven books of the NT were recognized and compiled. By A.D. 367, Athanasius was the first to mention the twenty-seven books of the NT as canonical.21 Later in two councils all twenty-seven books of our present NT were official recognized. This, however, did not occur simply because someone voted them arbitrarily into a list. F. F. Bruce forcefully says,
One thing must be emphatically stated. The New Testament books did not become authoritative for the Church because they were formally included in a canonical list; on the contrary, the Church included them in her canon because she already regarded them as divinely inspired, recognizing their innate worth and generally apostolic authority, direct or indirect. The first ecclesiastical councils to classify the canonical books were both held in North Africa—at Hippo Regius in 393 and at Carthage in 397—but what these councils did was not to impose something new upon the Christian communities but to codify what was already the general practice of these communities.22
Someone said eloquently, “‘The church did not create the Canon: the Canon created the church.’ In other words, it is the Word of God from the outside, given key moments in history through His chosen messengers, that calls the people of God into existence. In the fourth century, the church merely published for the sake of clarity what it had always believed.”23 To say otherwise is to make a historical blunder.
Another mistake many scholars and laymen make is assuming that “differences” equal “contradictions.” Understanding how to interpret history may be a bit complex and requires careful thought, since the way events are recorded may vary according to a writer’s perspective.
Darrell L. Bock illustrates this point by asking the name of the worldwide conflict that occurred at the turn of the twentieth century. “Only a few realize that it was initially called ‘The Great War’ or the ‘War to End All Wars.’ Both names expressed the scope of the conflict, which was unprecedented up to that time. The name this conflict is known by today is ‘The First World War,’ a name it could not have until the Second World War took place. Now whether one refers to this event by its original name, The Great War, or by its alternative, The Second World War, one is looking at the same set of historical events.” Sometimes an event may be understood and described by its original name or setting that took place or by its subsequent impact after it occurred. Therefore a historian may record an incident from its original perspective or how it was perceived in the aftermath of the event. Both accounts are true but have different perspectives with one description having more details than the other.24
Numerous examples of this sort occur in the Bible.25 That is, similar accounts of the same event may vary according to the perspective a historian wants to emphasize.
Many books have been written discussing problem passages in the Bible and passages that seem to contradict each other.26 Two examples will suffice to demonstrate the common erroneous assumption that “differences” equal “contradictions.”
Matthew 8:6–9 records a centurion asking Jesus to heal his servant. However, in Luke 7:3–8, messengers are the ones asking Him to heal the centurion’s servant. Perhaps these are two similar events that describe different occasions in which a centurion had a slave that needed healing. While that may work, for example, in the accounts described with similar details in the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain (Matt. 5:1; Luke 6:17), it seems incredulous here and in a number of occasions.27 Another way of resolving the issue is to say these accounts contradict each other and are mistaken. Recording such a contradiction, however, makes no sense if people were trying to forge a godly inspired document. It seems they would want to harmonize the text. The better alternative is to say both are emphasizing different details of the same account. Matthew addresses a Jewish audience in whose culture messengers spoke on behalf of a person as if the person/sender was present.28 “An example in our culture is when the White House press secretary speaks. What is important is not especially who he is but that he speaks for the president. Ancient culture was similar.”29 Thus Matthew summarizes the event as if the centurion is the one speaking to Jesus (normally understood by his Jewish audience), but since Luke addresses a mixed group of Gentiles he gives more details since they would not understand this way of summarizing the event.
Peter’s three denials of Jesus seem to clash in the biblical accounts because those accusing him differ (Matt. 26:69–75; Mark 14:66–72; Luke 22:55–62; John 18:15–18, 25–27). But again, “It may just be that as the denials proceeded, more than three people challenged Peter though different accounts note only some of those participants.”30
What may seem contradictory may be resolved by understanding the different perspectives the historians wanted to emphasize.
Another accusation made against the Bible’s trustworthiness appears on three levels, as noted by NT textual critic scholar Bart D. Ehrman. (1) Not only do we not have the original documents the apostles wrote, but we also do not posses copies, or copies of the copies of the primary text. All we have are very late copies of the originals.31 (2) A number of differences also exist in these copies, so much so that “there are more variants among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament.”32 (3) “Orthodox” scribes have altered the text so drastically in a number of places that the meaning of the text changes, which results in having a different doctrinal conclusion.33 Ehrman’s three objections are noted and answered by Daniel B. Wallace.34
First, Ehrman has no way of knowing how to determine those late third-or fourth-generation copies. We do have “between ten to fifteen copies within a century of the completion of the New Testament.”35 Hence it seems possible that these third-or fourth-generation copies were made from even earlier manuscripts. Ehrman simply gives a false impression.
Second, differences in manuscripts are sometimes compared to what occurs in a “telephone game.”36 Children sit in a wide circle. At one end a child repeats a secret to the one next to him and so on, until the last child repeats the message which by then is terribly distorted. Wallace, however, clarifies the fallacy of this comparison.
But the copying of New Testament manuscripts is hardly like this parlor game. Most obviously, the message is passed on in writing, not orally.... Second, rather than one line, multiple lines or streams of transmission are available. These help to function as checks and balances on the wording of the original. A little detective work in comparing, say, three lines of transmission, rather than reliance solely on the last person’s account in one line, would help recover the wording of the original story. Third, textual critics don’t rely on just the last person in each line but can interrogate several folks who are closer to the original source. Fourth, writers (known as church fathers) are commenting on the text as it is going through its transmissional history. And when there are chronological gaps among the manuscripts, these writers often fill in those gaps by telling us what the text said in that place in their day. Fifth, in the telephone game, once the story is told by one person, that individual has nothing else to do with the story. It is out of his or her hands. But the original New Testament books most likely were copied more than once and have been consulted even after several generations of copies had already been produced.37
Furthermore, do we really have more variations in the manuscript copies than we have words in the NT? Ehrman estimated that 400,000 textual deviations exist in the NT. Compared to the 138,162 words in the standard Greek NT this seems unusually high, and it gives the impression that no one could ever arrive at the original text of the Scriptures.38 Who can believe the Bible’s account of the early witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection if the copies were corrupted? But the fact is we can. What Ehrman presents as a huge problem is more apparent than real.
Most textual variations have no bearing on the meaning of the Scripture; no major doctrines are in doubt.39 Most of the differences simply involve a letter that was omitted in a word or added, or a variant spelling of a word, or a synonym. Even when a different word appears in a passage, which supposedly changes its meaning, so many copies exist along with quotations from church fathers that arriving at the original word and meaning of the text is only a matter of doing the necessary investigative work of comparison: internally in the context and externally by looking at the copies available.40 In fact, the Greek NT manuscripts are unrivaled by any other ancient works as the following chart shows41:
“Besides textual evidence from the New Testament Greek manuscripts and from early versions, the textual critic compares numerous scriptural quotations used in commentaries, sermons, and other treaties by early church fathers. Indeed, so extensive are these citations that if all other sources for our knowledge of the text of the New Testament were destroyed, they would be sufficient alone for the reconstruction of practically the entire New Testament.”42 Hence Wallace concludes, “In sum, New Testament textual critics suffer from an embarrassment of riches when their discipline is compared with other Greek and Latin literature. Although it is true that we don’t possess the original documents, to say that we don’t have the copies of the copies of the original, without further clarification as to what we do have, is misleading. Statements like this reveal one of the fundamental flaws in Misquoting Jesus: it’s not what Ehrman puts into the book that is so troubling but what he leaves out. And what he leaves out is any discussion of the tremendous resources at our disposal for reconstructing the text of the New Testament.”43
Part two of this article will begin with a discussion of the historical acceptance of the resurrection.
See Author Rene' Lopez discuss the Resurrection of Jesus based on the research in his book.
1. Simcha Jacobovici and Charles Pellegrino, The Jesus Family Tomb: The Discovery, the Investigation, and the Evidence That Could Change History (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2007), 70–71.
2. Gary R. Habermas, “Mapping the Recent Trend toward the Bodily Resurrection Appearances of Jesus in Light of Other Prominent Critical Positions,” in The Resurrection of Jesus: John Dominic Crossan and N. T. Wright in Dialogue, ed. Robert B. Steward (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2006), 79–81.
3. These categories and explanations that follow are derived from ibid., 82–92.
4. German liberals promoted this view beginning the second half of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century. See Gerd Lüdemann, The Resurrection of Jesus: History, Experience, Theology, trans. John Bowden (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1994); Gerd Lúdemann and Alf Ozen, What Really Happened to Jesus: A Historical Approach to the Resurrection, trans. John Bowden (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995).
5. Willi Marxsen, The Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, trans. Margaret Kohl (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1970), 88, 94, 96–97. He says the disciples “were all like Thomas and so an appearance was necessary. But this answer will hardly be thought satisfactory. Alternatively one might say that appearances really happened, so why should they not be reported? This may be admitted. But it is essential to add that an appearance was not necessary in order that the ten should believe; for they believed before. And this means that their faith too was dependent on the appearance to Peter. We can therefore now answer the question put earlier. Since the appearance to Peter led others to faith, the functional aspect was bound up with first appearance from the very beginning…. So although the functional aspect is not expressly named in the formula (‘Jesus appeared to Peter’), the function is none the less implicit and is to be read into it” (ibid., 90).
6. See chapter 13 for an analysis of this view.
7. Habermas, “Recent Trend toward the Bodily Resurrection Appearances of Jesus,” 86. For or an impressive list of scholars who reject the naturalistic view see p. 202 n. 41.
8. This is the explanation succinctly given by Habermas (ibid., 87 n. 43).
9. Hans Grass, Ostergeschehen und Osterberichte, 2nd ed. (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1962), 93, 118–19, 242, 279. This appears in Habermas, “Recent Trend toward the Bodily Resurrection Appearances of Jesus,” 87 n. 44.
10. Bart D. Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2005). In this book Ehrman asserts that the Bible cannot be trusted because it has numerous errors. In a debate between William Lane Craig and Bart D. Ehrman at College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts, on March 28, 2006, Craig said, “Sadly, Dr. Ehrman came to radically different conclusions as a result of his studies. In his most recent book he poignantly describes how he came to lose his teenage faith. I’m not sure, based on Dr. Ehrman’s writings, whether he still believes in Jesus’ resurrection or not. He never denies it. But he does deny that there can be historical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection. He maintains that there cannot be historical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection. Now this is a very bold claim, and so naturally I was interested to see what argument he would offer for its justification. I was stunned to discover that the philosophical argument he gives for this claim is an old argument against the identification of miracles which I had studied during my doctoral research and which is regarded by most philosophers today as demonstrably fallacious” (p. 3, italic his). Later in the debate Ehrman admitted, “I’m a historian dedicated to finding the historical truth. After years of studying, I finally came to the conclusion that everything I had previously thought about the historical evidence of the resurrection was absolutely wrong” (p. 9). Ehrman does not deny the resurrection nor does he affirm it. He is agnostic about it since he believes the concept of the Resurrection as a miracle cannot be verified in history. Whether that is true will be discussed later in this chapter. He says, “What about the resurrection of Jesus? I’m not saying it didn’t happen; but if it did happen, it would be a miracle. The resurrection claims are claims that not only that Jesus’ body came back alive; it came back alive never to die again. That’s a violation of what naturally happens, every day, time after time, millions of times a year. What are the chances of that happening? Well, it’d be a miracle. In other words, it’d be so highly improbable that we can’t account for it by natural means. A theologian may claim that it’s true, and to argue with the theologian we’d have to argue on theological grounds because there are no historical grounds to argue on. Historians can only establish what probably happened in the past, and by definition a miracle is the least probable occurrence. And so, by the very nature of the canons of historical research, we can’t claim historically that a miracle probably happened. By definition, it probably didn’t. And history can only establish what probably did. I wish we could establish miracles, but we can’t. It’s no one’s fault. It’s simply that the canons of historical research do not allow for the possibility of establishing as probable the least probable of all occurrences. For that reason, Bill’s four pieces of evidence are completely irrelevant. There cannot be historical probability for an event that defies probability, even if the event did happen. The resurrection has to be taken on faith, not on the basis of proof” (p. 12 italics his). For a complete analysis of the debate see William Lane Craig and Bart D. Ehrman, Is There Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus? A Debate between William Lane Craig and Bart D. Ehrman (online transcript: http://www.holycross.edu/departments/crec/web site/resurrection-debate-transcript.pdf, March 28, 2006, accessed November 5, 2007), 3, 9, 12. Ehrman's book is refuted by Timothy Jones in his book, Misquoting Truth, available in the ABR bookstore.
11. We need not duplicate here the enormous number of tomes written on Jesus’ resurrection. For a good bibliography (though not exhaustive) of primary and secondary references of works on the Resurrection see Gary R. Habermas and Michael R. Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2004); N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of God, Christian Origins and the Question of God, vol. 3 (London: SPCK, 2003).
12. Earl Doherty, Challenging the Verdict (Ottawa, ON: Age of Reason, 2001), 39. Some of those scholars are Bart D. Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993); idem, Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003); idem, Misquoting Jesus; Robert W. Funk, Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar, The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus, ed. R. Funk and J. V. Hills (New York: MacMillian Publishing, 1993).
13. Darrell L. Bock, Can I Trust the Bible? (Norcross, GA: Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, 2001), 18.
14. Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code: A Novel (New York: Doubleday, 2003), 233–35.
15. Habermas and Licona, Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, 44–45.
16. The Council of Nicea of A.D. 325 recorded the following: “We believe in one God, the Father All-sovereign, maker of heaven and earth, and all things visible and invisible; And in one Lord Jesus Christ, and the only-begotten Son of God, Begotten of the Father before all ages, Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father, through whom all things were made; who for us men and for our salvation came down from the heavens, and was made flesh of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man, and was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried, and rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures, and ascended into the heavens, and sits on the right hand of the Father, and comes again with glory to judge living and dead, of whose kingdom there shall be no end: And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and the Life-giver, that proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and Son is worshipped together and glorified together, who spoke through the prophets: In one holy catholic and apostolic church: We acknowledge one baptism unto remission of sins. We look for resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come.”
17. James L. Garlow and Peter Jones respond to the ridiculous allegation of Brown in, The Da Vinci Code, 233, in which he claimed this was a close vote of 316 to 2 (Cracking Da Vinci's Code [Colorado Springs, CO: Victor, 2004], 95). Darrell L. Bock points out that what occurred at Nicea was not a vote to make Jesus God. “This council and the creed represented what a sizable number of Christian communities had believed for more than two hundred years…. The vote at Nicea, rather than establishing the church’s beliefs, affirmed and officially recognized what was already the church’s dominant view” (Breaking the Da Vinci Code: Answers to Questions Everyone's Asking [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004], 102.
18. Out of a number of scholars that date all New Testament books within the first century John A. T. Robinson seems to make the best argument (Redating the New Testament [Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1976]). A. Harnack, C. E. Raven, and a number of contemporary scholars today also believe all NT books were written before A.D. 70.
19. F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? 6th ed. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1981), 25. Garlow and Jones also observe this Cracking Da Vinci's Code, 139.
20. This fact goes against a current popular opinion that believes competing Christianities and other religious “Gnostic” books existed and were also considered inspired. This theory is thoroughly refuted by Kostenberger and Kruger in their book, The Heresy of Orthodoxy, available in the ABR bookstore.
21. Bruce, New Testament Documents, 25.
22. Ibid., 27.
23. Garlow and Jones, Cracking Da Vinci's Code, 141. For an easy to read explanation of how the books of the Bible were formed, authoritatively accepted, and historically reliable see Josh D. McDowell, The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1999), 17–68; Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible: Revised and Expanded (Chicago: Moody Press, 1986).
24. Bock, Can I Trust the Bible? 18–19.
25. A number of these examples are explained by Bock (ibid., 19–28).
26. Formidable volumes addressing these issues are Robert Anderson, Misunderstood Texts of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1991); Gleason L. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982); F. F. Bruce, The Hard Sayings of Jesus, The Jesus Library, ed. Michael Green (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1983); J. Carl Laney, Answers to Tough Questions From Every Book of the Bible: A Survey of Problem Passages (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1997).
27. For example see Jesus’ baptism (Matt. 3:17; Mark 1:11; John 1:30–34), temptation (Matt. 4:1–11; Luke 4:1–13), and other places described in the books mentioned in note 26.
28. The following volumes point out how messengers can speak on behalf of others and can be addressed as if they are the person who sent them. J. C. L. Gibson, Canaanite Myths and Legends, ed. G. R. Driver (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark 1978), 42; Samuel A. Meier, The Messenger in the Ancient Semitic World, Harvard Semitic Monographs, ed. Frank Moore Cross, vol. 45 (Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1988), 184.
29. Bock, Can I Trust the Bible? 19.
30. Ibid., 21 (italics his).
31. Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus, 10.
32. Ibid., 90.
33. Ibid., 208.
34. Darrell L. Bock and Daniel B. Wallace, Dethroning Jesus: Exposing Popular Culture's Quest to Unseat the Biblical Christ (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 38–76. Other scholars mentioned in chapter two also expose a number of Ehrman’s errors. See Craig A. Evans, Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 25–31; Ben Witherington III, What Have They Done with Jesus? Beyond Strange Theories and Bad History—Why We Can Trust the Bible (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006), 7. See also the appendix where Bart D. Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus is examined.
35. Bock and Wallace, Dethroning Jesus, 43–44.
36. Ibid., 44.
37. Ibid., 44–45. Wallace, interestingly, documents how Tertullian, an early church father, reprimanded someone for doubting the original manuscripts of Scripture and pointed the skeptic to visit the churches where the “very thrones,” or place, where the apostles read the text in “their own authentic writings.” Debatable as it is, this could refer to either the original text or copies of it (ibid., 45, [italics his]).
38. This type of thinking is all too prevalent in postmodernism. Interestingly Wallace said, “To be skeptical about the text of the New Testament is essential to a postmodern agenda, in which all things are possible but nothing is probable. The only certainty of postmodernism is uncertainty itself. Concomitant with this is an intellectual pride—pride that one ‘knows’ enough to be skeptical about all positions” (J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, and Daniel B. Wallace, Reinventing Jesus: How Contemporary Skeptics Miss the Real Jesus and Mislead Popular Culture [Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2006], 66).
39. Ben Witherington writes, “There is a reason that both Ehrman’s mentor in text criticism and mine, Bruce Metzger, has said that there is nothing in these variants that really challenges any Christian belief: they don’t. I would like to add that other experts in text criticism, such as Gordon Fee, have been equally emphatic about the flawed nature of Ehrman’s analysis of the significance of such textual variants” (What Have They Done With Jesus? 7).
40. Wallace explains this in a succinct way in Dethroning Jesus, 52–71. For a more detail discussion in how the science of textual criticism (i.e., the investigation involved at how to arrive at the original text) works see Eldon Jay Epp and Gordon D. Fee, Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism, Studies and Documents, ed. Irvin Alan Sparks, vol. 45 (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1993); Bruce M. Metzger and Bart D. Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, 4th ed. (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).
41. With some modifications this chart based on the following two sources: Komoszewski, Sawyer, and Wallace, Reinventing Jesus, 71; and Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Historical Evidences for the Christian Faith, vol. 1 (San Bernardino, CA: Here's Life Publishers, 1972), 42–43.
42. Metzger and Ehrman, Text of the New Testament, 126.
43. Komoszewski, Sawyer, and Wallace, Reinventing Jesus, 50–51.