Hopelessly Confused: Heather Schuldt Takes on Bart Ehrman, part 2

In our first post we discussed Heather Schuldt’s blog post “5 Examples Why Bart Ehrman Is Not a Gospel Expert.”We addressed specifically issues concerning the dating of the Synoptic Gospels, briefly giving an overview of why Mark is dated to around 70 CE and Matthew and Luke to post-70. We also showed that Schuldt’s use of the Q source to demonstrate the early attestation of the Gospel records serves to undermine her own views on their dating and reliability. In today’s post we will briefly address the issue of authorship again and how it relates to claims that the Gospel writers were eyewitnesses to the stories about which they wrote.

GOSPEL AUTHORSHIP

Next in her response to an unidentified video featuring New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman, pop-apologist Heather Schuldt writes,

Authors and Eyewitnesses – Ehrman claimed that there were no eye witnesses in the video? Did he misspeak? Of course the four gospels have eye witnesses directly to Jesus himself. Matthew was a tax collector who was a direct disciple of Jesus. Mark worked closely with Peter who was a direct disciple of Jesus. Luke traveled with Paul who had a remarkable encounter with the risen Lord Jesus Christ that forever changed his life. John was a direct disciple of Jesus. The authors of the four gospels were most certainly qualified to report the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. For more information about early gospel dates and the reliability of the gospel writers, please read this short booklet, Why Four Gospels? The Historical Origins of the Gospels by David Alan Black. 

There is some charm to the incredulity with which Schuldt regards the notion that the Gospel accounts are not eyewitness reports. In some ways her view is very simple, if not simplistic. But it is not parsimonious, at least not with regards to the available data.

The Gospels Are Anonymous

For starters, all four of the Gospels are anonymous. This may come as a surprise to many Christians who assume that the titles to these ancient works – “The Gospel According to Matthew,” “The Gospel According to Mark,” etc. – are indicative of their authors. But there is no internal evidence to identify specific individuals as the authors of the Gospels.

In the modern understanding of authorship the traditions that form the basis of our Gospels are anonymous. In most instances there is little reason to doubt that the traditions originated with the first disciples who had been intimately associated with Jesus during his lifetime. But there is no way for us to ascribe a particular tradition to a specific disciple with certainty. They were told and retold by too many Christians on too many and too diverse occasions over too extended a period of time. The entire early Christian community is author of the Jesus tradition.2

So from where did the titles that attribute these works to particular individuals come?

For the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, that attribution came from Papias, a Christian leader who lived in the first and second centuries CE. Papias had written a five-volume work entitled Logiōn Kyriakōn Exēgēsis – Exposition of the Lord’s Words or Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord. However, this work is lost to history and we can only read fragments of Papias’ words in the works of Irenaeus (second century CE) and Eusebius (fourth century CE). It is in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History that we find Papias’ views on Matthew and Mark.

Papias on The Gospel of Mark

Regarding the Gospel of Mark, Papias has this to say:

And in his own writing he [Papias] also hands down other accounts of the aforementioned Aristion of the words of the Lord and the traditions of the presbyter John, to which we refer those truly interested. Of necessity, we will now add to his reports set forth above a tradition about Mark who wrote the gospel, which he set forth as follows:

And the presbyter would say this: Mark, who had indeed been Peter’s interpreter, accurately wrote as much as he remembered, yet not in order, about that which was either said or did by the Lord. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but later, as I said, Peter, who would make the teachings anecdotally but not exactly an arrangement of the Lord’s reports, so that Mark did not fail by writing certain things as he recalled. For he had one purpose, not to omit what he heard or falsify them.(Ecclesiastical History, 3.39.14-15)3

Assuming Eusebius is reporting accurately what Papias wrote, it seems Papias is connecting his claim concerning Markan authorship to an earlier tradition that came from “the presbyter John.” Who is this John? Some have asserted that this John was “in all probability the apostle John,”4 a view that is based on a particular reading of the Johannine literature we find in the New Testament.5 Both the epistles of 2 and 3 John identify the sender as “the elder [ho presbyteros]” (2 John 1; 3 John 1) and this connection coupled with the view that it was the disciple John who wrote the Johannine literature of the New Testament has led many to believe Papias was a disciple of the apostle John. However, this connection is dubious and owes its origin to the gradual evolution of the so-called “beloved disciple” (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7; 21:20) into the disciple John.Yet there is no indication in what little we have in Papias’ words that there was such a connection. This “presbyter” John could have been an important figure within a particular Christian community but not an actual disciple of Jesus. And it could be that Papias was not telling the truth at all about his sources. Either option seems more probable than Papias knew the apostle John.

Regardless of where Papias got his information, he quotes the presbyter at length and thereby makes certain claims about Mark’s Gospel that are of historical interest. Fundamental to them all is that the presbyter traces Mark’s Gospel to the apostle Peter (3.39.15), the de facto leader of the fledgling Christian community. Thus Mark’s Gospel has apostolic authorization, as it were, and belongs in the Christian community. There is no way to assess the truth of such a claim whether on external or internal evidence. Michael Kok writes, “There is no sound basis in the earliest external evidence or the internal evidence of the Gospel that the author really was the interpreter of Peter.”7 And while pop-apologists have attempted to connect the Gospel of Mark to Peter on internal grounds, their efforts are far from convincing.8 At most we can say that a tradition arose wherein Mark was connected to Peter that was added to the notion that Mark wrote the Gospel attributed to him.

In claiming Petrine influence upon Mark’s writing, the presbyter has admitted implicitly and explicitly that Mark was not an eyewitness to the events he records: Mark “neither heard the Lord nor followed him” (3.39.15). Mark’s function seems to have been as an amanuensis, jotting down what Peter said about Jesus said or did. The presbyter suggests that the result of Mark’s efforts was a Gospel that was disjointed as Mark was going off Peter’s memories which apparently were not offered in a chronological manner but “anecdotally” (3.39.15). Yet this does not diminish the Markan arrangement of material since it stems from Peter’s own recollections: “Mark did not fail by writing certain things as [Peter] recalled. For he had one purpose, not to omit what he heard or falsify them” (3.39.15). So then “Papias’ observations suggests that according to his standards Mark’s work consisted of a collage of traditions faithfully passed on but rhetorically ineffectual.”9 

There has been some debate over whether Papias was speaking of some kind of proto-Mark or the Gospel as we know it today. In reading the Gospels of Matthew and Luke we find that the order of events contained within them follows almost exactly that which we find in the Gospel of Mark. So then what could it mean that the work was written in a disorderly fashion? And as Papias also comments on Matthew’s Gospel but doesn’t mention it being disorderly, could this mean that Papias was speaking of entirely different works than what we find in the New Testament canon? It is difficult to tell but we can be certain that no matter to what Papias through the presbyter was referring Eusebius uses Papias as evidence for the purpose of connecting Peter to the Gospel of Mark.

Papias on the Gospel of Matthew

Papias as recorded in Eusebius has little to say on the Gospel of Matthew.

Now this is reported by Papias about Mark, but about Matthew this was said, Now Matthew compiled the reports in a Hebrew manner of speech, but each interpreted them as he could. (Ecclesiastical History, 3.39.16)10

Papias’ words on Matthew are very brief and perplexing. The above translation renders the first clause from Papias as suggesting he thought Matthew had written in a Semitic style of speech. However, it is also possible that he meant that Matthew was written in the Hebrew (i.e. Aramaic) language.11 Regardless of what Papias meant, we know that many Christians came to think that Matthew’s Gospel had indeed been first written in Hebrew before it was then translated in Greek. For example, the second century Christian writer Irenaeus claimed that “Matthew…issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect.”12 Augustine followed this line of thought and also claimed Matthew had written in Hebrew: “Of these four, it is true, only Matthew is reckoned to have written in the Hebrew language; the others in Greek.”13 These seem to have been based upon the testimony of Papias and therefore represents the earliest interpretation of him. This also helps to make sense of what Papias means when he says that “each interpreted them as he could.” For those who were not fluent in Hebrew, reading and utilizing the Matthean text would prove difficult and so the usefulness of the Gospel of Matthew was dependent upon the ability of the one who “interpreted” it.

But there is no direct evidence that Matthew’s Gospel, as we have it, is a translation from Hebrew to Greek. All of the earliest manuscripts of Matthew (13745, etc.) are in Greek and none are in Hebrew. The case for a Hebrew original is virtually nonexistent. Some have argued that Papias may have been referring to an Aramaic version of Q or some kind of proto-Matthew14 but if Q did exist it seems to have been written in Greek and a proto-Matthean text would still have had to have been translated into Greek from Hebrew and there is no indication in the Gospel as we have it that this is the case. 

There is also the issue of the relationship between Matthew and Mark mentioned above. Papias considered Mark’s Gospel to be disjointed and disorderly. Yet he makes no such statement about Matthew’s Gospel despite the fact that the order of events in Matthew generally matches the order in Mark. So was Papias talking about the Gospel of Matthew as we have it today? And if he wasn’t, was he perhaps talking about a different version of the Gospel of Mark than what we have as well? If this is the case then the claim that Papias gives early attestation to Matthean and Markan authorship is wrong.

However one evaluates the overall trustworthiness of Papias, he does not provide us with clear evidence that the books that eventually became the first two Gospels of the New Testament were called Matthew and Mark in his time.15

Who Wrote the Gospel of Luke? 

The authorship of the Gospel of Luke is inexorably tied to the authorship of the book of Acts since whoever wrote the former must have written the latter. But the author never identifies himself and so we simply do not know who wrote it. Some have seen in the Lukan text of Acts subtle references to the author in the classic “We Passages.” In these passages the narrator suddenly inserts himself at particular points using the first personal plural whereas before he had not. For example, in Acts 16:10 we read, “When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.” This phenomenon is repeated throughout Acts (16:10-17; 20:5-15; 21:1-18; 27:1-28:16) leading some to believe that the individual composing Acts had joined Paul’s ministry team (see Acts 16:1-4 where it the author speaks of “they” rather than “we”).

The natural reading of these passages is that the author of Acts was present during the events he narrates in these passages and that he kept a diary or itinerary report that he incorporates into the Book of Acts.16

Unfortunately we are not told explicitly that it was Luke. In fact, Luke appears nowhere in the whole book of Acts! And in the whole New Testament Luke appears by name only three times: Colossians 4:14, Philemon 24, and 2 Timothy 4:11. Those passages do not give us any explicit information that Luke was the author of the “We Passages.”

In what other ways could these “We Passages” be explained? Ehrman has suggested that the author of Acts was using the first person plural to make it seem as if he was present for the events and therefore an eyewitness even though he was not.

Throughout the Christian literature there are passages in which an author will suddenly start using the first-person pronoun (“I” or “we”) in order to convince his readers that the account is completely trustworthy, since it is (allegedly) by an eyewitness (e.g., 2 Peter 1:16-19; 1 John 1:1-4; Gosp. Pet. 26, 59-60; the Coptic Apocalypse of Peter, and many other instances). An author who does this does not need to call attention to the fact that he is claiming to be an eyewitness. By speaking in the first person, it is obvious to the reader (or at least it is meant to be obvious) that the author was present for the accounts that he is narrating, and that therefore he can vouch for them. Is something like that happening with the “we-passages” of Acts? Does the author want us to assume that he accompanied Paul at times on his journeys? If so, he was remarkably successful: for centuries, readers have naturally assumed that he was Paul’s traveling companion.17

The “We Passages” therefore do not constitute evidence for Lukan authorship or even that the author was a participant in the ministry activities of Paul in the passages that the first person plural is used. Furthermore, William Sanger Campbell argues that the

“we” characters primary role is to replace Barnabas as Paul’s companion and witness in urgent times, to defend Paul’s credibility in the story in ways that the apostle himself cannot, and to provide reassurance that Paul carries out God’s directives as charged in spite of obstacles constructed by human characters or by nature. Paul is unable to provide this witness on his own merits because the narrative portrays his reversal of position with respect to the jesus movement as creating a credibility problem for him among Jews and Gentiles inside and outside the movement….The narrative provides two characters with impeccable credentials, Barnabas and the “we” narrator, to bridge Paul’s credibility gap in the story and for readers.18

So the “we” character is support for Paul and the authenticity of his ministry and its presence does not necessitate it being an actual historical eyewitness.

But there are other problems with connecting Luke with Acts that call into question the accuracy with which he wrote. For example, in the book of Acts we are told that Paul leaves for Athens without Silas and Timothy (Acts 17:15). Yet in 1 Thessalonians Paul clearly states that Timothy was with him while in Athens (1 Thessalonians 3:1-3). There are other incongruities as well.19 What this tells us is that whoever wrote Acts, if they did accompany Paul, didn’t get it completely right. (Or that Paul didn’t get it right.) And if Luke didn’t get the things to which he was actually an “eyewitness” right, can he be trusted with those things for which he clearly wasn’t (i.e. the Gospel of Luke)?

The Gospel of John

We come to the final of the canonical Gospels, the Gospel of John. Yet John is a bit different because we find at the end of it a claim of authorship: “This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true” (John 21:24; cf. 19:35). In context, “[t]his disciple” is a reference to “the disciple whom Jesus loved” whose fate is contrasted with that of Peter’s in 21:20-23. Despite multiple references to the individual who has become known as the “Beloved Disciple,” there is no place in all of the Gospel of John that explicitly identifies him with John the disciple. As I’ve discussed elsewhere,20 in the Gospel of John very few of the disciples are mentioned by name. They are Simon Peter, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, and Judas. There is also a disciple that appears in no other Gospel: Nathanael (see John 1:43-51). James and his brother John are only alluded to with the phrase “the sons of Zebedee” (21:2). This seems strange if John was the author of the Gospel. Why not mention him by name?

There is also evidence that the Gospel of John was produced in stages and perhaps from various source material. Within the text of John we see what some have referred to as literary or editorial “seams.”21 These are places where it appears that the text of John’s Gospel underwent some kind of redaction. For example, in John 5-6 we see a series of events that seem out-of-order. At the end of chapter four, Jesus was in Galilee in the city of Cana (4:46). In 5:1 he makes a trip to Jerusalem, a distance of about seventy miles. In Jerusalem Jesus performs a healing miracle (5:2-9) which results in an exchange with the Jews (5:10-47). Then suddenly in 6:1 we read how “Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.” This is odd since we were just told he was in Jerusalem, seventy miles from the Sea of Galilee. But if chapter five originally belonged after chapter six then the narrative flow makes much more sense.

Another seam is seen in the end of John’s Gospel. Following his appearance to Thomas in 20:24-29, we read these words:

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name (20:30-31).

This feels like a natural ending to the Gospel of John. Jesus has confirmed that he is alive through multiple appearances to Mary (20:11-18) and to the disciples twice (20:19-29). What further proof is needed? And yet there is a whole other chapter of John left! What follows in chapter twenty-one differs in both language and style from the rest of John’s Gospel. It also shows evidence that it was added after the death of the Beloved Disciple. In 21:20-23 Peter and Jesus interact over the issue of the death of the Beloved Disciple. Peter had been told his fate (21:18-19) and then asks about the Beloved Disciple, “Lord, what about him?” (21:21) Jesus responds, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!” (21:22) The text then tells us that in “the community” a rumor had spread that the Beloved Disciple would not die but that this was not what Jesus intended by those words (21:22-23).

This editorial comment tells us several things about the authorship of the Gospel. First, it shows that the Gospel, as we now have it, was completed only after John’s (or the “beloved disciple’s”) death. Several early legends held that John was the last of the original disciples to die, in about the year 95 CE. The testimonial also shows that there were some Christians who thought John would not die before the return of Jesus, so the occasion of his death has caused chagrin that the author is trying to allay. Since the rumour is attributed to a saying of Jesus himself, it may well derive from a variation of the statement reported in Mark 9:1: “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” John’s death raised once again a traditional apocalyptic expectation that the author(s) of the Gospel had to dispel. On the other hand, the testimonial finally says that this is indeed “John’s” Gospel; however, it also adds an affirmation: “and we know his testimony is true” (21:24). Here we have evidence that others in the community, people who thought of themselves as disciples of the “beloved disciple,” have carried on the process and completed the Gospel after his death.22

We have no direct evidence, then, for Johannine authorship but it is very possible that it is the product of a Johannine community, one that had been under the ministry of John himself and learned about Jesus from his teaching.

New Testament scholar George Beasley-Murray, after examining the texts featuring the Beloved Disciple and how they “hold well together and present a consistent picture,” thinks that there are some things about the Beloved Disciple that can be tentatively said.23

  • He was presented as a historical figure among Jesus’ early disciples and in the Church.
  • He was not a member of the Twelve or a person well-known among Christians.
  • He is not the author of the Gospel of John.24
  • He is presented as an eyewitness of certain events in John’s Gospel, especially the Resurrection.
  • His authority extends beyond events he may have witnessed.
  • The relationship between the Beloved Disciple and Peter requires exegetical examination.
  • He served as an authority figure in his community and had teachers who followed him.
  • The identity of the Beloved Disciple is the secret of the author of John’s Gospel.

Whoever this Beloved Disciple was, it is clear that his role in the Johannine community was vital and that the community looked to him for teaching about Jesus. His death forced changes to be made to the Gospel of John that sought to correct misconceptions about him and though he was not one of the Twelve, he was important enough that his views of Jesus served as the basis for some of the stories in the Gospel.

Or at least that is what the author of John’s Gospel would have us think.

The Gospels in the Second Century

Justin Martyr, a Christian author writing in the second century, alludes to the Gospels in his First Apology. Speaking of the Eucharist, Justin offers as a source for Jesus’ words at the Last Supper the Gospels: “For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them” (1 Apol. 66).25 Later he writes,

And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits…. (1 Apol. 67)

Justin serves as evidence that these “memoirs” were part of early Christian worship as a collection. And it also serves as evidence that the titles by which we refer to the four Gospels were not in circulation. There is debate over whether Justin knew of John’s Gospel,26 but it seems clear from other writings that he knew of the Synoptics.27 If the Gospels were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, why does Justin never refer to them as such?

Beginning with Irenaeus at the end of the second century we start to see the Gospels referred to by the names by which we know them today. Irenaeus writes,

It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For, since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is scattered throughout all the world, and the “pillar and ground” of the Church is the Gospel and the spirit of life; it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and vivifying men afresh. (Against Heresies, 3.11.8)28

He then mentions all four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Ehrman notes,

This is remarkable. Before this time and place, nowhere are the Gospels said to be four in number and nowhere are they named as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Justin, living in Rome just thirty years earlier, did not number or name the Gospels. But now, near the end of the second century, in sources connected with Rome, they are both numbered and named. How do we explain that?29

At the beginning of the second century there does not appear to be a collection of the Gospels into the four as we know it as most communities had access to but one of the four Gospels.30 This seems to have persisted up until the time of Justin Martyr. But Justin’s mention of memoirs need not imply a canonical collection of Gospels existed yet. But even if it did, the lack of titles as we have them is quite telling. The historical situation in Rome must have changed such that attaching titles to the Gospels was born out of the necessity to differentiate between them whereas before this was not necessary. Ehrman’s hypothesis is that during the time of Justin Martyr, the Gospels lacked names because few had access to more than one. But between Justin’s day and Irenaeus’ a definitive collection of the four Gospels was circulated with the titles in order to set each apart within the collection. And it is this collection that then becomes the norm for orthodox Christianity. Writes Ehrman,

These ascriptions [i.e. “According to Matthew,” “According to Mark,” etc.] made perfect sense to people who read the books….This edition of the Gospels was rapidly copied and recopied and became common property. Since Rome was the theological and practical center of Christendom at the time, and since it had so many people – Christians included – come to and from the city, this edition of the Gospels spread quickly throughout the worldwide church. Scribes who copied these books started giving them their titles. Everyone familiar with these Gospels within a couple of decades was accepting the idea that they were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Those are the apostolic names that came to be associated with these books all over the Christian map. That is how the Gospels came to be title everywhere. That is how the Gospels came to referred to, from that time down to today.31

This is certainly a plausible scenario but one that is difficult to test. What we can say is that from the time of the writing of the Gospels to Irenaeus, there appears to be no attribution to the traditional four of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, a fact problematic for Schuldt.

Summary

The Gospels are anonymous and the titles by which we now refer to them are unknown until the late second century CE. Consequently, the particular individuals to whom attribution is given is arrived at through very tenuous and often contrived means. Thus, when Schuldt writes that “the four gospels have eye witnesses directly to Jesus himself” she is not in line with the available evidence. Rather, she is regurgitating what she’s read in apologetic literature or in one of her classes at SES.

NOTES

1 Heather M. Schuldt, “5 Examples Why Bart Ehrman Is Not a Gospel Expert” (10.17.18), ladyapologist.com. Accessed 3 November 2018.

2 Keith F. Nickle, The Synoptic Gospels: An Introduction (WJK Press, 2001), 8.

3 Papias as quoted by Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 3.39.14-15, hypotyposeis.org. Accessed 3 Nov 2018.

4 William Hendricksen, Mark, New Testament Commentary (Baker Academic, 1975), 12.

5 For example, the anonymous letters of 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John show some kind of interconnectedness though it is not clear that the same person wrote all three of the letters. For example, whereas the epistle of 1 John frequently speaks in the first-person plural (“we”) the other two epistles attributed to John speak in the first person singular (“I”). It is possible that the first letter was sent by multiple church leaders in a Johannine community and 2 and 3 John were sent by individual leaders.

6 For treatment of this issue see Michael Kok, The Beloved Apostle? The Transformation of the Apostle John into the Fourth Evangelist (Cascade Books, 2017).

Michael Kok, The Gospel on the Margins: The Reception of Mark in the Second Century (Fortress Press, 2015), 267. In his volume, Kok effectively argues that by connecting Mark’s Gospel to Peter the “centrist” Christians made sure that fringe groups who were using Mark to support their views on Adoptionism and other “heresies” could do so no longer. Consequently, Mark’s “voice” was somewhat muted as it faded into the background of the more prominent Gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John. See Kok’s conclusion in that work (pp. 267-269).

8 For example, see J Warner Wallace, “Good Reasons to Believe Peter Is the Source of Mark’s Gospel” (8.24.18), coldcasechristianity.com. Accessed 3 November 2018. It is incredibly frustrating to see how Wallace treats Gospel literature, believing his credentials as a “cold case detective” somehow translate into the ability to do analysis of biblical texts and history. It is even more frustrating to see just how many people believe him!

9 David E. Garland, A Theology of Mark’s Gospel, Biblical Theology of the New Testament (Zondervan, 2015), 56. Garland suggests that the point of Papias’ remarks were not to directly connect the Markan Gospel to Peter but to show that it faithfully represented what Petrine teaching. Eusebius, on the other hand, was using Papias to establish Peter as the source behind the Markan Gospel (pp. 56-57).

10 Papias as quoted by Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 3.39.16, hypotyposeis.org. Accessed 3 Nov 2018.

11 The Greek text reads, Matthaios men oun Hebraidi dialektō ta logia synetaxato. A reasonable translation could be, “Now Matthew composed the words in the Hebrew dialect.”

12 Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.1.1, earlychristianwritings.com. Accessed 3 Nov 2018.

13 Augustine, Harmony of the Gospels, 1.2.4newadvent.org. Accessed 3 Nov 2018.

14 Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 1-13, WBC vol. 33a (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1993), xlvi.

15 Bart Ehrman, Jesus Before the Gospels: How the Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Savior (HarperOne, 2016), 118.

16 DA Carson and Douglas Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, second edition (Zondervan, 2005), 290.

17 Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, sixth edition (OUP, 2016), 330.

18 William Sanger Campbell, The “We” Passages in the Acts of the Apostles: The Narrator as Narrative Character (Society of Biblical Literature, 2007), 90.

19 For example, Todd Penner writes that

Acts and Paul’s letters exhibit significant divergences. For instance, the letters narrate conflict between Paul and people in his communities—rather than between Paul and Jewish and Gentile authorities, as we see in Acts. Acts says nothing of Paul the letter writer, and he is not called an apostle except in one instance (Acts 14:4, Acts 14:14). Most notable is the incongruity between Paul’s gospel message in Acts and the message we see in his letters, especially Romans and Galatians. Paul’s emphasis on “justification by faith” is completely absent from his speeches and sermons in Acts, where he seems more aligned with Peter’s mission to the Jews (compare Acts 2 and Acts 13). Indeed, the so-called Jerusalem Council dealing with issues arising from Gentiles entering the new movement looks quite different in Acts (Acts 15:1-35) and Galatians (Gal 2:1-10).

It should be noted that Penner still believes that both the book of Acts and the epistles of Paul can be viewed as “true and historical” and that perhaps these incongruities are less about Paul and the book of Acts and more about our modern preconceptions. See Todd Penner, “Paul and Acts” (n.p.), bibleodyssey.org. Accessed 3 November 2018.

20 Amateur Exegete, “Some Thoughts on Carey Bryant’s ‘The Gospel of John as an Eyewitness Account‘” (10.29.18), amateurexegete.com.

21 See Ehrman, The New Testament, 179-181.

22 L. Michael White, Scripting Jesus: The Gospels in Rewrite (HarperOne, 2010), 357.

23 George R. Beasley-Murray, John, WBC vol. 36, second edition (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), lxxiii-lxxv.

24 “The texts in which the disciple features present him as the witness on which the Gospel rests, not its author.” Ibid., lxxiii.

25 Justin Martyr, 1 Apology 66earlychristianwritings.com. Accessed 6 November 2018.

26 Arthur G. Patzia, The Making of the New Testament: Origin, Collection, Text & Canon, second edition (IVP Academic, 2011), 93; C.E. Hill, “Was John’s Gospel Among Justin’s Apostolic Memoirs?” in Sara Parvis and Paul Foster, editors, Justin Martyr and His Worlds (Fortress Press, 2007), 88-93 (accessed 6 November 2018).

27 Or, perhaps, a harmony of them. See Ehrman, Jesus Before the Gospels, 119.

28 Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.11.8earlychristianwritings.com. Accessed 6 November 2018.

29 Ehrman, Jesus Before the Gospels, 121. See also Gerd Theissen, The New Testament: A Literary History (Fortress Press, 2012), 216.

30 Theissen, 211.

31 Ehrman, Jesus Before the Gospels, 124-125.

Featured image: Wikimedia Commons.

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