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1. The Gospels, fiction or non-fiction? · 3428 dagen geleden by Ad van den Ende

Jesus, the real story,
based on the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John

The Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John
Acts, written by Luke
Letters of Paul
John Dickson, Jesus, A short life,2008

For Bishop John Shelby Spong and many present-day theologians the Gospels don’t contain news about actual events but are pious fiction with a spiritual message. “The concern of the Gospel-writers,” he insists, “was not to record what happened in history, but to probe the experience that people had with Jesus.”

“Spong seems unaware of the broad consensus of scholarship that the Gospels are a particular example of the Graeco-Roman genre of bios or biography. The bios was (…) a punchy straightforward portrait of the deeds and words of the great lives. (…) there is no question these stories were meant to be read as real episodes from the subject’s life.” (Dickson)

In the opening paragraph of his Gospel Luke emphasizes the importance of reliable information about his subject (Jesus):

1 Now many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 like the accounts passed on to us by those who were eyewitnesses and servants of the word from the beginning. 3 So it seemed good to me as well, because I have followed all things carefully from the beginning, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know for certain the things you were taught.
(Luke 1:1-4 )

Professor Richard “Bauckham has demonstrated the high probability that the core of the Gospels’ story dirives directly from those who encountered Jesus personally and that there are numerous indications of this within the books themselves. The notion that the New Testament biogrphies of Jesus were intended as metaphorical accounts of the spiritual life has no currency amongst contemporary scholars.” (Dickson)

Mark wrote his Gospel in the years 65 – 70; Luke did so in the years 75 – 85, Matthew in the years 80 – 95, John in the years 80 – 100.
Paul wrote his letters in the years 50 – 64.

Matthew and John were apostles. Mark lived in the house of the Last Supper and was a good friend of the apostle Simon, to whom Jesus gave the namePeter. The Gospel of Mark relied heavily on the eyewittness of Peter.
Luke and Matthew used the Gospel of Mark as a basis for their own work on Jesus.
John was an eyewittness. He used a collection of miracle stories. His Gospel is a rather independent one.

The Gospels and the letters of Paul provide the principal data for the thousands of articles and books written on Jesus.
John Dickson has collected quite a few facts of Jesus’ life in the epistles of Paul:
– The name ‘Jesus’ (in about every paragraph of his letters);
– Jesus was born of a Jewish woman (Galatians 4:4);
– Jesus had several brothers (1 Corinthians 9:5), one of whom was named James (Galatians 1:19);
– Jesus appointed a special group of twelve apostles (1Corinthians 15:5);
– Jesus was called ‘the Christ/Messiah’ (Romans 9:3-5);
– Jesus granted his missionaries the right to material support from fellow believers (1 Corinthians 9:14);
– Jesus taught on marriage (1 Corinthians 7:10), summarized his ‘law’ in terms of compassion (Galatians 6:2) and declared that he would return in glory (1 Thessalonians 4:15);
– Jesus had a special last meal with his disciples involving bread and wine (1 Corinthians 11:23-25);
– Jesus was betrayed by someone on the night of the Last Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23);
– Jesus was executed by crucifixion (Philippians 2:8);
– Jesus was buried (1 Corinthians 15:4) rather than left to the elements (as convicted criminals frequently were);
– Jesus was raised to life (Romans 1:4);
– The risen Jesus appeared to many, including Peter/Cephas, his brother James and Paul himself (1 Corinthians 15:5-8);

History and the Christian sources

Within the New Testament we find multiple independent testimonies to various aspects of Jesus’ life. This is a fundamental building block of all historical inqury, called the criterion of multiple attestation. When an aspect of Jesus’ teaching or life appears in a combination of independent sources we have multiple attestation. On this basis and on various other historical criteria the broad narrative of Jesus’ life is not in dispute amongst mainstream scholars.
Professor Graham Stanton sais: “While certainty often eludes us, we do know a good deal about Jesus of Nasareth.”