JesusEvidences.com is a ministry of Rev. Ron Jones and the Titus Institute. More questions about the Bible or this ministry? Visit titusinstitute.com
The NT Gospels As Biographies
By Ron Jones, D.D. © The Titus Institute, 2010
The historical literary evidence demonstrates that the four New Testament gospels written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are ancient biographies of Jesus. These biographies relate the birth, life, ministry, message, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
For the historical literary evidence that establishes Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as the actual authors of the four NT gospels click here.
Ancient Graeco-Roman biographies were historical works.
The historical literary evidence also demonstrates that ancient Graeco-Roman biographies were historical works in the category of non-fiction literature whose authors intended to write historical portrayals of their subjects.
The NT Gospels’ authors intended their biographies to be historically accurate.
The historical literary evidence also demonstrates that that the authors of the NT Gospels intended to write historically accurate portrayals of Jesus.
Once this is established, then the next question to answer is “Did the authors of the NT Gospels succeed and write historically reliable biographies of the life and ministry of Jesus. That question will be answered in the article, “The Reliability of the NT Gospels.”
This article is divided into three sections:
Section 1 shares the historical literary evidences that establishes that the four NT Gospels are literary works in the genre of ancient Graeco-Roman biographies.
Section 2 shares the historical literary evidence that establishes that ancient Graeco-Roman biographies were historical works in the category of non-fiction literature whose authors intended to write historically accurate portrayals of their subjects.
Section 3 shares the historical literary evidence that establishes that the authors of the NT Gospels intended to write historically accurate portrayals of Jesus.
The historical literary evidence establishes that the four NT Gospels are literary works in the genre of ancient Graeco-Roman biographies.
“Gospels as Biographies” - the Prevailing View Until the 1900’s.
Craig Keener, professor of New Testament at Eastern Seminary writes,
“Through most of history, readers understood the Gospels as biographies, but after 1915 scholars tried to find some other classification for them, mainly because these scholars confused ancient and modern biography and noticed that the Gospels differed from the latter. The current trend, however, is again to recognize the Gospels as ancient biographies.”1
Richard Burridge, Dean of King’s College, London, agrees when he states,
“Traditionally, the Gospels were viewed as biographies of Jesus. Thus they were used as ‘windows’ onto Jesus, written for those who wanted to know about him. Even with the development of literary and historical critical studies, the quest for the historical Jesus still used the Gospels as a basis to discover information about Jesus' life, teaching, and death. During the nineteenth century, biographies began to explain the character of a great person by considering his or her upbringing, formative years, schooling, psychological development and so on. The Gospels began to look unlike such biographies. During the 1920s, scholars like Karl Ludwig Schmidt and Rudolf Bultmann rejected any notion that the Gospels were biographies: the Gospels appear to have no interest in Jesus's human personality, appearance, or character, nor do they tell us anything about the rest of his life, other than his brief public ministry and an extended concentration on his death. Instead, the Gospels were seen as popular folk literature, collections of stories handed down orally over time. Far from being biographies of Jesus, the Gospels were "unique" forms of literature, sui generis, and this approach dominated Gospel studies for the next half century or so.”2
Later Burridge writes,
“In recent years, many genres have been proposed for the Gospels, but increasingly they have been again seen as biography. The work of Charles Talbert and David Aune has contributed greatly to this development, while my own work has attempted to give a detailed argument combining literary theory and classical studies with Gospel scholarshi”3
The Four NT Gospels Display the Essential Characteristics of Graeco-Roman Biographies
Richard Burridge, Dean of King’s College, London in his definitive book, What Are The Gospels? A Comparison With Graeco-Roman Biography, gives seventeen characteristics of ancient Graeco-Roman biographies. We will focus on six of them for the sake of brevity.4
The gospels have the same characteristics as ancient Graeco-Roman biography. The Greek word “bios,” “life,” is the origin of the English word “biography.” The plural of “bios” is “bioi.” The genre of ancient Graeco-Roman biographies was known as “bioi” or “lives.”
Six Primary Characteristics of Graeco-Roman Biography Displayed by the NT Gospels
Characteristic #1 The Openings of the NT Gospels
The Openings of the four NT Gospels exhibit the characteristics of Graeco-Roman Bioi. The openings refer to the Gospels’ beginning with Jesus’ ancestry and/or his name and/or an author’s prologue.
Graeco-Roman bioi had a range of possible beginnings. Some began with a subject’s ancestry giving the name of the subject at the very beginning. Others began with one sentence with the name of the subject. Others gave a formal preface or prologue and gave the subject’s name after the prologue. The openings of the NT Gospels are typical of this range of the openings of Graeco-Roman bioi.
Richard Burridge writes,
“If we compare the synoptic gospels with our bioi, we note that Matthew goes straight into the subject’s ancestry, like Nepos and Plutarch; Mark, however, like Xenophon, begins with just one sentence, while some of Plutarch’s Lives start straight in (e.g. Timoleon 1). Luke’s use of a preface can be paralleled in Lucian and Philo, who have a paragraph each, and in Isocrates, Tacitus and Philostratus, who all have a more extended prologue. Thus the various beginnings of the synoptic gospels reflect the range of possibilities for bioi with respect to an opening sentence or preface. Also, like most Graeco-Roman bioi, Mark and Matthew include the name of their subject at the very start.”5
Richard Burridge also mentions how the Gospel of John fits into the genre of Graeco-Roman bioi,
“The other common opening feature for bioi is an early use of the subject’s name: here, ‘the Word’ comprises the fourth and fifth words, which is then identified with ‘Jesus Christ’ in v. 17, the first mention of Jesus’ name at the end of the prologue. Our attention is next drawn to John the Baptist’s denial of being the Christ (1.20), witnessing instead to Jesus (1.29-34; 35-7). Thus, although Jesus’ actual name is not part of the immediate opening words, he is clearly identified as the subject of the prologue and his name and Messianic identity commence the text itself after the prologue. The use of the name after the prologue was noted as a common feature in bioi, such as the ‘Agricola.’”6
Examples From the Four Gospels
1) Matthew begins with a description of Jesus’ ancestry in Matthew 1:1-16 while naming the subject of his work. Then in he gives some of the circumstances of his conception and birth.
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren…
Now the birth of Jesus Christ happened in this way…
2) Mark begins with one sentence and names the subject of his work.
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
3) Luke begins with a preface and then describes the conception of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus, followed by the conception of the main subject of his work, Jesus.
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they who from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you in order, most excellent Theophilus, that you might know the certainty of those things, in which you have been instructed.
There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea a certain priest named Zachariah who was of the division of Abijah and his wife who was from the daughters of Aaron and her name was Elisabeth…
And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
4) John starts his work with the ancestry of Jesus as the Son of God in eternity with God the Father. Then in v.14 he writes of the birth of the Son of God from a theological perspective (the Word was made flesh). He finally names “the Word” after his prologue in v.17 as Jesus.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth.
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
Characteristic #2 The Central Focus and Basic Chronological Structure of the NT Gospels
The central focus and basic chronological structure of the Four Gospels are characteristics of Graeco-Roman Bioi. Their central focus is on one individual, Jesus, and their basic structure is a chronological sequence of Jesus’ life.
The NT Gospels’ Central Focus on Jesus
A biography by its very definition whether it is ancient or modern is a written account of the life of an individual in a basic chronological sequence. The central focus is on a person, the subject of the biography. All the action and words are either by him or about him. He is a part of all the geographic locations as the biographer follows his life.
Richard Burridge emphasizes this point when he states,
“It is a peculiar characteristic of biography that the attention stays focused on one particular person.”7
He explains that this can be seen by the subject of the biography being the main subject of the verbs and the main subject of the recorded speech.
Richard Burridge again writes,
“…approximately half the verbs in the synoptic gospels are taken up with Jesus’ words and deeds. These figures are a clear indicator of a strong biographical tendency in the gospels.”8
Later, Burridge adds the Gospel of John to this analysis,
“All together then, over half the verbs are taken up with Jesus’ deeds or words, performed by him or spoken by him.”9
The NT Gospels’ Chronological Structure
The four gospels have a clear chronological sequence when they are examined which is another important characteristic of ancient Graeco-Roman biographies.
Burridge writes about the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke,
“…All three synoptic gospels begin the main narrative with the Baptism of Jesus by John, although it is prefaced by birth stories in Matthew and Luke, and all three conclude with the Passion story, Jesus’ death and the subsequent events. In between the Baptism and the Passion, all three gospels include a large amount of material concerned with Jesus’ ministry…Our analysis of the content of the synoptic gospels…shows that the narrative appears as a chronological account, unfolding from the Baptism to the Passion via Jesus’ ministry with its popular success and official opposition. Also, all three have a geographical progression from ministry in Galilee to Jerusalem, most clearly marked in Luke’s account.”10
Burridge explains that the Gospel of John also fits into this chronological sequence,
“Most analyses of the gospel’s structure are variations upon a twofold scheme…the main body of the gospel is in two sections…the work begins with the Prologue and the call of the first disciples (1.1-18 and 1.19-51), followed by the first large section of ministry and signs, alternating between Galilee and Jerusalem (2-10). After the Bethany interlude (11.1-12.11), the second half is devoted to the events of Passion week (12.12-20.31), with the appendix of the lakeside appearance (21). This is a clear chronological framework, from Jesus’ pre-existence as the Word with God, through his arrival on the public scene and his ministry, to the death and the events afterwards.”11
Examples From the Four Gospels
The Gospels focus on Jesus. This can be seen when the contents of the Gospels are viewed from the perspective of a beginning, middle, and end.
1. The beginning sections of the four gospels focus on Jesus’ human genealogy or divine pre-existence, birth, forerunner, baptism, and temptation.
The human genealogy of Jesus
The divine pre-existence of Jesus as the Son of God
The birth of Jesus
Luke 1:26-56; Luke 2:1-20
The forerunner of Jesus
John 1:6-8, 15-34; 3:22-26
The baptism of Jesus
The temptation of Jesus
2. The middle sections focus on Jesus’ ministry consisting of his miracles, teachings, appointing and developing his apostles, and interactions with various people and groups.
Mark 1:14-Mark 13:37
John 1:35-51; 2:1-3:21; 3:27-12:50
3. The final section focuses on Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension and final commissioning of his disciples to take his message to the world.
Characteristic #3 The Difference of Space Between the Early Years and the Final Days of Jesus in the NT Gospels
The small amount of space devoted to the early years of Jesus and the large amount to his final days in the gospels are characteristics of Graeco-Roman bioi (biographies).
Modern biographies often allocate a space in a balanced way giving as much space to the early years of the subject’s life as to the last years unless the biography specifically focuses on a particular period of the subject’s life. The Gospels, however, devote a small amount of space to Jesus’ early life and a large amount of space to his passion, death, and resurrection. This has caused many to think that the Gospels are not in the genre of biographies, but something else.
Burridge’s analysis of ancient Graeco-Roman bioi has shown that, in fact, this characteristic of the Gospels is seen in Graeco-Roman biographies.
“The allocation of space within the gospels is one reason often cited against them being biographies. It is pointed out that we are told little or nothing of the first thirty or so years of Jesus’ life, and then there is the large concentration of space devoted to his death. In fact, our analysis of bioi revealed that the first thirty or forty years of a subject’s life can be dealt with very briefly, or even omitted, while the death-scene is usually exaggerated.
Matthew and Luke devote just over 15% of their text to the events of the Last Supper, Trial, Passion and Resurrection, while Mark has rather more, 19.1%. If these figures are compared with those given to their subject’s last days and death by Plutarch (17.3%), Nepos (15%), Tacitus (10%) and Philostratus (26%), then the gospels’ allocation of space does not look out of place or puzzling.”12
Burridge later writes about John’s allocation of space,
“Analysis of the content of the Fourth Gospel reveals a pattern similar to that in the synoptic gospels, with the last week of Jesus’ life dominating the work. A fifth of the work (20%) is made up by the Last Supper (4.3%) and the Passion and Resurrection (15.7%); this compares closely with Mark (19.1%), while Matthew and Luke had 15%. Into this final section the Farewell Discourses have been inserted, which occupy over an eighth (13.3%)…Thus a third of the total work is devoted to the last week of the subject’s life. Although this might seem excessive for modern biography, we need to compare it with the Agricola (26% devoted to Mons Graupius), Agesilaus (37% to the Persian campaign), Cato Minor (17.3% to the last days) and Apollonius of Tyana (26.3% to the imprisonment dialogues, trial, death and subsequent events).”13
The Small Amount of Space Given to Jesus’ Early Years
Matthew - 4.5 %
Matthew 1:1 - 2:23
Mark - 0%
Luke - 11.1%
Luke 1:5 - 2:52
John - 2%
The Large Amount of Space Given to Jesus’ Passion, Death, and Resurrection
Matthew - 15.1%
Matthew 26:1 - 28:20
Mark - 19.1%
Mark 14:1 - 16:20
Luke - 15.6%
Luke 22:1 - 24:53
John - 20% without discourses, 3.33% with discourses
John 13:1 - 14:31 and 15:1 - 21:25
Characteristic #4 The Continuous Prose Narrative of the NT Gospels
The continuous prose narrative of the gospels is a characteristic of Graeco-Roman bioi (biographies). Ancient Graeco-Roman biographies were in prose narrative as in each of the gospels.
“The synoptic gospels are in prose narrative…Furthermore, narrative is the best description of the prose: it is not drama, though there are some dramatic elements, nor dialogue, like Satyrus’ Euripides, although dialogue is contained within the gospels. They are not speeches, like the Evagoras, or sermons, although they may exhibit some rhetorical, oral or proclamatory features. Finally, the narrative is mainly continuous; some of the links between sections may be vague or tenuous, but overall the narrative seems intended as a continuous whole. While the gospels may not be as continuous as Lives of statesmen or generals, like Agricola, they are more continuous than those of philosophers, like the Demonax with its string of unconnected episodes. Thus the mode of representation of the synoptic gospels is prose narrative of a fairly continuous nature, like historiography or bioi.”14
Examples from the Gospels
Jesus gathers his disciples.
And Jesus was walking by the sea of Galilee and saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fishermen of men.” And they immediately left their nets and followed him. And going on from there, he saw two brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
Jesus teaches a large crowd of people.
And he began again to teach by the seashore. There was gathered around him such a great multitude that he entered into a ship and sat in the sea while the whole multitude was by the sea on the land. He taught them many things by parables and said to them in his teaching, “Listen to this. Behold, there went out a sower to sow. It came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it u Some fell on stony ground where they did not have much soil and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth. When the sun was up, it was scorched, and because it had no root, it withered away. Some fell among thorns. The thorns grew up and choked it and it yielded no fruit. Others fell on good ground. It yielded fruit that sprang up and increased and brought forth, some thirty, some sixty, and some a hundred.”
Jesus heals the son of a widow of Nain.
And it came to pass the next day he went into a city called Nain. Many of his disciples went with him accompanied by many people. Now when he came near the gate of the city, there was a dead man being carried out. He was the only son of his mother who was a widow. Many people of the city were with her. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said to her, “Do not wee” He came and touched the coffin and those that carried him stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, Arise.” And he that was dead sat up and began to speak. Jesus delivered him to his mother and fear came upon all and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us and God has visited his people.”
Jesus appears to Thomas and the other apostles.
But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came [after he resurrected]. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I shall see in his hands the mark of the nails and put my finger into the mark of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
After eight days his disciples were inside and Thomas was with them and the doors were shut. Then Jesus came and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be to you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Reach here your finger and behold my hands. Reach here your hand and thrust it into my side. Be not unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered, “My Lord and my God.” Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen me, have you believed? Blessed are the ones that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
Characteristic #5 The Various Literary Units of the NT Gospels
The literary units of the gospels, combination of stories, sayings and speeches, are characteristics of Graeco-Roman bioi (biographies).
After Jesus sent his apostles out to preach his message to the world, they taught according to the norms of a culture built around oral teaching. There were certain forms that they would use in their preaching and teaching so that their message about Jesus could be easily remembered. These forms simply framed the true eyewitness accounts about Jesus that the apostles preached, but they did not demand any additions of legends or myths. The content of the apostolic teaching in whatever form they used (stories, sayings, etc.) was always truthful and accurate.
David Aune, Professor of Religious Studies, Saint Xavier College, describes five basic literary units that the evangelists used. They were miracle stories, pronouncement stories, stories about Jesus, parables, and sayings.15
1. Miracle stories consisted of the circumstances of the miracles, the miracles itself, and the confirmation of the cure (if it is a healing or exorcism) and reaction of the audience.
Example from John’s Gospel
And on the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee and the mother of Jesus was there. Both Jesus and his disciples were invited to the marriage. When they wanted wine the mother of Jesus sad to him, “They have no wine.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, what have I to do with you? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever he says to you, do it.” And there were sitting there six stone waterpots for the custom of Jewish purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Draw some out now and carry them to the master of the feast.” And they carried it. When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine and did not know from where it came (but the servants who drew the water knew) the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets forth good wine and when men have drunk well, then that which is worse, but you have kept the good wine until now.” This beginning of his miracles Jesus did in Cana of Galilee and manifested his glory and his disciples believed on him.
2. Pronouncement stories consisted of a short narrative that culminates in an important saying of Jesus.
Example from Mark’s Gospel
And it came to pass, that, as Jesus reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many of them and they followed him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with tax collectors and sinners, they said to his disciples, “How is it that he eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are healthy do not have need of a physician, but those that are sick do. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
3. Stories (anecdotes) about Jesus are anecdotes about various events in Jesus’ life and ministry or situations or people he encountered.
Example from Matthew
Then Jesus came from Galilee to Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. But John forbade him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you and you are coming to me?” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Let it be so for now, for thus it is fitting to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up immediately out of the water and, behold, the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon him, and behold a voice from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
4. Parables consisted of metaphorical stories Jesus shared focusing on one central point.
Example from Luke
Then he said, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden and it grew and became a great tree and the birds of the air nested in its branches.
And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal until the whole loaf was leavened.”
5. Sayings and speeches of Jesus consisted of the various teachings of Jesus both in brief statements and in longer discourses and in dialogues with others
And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that Christ is the Son of David? For David himself said by the Holy Spirit, The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit on my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool.’ David therefore himself called him Lord and how is he then his son?” And the common people heard him gladly.
Jesus’ sermon on the Mount
Jesus’ teaching on the last days
Jesus’ teaching on his true identity as the Son of God sent by his Father
According to Richard Burridge, these literary units are also typical of ancient Graeco-Roman biographies.
“We have seen how bioi are also composed of stories, anecdotes, sayings and speeches. Lucian, in particular, makes great use of pronouncement-type stories in the Demonax…The SBL group examined Demonax and Philostratus’ Apollonius, as well Plutarch and Philo for comparable units: Robbins analysed 200 pronouncement stories in Plutarch’s Alexander, Caesar, Demosthenes and Cicero alone; more recently, Robbins has teamed up with Mack to compare chreiai with various synoptic units….Overall therefore, we may conclude that the combination of stories, sayings and speeches found in the synoptic gospels is very similar to the basic literary units used by bioi.”16
Regarding John’s gospel, Burridge follows what he said about the synoptic gospels and writes,
“We conclude, therefore, that the Fourth Gospel is composed mainly of stories, dialogues and speeches or discourses, which are the typical material of bioi, especially those of philosophers and teachers.”17
Characteristic #6 The Display of the Character of Jesus in the NT Gospels
The Four Gospels’ display of the character of Jesus through his words and deeds is a characteristic of Graeco-Roman bioi (biographies).
Ancient Graeco-Roman bioi regularly displayed the character of their subject not directly by referring to a particular character trait (love, mercy, etc.), but indirectly through his words and actions which demonstrate a particular character trait. This is very different from modern biographies which tend to focus on character analysis as a primary factor in their biographies.
“Characterization is an important feature for our study, if only because the absence of character analysis was one reason why form critics denied the link of the gospels with biography….The methods of ancient characterization were much more indirect than their modern counterparts. Detailed character analysis and psychological assessment are lacking, not just in the gospels, but in the bulk of ancient literature. Instead, character is revealed by the person’s words and deeds, especially the latter: as Aristotle put it, ‘actions are signs of character.’ So we find anecdotes revealing how the person behaved in a difficult situation, facing a certain decision or responding to a crisis. Sometimes direct analysis is given after or alongside the story, to make the point clear in case anyone missed it.”18
Burridge again states,
“The absence of direct character analysis in the gospels is one of the traditional arguments against the gospels being biographies. However, we have seen that this requirement is a modern predilection; the ancient method was to display character through deeds and words. This is precisely what we find in the evangelists’ characterization of Jesus.”19
Examples from the Gospels
1) Jesus was compassionate and merciful as displayed in Luke 7:11-17.
And it came to pass that he went into a city called Nain. Many of his disciples and many people went with him. Now when he came near to the gate of the city, there was a dead man being carried out, the only son of his mother. She was a widow and many people of the city were with her. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said to her, “Do not cry.” He came and touched the coffin. Those that were carrying him stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. There came a fear on all and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us and God has visited his people.” This news about him spread throughout all Judea and the entire region around it.
2) Jesus was humble as displayed in John 13:1-17.
Now before the feast of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During the evening meal, the devil put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray him. Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands and that he had come from God and was going to God, rose from dinner and laid aside his garments. He took a towel and wrapped himself around the waist. Then, he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around his waist.
Then he came to Simon Peter. He said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “What I do you do not now realize, but you shall understand hereafter.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” Jesus said to him, "He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet and is clean everywhere. You are clean, but not all of you.” For he knew who would betray him; therefore he said, “You are not all clean.”
After he had washed their feet and had taken up his garments and sat down again, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master. Neither is he that is sent greater than the one that sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”
3) Jesus loved others and cared about their needs as displayed in Mark 8:1-9.
In those days when again there was a great crowd and they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat and if I send them away hungry to their own houses, they will faint by the way, for some of them came from far.” And his disciples answered him, “Where can a man satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?” And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven.” And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground and he took the seven loaves and gave thanks and broke them and gave them to his disciples to set them before the people and they did it. And they had a few small fishes and he blessed them and commanded to set them also before the people. So they did eat them and were filled. They took up of the broken pieces that were left, seven baskets. And they that had eaten were about four thousand and he sent them away.
4) Jesus was wise as he defended himself against the verbal attacks of others as displayed in Matthew 22:15-22.
Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might trap him in what he said. And they sent out to him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Master, we know that you are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, neither caring about any man’s opinion or regarding the appearance of men. Tell us therefore, What do you think? Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you tempt me, you hypocrites? Show me the tribute money.” And they brought to him a denarius. And he said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar's.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things which are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's.” When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him and went their way.
The historical literary evidence that establishes that ancient Graeco-Roman biographies were historical works in the category of non-fiction literature whose authors intended to write historically accurate portrayals of their subjects.
1. Ancient Graeco-Roman bioi were essentially historical works.
Craig Keener, professor of New Testament at Eastern Seminary writes in his Commentary on Matthew,
“Although the historical accuracy of biographers varied from one biographer to another, biographies were always primarily historical works. Historians wanted to make their accounts interesting and had specific emphases in writing, but such practices do not keep one from writing good history.
To what extent writers' historical interest determined historical accuracy varies from one to the next, depending on how they used their sources. Biographers like Plutarch and Livy spice up their accounts and often depend on centuries-old legends; but Plutarch and Livy often wrote about people who had lived centuries before their own time. By contrast, biographers like Tacitus and Suetonius, who wrote about events closer to their own time, are much more accurate. Despite Josephus's self-serving agendas, he gets various details correct—including the color of paint on Herod's bedroom wall! However creative they may have been with many details, even Plutarch and Livy apparently did not create for their accounts entire events where events did not appear in their sources.”20
Later, Keener writes in his Commentary on John,
“The better historians like Polybius felt that their work should include praise and blame for individuals, but that - in contrast to the practice of many writers - they should pursue truth and fairness, properly evaluating the right distribution of praise and blame. They felt free to critique their heroes' shortcomings, and most biographies mixed some measure of praise and blame. One could tell a less than flattering story even about one's own teacher, though apt to report especially favorable matters about him. One could also criticize some activities of other figures one regarded highly.”21
“Sometimes modern scholars write as if ancient historians and biographers lacked proper histiographic care or interest, but such a sweeping judgment neglects too much evidence. History was supposed to be truthful, and historians harshly criticized other historians whom they accused of promoting falsehood, especially when they exhibited self-serving agendas.”22
“History, too, was written differently then than in modern times. Biographies were essentially historical works; thus the Gospels would have an essentially historical as well as a propagandistic function. As Aune writes, ‘... while biography tended to emphasize encomium, or the one-sided praise of the subject, it was still firmly rooted in historical fact rather than literary fiction. Thus while the Evangelists clearly had an important theological agenda, the very fact that they chose to adapt Greco-Roman biographical conventions to tell the story of Jesus indicates that they were centrally concerned to communicate what they thought really happened.’”23
“As noted above, although biographies could serve a wide range of literary functions, ancient biographers intended their works to be more historical than novelistic. First-century historiography often focused on notable individuals.”24
2. The distinction between ancient Graeco-Roman history and biography was the content. Both were intended to be historical works.
Keener writes further,
“The central difference between biography and history was that the former focused on a single character whereas the latter included a broader range of events. History thus contained many biographical elements but normally lacked the focus on a single person and the emphasis on characterization.”25
Paul Eddy, professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Bethel University writes about the close connection between history and biography,
“Instead, the ancient sources themselves suggest that the distinction between these two genres was often quite vague, at least with regard to form and function.
The one area where the distinction seems to have been clear concerns their respective content. As Plutarch notes, biography, unlike history, is typically less concerned with great public deeds and more concerned with the subject's character, a character that is often best elucidated in the more trivial events of life.
Even here, however, the distinction is far from absolute. For as Lucian reveals, ancient historians were turning out works that would be difficult to distinguish from Plutarch's definition of biography…In this light, it seems that while we can generally distinguish between history and bios, we are not warranted in contrasting these two genres too sharply in terms of their historical intentionality.
However effective or ineffective any historical or biographical author may have been in achieving it, it seems that authors in both genres were to a significant degree concerned to report the past as it actually took place. And it seems that their audience read these works with this expectation.”26
Tom Thatcher, professor of Biblical Studies at Cincinnati Bible Seminary, agrees with this conclusion when he states,
“…in the ancient world, the technical distinction between biography and history was vague, perhaps based only on the particular author’s opinion about what he/she was doing.”27
3. Ancient Graeco-Roman historians were skeptical of their sources and didn’t just accept them at face value.
Paul Eddy writes,
“Some scholars argue that ancient historiographers, on the whole, are largely unreliable and not to be trusted. To the degree that the Gospels reflect historical concerns and techniques, this broader criticism of ancient Greco-Roman historical writings can be used to undermine confidence in them prior to giving them a fair hearing. In response to this common critique of ancient historical texts, we offer the following reflections.
First, there is in many academic quarters a certain prejudice against ancient historiography because it was ‘premodern.’ The assumption is that, in contrast to the present time, ancient authors were not critical of their sources, relied on hearsay, and often accepted myth as fact (e.g., incorporated reports of the supernatural into their accounts). While such things undoubtedly can be detected at times within ancient historical writings—as they can within relatively recent historical accounts—this is not the end of the story. As Glenn Chestnut has documented, ‘There was also a good deal of skepticism within the Graeco-Roman historiographical tradition.’
From Herodotus to Polybius to Pliny the Elder, miracle claims, for example. were open to serious questioning. With Thucydides, we find virtually the entire idea of the miraculous rejected. "Drawing on the rich intellectual resources of the humanistic and scientific rationalism of fifth-century Athens Thucydides developed a historiographical method characterized by "freedom from mythopoetic ways of thinking, critical realism, an 'eager generality,' and an inclination to penetrate rationally to the underlying order of things."28
4. Ancient Graeco-Roman historians wanted to be entertaining, but still convey the truth about an individual.
Eddy writes concerning this,
“Ancient Greeks and Romans generally assumed that history writing ought to be truthful, useful, and entertaining. To the thinking of some today, usefulness and entertainment often, if not usually, trumped the concern for truthfulness.
While this was undoubtedly the case at times, we must be careful not to overgeneralize this point. As J. L. Moles observes, ‘Some [ancients] write historiography according to rhetorical prescriptions, some do not.’ Hence, on the question of how much accuracy (if any) was sacrificed for rhetorical purposes, each historian's work must be assessed independently.
At the same time, M. J. Wheeldon makes the valuable point that even those historians who closely follow the literary and rhetorical conventions of their day should not be held suspect for this reason alone.
In the ancient Greco-Roman view, exercising one's rhetorical skills to entertain and motivate readers was not viewed as competing with a concern for accuracy. As A. W. Mosley demonstrated decades ago, many ancient historians were at least as serious about the historical accuracy as they were with the rhetorical excellence of their writing. The notion that faithful historical reconstruction is intrinsically at odds with a concern for rhetoric and vice versa is a peculiar modern/postmodern assumption the ancients simply did not share.”29
5. Because ancient Graeco-Roman biographies were not free of bias does not negate the characteristic of their genre which was to communicate historical fact.
Eddy further writes,
“…it cannot be denied that ancient biographies often contain bias, propaganda, exaggeration, error, and outright fabrication. Hence, it cannot be denied that acknowledging the historical intentionality of the bios genre and the bios-like quality of the Gospels does not in and of itself argue for the historical reliability of the Gospels. At the same time, no one would want to argue that modern biographers are altogether free from bias, propaganda, exaggeration, error, and sometimes even outright fabrication…
The fact that ancient Greco-Roman biographical works sometimes contain exaggerations, biases, and even fabrications does not mean that the authors did not intend to communicate factual history, or that readers of ancient biographies did not understand them to communicate factual history. Authors at times may have carried out this commitment poorly, but the fact that their choice of genre committed them to this goal already places important constraints on how freely they could comfortably treat their material.”30
6. Sweeping generalizations about the unreliability of "ancient history" is unwarranted from the evidence.
Paul Eddy continues,
“…we cannot make sweeping generalizations about the unreliability of ‘ancient history.’ Rather, we must consider each historian and each work on its own merits. In what can be considered the most serious theoretical discussion of historiography that survives from the ancient world—Lucian's How to Write History—the author emphasizes that the historian must ‘sacrifice to truth alone.’ So apparently at least some ancient historians knew and cared about such things.”31
7. Many ancient Graeco-Roman bioi are considered by scholars as reliable historically.
Craig Keener, in an Audio Interview with Rob Bowman, for 4Truth.Net, talked about the historical reliability of ancient biographers even confronting one of his professors at Duke University,
“They [ancient biographers] tend to be very historical in their intent, especially historically accurate when they are dealing with characters from the preceding century before they wrote.
My first gospels professor in my doctoral course at Duke University said that the gospels were ancient biographies and that ancient biographies were fictitious therefore the gospels were fictitious. So after class I went up to him and said I thought that ancient biographies covered a range of works and were basically historical. At one end of the spectrum you have Plutarch and Livy who spiced things up but they were dealing with earlier subjects, people who lived centuries before. They openly admitted that they had to depend upon legends for these subjects because they lived so long before. On the other end of the spectrum, however, you have Tacitus and Suetonius who were very close to their sources writing about more recent subjects in the past century or so. Scholars today depend on them as heavily accurate. Somewhere in the middle you have Josephus when he wrote his autobiography. He makes himself look suspiciously good and yet Josephus can be so accurate in his details that he gets correct the color of paint on Herod's bedroom wall. But ancient biographies had primarily historical interest. The biographers were not free to invent events. They listed differing sources where views tended to diverge. I pointed this out to the professor and he said, ‘I don't know. I don't know anything about ancient biography.’ So you can’t always believe something just because a professor says it.”32
The historical literary evidence that establishes that the authors of the NT Gospels intended to write historically accurate portrayals of Jesus.
The NT Gospels as ancient Graeco-Roman bioi were intended by their authors to be historical works.
Now that we have established in Section 1 that the NT Gospels belong to the genre of Graeco-Roman biography and have established that Graeco-Roman biography were essentially historical works intended to convey historical information about an individual, is there evidence from the NT Gospels themselves that the authors intended to convey historical information about Jesus?
1. Early Christians were interested in the life and ministry of Jesus from the beginning.
Luke in his prologue (1:1-4) shows that the early Christians were interested in the life anf ministry of Jesus when he states,
“Since many have taken in hand to draw up a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having investigated everything from the beginning to write it out for you accurately in order, most excellent Theophilus, that you might know the certainty of those things about which you have been instructed.”
Luke writes in his prologue that many had undertaken to write some accounts of the life of Jesus which he was now going to do also. This can only be the result of an interest on the part of many Christians to learn about the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. This interest was very early as Luke was a disciple of Paul and accompanied him on his journeys and wrote his gospel certainly before Paul died.
Craig Keener makes this very point,
“Early Christians were undoubtedly interested in the life and character of Jesus from the beginning.”33
2. The NT Gospel authors’ choice of the genre of bioi demonstrates their intent to convey historically accurate information about Jesus to others.
Craig Keener writes,
“Nevertheless, the Gospel writers would have known that the Gospels would have been read in the Greco-Roman world as ‘lives’ of Jesus…The existence of the Gospels themselves, and the role assigned to Jesus in them, testify that early Christianity had a greater interest in the history of its founder than many comparable contemporary movements did.”34
Keener also adds a statement from David Aune, professor of Religious Studies at Xavier College in Chicago who agrees with this conclusion,
“Biographies were essentially historical works; thus the Gospels would have an essentially historical as well as a propagandistic function. As Aune writes, ‘... while biography tended to emphasize encomium, or the one-sided praise of the subject, it was still firmly rooted in historical fact rather than literary fiction. Thus while the Evangelists clearly had an important theological agenda, the very fact that they chose to adapt Greco-Roman biographical conventions to tell the story of Jesus indicates that they were centrally concerned to communicate what they thought really happened.’”35
3. The historical focus of the NT Gospels demonstrates that the authors intended to write biographies with historical intent.
Paul Eddy writes about this,
“…it cannot be denied that in both the Gospel of Luke and in Acts the author does exhibit a profound historical interest. Indeed, this broader historical interest is, if to a less explicit extent, exhibited in the other three Gospels as well.”36
Paul Eddy also mentions this as a conclusion of Albert Cook, Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and Classics, Emeritus at Brown University,
“Albert Cook broadens this claim to the New Testament as a whole: ‘Every section of the New Testament sets out its presentation so that it is all sited in history and dependent on a historical sequence.... Thus the sense and senses of the New Testament are derived from a temporal sequence of public import; they satisfy a definition of history.... [T]he preponderant historical focus of the New Testament ... [is] so obvious as to be taken for granted.’"37
4. The NT Gospels is consistent with Jewish writers steeped in the historicity of the OT who would want to testify to Jesus in historical terms.
Keener points out that the Gospel authors were influenced by the historical nature of the Old Testament Scriptures when they wrote the gospels,
“In the context of a Jewish covenantal understanding of history as the framework for God's revelation, the earliest Christians must have been interested in the history of Jesus.”38
Keener further states,
“Since writers steeped in the OT would want to testify in historical terms concerning the one they regarded as the fulfillment of Israel's history, the nature of gospels was somewhat predetermined from the start. What form would a Gospel writer have used to describe Jesus' life even if he wished to avoid the genre of biography?”39
5. Luke’s prologue in his gospel clearly shows historical intent.
“Since many have taken in hand to draw up a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having investigated everything from the beginning to write it out for you accurately in order, most excellent Theophilus, that you might know the certainty of those things about which you have been instructed.”
Keener states what Luke’s prologues demonstrate regarding Luke’s writings,
“Works with a historical prologue like Luke's (Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-2) were historical works; novels lacked such fixtures, although occasionally they could include a proem telling why the author made up the story.”41
Keener mentions Luke’s claim to investigation into the life of Jesus,
“Luke also claims to have investigated matters thoroughly (1:3). Historians valued such investigation, which often included traveling to the places where events had reportedly occurred, and criticized those who failed to accomplish it as well as possible. Whereas Roman historians consulted records, the Greek model normally entailed travel and consulting with available eyewitnesses, although many even in the eastern Mediterranean fell short of this ideal. Evidence strongly suggests that Luke fits the more reliable end of the spectrum.”42
Keener also mentions Luke’s claim to public knowledge of the life of Jesus,
“Like some other early Christian writers (Acts 26:26; 1 Cor 15:6; 2 Cor 12:12), Luke also appeals to "public knowledge" (1:4); he has investigated these matters, but his audience, including his probable patron Theophilus, already has some knowledge about them. Appeals to public knowledge such as that contained in documents, claims offered among those who could have refuted them (such as the living eyewitnesses in positions of prominence in the church; cf. Gal 2:9), or appeals simply to what was widely known carried tremendous rhetorical weight.”43
“Luke had both written (Lk 1:1) and oral (1:2) sources available, and his literary patron Theophilus already knew much of this Christian tradition (1:4). Luke undoubtedly researched this material (1:3) during his sojourn with Paul in Palestine (Acts 21:17; 27:1; on the we narratives.”44
Lee Strobel, in his book, A Case for Christ, asks Craig Blomberg, professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary, “Were these first-century writers even interested in recording what actually happened?” Blomberg answers,
“Yes, they were. You can see that at the beginning of the gospel of Luke, which reads very much like prefaces to other generally trusted historical and biographical works of antiquity.”45
After reading Luke’s prologue (1:1-4), he states,
“As you can see, Luke is clearly saying he intended to write accurately about the things he investigated and found to be well-supported by witnesses.”46
6. Matthew, like most Greek-speaking Jewish biographers, is more interested in interpreting tradition than in creating it.
Craig Keener writes,
“Some scholars suggest that Matthew interprets Jesus in light of the Old Testament and that he therefore does not stick very close to the story of Jesus. But while it is true that Matthew interprets Jesus in light of the Old Testament, he also interprets the Old Testament record in light of Jesus. If Matthew simply invented stories about Jesus' infancy to Old Testament messianic texts, he should have chosen more obvious texts to start with and created stories that matched them better. Like most Greek-speaking Jewish biographers, Matthew is more interested in interpreting tradition than in creating it.”47
Blomberg earlier stated that Luke’s prologue share his historical intent. He further adds how this reflects Matthew and Mark’s intent who don’t have a prologue like Luke’s,
“It’s true that Mark and Matthew don’t have this kind of explicit statement. However, they are close to Luke in terms of genre, and it seems reasonable that Luke’s historical intent would closely mirror theirs.”48
7. John’s Gospel, which is more theological than the Synoptic Gospels, is still intended to be historically accurate.
Craig Keener writes about John’s theological and historical intent compared with the Synoptic Gospels,
“The Fourth Gospel is both historical and literary/theological. Of the four canonical gospels, John is certainly the most literary/theological, but a forced choice between reporting of historical tradition and theological interpretation of that tradition is no more appropriate here than with the other gospels. There are simply too many points at which this Gospel includes what sounds like pure Johannine theology yet is in fact confirmed as earlier tradition by parallels in the Synoptics (see commentary, ad loc.). Unless one dates John first and claims that the Synoptics or their sources drew from John, John shows some dependence on earlier tradition, although thoroughly reworded in his own idiom. If John's central claim is the Word's enfleshment (1:14), he claims not to merely interpret the church’s faith but to interpret also "the apostolic witness concerning Jesus' historical selfdisclosure."49
Blomberg summarizes the intent of the gospel authors,
“It seems quite apparent that the goal of the gospel writers was to attempt to record what had actually occurred.”50
8. The Jewish influence on the NT Gospel authors did not cause them to invent situations and circumstances in the life of Jesus to satisfy OT prophecies.
It is proposed by some scholars that the Gospel writers were influenced by the Jewish scribes who used an allegorical approach to Scripture and thus they intentionally invented stories about Jesus in order to fulfill OT prophecies. However, the historical literary evidence does not support this view.
Jewish scribes who used the allegorical approach did not invent events to fit OT fulfillment. They started with events that had actually occurred and looked for OT prophecies to “fulfill” them. The Gospel writers used the same approach.
Paul Eddy writes about the Jewish scribes who used the allegorical method of interpretation,
“Jewish exegetes in this school were driven by what can be called a ‘fulfillment hermeneutic.’ That is, they tended to use midrashic techniques to correlate current historical events, or anticipated future events, with Old Testament texts as a means of bringing out the perceived biblical significance of those events. Sometimes Old Testament texts would be ‘creatively’ reframed to accommodate this correlation, but rarely were contemporary events fabricated to accommodate this correlation.”51
Eddy further gives the view of D.J. Moo, professor of New Testament at Wheaton College Graduate School,
“In an important observation, D. J. Moo notes that the ‘fabrication of recent history’ thesis is based on the supposition that New Testament authors felt compelled to demonstrate Jesus's fulfillment of every Old Testament messianic prophecy. But there is little evidence that the authors were guided by such a presupposition. Instead, it appears that ‘the prophecies which were important were determined by the life of Jesus’”52
Later, Eddy adds more words from Moo,
“…Moo has raised the question of whether the Gospel authors fabricated materials for their passion narratives in order to create ‘fulfillments’ of Old Testament prophecies. His conclusion is that ‘no instance in which [the creation of ostensive historical materials designed to 'fulfill' OT prophecies] is the most probable explanation has been discovered in the course of this investigation.’”53
1. Keener, Craig, Commentary on Matthew, Intervarsity Press, Downer’s Grove, Ill.,
2. Burridge, Richard, in “About People, by People, for People,” in The Gospels For All Christians, Rethinking the Gospel Audiences, ed. Richard Bauckham, William B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1998, 115
3. Burridge, Richard, in The Gospels For All Christians, 120-121
4. Burridge, Richard, What Are The Gospels? A Comparison With Graeco-Roman Biography, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1992
5. Burridge, Richard, What Are The Gospels?, 194-195
6. Burridge, Richard, What Are The Gospels?, 222-223)
7. Burridge, Richard, in The Gospels For All Christians, 123
8. Burridge, Richard, What Are The Gospels?, 197
9. Burridge, Richard, What Are The Gospels?, 223
10. Burridge, Richard, What Are The Gospels?, 200-201
11. Burridge, Richard, What Are The Gospels?, 226
12. Burridge, Richard, What Are The Gospels?, 197-198
13. Burridge, Richard, What Are The Gospels?, 224
14. Burridge, Richard, What Are The Gospels?, 199
15. Aune, David E., The New Testament in Its Literary Environment, Westminster Press, 1987, 50-52
16. Burridge, Richard, What Are The Gospels?, 203-204
17. Burridge, Richard, What Are The Gospels?, 227
18. Burridge, Richard, What Are The Gospels?, 121
19. Burridge, Richard, What Are The Gospels?, 205-206
20. Keener, Craig, Commentary on Matthew, 25
21. Keener, Craig, Commentary on John, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts, 2003, 16
22. Keener, Craig, Commentary on John, 17-18
23. Keener, Craig, Commentary on John, 13
24. Keener, Craig, Commentary on John, 12
25. Keener, Craig, Commentary on John, 12
26. Eddy, Paul and Boyd, Gregory, The Jesus Legend, Baker Academic, Michigan, 2007, 325
27. Thatcher, Tom, “The Gospel Genre: What Are We After?,” Restoration Quarterly, Vol. 36/No. 3 (1994), 129-38
28. Eddy, Paul and Boyd, Gregory, The Jesus Legend, 330
29. Eddy, Paul and Boyd, Gregory, The Jesus Legend, 331-2
30. Eddy, Paul and Boyd, Gregory, The Jesus Legend, 326
31 Eddy, Paul and Boyd, Gregory, The Jesus Legend, 333-4
32. Keener, Craig, in an Audio Interview with Rob Bowman, 4Truth.Net, http://www.4truth.net/site/c.hiKXLbPNLrF/b.3587311/k.7A32/Audio_Interview_with_Craig_Keener_on_the_Reliability_of_the_Gospels.htm
33. Keener, Craig, Commentary on John, 29
34. Keener, Craig, Commentary on John, 30
35. Keener, Craig, Commentary on John, 13
36. Eddy, Paul and Boyd, Gregory, The Jesus Legend, 329
37. Cook, Albert quoted in The Jesus Legend, Paul Eddy, Gregory Boyd, 329
38. Keener, Craig, Commentary on John, 17
39. Keener, Craig, Commentary on John, 30
40. Keener, Craig, Commentary on Matthew, 25
41. Keener, Craig, Commentary on John, 3
42. Keener, Craig, Commentary on John, 32
43. Keener, Craig, Commentary on John, 33
44. Keener, Craig, Commentary on Matthew, 26
45. Blomberg, Craig, quoted in A Case for Christ, Lee Strobel, Zondervan Publishing House, 1998, 39-40
46. Blomberg, Craig, quoted in A Case for Christ, Lee Strobel, 40
47. Keener, Craig, Commentary on Matthew, 25
48. Blomberg, Craig, quoted in A Case for Christ, Lee Strobel, 40
49. Keener, Craig, Commentary on John, 17
50. Blomberg, Craig, quoted in A Case for Christ, Lee Strobel, 40
51. Eddy, Paul and Boyd, Gregory, The Jesus Legend, 344-345
52. Eddy, Paul and Boyd, Gregory, The Jesus Legend, 345
53. Eddy, Paul and Boyd, Gregory, The Jesus Legend, 350