Can a Scientist Trust the New Testament? by N. T. Wright


N. T. Wright recently spoke at St Andrews University on the trustworthiness of the New Testament. The message was a part of the James Gregory lectures, a series of public talks by eminent national and international speakers on a wide range of contemporary issues in science and religion.

Does the Bible Endorse Slavery?

Paul Copan continues his series on slavery and the Bible in the latest issue of Enrichment (see his earlier discussions of Old Testament slavery in the journal here and here). In this article, he examines slavery in the context of the New Testament and addresses the question of whether Jesus or the New Testament writers condoned slavery.

Debunking the Zeitgeist Movie

Jonathan McLatchie addresses the internet documentary’s claim that Jesus is a mythological amalgamation of ancient pagan deities.

Tim McGrew on Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels

The argument from undesigned concidences is a little known argument for the historicity of the New Testament. Once popular in the nineteenth century, the argument has more recently been brought to light by Professor Tim McGrew of Western Michigan University. Very simply, the argument shows how incidental details that are left out by one gospel writer are often filled in by another writer to answer questions raised by the first. This provides good evidence to conclude that at numerous points the authors of the gospels were accurately and independently reporting actual events rather than merely copying one another or engaging in creative myth-making.

Read more

Simon Gathercole on the Gospel of Judas and the Gospel of Thomas

At Between Two Worlds, Andy Naselli interviews Simon Gathercole on the Gospel of Judas and the Gospel of Thomas. Gathercole is a New Testament lecturer at the University of Cambridge and is currently writing a commentary on the Gospel of Thomas:

1. What exactly are the Gospel of Judas and the Gospel of Thomas? How do they compare to the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John?

To start with, the Gospels of Judas and Thomas are quite different from each other. One is a hard-line Gnostic Gospel: the Gospel of Judas has the standard characteristics which people in antiquity associated with the Gnostics—a view of the creator and his creation as both evil (and both a long way further down in the cosmic hierarchy from the Great Divine Spirit). Thomas is more of an ascetical work, though it also has some pretty unorthodox elements such as finding salvation through self-knowledge in conjunction with Jesus.

On a historical level, too, Thomas and Judas show that they’re a long way removed from the both the culture and theology of Jesus’ real setting: they both reflect a heavily gentile context, in which, for example, the OT is not considered authoritative. In this respect they’re a long way apart from the four canonical Gospels. Most importantly, the central factor in the NT Gospels, the cross and resurrection of Jesus as the saving act of God, is also missing from Thomas and Judas: in these apocryphal texts, “knowledge” is the way to salvation.

2. When were the Gospel of Judas and Gospel of Thomas each discovered? When were they written? And why are they an issue in our popular culture?

They were discovered at different times and are parts of different collections. The Gospel of Thomas was found first, in the codices (bound papyrus books) found near Nag Hammadi in 1945–46: this is a big collection of Gnostic and other literature. The Gospel of Judas was discovered much more recently—probably in the 1970s—but it wasn’t actually published until 2006.

They were probably originally composed at roughly the same time. We can be pretty sure that the Gospel of Judas was written around AD 150 because Irenaeus (writing about AD 180) refers to a Gospel of Judas in his Against the Heresies. Again, we can be fairly certain that the Gospel of Thomas was written in the second century. There are three Greek papyrus fragments of it (only small bits—the whole text survives only in Coptic) from around AD 200–300, and the church Father Hippolytus refers to it around AD 225. But we can also see quite clearly that they don’t pre-date the canonical Gospels: Thomas is influenced in a number of places by Luke’s Gospel and refers to the disciple Matthew (probably a reference to the Gospel of Matthew), and Judas is influenced in a number of places by Matthew’s Gospel.

I think they are an issue in our world because there is a certain fascination with conspiracy-theories generally, whether it’s to do with the assassination of JFK or (especially) when it has to do with church cover-ups. People are all too willing to believe that the church has concealed the truth. It’s partly a cultural thing and partly is fed by the fact that the church sometimes does cover things up, but it’s also a result of sin: people don’t want to believe the truth and so cast around for other explanations instead.

Read the whole interview to learn about Gathercole’s previous books and his current writing project.

Online books by Don Carson

Andy Naselli has helpfully gathered a list of resources by New Testament scholar, Don Carson. Just about every article and review that Carson has ever written is freely available. Including in his list is also several of Carson’s books that are now also available in PDF, free for download:

If you don’t know who Don Carson is, I recommend you get acquainted with him and his work. He is regarded as one of the foremost evangelical thinkers of our generation. For thirty years he has taught at the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and is presently their research professor of the New Testament. From the list Andy has assembled, you can see that Carson has been responsible for a stunning body of work (50 books; 235 articles; 112 book reviews, and edited another 46 books), addressing topics from the Emergent church movement to Christians and Culture (Justin Taylor averages it out as about one book written or edited every four months, with one article and two reviews written every six weeks—for three decades). More importantly, he is able to write with both a pastoral sensitivity and academic brilliance in such a way that neither is nullified by the other. Take advantage of these wonderful resources that the Gospel Coalition has kindly and generously made available.