What is the Biblical Canon?

My last several articles have been about the Gospels, and now I want to change directions slightly and research how the Bible became comprised of the books we know: 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. At some point in the past, some group of people put these 66 pieces of writing together into one book. When did that happen? Who was involved? Why did they believe these books are the Word of God and not others? I'll be writing several...

Continue Reading

What are the ‘M’ and ‘L’ Sources?

I've been writing about the Gospels, and last week I wrote about the Q Source Hypothesis (a.k.a. Document Q). The Q Source Hypothesis proposes the Gospel of Mark was written first, and the Gospels of Matthew and Luke used Mark as a primary source, while also using the hypothetical source Q for material common to both Matthew and Luke, but not Mark.

My article this week will be short, as I'm just including this for completeness. There is material...

Continue Reading

What is the Q Source Hypothesis?

In my last two articles I've researched What is the Synoptic Problem? and Which Gospel was Written First?. It is frequently accepted by modern scholars that Mark was written first, and the Gospels of Matthew and Luke used Mark as a primary source. 

There is material common to both Matthew and Luke which is not in Mark, so where did they get that material? It is generally believed Luke was written third, so either Luke copied the...

Continue Reading

Which Gospels was Written First?

(This post was supposed to go out last Saturday, but I realized yesterday it hadn't.)

The order of the Gospels in the New Testament is Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, however, scholars typically believe they were written in a different order. How did they come to this conclusion?

In my article What is the Synoptic Problem?, I showed there is so much in common between the Synoptic Gospels that the later...

Continue Reading

What is the Synoptic Problem?

The first three Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) are called the Synoptic Gospels. The term synoptic comes from the words meaning "same" (syn) and "sight" (optic), or "to see together". There is quite a bit of overlap with what these three books report, while about 90% of the Gospel of John contains different information.

There are different views on how Christians should view the overlapping information. On the one hand, if the authors are...

Continue Reading

Why are there Four Gospels?

The Gospels describe Jesus's ministry, death and resurrection, but why are there four Gospels? Why didn't one person write a comprehensive biography of Jesus's life?

Suppose that today four men should undertake to write a “life” of ex-president [Theodore] Roosevelt, and that each one designed to present him in a different character. Suppose that the first should treat of his private and domestic life, the second deal...

Continue Reading

Can We Trust the Gospels?

Christianity is based on historical events. Throughout the Bible, there were eyewitnesses to events, and those people reported what happened. The Gospels, in particular, have extra-Biblical sources which help confirm their accuracy. First century non-Christian historians who refer to events in the Gospels include Josephus, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, Tacitus, Thallus, and Emperor Trajan.

Ancient Historians

The testimonies...

Continue Reading

What are the Gospels?

I wrote several articles about the Torah, which is comprised of the first five books of the Old Testament. Now I want to move several hundred years later and research the Gospels, the first four books of the New Testament.

The word Gospel comes from an Old English translation of the Greek word euaggelion (εὐαγγέλιον; Strong's G2098), from which we get the English words evangelize, evangelist and Evangelical. Gospel means "good...

Continue Reading

Where did Moses get His Information? Part 2

This is part two of a series, Where did Moses get His Information?. In part one, I briefly discussed how Moses could have written Exodus 1 (ESV) since it took place before he was born. I also mentioned Deuteronomy 34 (ESV), which was written after he died. The likely answers are pretty simple, so it was a short article.

Now I want to discuss how Moses received the information he wrote in the book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible....

Continue Reading

Where did Moses get His Information? Part 1

The first five books of the Bible are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, and are traditionally attributed to Moses (see the articles Did Moses Write the Torah? Part 1, Part 2). Most of the events in the last four books happened during Moses' life, and he was, in fact, the key person during those events.

Exodus chapter 2 records Moses's birth, so obviously he wasn't an eyewitness to the events in...

Continue Reading