Watching the video below was probably the most enjoyable 1-hour stretches of my life this year (oh, what a sad sack I am :))
In it Dr. Peter J. Williams asks and answers the question, “Are the gospels based on eyewitness testimony?” The consensus among Bible scholars, both conservative and sceptical, is that the gospels weren’t written in Israel/Palestine (conservatives, though, are more likely to place Matthew in Israel). Seeing the gospels weren’t written in the land, how much do they know of it?
Dr. Williams puts the gospel writers to the test on their knowledge of:
- Personal names: The popularity of names changes with time. Do they get the right names and in the right proportions?
- Geography: Do they demonstrate familiarity with place names?
- Botany: Do they get the right plants in the right places?
In the first two tests, he also compares the biblical gospels to the apocryphal ones. The results are quite illuminating. To wrap up, he brings the tests together in examining the feeding of the 5,000.
The video includes not only Dr. Williams’ priceless facial expressions, but also his presentation slides. If watching 1 hour of video doesn’t work for you, here’s an audio recording of the same talk at another venue (length 57:00):
You decide: were the writers of the gospels conspiratorially clever or were they simply recording what eyewitnesses had seen and heard?
If you’d like to listen to Peter Williams talk on the correct transmission and translation of both the Old and New Testaments try Can we Trust Our Bibles? from the Next 2011 conference (length 1:29:02).