Authenticity of the New Testament


@SalamKhan I’m with goout here.

What is the aim of this thread?

You won’t convert any Catholics with your malarky, and you don’t seek understanding yourself;

What is your purpose with this?


Not a Catholic understanding of free will.
Inspiration does not impose on free will. God does not deny human beings complete freedom. This includes the writing of Scripture.
As a result, scripture is messy. It is full of the human element, and, it is also inspired. God has breathed saving revelation into it.


LOL, as usual, I come here with a little hope that my questions may be answered, only to be disappointed. Rather than make assumptions about the reliability of your sources, I attempt to hear you justify the reliability of your sources, only to get nothing in return.


The Dead Sea scrolls have little to do with the New Testament. The Old Testament is a different topic.


You’ve been coming here for years with this nonsense.

Don’t feign like you are trying to learn.

You’ve got an agenda.


If you say so, mate.


You ask loaded questions, then when people give you well reasoned answers, you reject them and then continue on.

You don’t have the attitude of someone legitimately seeking and trying to learn.

You have the attitude of someone with an agenda.

Which is why I won’t even dignify your OP with a response, even though I am fully capable of doing so.


Really? Because it wasn’t until fairly recently where I accepted the application of these same principles to Hadith collections, most notably the Jami` of Imam Bukhari. See my comments on this Facebook post:

Honestly, I decided to start this thread after reading critiques on the authenticity of the New Testament at Why? Because I couldn’t find any responses from Christians. Now you tell me, why would I bother trying to look up Christian responses if I’m not interested in their answers? Am I really so complacent and closed minded? If that’s what you think of me then you don’t have to be communicating with me.


I know we can only speculate about this as no one knows, but it does seem odd to choose a “messy” system to transmit something so important. God could have guided the process to prevent error, editing, and misunderstanding.


Read the Churches Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, and it won’t seem so messy.


However, your claim begins to strain the imagination when you recognize that you’re attempting to deal with Scripture as if it were a single monolithic writing. It isn’t. Therefore, your claim is actually “of all the Gospels, and all the Epistles, each and every one _is based on a single inaccurate copy of the original text.” That’s a hard one to swallow.

Apples and oranges.

  • The Gospels weren’t written by “Greco-Roman biographers”
  • The Gospels weren’t written in the genre of ‘Greco-Roman biography’.

Therefore, the fact that the two types of literature differ doesn’t prove anything about the unreliability of the New Testament… :wink:


1 - We have complete manuscripts from the early 4th century, we have bits and pieces from the 2nd and 3rd centuries. We also have bits and pieces and a few full manuscripts from the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th centuries. We have full manuscripts from the 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries. These manuscripts exist in several languages (Greek, Syriac, Latin, Georgian, Ge’ez, Gothic, Slavic, etc) and have a vast geographic distribution spanning 3 continents.

And guess what? The bits and pieces from the 2nd and 3rd centuries are in substantial conformity with each other, which are in turn in agreement with the full manuscripts from the 4th century which are in substantial agreement with those of the 14th century.

Most variants in said manuscripts are in orthography, word order, etc. Minor variants do exist, but the majority of the manuscripts and substance of the texts are in agreement.

What does that tell you?

2 - See answer to 1.

3 - The anonymity of the Gospels is a modern scholarly premise which began in the 19th century. The fourfold Gospel has been attributed to the Apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke and John since at least the 2nd century.

Even if the Gospels weren’t written by those Apostles, it is an article of Catholic Faith that the fourfold Gospels are both accurate witnesses to the Apostolic Preaching, and that the Holy Spirit is the primary author of them.

So long as a Catholic holds to the belief that the Gospels are accurate representations of Apostolic teaching and are inspired of God, the Church gives her children the freedom to believe a multitude of theories regarding the human authorship of said Gospels.

The traditional idea that the Gospels were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is still widely held in the Church, and it is even a common minority position of Catholic biblical scholars of the highest eminence (such as Dr. Scott Hahn).

For what it’s worth, I personally hold to the traditional belief and subscribe to either the Augustinian hypothesis or the Independence hypothesis proposed by Eta Linnemann.

Cross reference John A.T. Robinson and his excellent book “Redating the New Testament,” which forcefully, convincingly, and eloquently argues for the position that all 27 canonical New Testament books were written prior to A.D. 70.


I think you misunderstood my point.

They are different genres, I’ll grant you that.


I’m aware of the manuscript evidence, but the Gospels are said to be written in the 1st century.

But these aren’t books of an intellectual science, such as theology or philosophy, or some empirical science, such as biology, where who exactly the author is has little relevance. The authorship matters, otherwise, anyone could say anything, and attribute it to anyone.

What are they?


The adoption of Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation was passed by a vote of bishops which in itself seems a rather “messy” way to arrive at doctrine. Although widely lopsided, the “vote” was nevertheless not unanimous.


I believe St. Matthew the Apostle wrote his gospel first.

Afterwards St. Mark used Matthews gospel as a template, and combined it with things which he heard St. Peter preaching about, and excised things which were not germane to his evangelism, and he did this in Rome.

Later St. Luke used both the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, plus interviewed eyewitnesses such as Mary, and combined those with the preaching of Paul and authored his gospel.

Lastly, St. John wrote his gospel last, about the year 69 or 89, and did so to combat early Christological and gnostic heresies which were popping up.

This is the Augustinian hypothesis, basically. It was popularized by the 4th century Latin Doctor of the Church, Blessed St. Augustine the Bishop of Hippo.

The Independence hypothesis, which I am also open to being the truth, holds that all 4 Gospels were written totally independent of each other, and that the similarities we see are due to the Holy Spirit being the primary author, and the differences are due to the Holy Spirit emphasising different things for different communities.

Either one of these theories is acceptable for a Catholic to hold.

There’s also the Griesbach hypothesis and the Farrer-Goulder hypothesis, which are both popular with certain scholars today.

There’s also the Markan priority and two source hypotheses which are the most popular theories these days.

Again I must reiterate, all of these various theories about the human authorship of the Gospels are perfectly acceptable for a Catholic to hold so long as they hold that the Gospels faithfully preserve the Apostolic Doctrine and have God as there author.

The precise mechanism by which they came about is an open question, with various theologoumena (theological opinions) regarding there human authorship being permitted by the Church.

It’s not dissimilar to the question of Creation and Genesis 1: so long as a Catholic holds that Genesis 1 is inspired by God, and that God is the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, the Earth, Life and Mankind, Catholics are free to believe in various theories of how God caused this to come about (theistic evolution, old earth creation, intelligent design, young earth creation, etc).


There are many things that “could be”. We don’t live speculative lives, we live as we are.

  1. Human beings are human. We are contradictory and flawed creatures. We are uncertain, we have inadequate spiritual insight, we lose things, we find things, we make mistakes. And still, God loves us fully.
  2. Because God is love, God does not violate free will.
  3. Inspiration therefore does not involve the violation of human free will.
    As a result of divine/human relationship, scripture is by nature full of humanity, AND, divinely inspired. Many people want to place a false dichotomy here, but there is none. It is not either inspired or human, scripture is both inspired, and human.

I don’t know if you are a Christian or otherwise, but a basic concept in Christianity is incarnation.
The life of Christ reflects the full range of human experience. Christ’s life is messy, it is in fact, bloody to the point of death. It doesn’t get any messier than that. Christ reflects the both/and of Divine/human.

In a Christian discussion of scripture, the human element simply must be assumed, or you are discussing something else entirely.


The point is, there is no reductionist authenticity of written Scripture in a journalistic sense. You can simply choose to be radically skeptical, which is your right.

  1. If you reduce scripture to it’s source, you find a person, Jesus Christ, not a set of documents.
  2. After the person you have oral Tradition. Still no “authentic documents”, but rather authentic persons in community, or Church.
  3. Then, the book, still in the context of human community, or Church. Messy. You are not led to authenticity of documents, you are led to authenticity of persons.

And this will not satisfy someone who does not subscribe to the incarnation as Word made Flesh, and so be it.


What assumptions have I made that makes you say that?


Hmm… how so? You were claiming that our Bible is based off a single, adulterated copy.

(Oh… wait. That’s the claim that Islam makes about the Old Testament, too, isn’t it? Hmm… kinda one-size-fits-all, eh? :thinking: )

Right. And therefore, comparing the style of the New Testament to Greco-Roman biography is as valid as comparing the NT to the literary stylings of Barney the Purple Elephant… :wink:

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