Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lukan Christology

“Historical critics have long disagreed among themselves concerning just how reliable the book of Acts is for understanding the life and writings of Paul. My personal view is that Acts is about as accurate for Paul as Luke’s first volume, the Gospel of Luke is, for Jesus: much of the basic information is probably reliable, but a lot of the details managed to get changed,” B. Ehrman, Jesus Interrupted, 54.

That’s a remarkable admission on the lips of an atheist. Supernaturalism is a pervasive feature of Luke’s Gospel as well as the Book of Acts.

Moreover, Luke has a high Christology, as scholars like Simon Gathercole (The Preexistent Son: Recovering the Christologies of Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and Larry Hurtado (Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity) have documented.

If Luke is reliable on the basics, then how can you be an atheist?


  1. To whom is the question addressed? If you want to know Mr Erhman's meaning of "the basics" or how he remains an atheist I would advise either reading the rest of the book or contacting him directly.
    If the question was addressed to the peanut gallery then, for me, the historical accuracy or lack thereof of any of the gospels is of litle interest; the Illiad may contain some historical accuracy regarding Greek battle tactics and the politics of Troy, but that would prove nothing as to the existance of Athena. I fail to see the relevance.

  2. As I understand it, Paul- the "historical accuracy" of the resurrection in Luke, validates the "basic" testimony of the prophets. A "basic" prophecy that Jesus validated. That there is a divine judgment- and that it was satisfied by His sacrifice. That those who fail to believe this "basic" fulfillment shall get no satisfaction. That they shall find themselves in someplace other than Athena. See the relevance? Pique your interest?


  3. I think it's important to recognize that Ehrman is a "Jesus Seminar" level scholar...

    ...meaning that he says "much of the basic information is probably reliable, but a lot of the details managed to get changed", he means "the general non-supernatural information about plants, pants and people is accurate, but anything that smells of the supernatural is obviously a later insertion".

    There's NO way Ehrman thinks anything supernatural is historically reliable, though he may agree that the author recorded supernatural events that he (wrongly) believed to have happened.

    I would guess that Ehrman would consider "the basics" to be a statistical minority of the text.