Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The NT witness protection program

Because we have no extrabiblical corroboration for the existence of some individuals or villages named in the Gospels, unbelievers claim these never existed. They are fictional characters or fictional villages. 

Now, I think the objection is patently absurd. For one thing, many ancient were fly-by-night hamlets. Consider all the ghost towns in the Old West or Midwest that came and went. Which used to be on the map. Silver mining towns that went bust. Or towns which the train bypassed. 

Likewise, these people are only remembered because they were recorded in the Gospels. 

There is, however, another issue. In some instances this may be the NT witness protection program. It's possible that a Gospel writer might intentionally obscure the identity or address of somebody connected with Jesus to shield him or his family from hostile authorities. Change their name. Use pseudonyms for proper names or place names if the individual was still alive at the time of writing.

I have a book by an anthropologist who studied an Eskimo fishing village on the North Slope. She uses pseudonyms for the town and its inhabitants to protect their privacy. 

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