The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?

One of my favourite biblical scholars and writers is F.F. Bruce (1910-1990).  Bruce’s career was the beginning of a renaissance in evangelical Christian scholarship.  Bruce demonstrated that it was possible to be faithful to high levels of scholarship and the truth of the Bible.  He inspired countless other evangelicals to continue to bridge this gap. 

I recently read F.F. Bruce’s book, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?  This is an older book, first written in 1943 and last updated in 1960 (although my copy contains footnotes for books into the 1970’s).  Despite its age, this book is a classic among Christian apologetic works, both in style and content.  Bruce provides a great model of how to defend the Scriptures in a scholarly and faithful manner.  The content of this book still stands as well.  Much of what he argues against and for are the same discussions that continue today.  He demonstrates in a skillful and understandable way that the New Testament passes every test of authenticity.  These are the chapters in the book: 1) Does It Matter, 2) The New Testament Documents: Their Date and Attestation, 3) The Canon of the New Testament, 4) The Gospels, 5) The Gospel Miracles. 6) The Importance of Paul’s Evidence, 7) The Writings of Luke, 8) More Archaeological Evidence, 9) The Evidence of Early Jewish Writings and 10) The Evidence of Early Gentile Writers.  This book is written at a level that contains enough value to be useful for scholars but is still accessible to laypeople.  It is short (only 120 pages) and deserves to be in the library of everyone interested in apologetics.

I would like to conclude with a great statement by F.F. Bruce, words that are still important for us to hear:

Some writers may toy with the fancy of a ‘Christ-myth’, but they do not do so on the ground of historical evidence. The historicity of Christ is as axiomatic for an unbiased historian as the historicity of Julius Caesar. It is not historians who propagate the ‘Christ-myth’ theories. (p. 119)

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