Read Along: Christian Apologetics Ch19

Today we continue with chapter nineteen of Read Along with Apologetics315, a weekly chapter-by-chapter study through Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Christianity by Douglas Groothuis. Please leave a comment on your reading below. This is where you can interact with others reading the book, ask questions, or add your own thoughts. Series index here. Click below for the audio intro, chapter 19 study questions PDF, and summary:

[Audio Intro] – Dr. Groothuis introduces this chapter.
[Chapter 19 Study Questions] (with kindle locations) – PDF study guide.
[Podcast Feed RSS | Podcast in iTunes] – Click to subscribe to the audio.

Chapter Nineteen: Jesus of Nazareth: How Historians Can Know Him and Why It Matters
(pages 438-474)

Chapter nineteen is written by Craig Blomberg, Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary. Blomberg’s contribution makes a case for the reliability of the Gospel accounts, which are able to provide an accurate portrait of historical Jesus. He explains the historical sources that are available, shows what they contribute to the portrait, and how historians evaluate these sources for credibility.

Blomberg compares the Synoptic Gospels with the Gospel of John, noting differences and similarities. He explores authorship and date, literary genre, authorial intent, compositional procedures, and apparent contradictions. In addition, Blomberg takes a look at texts such as the so-called Gnostic Gospels, and other non-canonical gospels, comparing their content to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Finally, Blomberg discusses the formation of the cano, translation issues, and how historians deal with supernatural events.

Notable quotes:

An inordinate number of websites and blogs make the wholly unjustified claim that Jesus never existed. Biblical scholars and historians who have investigated this issue in detail are virtually unanimous today in rejecting this view, regardless of their theological or ideological perspectives. (Craig Blomberg, in Christian Apologetics, p. 439)  

In sum, we may affirm that the Synoptic Gospel writers would have wanted to preserve accurate history according to the standards of their day, that they had every likelihood of being able to do so, and that the overall pattern of widespread agreement on the essential contours of Jesus’ life and ministry coupled with enough variation of detail to demonstrate at least some independent sources and tradents on which each drew makes it very probable that they did in fact compose trustworthy historical and biographical documents. Certainly no insoluble contradictions appear. (Craig Blomberg, in Christian Apologetics, p. 456)  

If the canonical Gospels remain our only source for more than just a barebones outline of the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth as a truly human figure, and if there are good reasons on sheer historical grounds apart from any religious faith to accept the main contours of their portraits of Jesus as historically trustworthy, then the “step of faith” involved in acknowledging Jesus as Lord and Savior and committing one’s life in allegiance to him becomes the most reasonable response a person can make to his ministry. (Craig Blomberg, in Christian Apologetics, p. 473)   


  1. Do you observe and prejudices or double-standards when historians assess the Gospels?
  2. Why are the canonical Gospels the best sources of information for the historical Jesus?
  3. Does the inclusion of miracles and supernatural events present a stumbling block to our historical assessment of the New Testament Gospels?
Next week
Chapter Twenty: The Claims, Credentials and Achievements of Jesus Christ
Written by

Brian Auten is the founder emeritus of Apologetics315. He is also director of Reasonable Faith Belfast. Brian holds a Masters degree in Christian Apologetics and has interviewed over 150 Christian apologists. His background is in missions, media direction, graphic design, and administration. Brian started Apologetics315 in 2007 to be an apologetics hub to equip Christians to defend the faith.

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