J. Akin vs. B. Ehrman: Are the Gospels Historically Reliable?

Most of my friends would wait until 3 AM only to watch a game or a boxing match. But for me, this was as interesting as any game you can think of. I’ve watched Ehrman debating these issues against all sorts of evangelical apologists, theologians, and even historians. This one attracted my attention because for the first time on the other side was a Catholic – Jimmy Akin who rose to popularity via his own blog where he deals with theological, philosophical, and historical questions regarding Christianity. I have to say I was a little bit surprised considering the fact that Catholic tradition (basically) accepts historical-critical method in the New Testament Studies. One can only remember the late great Raymond Brown – Catholic priest and one of the best known Biblical scholars in the last 100 years. Although, Akin seems to think that Brown is one of those “crazy liberals” – but it is what it is! The topic of yesterday’s debate was precisely from that domain of inquiry: the historical reliability of the canonical Gospels. How much authentic history is found in these texts? Can it be said, from a historical point of view, that the Gospels are reliable documents? Is everything there as it really happened 2 000 years ago? Are there any stories from Jesus’ life that didn’t happen the way Mark, Matthew, Luke, or John presents it?

I won’t go into my own thoughts on the debate itself. For those of you who are interested, the debate was organized in the following pattern:

  1. Opening remarks by Ehrman (20 minutes)
  2. Opening remarks by Akin (20 minutes)
  3. First rebutal by Ehrman (10 minutes)
  4. First rebual by Akin (10 minutes)
  5. Caffe break (10 minutes)
  6. Q&A – 30 minutes
  7. Closing remarks by Ehrman (5 minutes)
  8. Closing remarks by Akin (5 minutes)

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