• The circularity of believing the New Testament

    So here’s the thing. The Christian seems to historiographically rate the NT over and above the other biblical books so that the Gospels have hermeneutic priority over any other book. My last book (The Nativity: A Critical Examination), and my subsequent radio debate with Randal Rauser, showed that the only time the Gospels are verifiable – that they intersect with known facts and verifiable incidents – is during the nativity accounts of Matthew and Luke. In every single claim they make of these events, the two are verifiably wrong. Both with themselves and extra-biblical sources. So the question is, if the only time that they are verifiable, they fail, on what epistemic basis do you have to believe that the Gospels are truthful?

    You see, the accounts are written by unknown people, in unknown times and places, with utterly unknown sources and with pro-Jesus ex post facto agendas! This we know. We can guess at some of these, but we are pretty much in the dark. We also know there are interpolations (casting the first stone in John, the end of John based on recent MS findings). So what epistemic right does the believer have? Well, it usually comes down to faith. But here’s the rub. That faith is derived primarily from the Bible (for without that, what is Christianity?). But if you need faith in the Bible to believe the Bible (as opposed to evidentialist approaches) then you have a circular argument.

    Category: Biblical ExegesisEpistemology


    Article by: Jonathan MS Pearce