Book Discussion Day 11: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek

Chapter 10 – Do We Have Eyewitness Testimony About Jesus?

Eyewitness Claims in the New Testament

In the New Testament, Peter, John, and Paul state that they saw the resurrected Jesus.  Paul identified 12 apostles and 4 women as witnesses by name plus an additional 500 people, most of whom were still alive when Paul wrote about them.

Luke has written the significant book that covers much of this evidence, Acts.  Here are the facts that support the accuracy of what Luke wrote.

bible-study-of-1-thessalonians-week-1-20-638

Classical scholar and historian Colin Hemmer chronicles Luke’s accuracy in the book of Acts verse by verse.  With painstaking detail, Hemer identifies 84 facts in the last 16 chapters of Acts that have been confirmed by historical and archaeological research.62  As you read the following list, keep in mind that Luke did not have access to modern-day maps or nautical charts.  Luke accurately records:63

  1. The natural crossing between correctly named ports
  2. The proper port along the direct destination of a ship crossing from Cypress
  3. The proper location of Lycaonia
  4. The unusual but correct declension of the name Lystra
  5. The correct language spoke in Lystra
  6. Two gods known to be associated – Zeus and Hermes
  7. The proper port, Attalia , which returning travelers would use
  8. The correct order of approach to Derbe and then Lystra from the Cilician Gates
  9. The proper form of the name Troas
  10. The place of a conspicuous sailor’s landmark, Samothrace
  11. The proper description of Philippi as a Roman colony
  12. The right location for the river near Philippi
  13. The proper association of Thyatira as a center of dyeing
  14. Correct designations for the magistrates of the colony
  15. The proper locations where travelers would spend successive nights on this journey
  16. The presence of a synagogue in Thessalonica
  17. The proper term used of the magistrates there
  18. The correct implication that sea travel is the most convenient was of reaching Athens, with the favoring east winds of summer sailing
  19. The abundant presence of images in Athens
  20. The reference to a synagogue in Athens
  21. The depiction of the Athenian life of philosophical debate in the Agora
  22. The use of the correct Athenian slang word for Paul as well as for the court
  23. The proper characterization of the Athenian character
  24. An altar to an “unknown god”
  25. The proper reaction of Greek philosophers, who denied the bodily resurrection
  26. Areopagites as the correct title for a member of the court
  27. A Corinthian synagogue
  28. The correct designation of Gallo as proconsul resident in Corinth
  29. The bena, which overlooks Corinth’s forum
  30. The name Tyrannus as attested from Ephesus in first-century inscriptions
  31. Well-known shrines and images of Artemis
  32. The well-attested “great goddess Artemis”
  33. That the Ephesian theater was the meeting place of the city
  34. The correct title grammateus for the chief executive magistrate in Ephesus
  35. The proper title of honor neokoros authorized by the Romans
  36. The correct name to designate the goddess
  37. The proper term for those holding court
  38. Use of plural anthupatoi, perhaps a remarkable reference to the fact that two men were conjointly exercising the functions of proconsul at the time
  39. The “regular” assembly, as the precise phrase is attested elsewhere
  40. Use of precise ethnic designation, beroiaios
  41. Employment of the ethnic term Asianos
  42. The implied recognition of the strategic importance assigned to this city of Troas
  43. The danger of the coastal trip in this location
  44. The correct sequence of places
  45. The correct name of the city as a neuter plural
  46. The appropriate route passing across the open sea south of Cypress favored by persistent southwest winds
  47. The suitable distance between these cities
  48. A characteristically Jewish act of piety
  49. The Jewish law regarding Gentile use of the temple area
  50. The permanent stationing of a Roman cohort at Antonia to suppress any disturbance at festival times
  51. The flight of steps used by the guards
  52. The common way to obtain Roman citizen ship at this time
  53. The tribune being impressed with Roman rather than Tarsian citizenship
  54. Ananias being high priest at this time
  55. Felix being governor at this time
  56. The natural stopping point on the way to Caesarea
  57. Whose jurisdiction Cilicia was in at the time
  58. The provincial penal procedure of the time
  59. The name Porcius Festus, which agrees precisely with that given by Josephus
  60. The right of appeal for Roman citizens
  61. The correct legal formula
  62. The characteristic form of reference to the emperor at the time
  63. The best shipping lanes at the time
  64. The common bonding of Cilicia and Pamphylia
  65. The principal port to find a ship sailing to Italy
  66. The slow passage to Cnidus, in the face of the typical northwest wind
  67. The right route to sail, in view of the winds
  68. The locations of Fair Havens and the neighboring site of Lasca
  69. Fair Havens as a poorly sheltered roadstead
  70. A noted tendency of a south wind in these climes to back suddenly to a violent northeaster, the well-known gregale
  71. The nature of a square-rigged ancient ship, having no option but to be driven before a gale
  72. The precise place and name of this island
  73. The appropriate maneuvers for the safety of the ship in its particular plight
  74. The fourteenth night – a remarkable calculation, based inevitably on a compounding of estimates and probabilities, confirmed in the judgment of experienced Mediterranean navigators.
  75. The proper term of the time for the Adriatic
  76. The precise term for taking soundings, and the correct depth of the water near Malta
  77. A position that suits the probable line of approach of a ship released to run before an easterly wind
  78. The severs liability on guards who permitted a prisoner to escape
  79. The local people and superstitions of the day
  80. The proper title protos tes neson
  81. Rhegium as a refuge to await a southerly wind to carry them through the straight
  82. Appii Forum and Tres Tabernae as correctly placed stopping places on the Appian Way
  83. Appropriate means of custody with Roman soldiers
  84. The conditions of imprisonment, living “at his own expense”

Luke identifies 35 miracles that took place in Acts.

acts

Luke, John and Acts

By looking at just a few new testament documents, John, Luke and half of Acts, we have found more than 140 details that appear to be authentic, most of which have been historically confirmed and some of which are historically probable.64

Summary

From this chapter the authors conclude that the New Testament contains at least four to six lines of early, independent eyewitness written testimony.65

  1. The major New Testament writers record the same basic events with diverging details and some unique material.
  2. They cite at least thirty real historical figures who have been confirmed by ancient non-Christian writers and various archeological discoveries.
  3. The second half of Acts with at least 84 historically confirmed eyewitness details and includes several others in his Gospel.
  4. Luke’s proven trustworthiness affirms that of Matthew, and Mark because they record the same basic story.
  5. John includes at least 59 historically confirmed or historically probable eyewitness details in his Gospel.
  6. Paul and Peter provide the fifth and sixth written testimonies to the Resurrection

Since this early, independent eyewitness testimony is within one generation of the events, the New Testament events cannot be considered legendary.

Who-Wrote-the-Gospel-of-Luke-and-Acts-

Discussion point

What were your thoughts about the historical accuracy of the New Testament Gospel before?  If you read the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts now will you see it any differently based on how it has been historically verified?  What doubts would you have about what was written in the books of the New Testament?  Does the fact that Acts contains so many documented miracles concern you?  The next chapter promises to address potential doubts.


62Colon J.  Hemer, The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History

63Geisler & Turek pages 256-259 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

64Geisler & Turek page 269 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

65Geisler & Turek pages 273-274 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

 

 

 

 

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