Did the Gospel stories originate honestly, rather than as lies or legends?

“Yes, after all…
  • Gospels spew confirmed non-legendary content

    two men are standing on the top of a book. One man is talking to the other. The man who is talking has both a speech and a thought bubble that have Christ's face on it.

    The Gospels burst with content which is demonstrably non-legendary (i.e. honest non-fiction).

    This page analyzes 7 arguments

    • Gospel stories spew Un-churchy content.
    • Gospel stories spew church-hated content.
    • Gospels spew liar self-exposing content.
    • Gospels spew overtly “doomed-to-fail” content.
    • Gospels spew details fine-tuned to Palestine.
    • Gospels spew witness-based content.
    • Gospels spew early content.
    • Gospels spew witness-based content.
    • In general, Gospel stories are not lies/legends.

    This is relevant because it does NOT spew confirmed legendary content. We can conclude that some mechanism was resulting in an output of entirely or predominantly non-legendary content. And if such a mechanism were active, we can look over the content which is not confirmed to be legendary or non-legendary, and presume it is the latter (non-legendary).

  • The Gospels spew Palestinian content

    The Gospels burst with incidental assumptions and details fine-tuned to a Palestinian milieu.

    A full page will analyze 15 examples and kinds of evidence:

    • Gospels well-refer to 14 local rulers in AD 30.
    • Gospels well-refer to 50+ Palestinian sites.
    • In Gospels all & only Palestine pop-names get clarity.
    • NT name-ratios precisely match Palestine’s.
    • Jesus’ Gospel sayings super-retrovert from Greek to Aramaic.
    • Gospel details reveal solid travel-plans.
    • Gospel society super-fits Palestine.
    • The Gospels correctly get subtle geography.
    • Gospel set-pieces super-fit Palestine.
    • Gospel pricings super-fit Palestine.
    • Gospel hope for a “Messiah” fits.
    • Gospels well-refer to Palestinian flora & fauna.
    • Gospels well-refer to Palestinian coinage.
    • The Jesus-HighPriest exchange was hyper-Jewish.
    • Gospels spew details fitted to AD 30 Palestine.

    This is relevant given that, soon after Jesus was crucified, Gospel stories circulated through the non-Palestinian regions of Egypt, Italy, the Anatola and so forth. So the lies and legends would have been formed frequently enough in these outer regions. But if that were the case, then we would not expect to see references to esoteric features unique to Palestinian life because the liars would not know it. (There were no relevant reference works that could be consulted on this sort of thing.) By contrast, if the Gospel stories do all originate from honest eyewitness reports of Palestinians reporting things they experienced first-hand in Palestine, then it is only natural that these honest and accurate details would appear in the Gospel stories.

    But so what? Plausibly…

    • The Gospels do contain time-place absurdities.2
  • The Gospels lack anatopisms

    The Gospels lack details which are geographically inappropriate (e.g. penguins roaming Jerusalem). This is relevant insofar as:

    1. On the standard model wherein the Gospel stories are legends and lies, they are more specifically legends and lies formed by Christians over time from various regions. (The idea is that nothing stopped stray Christian lies and embellishments from entering into the stream of stories passed down by word of mouth).
    2. But if the Jesus stories were lies formed by Christians over time from various regions, then we wouldn’t see the Jesus stories regularly containing esoteric information local to Palestine.
    3. So given the Gospels do spew esoteric Palestinian content, the standard skeptic’s model suffers a corresponding amount of disconfirmation. (On that model, these sorts of details and their distribution should not exist.)
  • The Gospels lack anachronisms

    a surprised 1st century shepherd finds a man jamming out on a guitar with an amplifier

    Rather than being anachronistic (with chronological absurdities), the words and themes in the Gospels are appropriate to the specific time of Jesus’s ministry in c. AD 30. This matters since on the standard legend model, the Gospel accounts are lies that were accrued by word of mouth as the stories of Jesus’s life, ministry, and death passed through Gentile regions and as more people converted to Christianity and spoke of him. But if that’s how Jesus-stories were forming, then historians would expect to see an abundance of accidental anachronisms (i.e. temporal absurdities).1 So the absence of any such anachronisms is evidence against the hypothesis that the Gospels have a non-negligable amount of legend in them which cropped up as Christianity spread.

    1. Anachronisms are a prime example:
      Martha Howell & Walter Prevenier: “The most interesting anachronisms are probably not, however, formal in this sense. They are mere slips, moments when the plagiarist or falsifier let his guard down and included a phrase, a reference, or, if a painter, perhaps a color that the avowed author or painter would not have used. A nineteenth-century Italian physician, Giovanni Morelli, made this argument explicitly, proposing that forgers of paintings tend to copy the most striking elements of the original very well (Mona Lisa's smile, for example), but miss small details-the earlobe. Thus, he concluded, scholars should focus on the small, the apparently insignificant, in search of clues for falsifications, whether of handwriting, literary style, or painting, because a forger will rarely be able perfectly to ape every element of the original and is likely to miss on the smaller, less obvious points. In many ways, this method parallels those employed in the clinical practice of psychiatry associated with Sigmund Freud and in Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories.” [From Reliable Sources (Cornell, 2001), 59f]
    2. In a full page, we analyze the major alleged time-place errors. They include:
      • Luke's Quirinius census-date is wrong.
      • Tomb’s wouldn’t have a round stone.
      • Galilee wouldn’t have Pharisees.
      • Palestinian garden’s didn’t have mustard seeds.
      • Palestine didn’t have cellars.
  • In general, Christian Jesus-bio was honest

    Rather than inventing Jesus-biography, Christians in AD 30-80 were usually or always honest in their core reporting of it.

    One page will analyze these 3 arguments

    • Christians circulated the 1st church’s Jesus-bio.
    • Christians would avoid lie-inventing Jesus-bio.
    • In general, early Christians didn’t invent/lie.

    This is relevant because in AD 30-70 there were relatively few Christians, and if no one was trying to dishonestly inject faked Jesus-bio into the church then the Jesus-bio we ultimately see Christians/churches circulating wouldn’t ultimately be lies/legends.