The Historical Reliability Of The New Testament -- By: Josh McDowell

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 27:2 (Spring 2014)
Article: The Historical Reliability Of The New Testament
Author: Josh McDowell


The Historical Reliability Of The New Testament

Josh McDowell

The New Testament is primarily a record of the salvation work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is not primarily a historical record. Yet when the New Testament addresses itself to historical issues, it is accurate and reliable.

Much of the older New Testament criticism did not have the vital testimony of archaeological evidence available today. Archaeologist William F. Albright observed:

The form-critical school founded by M. Dibelius and R. Bultmann a generation before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has continued to flourish without the slightest regard for the Dead Sea Scrolls. In other words, all radical schools in New Testament criticism which have existed in the past or which exist today are pre-archaeological, and are, therefore, since they were built in der Luft [“in the air”], quite antiquated today.1

This article reviews some of the important archaeological discoveries that confirm the New Testament view of the first- century world. We will first discuss the life and work of New Testament archaeologist-historian Sir William Ramsay and then review several important archaeological and historical finds that affirm the reliability of the New Testament.

Sir William Ramsay

Sir William Ramsay is an example of how an honest scholar of history can change his entire presuppositional perspective when faced by incontrovertible evidence from history and archaeology. Ramsay began his historical research toward the end of the nineteenth century. When he began his research he based it on the German (Tűbingen) liberal/critical school of thought, which taught that the New Testament was not written in the first century and was not historically reliable. Instead, it was an invention of the second-century church. Although the New Testament book of Acts contained a variety of supposedly present-tense historical references, liberal critics rejected its historicity and declared it a fabrication.

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Sir William Ramsay. By his death in 1939 he had become the foremost authority of his day on the history of Asia Minor and a leading scholar in the study of the New Testament. From the post of Professor of Classical Art and Architecture at Oxford, he was appointed Regius Professor of Humanity (the Latin Professorship) at Aberdeen. Knighted in 1906 to mark his distinguished service to the world of scholarship, Ramsay also gained three honorary fellowships from Oxford colleges, nine honorary doctorates from British, Continental and North American universities, an...

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