The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?

The New Testament Documents are they reliable?

E.F. Bruce – Eerdmans – 120 pp. – $1.25 (paperback)


The answer is “yes.”  From a historical point of view the New Testament meets the standards by which any book is judged trustworthy.  Of course, the New Testament is not merely “any book.”  But it does make a great deal of difference whether or not the New Testament is historically authentic.  As the author puts it, “history and theology are inextricably intertwined in the gospel of our salvation, which owes its eternal, and universal validity to certain events which happened in Palestine when Tiberius ruled the Roman Empire.”

Dr. Bruce is well qualified to investigate the historical evidence for the authenticity of the New Testament.  He is a famed New Testament scholar, presently serving as Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis in the University of Manchester in England.  Many high school and college students know him as the author of The Spreading Flame, used as a textbook in many schools.

Far from being a difficult technical work, limited to scholars, the book is geared (and dedicated) to college students.  It is interesting enough to appeal to high school students.  Bruce examines the historical material within the New Testament and gives evidence for it from source outside of Scripture.  Example:  Luke writes in Acts 12:19-32 of the terrible death of Herod Agrippa; Josephus, a highly-regarded, early Jewish writer records that “his (Herod’s) flatterers called out . . . We confess thee to be superior to mortal nature . . . Immediately . . . There came also a severe pain in his belly beginning with a violent attack . . . And when he suffered continuously for five days . . . He departed this life.”  Josephus’ account is independent of that by Luke but gives solid support to Luke’s account.

Scripture claims for itself inerrancy.  Extra-Biblical evidence indicates that the Bible is indeed correct in the cases which can be tested.  Christians expect it to be thus.