Book Recommendation: Can We Trust the Gospels?
I do not post a lot of book reviews or recommendations, but for this one I am going to make an exception. I just finished reading a brand new book–published only in the last few weeks–by Peter J. Williams. It is available from Crossway Books. The title is Can We Trust the Gospels? In this book Williams takes a fresh look at the evidence underlying confidence in the reliability of the four gospels. His arguments are stated humbly. In fact, he could be accused of understating his case. Yet, at the end, the arguments are devastating to those who try to claim that the gospels are second-hand accounts and unreliable as to the miracles contained, the statements of Jesus and the nature of his ministry.
The book uses a combination of the relatively standard information used to show the reliability of the gospels, combined with some fairly new arguments, and ties them all together to leave the case settled: the gospels are reliable first or second-hand accounts of things actually done and said by the man Jesus of Nazareth and preserved in virtually the identical text as written in the first century. The traditional arguments used include the manuscript evidence, the writings of non-believing sources and of church fathers. The additional material includes some which is brand new to this volume and some of which has been out there, but not combined to such a devastating conclusion. This includes evidence from undesigned coincidences. These are examples of things said in one gospel which explains a mystery brought up by another of the gospels, which can only be explained by believing that these are there because the gospels are a record of actual events, recorded reliably by eye-witnesses. Other new material includes the type and frequency of names of people and places used in the gospels which simply do not make sense unless we assume that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written by eyewitnesses to the actual events in Palestine or those who interviewed the eye witnesses.
The final conclusion of the book when Williams asks us to consider this basic question: What is the most reasonable conclusion of the given facts (names, places, Jewish materials, surprising content, undesigned coincidences, fulfilled expectations and more). To accept what unbelievers propose–that the gospels are inventions of people trying to create a false religion about a god-ma–requires us to believe a set of coincidences or purposeful conspiracy which defies reason and common sense. The only rational conclusion is that the gospels are reliable accounts of actual events. He then goes on to apply this to the resurrection, the fulfillment of prophecy and the undesigned coincidences between the life of Jesus and the Old Testament to reach a conclusion which is beyond reproof: The gospels are what they claim to be: the record of the Son of God and his miraculous ministry to save mankind from their sins. I strongly recommend this book. When you are done reading it you are going to want to give your copy to a friend who does not yet believe in Jesus.