Frank P. Russo

From Investigator 78
May 2001

Both Jonsson and Anonymous seem impressed because some New Testament manuscripts date to the 2nd century. (#77) However, their antiquity alone does not prove their contents are reliable.

After Jesus died a lot of different writings and gospels about him came into existence. They’re listed in The Apocryphal New Testament, 1924. (My edition is from 1986 by Oxford University press.) The early Christian Church decided which gospels to accept and preserve. One basis for selection was that the documents be consistent with each other and accurate—at least accurate to the extent that the Church, centuries after the events, could confirm. We should not therefore be surprised if the New Testament is fairly consistent and much in it even accurate — for it consists of documents chosen for these features.

The gospel of Mark - believed to be the earliest gospel - has a secrecy plot: Jesus repeatedly tells people whom he miraculously cured not to tell anyone. Could, however, the resurrection of a girl witnessed by a small crowd really be kept quiet? (Mark 5)

This secrecy plot can be explained if Mark found no evidence of Jesus’ more-impressive miracles and needed to explain this absence of proof. Mark’s explanation, in effect, is that Jesus commanded some whom he healed to keep silent about it.

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