by Joel Stephen Williams
"Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed" (Lk. 1: 14; NRSV).
|Mark 1:9-11 ||Luke 3:21-22||Matthew 3:13-17||John 1:29-34|
|In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." ||Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." ||Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased." ||The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, "Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.' I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel." And John testified, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God. "|
Numerous Christian controversies that surfaced after Jesus' ascension and threatened to tear the New Testament church apart could have been conveniently solved if the first Christians had simply read back into the Gospels solutions to those debates. But this is precisely what never happens. Not once does Jesus address many of the major topics that for the rest of the first century loomed large in the minds of Christians—whether believers needed to be circumcised, how to regulate speaking in tongues, how to keep Jew and Gentile united in one body, whether believers could divorce non-Christian spouses, what roles were open to women in ministry, and so on.21
Anyone becoming aware of the drastically reduced number of Jews in Europe in 1945 compared with 1932 could logically posit a cause sufficient to account for the effect. Such reasoning would not necessarily lead to the specific description of the Holocaust. But it would necessarily lead to some force sufficiently great to accomplish so awesome an effect. Theories of increased tourism would not do.30
Of what I have learnt from these documents in the course of my long task, I will say nothing now. Only this, that they bear the seal of the Son of Man and God, they are the Magna Charta of the human spirit.35
- I. Howard Marshall, I Believe in the Historical Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1977) 11, 25n.
- Luke Timothy Johnson, The Real Jesus (HarperSanFrancisco, 1996) 32.
- Cited by Johnson, The Real Jesus, 7.
- Leif Vaage, Atlanta Constitution, 30 Sept. 1989, Ibid., 15.
- Ibid., 3.
- Howard Clark Kee, Ibid., 18.
- Richard Hays, Ibid., 26.
- Cited by Marshall, I believe, 12.
- Ibid., 12.
- Stephen Mitchell, The Gospel According to Jesus, cited by Johnson, The Real Jesus, 38. For a brief review of the Jesus various critics "find" in their "historical" research, e.g. Jesus the sage, Jesus the religious genius, and Jesus the social revolutionary, see Scot McKnight, "Who is Jesus? An Introduction to Jesus Studies," in Michael J. Wilkins and J. P. Moreland, eds. Jesus Under Fire (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995) pp. 55-62.
- Cited in Marshall, I believe, 45.
- Ibid., 113.
- Cited in Craig L. Blomberg, "Where Do We Start Studying Jesus?" in Jesus Under Fire, 21.
- Marshall, I believe, 112.
- Ibid., 112.
- "Sea of reeds" is a literal translation of the Hebrew (Ex. 10:19). We do not know exactly where Moses and the children of Israel crossed over. There were marshy, shallow lakes north of the Red Sea in ancient times which were more extensive than those present today. If they crossed through them, it is not a matter of two inches of water, but of several feet of water plus a tidal surge from the strong wind. See various Bible dictionaries and commentaries.
- Johnson, Real Jesus, 63.
- Ibid., 101.
- See Edwin M. Yamauchi, "Jesus Outside the New Testament: What Is the Evidence?" in Jesus Under Fire, 207-29.
- In this brief study I make no argument pro or con on apostolic and, therefore, eyewitness authorship of Matthew and John, or even for the eyewitness of the apostle Peter being behind the gospel of Mark. The reliability of the four Gospels can be established quite well even without these arguments. My non-use of eyewitness arguments is only due to time and space limitations. The conservative case for eyewitness authorship of some New Testament documents and eyewitness sources for others is a strong one.
- Blomberg, "Where Do We Start?" in Jesus Under Fire, 32.
- Ben Witherington III, The Jesus Quest (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995) 200.
- See Blomberg, in Jesus Under Fire, 32-34.
- Marshall, I believe, 196.
- As an example Marshall points to a saying of Jesus found in Mark (Mk. 8:35; Mt. 16:25; Lk. 9:24), Q (Mt. 10:39; Lk. 17:33) and John (Jn. 12:25). Also, see Darrell L. Bock, "The Word of Jesus in the Gospels: Live, Jive, or Memorex?" in Jesus Under Fire, 92-93.
- See Martin Hengel, Crucifixion (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977).
- Marshall, I believe, 70. Also see Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998).
- There are so many excellent studies defending the validity and historicity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ that they are too numerous to even attempt to list. One brief defense in the literature already noted is William Lane Craig, "Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?" in Jesus Under Fire, 141-76.
- Alan Richardson, An Introduction to the Theology of the New Testament (New York: Harper & Row, 1958) 9-15.
- Johnson, Real Jesus, 139.
- Marshall, I believe, 82, 84.
- John Dominic Crossan, Luke Timothy Johnson, and Werner H. Kelber, The Jesus Controversy: Perspectives in Conflict (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International 1999) 1
- Marcus J. Borg and N. T. Wright, The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions. (HarperSanFrancisco, 1999) 26.
- Cited in Marshall, I believe, 45.