Review: The Historical Reliability of the New Testament

33236065Questions about the reliability of the New Testament are commonplace in twenty-first-century life. Many of these questions propose a serious challenge to the average churchgoing Christian. Can we be sure that the Gospel narratives provide accurate information concerning Jesus? If so, why are there contradictions among these accounts? How do we know that we have all of the New Testament books? How do we know the New Testament books possess the actual words written by the New Testament authors? It is here that The Historical Reliability of the New Testament: Countering the Challenges to Evangelical Christian Beliefs by Craig L. Blomberg offers readers a massive, accessible and comprehensive resource defending the historical veracity of the New Testament as Christian Scripture.

Craig L. Blomberg is no stranger to the broad-stroked conversation surrounding the reliability of the New Testament. In fact, The Historical Reliability of the New Testament is the culmination of several decades of scholarly research and practical reflection. The book is divided into six major sections: (1) The Synoptic Gospels, (2) The Gospel of John, (3) Acts and Paul, (4) The Rest of the New Testament, (5) Canonicity and Transmission, and (6) The Problem of Miracles. Some readers may find it interesting that Blomberg discusses the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John separately in a resource of this nature, but this is one indication of the comprehensive scope of the volume. Blomberg leaves no stone unturned, and the organization (i.e. discussing Acts and Paul together) of the volume displays both logic and familiarity on behalf of the author. Blomberg offers an excellent defense of traditional Pauline authorship of the epistles, and provides worthy interaction with the critical consensus that currently plagues much of the academic guild. As the attention moves towards the general epistles and Revelation, Blomberg further establishes issues of authorship and reliability within a broad evangelical conviction and provides ample interaction with recent scholarship.

While readers with different backgrounds and interests will likely differ on what sections they found to be most helpful, the section on canonicity and transmission will be among the most rewarding chapters in the book. This is especially true when considering the breadth of ground that Blomberg covers and establishes in the previous four sections. It is here that Blomberg succeeds in bringing much of the anticipated external questions concerning the historical reliability of the New Testament to rest. Blomberg addresses the Nag Hammadi literature, the New Testament Apocryphal literature, and other related documents and agrapha. Readers will also find a sizable section dedicated to the practice of textual criticism and the formation of the New Testament canon. Blomberg closes the book with a large chapter on miracles, the existence of miracles in the contemporary context, and the importance of the resurrection. Readers will find this to be an appropriate conclusion, as Blomberg completes his tour de force by bringing the theoretical into focus with the practical.

Historical Reliability of the New Testament: Countering the Challenges to Evangelical Christian Beliefs by Craig L. Blomberg is an extraordinary achievement within the arena of evangelical scholarship. At more than 800 pages, Blomberg has left nearly no question unanswered. In fact, the only question left to be answered is why the publishers decided to produce this masterpiece in paperback format. Not only does the size of the tome deserve a hardcover, but the content requires it! If you are looking for an up-to-date, comprehensive engagement with leading critical thought seeking to challenge the reliability of the New Testament, then this massive volume is a must read! It is informative enough to serve the academic guild and accessible enough to equip the laity, and it comes highly recommended!!

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