In The Historical Reliability of the New Testament scholar and author Craig L. Blomberg has provided a resource that should be in every pastor’s library. Building on his earlier work in defending the historicity of the gospels in The Historical Reliability of the Gospels Blomberg explores the origins and the evidence for the historicity of the books of the New Testament.
Blomberg’s work begins with the Synoptic gospels addressing their formation. Blomberg makes a solid defense of the use of oral traditions by the gospel writers, demonstrating that in the Middle Eastern world in which the gospels were written oral transmission was a reliable way of passing on information. He moves from addressing the supposed contradictions in the gospels showing how they can easily be reconciled if understood properly to addressing the Acts and the ministry of Paul. Blomberg presents a strong defense in favor of Pauline authorship for all of his epistles. Blomberg also addresses the argument that would see a division between Pauline Christianity and the teaching of Jesus, demonstrating Paul’s dependence on the teaching Jesus showing clearly that Paul built on the foundation already laid by Christ himself and was not some religious innovator. I highly recommend the 13th chapter addressing the transmission of the New Testament. In this chapter Blomberg clearly addresses the challenges put forward by Bart Ehrman and shows how weak the claims of Bart Ehrman really are when they use textual variants as a reason to discount the reliability of the Bible.
This isn’t a book you’ll normally read cover to cover, maybe it should be though. Every Christmas and Easter people are inundated with documentaries claiming that the gospels and the New Testaments are suspect in their reliability. As a pastor I believe it is my responsibility to address challenges to the Bible and its truthfulness that might undermine the confidence my hearers have in the Bible. This book is a tool that every pastor should make use if in teaching in preaching. If I were to provide a complaint about this book it would be in regard to binding, I mean who thought it was a good idea to print a reference work of this size as a paperback, hopefully in future printings the publishers will print a version in hardcover.
Disclosure: I received a copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.