Common Mistakes Critics Make When Approaching the Gospels

The Gospels and Acts: The Holman Apologetics Commentary on the Bible  -     Edited By: Jeremy Royal Howard
    By: Michael Wilkins, Craig Evans, Darrell Bock, Andreas Kostenberger

 I have been plowing through Michael Wilkins, Craig A Evans, Darrell and Andreas J Köstenberger’s commentary called The Gospels and Acts The Holman Apologetics Commentary on the Bible,  B&H Publishing Group. In it, they say these are the common mistakes that critics makes when they approach the Gospels:

•They fail properly to account for literary and/ or historical contexts

• miss hermeneutical (interpretational) signals about how the text should be read

• assume that silence in one account equals contradiction to the non-silence in a parallel account

• assume that variation in detail between two or more accounts necessarily entails contradiction

• show unwarranted preference for non-biblical accounts

• show an exaggerated suspicion of the biblical accounts

• assume a Bible book’s borrowing of ideas that pre-dated its composition

• fail to distinguish ipsissima vox from ipsissima verba

• operate as if only ipsissima verba is an appropriate authorial approach for texts inspired by God, trustworthy even when variances are present (and variances are always present)

• fail to allow thematic rather than chronological approaches to ordering historical narratives

• demand a level of precision that was foreign to ancient historiography

• insist that the sitz im leben (“ situation in life”) of the author biases his reporting of past events

• incorrectly expect that the Bible should be literarily distinct from non-biblical writings

• fail to see that variations in parallel accounts actually commend the truthfulness of the accounts, for the variations indicate that the authors did not collude with one another to support a false story

• overlook the fact that Jesus would certainly have duplicated significant teachings and acts in various towns, leading to accounts that are similar but genuinely distinct

These are some good points and I tend to see them come up on a regular basis.

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