Class: Investigating and Defending the Gospels#8 and #9


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Investigating and Defending the Gospels #8 

The Chain of Custody

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • November 18, In the year of our Lord, 2015

  1. The Gospels Were Written in the First Century
    1. The manuscripts we possess of the Gospels, have two significant factors:
      1. We have dated them close to the timing of the originals.
      2. We have a large number of manuscripts.
    2. We have some manuscripts or fragments
      1. that date to the second and third centuries.
      2. Compare that to other ancient manuscripts,
        1. which skeptics do not deny, but accept fully.
          1. The copies we have are separated from the originals
          2. by many centuries.
        2. For example, we have less then 10 manuscripts of Plato’s writings.
          1. We can compare them and determine what he said.
          2. The oldest manuscript of Plato that we have
            1. dates about 1,400 years after his original writing.
            2. Yet, people read, learn from, and respect what he wrote.
              1. Does anyone dispute his writings?
              2. What we have of his manuscripts are enough.
    3. The number of manuscripts of the New Testament that we possess,
      1. in comparison to the number of ancient manuscripts of other documents
      2. shows just how strong the case for the New Testament, or
        1. more specifically the Gospels is.
        2. We have over 5,000 manuscripts, some of which are fragments!
          1. We can study these and compare them,
          2. although they have been written at different locations and
            1. at different times,
            2. leading us to have the Bibles we have today!
        3. The oldest copies date to 25 to 50 years after the first century!
          1. Yet, people question the reliability of the Bible!
          2. They believe it has been changed along the way, but
            1. they cannot present any proof of such.
            2. Ask people: What has been changed?
              1. If they can produce a change,
              2. that means they know the original!
                1. Otherwise, how do they know it has changed?
                2. If they have copies of the original, produce them.
  2. Later generations worked to transcribe the manuscripts precisely.
    1. Anyone associated with Jesus or His disciples
      1. had a strong interest in truth.
      2. Therefore, they worked carefully to copy the originals.
    2. J. Warner Wallace is a homicide detective and cold-case investigator,
      1. who had been skeptical of the Gospel claims,
      2. until he used his detective investigator knowledge on the Gospels.

        “How do we know, for example, that a particular piece of evidence hasn’t been tampered with (or added) over the years between the time of the crime and the time of the eventual trial? As a detective, I know one way to determine if evidence has been altered: I simply examine the ‘chain of custody.’”

        “I begin by looking at the documentation at the crime scene. Was the piece of evidence documented by someone at the scene? Did an officer take a Polaroid photograph and describe the evidence? When the evidence was collected and booked into property, was the transfer properly recorded? At some point later in the investigation the evidence may have been delivered to the crime lab for further examination. Was this transfer documented with photographs and reports? When the evidence was retrieved from the crime lab, did the investigating detective document the process? Did he take additional photographs? If this process was documented properly, the photographs and reports related to the piece of evidence can be compared to one another to make sure the evidence hasn’t been tampered with over time. The chain of custody helps us to determine evidential reliability.”

    3. He argues that we can do this with the Gospel Accounts, such as John.
      1. John is the “officer” who took a “Polaroid,” his Gospel Account.
      2. However, do we possess the same material that John wrote?
        1. John gave the evidence to Ignatius and Polycarp,
        2. well-known students of John.
          1. They copied John’s Gospel and wrote letters to churches.
          2. They handed off the Gospel Account to Irenaeus.
            1. In addition to copying the Gospel According to John,
            2. Irenaeus wrote information and passed it to Hippolytus.