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The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?
by F.F. Bruce
William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI: reprinted 1988. 127 Pages, Paperback
The Christian Gospel is not primarily a code of ethics or a metaphysical system; rather, it is the good news of the world’s redemption through the only Savior Jesus Christ. At a particular time in history, Jesus Christ intruded into the world in his unique incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection. Christianity is then distinguished from all other religions as it stands upon the testimony of Jesus Christ as the one and only Son of God – the only Savior. Thus, the reliability of the New Testament witness is of crucial importance. F.F. Bruce takes up the task of presenting a study which demonstrates the reliability of the New Testament documents, and thus, the reliability of the witness of Jesus Christ and the truth of his claims. Herein lies one treatment of the reliability of the New Testament canon and whether Christians are standing upon the the true Word of God. These questions matter greatly, thus Bruce begins his book by asking that very question “Does it matter?” It does matter immensely. Without a credible witness, the claims of Christ are nothing. Without a credible witness, the Word of God is not the Word of God but words of men’s imaginations.
Bruce covers such topics as “The Cannon of the New Testament,” “The gospel Miracles” (which is extremely important when dealing with the credibility of the New Testament), “The Evidence of Early Jewish writings” and “The Evidence of Early Gentile Writers.”
“This historical “once-for-all-ness” of Christianity, which distinguishes it from those religious and philosophical systems which are not specifically related to any particular time, makes the reliability of the writings which purport to record this revelation a question of first rate importance.”
“If, however, it can be shown with reasonable probability that these records themselves depend in whole or in part on still earlier documents, then the case for the trustworthiness of the Gospel narrative is all the stronger.”
“Anyone who attempts to answer the question which forms the title of this book must recognize that for many readers it is precisely these miracle stories which are the chief difficulty in the way of accepting the New Testament documents are reliable.”