...and they don't change my profile and settings every couple of months without so much as a "by-your-leave."
I wouldn't count on it.
But aren't 20 hours of awesome even better? Those aren't the only two options. I stop playing games because they stop being innovative. Take Assassin's Creed for instance. I just got tired of hopping the same buildings and climbing the same towers and rescuing the same citizens etc... It was innovative for the first 10 hours but the next 10 were just all the same.
You're right, we don't have the original copies of the Gospels, only fragments from long after the supposed events. The only full manuscripts we have are certainly copies, and copies of copies, and copies of copies of copies, and so on. Such a route can introduce many corruptions and mistakes. However, New Testament Scholarship has been growing by leaps and bounds since the 20th century because more and more evidence (scrolls, historical documents) is being discovered. Along with that, certainty of their authenticity is growing.
Scholarly consensus is growing toward dating all four of the canonical Gospels in the 1st Century. For example, it's realistic to believe that the dating of Acts approximately lines up with the dating of the Apostle Paul's imprisonment in Rome (A.D. 62), since this is where the account ends. If Acts was the continuation of the account that Luke began in his Gospel account (see Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1) then Luke would be dated sometime before A.D. 62.
I would suggest reading some additional New Testament scholars to help balance out your view of dating. Here are just a few:
- D. A. Carson
- Bruce M. Metzger ( The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration )
- Craig L. Blomberg ( The Historical Reliability of the Gospels )
- F. F. Bruce
Other thoughts about the historicity of Jesus: First-hand witnesses could be considered reliable.
- Oral tradition. Teachers, scholars, and students of the day were far better at memorization than we are. It was a firm part of their educational inheritance and their story-telling culture.
- Jesus was considered to be a rabbi by his disciples and even those who didn't follow him (Matthew 19:16-22). For the day, it was essential for a disciple to write down the sayings of his rabbi. If you didn't have something to write on, you would right it on your sleeve.
- Many disciples died or suffered on account of their witness (martyrdom, slavery). It's believable that someone would die for truth. It's also believable that someone would die for something they thought was true, but was actually false. It's not believable that someone would die for something they knew was false. Why would witnesses of Jesus' words and actions die if they knew what they said was false?
- Historical preservation was a common practice in the early church. Christians were punished for deviating from what was already known about what Jesus said.
- Even Jesus' enemies (Pharisees, Scribes, Sadducees) have records of Jesus' miracles. They would attribute them to demonic forces (Matthew 12:22-32), but if you wanted to disprove Jesus, why would you even record it in the first place?
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