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Can We Trust the Gospels?

, 2018
ISBN: 9781433552953
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Is there evidence to believe the Gospels?

The Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, John—are four accounts of Jesus’s life and teachings while on earth. But should we accept them as historically accurate? What evidence is there that the recorded events actually happened?

Presenting a case for the historical reliability of the Gospels, New Testament scholar Peter Williams examines evidence from non-Christian sources, assesses how accurately the four biblical accounts reflect the cultural context of their day, compares different accounts of the same events, and looks at how these texts were handed down throughout the centuries. Everyone from the skeptic to the scholar will find powerful arguments in favor of trusting the Gospels as trustworthy accounts of Jesus’s earthly life.

Resource Experts

Key Features

  • Explains the trustworthiness of the Gospels for a general audience
  • Addresses common questions about the reliability of the texts
  • Examines the idea of trustworthiness in regards to the biblical text and its implications


  • What Do Non-Christian Sources Say?
  • What Are the Four Gospels?
  • Did the Gospel Authors Know Their Stuff?
  • Undesigned Coincidences
  • Do We Have Jesus’s Actual Words?
  • Has the Text Changed?
  • What about Contradictions?
  • Who Would Make This All Up?

Top Highlights

“Neither the Greeks nor the Romans passed down to subsequent generations the literature of the cultures that preceded them. By contrast, Christian scribes faithfully copied many pagan Greek and Latin authors with scarcely any interference resulting from the beliefs of the copyists. Christian scribes literally saved the pagan literature.” (Page 112)

“But if core ideas, such as that Jesus Christ died as a sacrifice for sins and then rose again bodily, are only late additions to Christian belief, how do we explain the wide geographical distribution of Christians with these beliefs?” (Page 28)

“Coming from the Latin word fides, the word faith used to mean something closer to our word trust. Trust, of course, can be based on evidence.” (Page 15)

“Tacitus says it was the crowd who named them Chrestians, not the followers themselves” (Page 22)

“These later Gospels do, however, provide us with an excellent control sample” (Page 63)

Praise for the Print Edition

The wild and unscholarly yet widely accepted assertion by Richard Dawkins that the only difference between The Da Vinci Code and the Gospels is that the Gospels are ancient fiction while The Da Vinci Code is modern fiction deserves a measured and scholarly response. There is no one better qualified than Peter Williams to provide it, and this book is a masterly presentation of a compelling cumulative case that ‘all of history hangs on Jesus.’

—John C. Lennox, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics, University of Oxford

This much-needed book provides a mine of information for Christians wanting to know more about the historical background to the Gospels and offers a series of challenges to those skeptical of what we can know about Jesus. Peter Williams has distilled a mass of information and thought into this short and accessible book, and it deserves careful reading both inside and outside the church.

—Simon Gathercole, Reader in New Testament Studies, University of Cambridge

Despite the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, Christians today find themselves unwilling to testify to their faith, as much from confusion as from fear. To this puzzled, anxious flock, Peter Williams offers liberation in the form of a concise yet complete education. His powerful instruction manual on the reliability of the Gospels escorts the ‘faithful seeking understanding’ through a series of historically responsible explanations for questions they have and questions they never imagined. This highly detailed, accurate, and eminently readable volume—rich in charts and tables—strikes a chord so resonant, Christians and skeptics alike can profit. An up-to-date apologia and superlative guide—unbelievers, beware!

—Clare K. Rothschild, Professor of Scripture Studies, Lewis University; author, Luke–Acts and the Rhetoric of History; Baptist Traditions and Q; and Hebrews as Pseudepigraphon; Editor, Early Christianity

Product Details

  • Title: Can We Trust the Gospels?
  • Author: Peter J. Williams
  • Publisher: Crossway
  • Publication Date: 2001
  • Pages: 160
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Topic: Gospels

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Peter J. Williams (PhD, University of Cambridge) is the principal of Tyndale House and the consulting editor and coordinator of this project. He is also chair of the International Greek New Testament Project, which is producing the largest scholarly edition ever attempted of a single book of the New Testament, namely the Editio Critica Maior of John’s Gospel. He is the author of Early Syriac Translation Technique and the Textual Criticism of the Greek Gospels.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


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  1. Dion Astwood

    Dion Astwood