- Jan 5, 2010
By who?sharks9 said:Doesn't matter as much as the New Testament, which is central to Christianity and has been proven to be historically reliable.
What was it proven reliable for?
What were the standards of historical method used to prove the reliability?
What documents were used to prove the reliability?
What was the method of determination for the validity of the documents?
What was the method of verification for the authorship of the documents?
Unless something has changed very radically in the last five years (i.e. They finally found the 'Q' document and verified it), the type of reliability you're trying to portray is not the same level of reliability a historian would give it. The gist of the New Testament works fine in a narrative, but I wouldn't use it to portray anything about Roman civilization at the time. I certainly wouldn't use it to portray the story it presents in a "this is absolutely how it actually happened." It would be more of "Based upon the limitations of these and other documents, this is what I'm going to tell you."
If I was teaching a freshmen or high school class on world history, I'd give a cursory overview with the basics and include the more obscure religious beliefs as an aside. If I was teaching a class specifically on the subject of Christianity, I'd go into what the narrative says effected the growth of the religion and how other confirmed events might have effected it. If I was teaching a class of upper level undergrad students, I would set them on the evidence (the non-contemporary religious documents and the non-contemporary secular documents, as well as questionable authorship) with a strict method to find all the problems and completely destroy their identity.
Using a strict method, the historicity of Jesus is very very bad.
Using a less strict method, the historicity let's us say basic things about him in reference to the overall movement of Christianity (which is more important than one person).
Using a even less strict method, we can explain partially the changes in the movement based upon the religious texts and also add in the other explanations for the changes in the movement.
The historical reliability of the New Testament completely depends on what you're going to use it for.
Truth and history are not always the same thing. That's something that non-historians need to learn, badly. History is also not strictly a science. If you are just learning to become a historian by chance, pay very close attention to the "Historians are not merely couriers to the past," speech your historical method professor should give to you.