I have already shared my views of the Old Testament in another post. We’ll proceed here with the New Testament. I think it is important for us to gain some understanding of some of the complexities surrounding the Bible, what it is, and how it came to be. Only in this way can people know how they should and should not approach the book as they use it to seek inspiration or truth. As I said regarding the Old Testament, these are not the issues that triggered my current views of the LDS faith. I gradually became aware of these issues beginning more than a decade ago. Still, they tie in with other issues, and have been very important in my journey.
As was the case with the Old Testament there was once a time when I believed that the New Testament was for the most part written by the people whom the books are traditionally attributed to. I would very confidently quote Matthew, or Luke, or John as if I was truly reading the words of those men (or the words of God himself). I would very confidently quote Jesus as if his words were digitally recorded as he gave them, or at least as if they were recalled soon afterward by firsthand witnesses or contemporary sources. I would try to make the various Gospel accounts (say, the narratives of Jesus birth or resurrection) mesh with each other as if they should be expected to be able to do so—like trying to cram puzzle pieces together when they don’t fit. I would quote certain narratives as indisputable history where I now recognize they are myths developed later to convey a theological idea or position. I loved to engage in “prooftexting” as if I could prove a particular “biblical” position—whereas I now understand that the same Bible can legitimately be used to support several different theologies, worldviews, and even moral positions.
This post is my attempt to give a brief introduction to some of the fundamental complexities of the New Testament. As I said regarding the Old Testament, it is certainly possible to acknowledge and embrace these complexities while maintaining faith. However, these realities will likely cause many to have to significantly re-work and re-define their views of scripture, and the role that it should play in their lives. Some who learn about the complexity of some of these issues will initially see it as a great loss. Let’s face it, we often like certainty. We like black and white answers in front of us that we don’t have to wrestle with. However, there is also beauty that arises from the complexity, and a freedom to discover truth that you were previously incapable of seeing. In any case, whether we are believers or not, I believe we must try to understand the Bible for what it is. As I’ve said many times, if faith is to be built, then to the extent possible it should be built on a knowledge of things as they really are.
WERE THE BOOKS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT WRITTEN BY THE PEOPLE TO WHOM THEY ARE TRADITIONALLY ATTRIBUTED?
There are 27 “books” in the New Testament. Most likely, only 7 of them were actually written by the person that we traditionally attribute them to, and all 7 of them are letters of Paul. If we want to be really generous, we could add in two more letters of Paul (which are disputed), the tiny little book of Jude (which is disputed), and the 1st book of Peter (which is disputed).
Even if we add all of those, we’re still only at 11, and 9 of them are Paul’s letters. Said another way, even if we do count all 11 of them, we have less than 20% of the word count, and nearly all of it is from Paul. The fact is, we do not really know who wrote 80% of the New Testament, and most (if not all) of the rest was written by Paul.
Some of the biblical books could be called forgeries in that they claim to be written by a particular author when they clearly were not. Others may have been written by a man by the same name (names like Jude, James, or John weren’t uncommon) and people eventually falsely attributed them to THE John (the apostle) or THE James (the brother of Jesus) or THE Jude (the brother of Jesus). Many are simply anonymous, and make no claims of a particular author. For example, the gospels make no internal claims as to who authored them, and they did not originally have the titles they have now. They are all anonymous, and it wasn’t until sometime during the 2nd century that people added the titles such as “The Gospel According To Mark.”
ARE THE GOSPELS FIRSTHAND OR CONTEMPORARY ACCOUNTS OF JESUS’ LIFE AND MINISTRY?
The Gospels are not contemporary or firsthand accounts. Let’s start with Mark, the earliest Gospel. First, if a disciple of Peter named Mark had truly written it, he probably would have told us so, or given some notion of that in the text. However, that is not the case. Rather, it is written from an anonymous perspective, and originally did not have the title “Gospel according to Mark.” So who did write this Gospel? It was almost certainly someone from outside Judea, because it was composed in Greek and not in Aramaic. Thus, it would almost certainly not have been an eyewitness of Jesus’ ministry. Furthermore, it wasn’t composed until around 70CE, about 40 years after the crucifixion. The facts that the writer is outside Judea, likely does not speak the language of the Jews, and is removed so many years from the events (especially given the very short life expectancies of the time) make it unlikely that firsthand sources were consulted. Rather, the writer likely would have been relying primarily on oral tradition, and many theorize that he could have also drawn from a theoretical lost “Q source” that contained some “sayings” that were attributed to Jesus.
For sake of brevity, we’ll just briefly address the other Gospels together. Matthew and Luke are also anonymous. Neither were written by THE Matthew or THE Luke. Those titles were once again added sometime in the 2nd century. Both were written about 15 years after Mark (around 85CE, or 55 years after the crucifixion). Both of them are known to have used Mark as the basis of their accounts, which they then built upon and edited as they felt appropriate–which will provide some interesting discussion later. The dating itself is problematic, but if either of these was truly a firsthand account written by Matthew or Luke, then surely they wouldn’t have needed to base their accounts off of Mark. John came even later–around 90-100 CE, and was not truly written by John the beloved.
All the Gospels were composed in Greek. If we look at things realistically, it is extremely unlikely that any of the men Jesus chose as his disciples would have even been literate at all (in their native Aramaic, let alone Greek). Thus, it shouldn’t be all that surprising that the only New Testament books that are believed to have been written by the author we attribute them to are the 7 letters of Paul. Paul was a different animal. If tradition is correct he was born in Rome, grew up in Tarsus, and was highly educated. His letters provide our earliest Christian records, and our best hope for claiming a “contemporary account.” However, even these letters come 20+ years after the crucifixion (50-60CE), and we don’t know that Paul ever saw Jesus during his earthly ministry. So, these writings are not from an eyewitness. However, they are our best connection with early Christian traditions and accounts.
Now is probably as good of a time as any to note that we probably don’t have any direct word for word quotes of Jesus. Even if such records did exist, it is very doubtful that any of his followers had the ability to produce shorthand notes of Jesus teachings as he was speaking. Most would not even be literate at all. If anyone who heard Jesus firsthand did record Jesus teachings, the best case would likely be that it was a person’s best recollection of his words written down sometime after the fact. If some authentic written records of Jesus’ teachings were available at all, they likely would have been fragmentary from multiple sources, and the actual dates and times and contexts in which they were given would have been hard to pin down. In Mark, the earliest gospel, the sayings of Jesus are not put together in a very coherent way. They’re sort of grouped together by topic, and the parables are just kind of lumped together. However, Matthew comes along and incorporates everything into a much more coherent historical narrative that flows, as if he actually knows the context of everything. It is widely agreed that even if things like the “Sermon on the Mount” contain accurately preserved teachings of Jesus, they almost certainly wouldn’t have been legitimately delivered and preserved as a single sermon, but would be a result of an author taking a group of sayings attributed to Jesus and combining them into a coherent narrative. It’s worth noting that Paul’s letters, our earliest writings, certainly give no indication of him being aware of any known sayings of Jesus, or of any parables of Jesus, etc.
Now, I am not trying to suggest that the writers of the gospels didn’t preserve any accurate historical traditions. I am just suggesting that it should be recognized that the gospels were not eyewitness or contemporary accounts, and that whatever historical traditions they did preserve would have been largely handed down through oral tradition or perhaps some fragmentary written traditions. Taking all of this into account, we should at least be open to the idea that some historical claims and even some sayings attributed to Jesus may not truly have taken place. This doesn’t necessarily mean the writers were dishonest. Their primary goal wasn’t to record history, it was to create a narrative and tradition that conveys messages and theologies that were meaningful to them—just as had been done with Old Testament writings.
As we move forward, we will see other reasons why it can be messy trying to sort out what is historical and what is not.
DO THE NEW TESTAMENT AUTHORS ALL AGREE IN THEIR WORLDVIEW, THEOLOGY, AND HISTORY? OR DOES IT SOMETIMES VARY, CHANGE, AND DEVELOP OVER TIME IN SIGNIFICANT WAYS?
Obviously there is much that they do agree on, and I don’t mean to discount that. However, there are also some differences among them that should be noted—some more significant than others. Some examples will be given here to illustrate:
Portrayal of Jesus disciples:
There is variation in the way Jesus’ disciples are portrayed. In Mark, the earliest gospel, they never really seem to have much of an idea what is going on, and perhaps aren’t always the best of examples. They are quite dense when it comes to understanding Jesus’ mission and identity as the messiah—more so than in the other Gospels. In Mark, only the devils know who Jesus is—the messiah who has come to end their rule. In the later gospels the disciples are given significantly more credit.
Portrayal of the family of Jesus:
There is variation in the way Jesus’ family is portrayed. In Mark, the earliest gospel, they really don’t seem to recognize that he is the Messiah. They actually think Jesus is “out of his mind” (Mark 3:21). Again, only the devils seem to know who he is during his life. Of course in the other gospels they understand his mission more clearly, as we have the whole miraculous virgin birth account, angels appearing declaring his identity even before birth, etc. But of course those traditions don’t appear in Mark—because they didn’t exist yet.
Portrayal of Jesus:
Not only does Mark present Jesus’ disciples and family as not really understanding Jesus’ mission, it even presents a Jesus that doesn’t seem to fully understand. Mark is the only book where we get Jesus expressing that he doesn’t fully understand. He says “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me”—and this is actually the only thing he says during the crucifixion (Mark 15:34). In contrast, about 25 years later the author of Luke gives us a very calm Jesus who understands what is happening. He tells the thief not to worry, because they’ll both soon be in paradise. He tells the women not to weep for him. He forgives the Roman soldiers. He doesn’t ask God why he is forsaken. Rather, he calmly declares “into thy hands I commend my spirit.”
Portrayal of Paul’s relationship to church leaders:
There is variation in the way Paul’s relationship to the other church leaders is portrayed. In Paul’s letters they seem very much at odds—even hostile! The writer of Luke/Acts some 30 years later seems to clean things up a bit and make Paul more of a “good boy.” They have their differences, but they resolve them more peacefully and all end up fairly unified. In this way, Paul is given more credibility and authority within the church (which was kind of important given what we’ve already discussed about his writings very likely being the only ones in the New Testament who were actually written by the person they’re attributed to. If he is the closest thing you have to an eyewitness, then you want his accounts to be credible, not controversial).
The sayings of Jesus:
We’ve already begun to note this one. We have no sayings of Jesus in Paul’s letters–the earliest writings. In Mark, our next earliest record, we get some sayings sort of lumped together by topic in rather incoherent ways (meaning they don’t always integrate or flow with a story)–suggesting that even if they’re authentic they’re not really in context. About 15 years later the author of Matthew uses Mark as the starting point for his own narrative. He is a much better writer, and he significantly improves, expands, and smoothes out the narrative–incorporating sayings of Jesus (many of them not in Mark) more smoothly into a flowing narrative or story. All of this suggests a building and creation of the narrative over time.
Narratives of Jesus’ birth:
The author of Mark—the earliest gospel—suggests that Jesus’ family doesn’t really understand his identity or his mission as the messiah. How is this possible if—as is suggested in Matthew and Luke—angels had declared Jesus’ mission and identity to them even before his miraculous virgin birth? And if shepherds and wise men had come to worship him as the son of god, the messiah, the new High Priest/King of Israel? The fact is, those birth narratives don’t exist yet when Mark is written! Some 25 years later when the authors of Matthew and Luke use Mark as the basis for their own narratives, they add in the birth narratives, and of course the rest of their accounts are made to fit with them. However, even the birth narratives of Matthew and Luke are significantly different and contradictory. Mark—the earliest gospel—of course has Jesus being from Galilee/Nazareth. However, because of messianic prophesy in Micah, both Matthew and Luke feel compelled to create a narrative where Jesus is born in Bethlehem. However, both authors also have to find a way to locate Jesus in Nazareth/Galilee, because that’s where Jesus was known to actually be from, and where the earlier gospel of Mark declares him to be from. They each solve this dilemma in different ways as they create their narratives:
In Matthew: Jesus’ family is clearly portrayed as being native to Bethlehem. There is no journey to Bethlehem. No taxation. No narrative about needing an inn, or of shepherds, or a manger. Furthermore, they are still in Bethlehem 2 years after Jesus’ birth—which is when the “wise men” find them in a “house” there. If they were from Nazareth (as in Luke), why did they not return there (which they actually do in Luke). Why would they still be living in a house in Bethlehem 2 years later? Anyway, we’re told that Herod then plots to kill all children 2 years old and under in Bethlehem and the surrounding area, so they are warned to go to Egypt. Eventually Joseph is told in a dream that they can leave Egypt and go home. They head toward their home in Judea, but are warned that they must instead go to Nazareth/Galilee. It is pointed out that it was for this reason (not because Jesus had ever lived in Nazareth before) that Jesus became called a “Nazarene.”
In Luke: Jesus’ family is portrayed as being from Nazareth/Galilee (a clear contradiction to Matthew). They only travel to Bethlehem for taxation (which scholars say makes no sense historically). The inn is full, so Jesus ends up in a manger. The shepherds come. There are no wise men coming to see them 2 years later, because they actually head back home to Nazareth (by way of the temple) within months after the birth. There is no Egypt narrative at all in Luke. Scholars suggest that the Egypt narrative in Matthew was created as part of a conscious attempt to paint Jesus as a new Moses. There is a miraculous birth, rescue in infancy, comes out of Egypt, crosses water [baptism], enters the wilderness [his temptation], teaches from a mountain top [sermon on mount], brings promised land [God’s kingdom]. Anyway, the Egypt narrative is absent from Luke—and was created by the author of Matthew to portray a theological message—not a true known history.
Rather than admit that these are two separate traditions that contradict each other in significant ways, we typically mesh the two accounts together to form a simple and cohesive narrative. It seems that both authors are trying to retroactively make their narratives fit with the prophecy in Micah of the Messiah coming out of Bethlehem, but they choose to do so in different ways.
How important is Judaism and Jewish law?
There is variation in how much Judaism and Jewish Law are valued. In Mark, we have a Jesus who doesn’t seem terribly concerned about Jewish law as a key to purity. In Mark 7:19 he actually declares all foods “clean”—a very significant departure from Jewish law. Similarly, in Luke we get messages that seem to discount the importance of Jewish law. The parable of the Good Samaritan is actually thought to warn of detriments of taking the Jewish law too seriously. It wasn’t just that the Priest and the Levite just wouldn’t help. According to their law, they would become unclean if they touched a body that might be dead. So who helps? The supposedly “unpure” Samaritan who doesn’t have the law distracting him from what matters. The writer of Luke (and Acts) is also very inclusive. For him, Jesus ministered to everyone, both Jews and Gentiles. His genealogy even traces back to Adam, making us all one family. Matthew stands in contrast to all of this. Matthew is quite concerned about the details of Jewish law. Matthew traces genealogy only to Abraham—because it is only the Israelites he is concerned with. Matthew even states plainly that during Jesus’ life he was sent “only to the lost sheep of Israel” (Matt 15:24). The author of Matthew would never have praised an unclean Samaritan. In this regard, Mark and Luke stand in contrast to Matthew.
Has God’s kingdom already come, or is it coming very soon?
There is variation in worldview—in particular regarding whether or not God’s Kingdom (the “Messianic Age” or “Age to Come”) had come yet or not, or some position in-between. Background: They all held an apocalyptic world view. They believed that in the “present age” the demons were currently in charge, and that this was why there was death, sickness, hunger, and natural chaos in the world. They awaited the “age to come” when the demons rule would be broken apart, and God’s kingdom (rule) would be established again with the help of a new Messiah—thus ending death, sickness, hunger, etc. Jesus miracles (raising dead, healing sick, feeding hungry, controlling weather, casting out demons) were meant to imply that he was the authoritative Messiah, at least beginning to break down the demons rule.
However, various New Testament writers have differing views as to whether the “age to come” had arrived or not. In Mark the message is that it is coming very soon (something we still say 2000 years later), with Jesus specifically saying it would happen before some of them would die (Mark 9:1; see also Mark 14:62). Paul similarly indicated it would happen before some of them would die (1 Thess 4:15-17). The Corinthians on the other hand were convinced they were already in the age to come, but Paul tells them it hasn’t happened yet. He tells the Thessalonians the same. Anyway, perhaps because they could only wait so long, by 85CE the writer of Matthew seems to re-interpret the tradition and declare that the Kingdom of God had already come! His account is the only one that has the earthquake at the time the veil is rent, and the dead rising from their graves—all a sign of the “present age” of demon rule being shattered (though in order for Jesus to be “firstfruits,” the spirits have to awkwardly hang around their graves for 3 more days—which feels a bit forced). Even today people debate whether God’s kingdom is here, partially here, or still being awaited.
Was Jesus’ death a sacrificial atonement?
There is even variation in how they feel about “atonement.” It is widely believed that the writer of Luke didn’t buy into the idea of atonement. Hear me out: After Jesus died, people were really confused. This was supposed to be the Messiah who would usher in the “age to come!” The VERY LAST THING they expected was for him to just die. They had to figure out what to make of it. They looked to the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) to try to explain it. They looked for anything that could be re-interpreted and applied to explain why their Messiah had died. They took passages that had never before been interpreted as Messianic passages (such as the servant songs of Isaiah), and they re-interpreted them as being about Jesus even though they clearly were not created in that context. Matthew’s author takes numerous quotes from the Hebrew Bible and makes Jesus’ narrative fit with them (He basically uses the Old Testament to piece together what must have happened during Jesus’ life—which probably feels very appropriate to him).
Anyway, although it really didn’t match any of their Messianic tradition as they had previously seen it, the explanation they settled on was to tie Jesus’ death to their long held rituals of “atonement.” Just as animals were sacrificed to God to cleanse us of sin, the Messiah was sacrificed to cleanse us of sin. These are basic ideas for us, but to them this was a really huge re-interpretation of what the messiah was supposed to do! Paul seems to take this interpretation, as do the authors of Mark and Matthew. Luke, on the other hand, doesn’t agree with this interpretation of the Messiah, as he specifically removes all references to it as he reworks the gospel of Mark! Scholars widely agree that the section about Jesus bleeding from every pore is a later scribal addition from someone who felt the atonement needed to be added in. Similarly, Acts didn’t originally have the atonement focused last supper passages. They too are believed to be later additions. Now, this doesn’t mean Luke’s author didn’t see Jesus as a “savior” or as the “messiah” in another sense. But it does mean he didn’t connect Jesus death with “atonement.”
Jesus being a “God” or “Son of God”:
In ancient Israel, a human could become a “god” or a “son of god.” In fact, Yahweh was originally understood as one of many “gods” or “sons of god.” When a high priest or king of Israel was anointed, he would similarly become a “god,” a “son of god,” a “messiah” or “christ” (meaning anointed one), and a “melchizedek” (king of righteousness). The high priest was then considered more than just a human—he became like an angel—a being who could enter the spiritual realm or the presence of the Most High God. Thus, when earliest Christians called Jesus a “god” or “son of god,” they did not do so in the same way that modern Christians typically do (if you want more info here just let me know). Rather, they did so in the sense that Jesus was one of many “gods” or “sons of god,” and they had no problem declaring that other men could have the same titles. Scholars such as Bart Ehrman argue that the divinity of Jesus (in the more exclusive sense that most Christians now think of it) developed over time—in part because of later alterations to the original texts.
Anyway, there seems to be variation and growth of the tradition even in the New Testament as we have it. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus does not ever personally claim to be God. In fact, in Mark he actually distinguishes himself from God (Mark 10:17-18)! However, in the latest gospel—the gospel of John—we have Jesus directly claiming to be God. This latest gospel is also the first time Jesus is called God (by Thomas), and it even pushes Jesus divinity to pre-mortality (“the word was with God, and the word was God”)
Regarding the title “son of god,” it is interesting that Mark, the earliest gospel, has Jesus becoming a “son of god” at his baptism. Matthew and Luke then push back Jesus divine sonship back to birth. They also seem to re-interpret what it means to be a “son of god.” Rather than the more ancient Israelite understanding of what it meant to be a “son of god,” they seem to connect this title to a virgin birth narrative that makes Jesus more literally the “son of God.” Perhaps this could be considered a more Greek or Roman re-interpretation? In any case, it is clear to me that the tradition grows and develops over time, and that older conceptions of Jesus’ titles were eventually understood in new ways as Christianity spread outside of Judea.
The narratives of Jesus’ resurrection:
It is interesting to see how the resurrection narratives were tweaked over time, and how they differ from each other.
In Mark, it is specified that the women go to the tomb very early Sunday morning. The implication is that they went as soon as possible after the sabbath ended—so nobody else could have beat them there and taken the body. Anyway, there are no guards, the stone was already gone, there was one angel (a young man) who was already sitting in the tomb, and he told them to go and tell Peter and the others. They leave trembling, and they say nothing to anyone, and the consensus among biblical scholars is that this is actually where Mark originally ends (after verse 8). Modern translations commonly make readers aware of this (see HERE or HERE for example). For a myriad of powerful reasons everything else after verse 8 is believed to have been added later. In other words, there is broad consensus that Mark did not originally contain any accounts of anyone seeing Jesus after the resurrection. Just a missing body, and the reader is left with that. [Note: Verses 9-20 were not in the two earliest and most respected manuscripts. Eusebius and Jerome note in the 4th century that almost all Greek manuscripts available to them lack verses 9-20. The transition between verse 8 and 9 is very awkward, and the vocabulary used in verses 9-20 differs significantly from the trends in the earlier verses).
For the author of Matthew, it isn’t enough to just say that the women were the first ones there Sunday morning. He wants to make it seem even more clear that nobody could have taken the body, so he actually chooses to add a false narrative about guards being at the tomb! (Matt 27:62-66) Some chief priests and pharisees supposedly remember that Jesus said “after three days I will rise again,” so they ask Pilate to have the tomb guarded for three days so that Jesus’ followers couldn’t come steal the body and then claim that Jesus was resurrected (nevermind that this makes zero sense given that even Jesus disciples seemed completely oblivious that he would be resurrected in three days, and nevermind that these Jewish leaders could never have approached Pilate about these issues on the sabbath). Anyway, Matthew’s author is trying to seal up any possible loose ends in the narrative so nobody can suggest that the body could have been taken. Because of the guards, we of course end up with a different narrative than in Mark. Unlike in Mark, the stone was still in place, and the angel wasn’t there yet. The angel descends from heaven, moves the stone, and the guards miraculously collapse. The angel tells them to go tell the disciples, but as they run away they suddenly see Jesus.
We get another narrative in Luke. It begins similarly to Mark’s original narrative. The guards Matthew invents are not in Luke’s narrative. The stone is already rolled away as it was in Mark. But this time we have 2 men (angels) at the tomb instead of one “young man.” They give the line “why seek ye the living among the dead.” The women go tell the apostles (who don’t believe them), but unlike in Matthew, the women don’t see Jesus while leaving the tomb. Verse 12 says Peter then ran and saw the empty tomb—but this verse is a later addition by someone who felt that the head of the church, Peter, should have also seen the empty tomb.
The author of John didn’t use Mark as the basis of his narrative, so he gives a very different account. There are no guards, and no angels. Mary Magdalene sees that the stone has been moved, so she runs to tell Peter and John. They go see the empty tomb and the linens, but neither they nor Mary have any idea that a resurrection has happened. Mary stays and is weeping, and Jesus then appears to Mary. She then tells the disciples she saw him.
The resurrection appearances differ. The women see Jesus at the tomb in Matthew and John, but not in Mark or Luke. Mark and Matthew have Jesus first appearing to the disciples about 100 miles away in Galilee, while Luke says he first appeared to them on the way to Emmaus—just 7 miles from Jerusalem—and then again that night in Emmaus. John also has him first appearing in Jerusalem. We can also see growth of the tradition over time: We begin with a simple missing body narrative in Mark, we then get a physical encounter in Matthew, then we see Jesus eating in Luke, and by John we have people feeling the wounds on his body.
There are obviously a million other things we could discuss here with regard to what the Bible is, how it came to be, and how it has been altered along the way. There are many great books to be read. Consider this post a very brief introduction to the issues.
These issues don’t necessarily have to be a barrier to faith (again, they were not what triggered my journey). Below I’ll provide some sources from two scholars of LDS background who acknowledge these issues. Still, I would hope that some of these complexities might just make even the most devout Christians and Mormons a bit more humble in their faith by opening up the possibility that some things may not be as certain as we have thought. Maybe sometimes our quotes of Jesus aren’t really quotes of Jesus. Maybe sometimes a historical narrative is not really historical. Maybe the writers of the Bible didn’t really have all the answers. Maybe they too were “seeing through a glass darkly” regarding various theological or social issues. Maybe the biblical writers weren’t who we think they were.
Maybe even the most faithful believers can be slower to draw absolute lines in the sand. Maybe we can expand our searches for truth. Maybe sometimes we can be more willing to trust our conscience when something doesn’t feel right to us. Maybe we can acknowledge that life is complex, and that everything doesn’t fit into a nice square box. Maybe we can be more like the Samaritan, who didn’t let his religion keep him from what is most important—which is loving and serving others.
MORE INFORMATION (FOR THOSE WHO THINK I’VE LOST MY MIND):
A good place to start would be with these sources from two different LDS biblical scholars. Please don’t assume these are my only sources. My feeling is just that some simple blogs and podcasts are a good place to at least get an introduction to the issues when you don’t have lots of time to invest:
Historicity & the New Testament:
Who Wrote the Gospels 1:
Who Wrote the Gospels 2:
Who Wrote the Gospels 3:
A Podcast from him on the historical Jesus:
A five part podcast entitled “An Academic Introduction to the New Testament:
A five part “Easter Primer” podcast:
A two part “Christmas Primer” podcast: