Stop the average Christian and ask if there is any historical evidence for the person on whom they have staked their life, and you will likely hear sheepish mumbling. Most of us wax apologetic when people ask about the evidence for Christ, but not in the right sense: Rather than offering reasons for our faith, we simply reveal our ignorance.
All of which makes Can We Trust the Gospels? Not only are the Gospels the best-attested texts about Jesus, argues Williams, but they are also the most authentic. If we want to know about Jesus, the best records we have are the New Testament Gospels. These foundational points are clearly and concisely expressed.
They will be useful to anyone exploring the history around the Gospels for the first time. But they will be broadly familiar to those who have read any of a number of apologetics books. Given that Christianity spread rapidly among the Gentiles, soon becoming a majority-Gentile faith, the fact that the Gospels are so Jewish attests to their authenticity. Williams then turns to the common idea that the Gospels present a mythologized Christ, loosely based on a historical figure but with supernatural features gradually snuck in. Indeed, while the content of the Gospels clings closely to first-century Palestine, copies of the Gospels traveled rapidly with the early Christian movement, and it would have been impractical for any central authority to recall and doctor them at a later date.
Moreover, while the Greco-Roman world was replete with tales of demigods, Williams argues that there was no space within the fiercely monotheistic Jewish mindset for a semi-deified Jesus. He acknowledges that the miraculous claims of the Gospels make them unpalatable from a secular perspective. But the supernatural elements of Christianity, including the Christian belief in the deity of Christ, seem to have been there from the first. Any reader not already immersed in the world of biblical scholarship will learn from his insights.
Perhaps because the previous chapters are so rich, Chapter 7, in which Williams addresses apparent contradictions in the Gospels, feels a bit thin. Williams is also stronger on clear explanation than on memorable formulation.
While the idea of a cup of suffering might appear more sensitive to an unbelieving reader, evading the harder meaning misses what might have been a natural opportunity to illuminate the meaning of the gospel. These critiques aside, Can We Trust the Gospels? It is written with a non-Christian reader in mind, the better to be shared with a skeptical friend.
Read this book, and the next time someone asks you if there is any evidence that Jesus actually existed, you will be more than equipped to answer. To unlock this article for your friends, use any of the social share buttons on our site, or simply copy the link below.
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Subscribers receive full access to the archives. Reviews Book Review. How to Defend the Gospels with Confidence Questions about their reliability deserve better than sheepish mumbling. Rebecca McLaughlin January 7, Our Rating. Author Peter J. Publisher Crossway. Release Date November 1, Often the cross will have a white banner suspended from it charged with a red cross similar to St George's Cross , though the cross may also be rendered in different colors.
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Sometimes the lamb is shown lying atop a book with seven seals hanging from it. This is a reference to the imagery in the Book of Revelation —13 , ff. Occasionally, the lamb may be depicted bleeding from the area of the heart Cf. Revelation , symbolizing Jesus' shedding of his blood to take away the sins of the world Cf. John , In Early Christian art the symbol appears very early on.
Several mosaics in churches include it, some showing a row of twelve sheep representing the apostles flanking the central Agnus Dei, as in Santi Cosma e Damiano , Rome — The Moravian Church uses an Agnus Dei as their seal with the surrounding inscription Vicit agnus noster, eum sequamur "Our Lamb has conquered, let us follow him".
Although the depiction of Jesus as the Lamb of God is of ancient origin, it is not used in the liturgical iconography of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The reason for this is that the depictions of Jesus in the Orthodox Church are anthropomorphic rather than symbolic, as a confession of the Orthodox belief in the Incarnation of the Logos. However, there is no objection to the application of the term "Lamb of God" to Jesus. A Paschal Lamb is a charge used in heraldry, for example as the crest of the Davie Baronets , and is blazoned : A paschal lamb  This charge is depicted as a lamb standing with body facing towards the dexter viewer's left , with nimbus , and with head facing forwards or turned looking backwards to sinister , termed reguardant holding under its right foreleg a flagpole, tipped with a small cross, resting at a diagonal angle over its shoulder, flying a banner of the Cross of St.
George except in Perth 's coat of arms, where it flies a banner of the Cross of St Andrew. In the Roman Catholic Church , an Agnus Dei is a disc of wax, stamped with an image of Jesus as a lamb bearing a cross, that is consecrated by the pope as a sacramental.
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For other uses, see Lamb of God disambiguation. For other uses, see Agnus Dei disambiguation. Main articles: Agnus Dei liturgy and Agnus Dei music. Christianity portal. Peeters Publishers. Long before this controversy, Ex 12 as a story of origins and its ritual expression had been firmly fixed in the Christian imagination. Though before the final decades of the second century only accessible as an exegetical tradition, already in the Pauline letters the Exodus saga is deeply involved with the celebration of bath and meal.
Even here, this relationship does not suddenly appear, but represents developments in ritual narrative that must have begun at the very inception of the Christian message. Jesus of Nazareth was crucifed during Pesach-Mazzot , an event that a new covenant people of Jews and Gentiles both saw as definitive and defining. Ex 12 is thus one of the few reliable guides for tracing the synergism among ritual, text, and kerygma before the Council of Nicaea.
Mohr Siebeck. Christ as the Passover Lamb from Exodus A number of features throughout Revelation seem to correspond to Exodus The connection of Lamb and Passover, a salvific effect of the Lamb's blood and the punishment of God's and His people's opponents from Exodus 12 may possibly be reflected within the settings of the Apocalypse.
The concept of Christ as a Passover lamb is generally not unknown in NT or early Christian literature, as can for instance be seen in 1 Corinthians , 1 Peter or Justin Martyr's writing Dial. In the Gospel of John, especially, this connection between Christ and Passover is made very explicit. Kostenberger, L.
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