Memory, Authorship, and Miracles
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When the authenticity of the gospels is questioned due to faulty human memory. Some people claim that since we do not know for sure who wrote the gospels, we cannot trust their message. Others argue that there is nothing special about presenting Jesus as a common miracle worker. In this session, Dr. Bock answers each of these charges.
A. Story about a member of the Jesus Seminar
B. Charge is that the writers could have been eye witnesses but their memory is faulty
C. Example of the Challenger disaster — their memory “leaked” after three years
II. Memory is more reliable when the person has a stake in what is being remembered
Tests show that in this case memory is better, but it still leaks.
III. Corporate memory is better than individual memory.
A. When a group remembers together and pools the results
1. Example of when someone dies and there is group share
2. Example of your courtship
B. The church is pooled, corporate memory
A. Story of his grandkids watching Star Wars over and over again, and their ability to remember details
B. Story of reading to his daughter, and she knew when Darrell changed the rhyme or skipped a page
We remember core facts better than details
Argument is that the church did not know who wrote the books, so they picked a well-known person and attached his name to the gospel.
II. Example of Mark
A. What do we know about Mark.
1. From prominent family
2. Ran home in the middle of the first missionary journey
3. Split Paul and Barnabas
B. Now, why would they attach the gospel to Mark?
1. Eusebius records Papias’ statement that Mark got his gospel from Peter, so why not attach the gospel to Peter?
2. The church knows who the author was, and they are not going to play fast and loose with authorship, otherwise it would be the “Gospel of Peter.”
A. Critics question the truth of Jesus being a miracle worker
B. Many miracle workers, but usually with just one or two miracles
II. Famous miracle workers in Jesus’ day
A. Honi the Circle-Drawer
B. Apollonius of Tyana
III. Ways to describe miracle workers
A. MNP — mediator of numinous (transcendent) power
B. PNP — Petitioner of numinous power
C. BNP — Bearer of numinous power
A. Bulk of Jesus’ miracles show him to be a BNP
B. Jesus is anything but a “normal” miracle worker