Just finished listening to Hugh Hewitt “Great God Debate.” It was an intelligent, lively, challenging and worthwhile exchange. So often Christopher Hitchens eviscerates challengers, and so entertainingly. However, there was very little evisceration and no rancor but very honest and well developed conversation. It was absolutely stunning. This is in great measure due to the courtesy of the interviewer, who permitted fully developed answers without unduly intruding his own reactions into the discussion, and to the caliber of Dr. Roberts, who contended with Hitchens for the broadcast.
Mark has posted a great deal on the exchange here. As interesting as the debate is Mark’s new book: Can We Trust The Gospels? We can, and you should read the book to discover why. From the reader reviews at Amazon.com:
Mark Roberts received his Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard University. Since he is fairly conservative theologically, you might expect this book to represent a disavowal of his Harvard training. The truth is more interesting.
Dr. Roberts does distance himself from some of the secular and skeptical assumptions of his professors at Harvard. But he puts the tools of critical scholarship to use in a manner the public is not accustomed to seeing — demonstrating the reliability of the four traditional Gospels.
Dr. Roberts’ scholarship is subordinate to his fluid, plain-language dissection of common doubts about the Gospels. In many cases, he dispatches modern skeptics with amazing brevity. For example, in about two pages, he pretty much demolishes Bart Ehrman’s popular book Misquoting Jesus. Roberts quickly shows the contradiction at the heart of Ehrman’s book. Ehrman argues that intentional scribal modifications have rendered the original Gospels unknowable, producing numerous disparities in the thousands of ancient Gospel manuscripts. But, in the process of explaining how these changes were introduced, Ehrman produces convincing arguments for the language of the original texts. Thus, while attempting to highlight modern discrepancies, Ehrman inadvertently shows that the multitude of manuscripts enables the modern critic to work back fairly easily to reconstruct the original texts.
Roberts presents these types of arguments in such a calm and clear manner that it makes you wonder why the traditionalists have had so many difficulties responding to modern skeptics. Where have these traditional arguments been hiding all this time? Apparently they have been lying dormant … in the New Testament program at Harvard University!
Now that is the sort of “reader review” all authors long for. Obviously informed, but also obviously impressed. Get Roberts’ book. You’ll thank me. And him.