Skip to comments.Radio Replies Volume One: Value of the Gospels
Posted on 05/05/2009 9:29:57 AM PDT by GonzoII
103. Will you prove the reliability of the Gospels according to the five requirements outlined by yourself to a previous inquirer?
By all means, although I cannot go very deeply into the matter in the brief time at my disposal. However I shall do my best to give the main elements.
Firstly, the authors assigned wrote the books attributed to them. A knowledge of Hebrew shows that the authors were certainly Jews. Historical and political references show that they were Jews of the first century, for Palestine is shown under conditions before and not after the Fall of Jerusalem in the year 70 A.D. Also had they been written after that date, the writers would not have omitted to make the point that Christ's prophecy had been fulfilled. They do not mention it. All the descriptions, also, are so vivid that they could only have been written by eye-witnesses. And in addition to this internal evidence, we have solid external evidence. Thus Papias, who was the disciple of St. John the Apostle, and who certainly lived in the first century, has left it in writing that one named Matthew first wrote in Hebrew, and that one named Mark wrote what he had heard of Peter. Papias could not have written this had not these two Evangelists already written their Gospels. The Muratorian Fragment, dating from at least the year 170, tells us that the third Gospel was written by Luke; the fourth by John. And there is no evidence at all to the contrary. We have not as much evidence for the authorship of many classical books, of which no one doubts. Also the Apostles and immediate disciples would not have allowed forgeries to be palmed off as genuine. Heretics and pagans would have found their strongest argument in showing the basic documents to be falsely attributed to immediate disciples of Christ. And all regions accepted these four Gospels. If they were not genuine, and one region began the fraud, the rest would have risen up in violent protest. No critic of any value denies the fourfold authorship today.
Secondly, the Gospels have never been tampered with or substantially altered. The Gospels had been multiplied by copyists and were quite familiar to the early Christians. Not all could be falsified simultaneously, and changes could easily be detected by comparison. And the early Christians were most vigilant, holding the Gospels in great veneration. Marcion the heretic fabricated a Gospel in the year 110 to suit his heresy, and there was a universal protest at once. All existing manuscripts, back as far as the fourth century, quote the Gospels as they are now. No substantial alterations can have occurred since the fourth century, and they were far less likely to occur during the times nearer to the Apostles. Sincere critics today admit the substantial integrity of the Gospels, and those opposed to Christianity concentrate upon other lines of attack.
Thirdly, the Evangelists were reliably informed. Rationalists take refuge in the thought that they were sincere, but laboring under some strange delusion or hallucination. They have no evidence to support the contention, but stake all on a preconceived improbability. They practically say, "We do not see how such things could happen, therefore it's no use telling us that they did happen." This is prejudice. A few years ago men said, "A man could not speak to Australia from England by telephone, and therefore we do not believe that he ever will." The fact has disproved them. A man with a theory can see almost anything, provided it supports his theory, and be blind to the most evident facts if they seem to upset his theory. Rationalists do not like the Gospel facts, and therefore deny them. Forced to admit authorship, integrity, and sincerity, they say, "The writers must have been the victims of some hallucination." But if you wish to deny a man's right to the property next door, you must prove something, if only that his title-deeds are false. But it is no use saying, "I do not like the man!" Meantime, all the evidence is against the position of these Rationalists. They have to admit exactness as regards geographical, political, and religious conditions of Palestine. Why should they be less accurate when they describe the sayings and doings of Christ? They are perfectly sane in all their other statements. And are all four to have the same hallucination, and all their lives? There is no trace of fanaticism in their sober accounts; Christ had to accuse them of being "slow to believe"; enemies then and there could not deny the miracles, and must have been suffering from the same hallucination; and the Jews never attempted to deny the facts. The Evangelists were quite reliably informed.
Fourthly, they were sincere. They not only knew the facts, but they told the truth. They gained martyrdom in this life, and on their own principles, stood to gain only hell in the next, if they were lying in so important a matter. If they intended to lie, they could have painted themselves as heroes, instead of depicting their own faults; and above all should not have described a mocked, humiliated, and crucified Master in order to win the veneration of men. On the Jewish material at their disposal they could not have invented the type represented by Christ at the Messiah, and if they did want to invent, might just as well have painted the portrait of a far more glorious Leader from a worldly point of view. No thinker today brings the old charge that the Evangelists lied. Finally, that the statements were made under oath before God is abundantly clear. The writers call upon God to witness to the truth of what they write. St. John says, "I testify to everyone that heareth these words"; "He that saw it hath given testimony, and his testimony is true, and he knoweth that he saith true, that you also may believe." St. Paul, also: "I speak the truth. I lie not - my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit." No modern law-court would reject evidence as clearly given as that for the events and utterances attributed to Christ.
104. Where are the original records?
The original documents have long since perished. The earliest copy is about fourth century, but 1600 years have had their effect even upon that copy. Even parchment perishes with time.
105. You admit no original documents in existence, and therefore no real evidence. Where are your claims?
I have never admitted that there is no real evidence, nor that there are no original documents in existence. There are thousands of original documents in existence. The particular original documents, the copies of which we now possess in the Gospels, have perished. But the copies are perfectly reliable, as has been established by comparison of hundreds of independent transcriptions reaching back to the times when the originals were certainly in existence.
106. Why did not God preserve the originals by a miracle?
That was not necessary that we might know their contents. We have true copies. Also that would not have bettered things. Christ did not base His religion upon the reading of Scripture. He established the infallible Catholic Church to teach in His Name. That Church He has miraculously preserved.
107. Why does no reputable historian mention Christ, and His wonderful works?
I have just shown that five reputable historians record the events, the four Evangelists and St. Paul. Their books are as historical as any others. Tacitus, the Roman historian, writing about 70 years after the death of Christ, mentions Him. Also Josephus, the Jewish historian. Also Roman historians were not much concerned with Palestine, an outpost of the empire, and moreover had a supreme contempt for the Jews, discounting all their doings. It is obvious also that the Jewish writers would not be bent on recording an event they would very much like to forget. Finally, absence of evidence in other writers who do not deal ex professo with a given subject weighs nothing against positive evidence recorded by reliable historians.
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Rev. Dr. Leslie Rumble, M.S.C.
"I was brought up as a Protestant, probably with more inherited prejudices than most non-Catholics of these days. My parents were Anglican and taught me the Angelican faith. My 'broad-minded' protestant teachers taught me to dislike the Catholic Church intensely. I later tried Protestantism in various other forms, and it is some thirty years since, in God's providence, I became a Catholic. As for the 'open, free, sincere worship' of a Protestant Church, I tasted it, but for me it proved in the end to be not only open, but empty; it was altogether too free from God's prescriptions."
Eventually, Leslie became a priest of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.
In 1928, Fr. Rumble began a one-hour 'Question Box' program on 2SM Sydney, N.S.W. radio on Sunday evenings that was heard all over Australia and New Zealand. For five years he answered questions on every subject imaginable that had been written to him from all over that part of the globe. His first show began with a classic introduction:
"Good evening, listeners all. For some time I have been promising to give a session dealing with questions of religion and morality, in which the listeners themselves should decide what is of interest to them. Such a session will commence next Sunday evening, and I invite you to send in any questions you wish on these subjects . . . So now I invite you, non-Catholics above all, to send in any questions you wish on religion, or morality, or the Catholic Church, and I shall explain exactly the Catholic position, and give the reasons for it. In fact I almost demand those questions. Many hard things have been said, and are still being said, about the Catholic Church, though no criminal, has been so abused, that she has a right to be heard. I do not ask that you give your name and address. A nom de plume will do. Call yourself Voltaire, Confucius, X.Y.Z., what you like, so long as you give indication enough to recognize your answer."
"By the summer of 1937, the first edition of Radio Replies was already in print in Australia, financed by Rt. Rev. Monsignor James Meany, P.P. - the director of Station 2SM of whom I am greatly indebted."
"I have often been mistaken, as most men at times. And it is precisely to make sure that I will not be mistaken in the supremely important matter of religion that I cling to a Church which cannot be mistaken, but must be right where I might be wrong. God knew that so many sincere men would make mistakes that He deliberately established an infallible Church to preserve them from error where it was most important that they should not go wrong."
Rev. Charles Mortimer Carty
I broadcast my radio program, the Catholic Radio Hour, from St. Paul, Minnesota.
I was also carrying on as a Catholic Campaigner for Christ, the Apostolate to the man in the street through the medium of my trailer and loud-speaking system. In the distribution of pamphlets and books on the Catholic Faith, Radio Replies proved the most talked of book carried in my trailer display of Catholic literature. As many of us street preachers have learned, it is not so much what you say over the microphone in answer to questions from open air listeners, but what you get into their hands to read. The questions Fr. Rumble had to answer on the other side of the planet are same the questions I had to answer before friendly and hostile audiences throughout my summer campaign."
I realized that this priest in Australia was doing exactly the same work I was doing here in St. Paul. Because of the success of his book, plus the delay in getting copies from Sydney and the prohibitive cost of the book on this side of the universe, I got in contact with him to publish a cheap American edition.
It doesn't take long for the imagination to start thinking about how much we could actually do. We began the Radio Replies Press Society Publishing Company, finished the American edition of what was to be the first volume of Radio Replies, recieved the necessary imprimatur, and Msgr. Fulton J. Sheen agreed to write a preface. About a year after the publication of the first edition in Australia, we had the American edition out and in people's hands.
The book turned into a phenomena. Letters began pouring into my office from every corner of the United States; Protestant Publishing Houses are requesting copies for distribution to Protestant Seminaries; a few Catholic Seminaries have adopted it as an official textbook - and I had still never met Dr. Rumble in person.
To keep a long story short, we finally got a chance to meet, published volumes two and three of Radio Replies, printed a set of ten booklets on subjects people most often asked about, and a few other pamphlets on subjects of interest to us.
Fr. Carty died on May 22, 1964 in Connecticut.
"Firstly, since God is the Author of all truth, nothing that is definitely true can every really contradict anything else that is definitely true. Secondly, the Catholic Church is definitely true. It therefore follows that no objection or difficulty, whether drawn from history, Scripture, science, or philosophy, can provide a valid argument against the truth of the Catholic religion."
Biographies compiled from the introductions to Radio Replies, volumes 1, 2 and 3.
Regarding the issue of genuineness of Jesus of Whom the Four Gospel's teach, here is an excerpted portion of a discussion on the issues raised over the writings of Historian Joephus who lived at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem:
James Charlesworth writes: "Josephus must have made a reference to Jesus because the passage, divested of the obvious Christian words, is not Christian and is composed in such a way that it is very difficult to attribute to a Christian. What Christian would refer to Jesus' miracles in such a way that a reader could understand them as merely 'surprising works'? Would a Christian have written that 'first-rate men' or 'men of the highest standing amongst us' accused Jesus before Pilate, leaving the impression that he deserved a guilty verdict? Would a Christian scribe have ended a reference to Jesus by referring to 'the tribe of Christians' who 'are not extinct,' as if they should soon become extinct?" (p. 93)
Concerning whether the passage leaves the impression that Jesus deserved a guilty verdict, Earl Doherty reaches the opposite conclusion: "The words and their context give the impression that the crucifixion was due to 'an accusation made by men of the highest standing among us,' that this was the execution of a wise and loved man, a teacher of truth who was obviously innocent. Nothing could better reflect the Gospel image. But that would mean that Pilate had acted improperly, or that he had been misled or coerced by others. There could be no basis on which Josephus would be led to interpret the event this way, much less put it in writing for a Roman audience. There would have been no channel through which such a judgment would come to him that he would have accepted. And no way he could have avoided explaining himself if he did." (p. 213)
Concerning the reference to "surprising works" (paradoxa erga), it is noted that Eusebius is one Christian who would refer to Jesus' miracles in this way (Ecclesiastical History 1.2.23). Also, if this phrase were used by Josephus, it would not in any way be diminutive. The same phrase is used by Josephus to describe the miracles of Elisha, for example (Ant. 9.182).
There are audsio files and a few video files at the link. Of particular interest is the presentation Gary made at UNC regarding the timing of Paul's receiving the Gospel he preached.
Mk:16:1: And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalen and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought sweet spices, that coming, they might anoint Jesus. ...9 ¶ But he rising early the first day of the week, appeared first to Mary Magdalen; out of whom he had cast seven devils. 10 She went and told them that had been with him, who were mourning and weeping. 11 And they hearing that he was alive and had been seen by her, did not believe.
This doesn’t change your point at all, but I don’t believe it is necessarily known that Mary was a harlot.
She has been portrayed that way often, but “seven devils” doesn’t necessarily mean harlot.
"The Greek Fathers, as a whole, distinguish the three persons:
1) the "sinner" of Luke 7:36-50;
2) the sister of Martha and Lazarus, Luke 10:38-42 and John 11;
3) Mary Magdalen.
On the other hand most of the Latins hold that these three were one and the same.
Protestant critics, however, believe there were two, if not three, distinct persons."
So it looks like you are right.