Sunday, November 26, 2023

The Historical Origins of the Gospels

Historian Carl Becker was a believer that an important distinction existed between history as it has come down to us and history as it really happened. 

Since historians can't deal directly with the event itself because the event has disappeared, they can only deal with the affirmation about the event that persists. He argued that the "ephemeral event" is the event as it actually took place, but that it is fleeting and that true knowledge of it disappears soon after it ends. This is where the "affimed event" -- a commonly agreed-upon recollection -- takes over and forms a consensus. The product of this consensus -- this "affimed event" -- is the event as it will be remembered but not necessarily as it happened. Regrettably, argued Becker, once established, the affimed event becomes nearly impossible to dismiss even when new, seemingly contradictory evidence, is discovered. 

This is, I believe, exactly what has happened to our understanding of the historical origins of the Gospels. The "ephemeral event" has been lost, and the "affirmed event," incongruities and all, has survived and has become deeply imbedded in the scholarly consciousness. The object of my book on the Gospels was to attempt to examine the evidence more logically within the confines of both the internal and external evidence. 

So, what were the historical origins of the Gospels? To discover that, one must be bold. The missing pieces must be included to help assemble the whole puzzle rather than leaving pieces out because they do not seem to fit. I hope to have shown that the missing pieces fit together completely and logically, and that a break with the "affirmed" interpretation is long overdue.