Who really wrote the Gospels and when? How can we be sure that the Bible today has not been tampered?
The authorship of all four gospels was confirmed by the early Christian church at a time when they were being persecuted and martyred for its faith. Why would they lie? Tradition and the unique eyewitness perspectives further testify to their authorship. We are not absolutely 100% certain, but the burden of historical proof clearly lies on people who say the authors are somebody else.
There have been ongoing debates as to when the Gospels were actually recorded. A starting point of consideration begins with the book of Acts and the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Since the Book of Acts was written after the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and does not mention the significant event of the fall of Jerusalem, we can safely assume that the Gospels were written before A.D. 70. Due to other historical benchmarks, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke were written about 30 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (AD 60-65). The margin of time between Jesus’ life and death and the recording of the Gospels is very close by any historical standards. It is too close for those eyewitness accounts to be exaggerated or be considered “legends.”
It is true that the Bible, the Word of God, was written by the hands of men. It is also true that we do not have the original manuscripts. What we do have are tens of thousands of ancient manuscripts that were painstakingly copied by human hands. As a result, human error (i.e. misspellings, misplaced words, repeated phrases, words left out) caused a few manuscripts to be slightly different than the others. The remarkable, even miraculous fact is that throughout the centuries the truth of God’s Word has been left perfectly intact. The thousands of ancient manuscripts verify the fact that we have today an authentic and accurate copy of the originals.
To sum it up, we have reliable historical documents of a person, a small-town rabbi, who made divine claims about himself in a way that completely overturned the theology of the Jewish people. He changed the hearts and minds by convincing them that he was the Messiah, the promised Savior of the world. He did this not just by his teaching or his miracles, but by his resurrection. The question remains, “Who do we say Jesus is?” The truth of Christ is confirmed when the longings of our heart is comforted in the same fashion it answers the questions of the mind. By faith, we know the good news of Jesus Christ to be true.
** This question and answer was inspired from the book, “Letters from a Skeptic” by Dr. Gregory A Boyd and Edward K. Boyd, Chariot Victor Publishing, 1994.