Lost In Translation?
So, what does the evidence show? We begin with two simple questions: When were the original documents of the New Testament written? And who wrote them?
The importance of these questions should be obvious. If the accounts of Jesus were written after the eyewitnesses were dead, no one could verify their accuracy. But if the New Testament accounts were written while the original apostles were still alive, then their authenticity could be established. Peter could say of a forgery in his name, “Hey, I didn’t write that.” And Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John could respond to questions or challenges aimed at their accounts of Jesus.
The New Testament writers claimed to be rendering eyewitness accounts of Jesus. The apostle Peter stated it this way in one letter: “We were not making up clever stories when we told you about the power of our Lord Jesus Christ and his coming again. We have seen his majestic splendor with our own eyes” (2 Peter 1:16NLT).
A major part of the New Testament is the apostle Paul’s 13 letters to young churches and individuals. Paul’s letters, dated between the mid 40s and the mid 60s (12 to 33 years after Christ), constitute the earliest witnesses to Jesus’ life and teaching. Will Durant wrote of the historical importance of Paul’s letters, “The Christian evidence for Christ begins with the letters ascribed to Saint Paul. … No one has questioned the existence of Paul, or his repeated meetings with Peter, James, and John; and Paul enviously admits that these men had known Christ in the flesh.”2