A Response to:
Johnny Bravo The Cartoon Comedian, a.k.a. Usman Sheikh, & Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi
by Sam Shamoun
MENJ and Bravo have decided to include some additional comments, this time from the late NT scholar Raymond E. Brown. It seems that Brown is one of the teams heroes since they apparently think that by appealing to him they will somehow add credibility to their erroneous claims.
The team begins by claiming:
Another Christian scholar, Raymond E. Brown, notes the inability of the author of Mark to identify the geographical places in ancient Palestine. He says
That the author of this Greek Gospel was John Mark, a (presumably Aramaic-speaking) Jew of Jerusalem who had early become a Christian, is hard to reconcile with the impression that it does not seem to be a translation from Aramaic,82 that it seems to depend on traditions (and perhaps already shaped sources) receieved in Greek, and that it seems confused about Palestinian geography83 (The attempt to claim that Mark used geography theologically and therefore did not bother about accuracy seems strained).
In the footnote 83, Brown had in fact revealed another instance of the gospel author's unfamiliarity with ancient Palestine geography. He states that
83 Mark 5:1, 13 betrays confusion about the distance of Gerasa from the sea of Galilee (n. 17 above). Mark 7:31 describes a journey from Tyre through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee in the midst of the Decapolis. In fact one goes SE from Tyre to the Sea of Galilee; Sidon is N for Tyre, and the description of the Sea of Galilee in the midst of the Decapolis is awkward. That a boat headed for Bethsaida (NE side of the Sea of Galilee) arrives at Gennesaret (NW side: 6:45,53) may also signal confusion. No one has been able to locate the Dalmanutha of 8:10, and it may be a corruption of Magdala.
We have already quoted J.P. Holdings responses to these alleged errors. But since the authors think that by quoting more "scholars" with similar opinions they will somehow establish the truth of their errors, we will play along with them and present additional responses. The following is a response to similar claims made by writer Ian Wilson:
"Sidon most certainly does appear to be out of the way if Jesus were going directly back northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee from which he had come. But Mark 7:31 indicates that he looped around and approached the southeast shore of the Sea of Galilee through the region called Decapolis. If you view the Sea of Galilee as a clock, Decapolis (Greek for "ten cities") was a region which bordered the sea from 3:00 to about 6:00.
Orthodox Jews did not normally travel in this area because the region was almost entirely inhabited by Gentiles and Hellenized Jews. Jesus, however, brought his disciples here immediately after their time in the regions of Tyre and Sidon. Now, an important question: What did these two regions have in common?
What they had in common was lots of Gentiles. Since Jesus is reported to have spent most of his ministry in Jewish territory, it is significant that these areas should be linked together. What Matthew and Mark are probably saying is that Jesus took his disciples on one last ministry tour through the Gentile regions. This mission would set a precedent for the disciples later concern regarding being His witnesses even to the remotest part of them earth, even among the Gentiles. Beginning on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, they would have traveled northwest to Tyre, northeast to Sidon, southeast to the region of Decapolis, and west to the Sea of Galilee. Far from showing a lamentable ignorance of the geography of Palestine, the passage helps explain why Jesus did not go directly back to the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, the location identified as his home.
Wilson further contention that there was no road from Sidon to the Sea of Galilee is likewise immaterial. The gospels report numerous occasions where Jesus was going up mountains or into the wilderness to pray, and he consistently conducted his ministry in rural areas. There is therefore no reason why Jesus and the disciples could not have walked the less than twenty miles from Sidon to the Valley of Lebanon. Their route along with the south side of Mount Lebanon would not have been too difficult. Only further north are the mountains of Lebanon imposing. This route would have allowed Jesus and is disciples a more direct path around to the southeast side of Galilee." (Josh McDowell & Bill Wilson, He Walked Among Us Evidence For the Historical Jesus [Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville TN 1993], pp. 209-210; bold emphasis ours)
The authors next tackle the issue of Gerasa/Gadara:
But neither Luke nor Mark say that the event happened at Gerasa. Matthew likewise does not say it happened at Gadara. All three writers use the expression in the country of followed by the Gadarenes in Matthew and the Gerasenes in Mark and Luke. In other words, all three writers chose to generally locate the event rather than specifically identify an exact location, and for good reason!
The best, possibly the only location along the east shore of the Sea of Galilee where this event could have occurred is a point approximately one mile north of the Decapolis city, Hippus, and two miles south of the small first-century town of Gergesa. At this point the hillside drops steeply into the sea. The border between Gaulanitus in the north and Decapolis in the south intersected almost directly between the two cities, though there may have been confusion then, as now, over its exact location. It appears the site was just inside the border of the Decapolis. Since Gadara, approximately six miles southeast of the Sea of Galilee, was the chief city of the immediate area, Matthew apparently chose to call the area the country of the Gadarenes. Decapolis generally may also have been known as "the country of the Gerasenes" because of the greater prominence of Gerasa, 33 miles to the southeast. Luke and Mark use this designation.
Some manuscripts behind all three accounts use the designation country of the Gergesenes, but the strongest evidence does not support this reading. It appears to be a later emendation or error which was introduced by a copyist who knew of the close proximity of Gergesa. The disciples however, may have used the other designations because they knew they were in Decapolis, not Gaulanitus which contained Gergesa. In any case, it is to their credit that they only used the general locator in the country of since they could not be sure of their exact location." (Ibid., pp. 210-211; bold emphasis ours)
While interviewing leading NT archaeologist Dr. John McRay, atheist turned Christian Lee Strobel asked him about Mark 7:31:
Other scholars have attacked the gospel of Mark, generally considered the first account of Jesus' life to be written. Atheist Michael Martin accuses Mark of being ignorant about Palestinian geography, which he says demonstrates that he could not have lived in the region at the time of Jesus. Specifically he cites Mark 7:31: "Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis."
"It has been pointed out," said Martin, "that given these directions Jesus would have been traveling directly away from the Sea of Galilee."
When I posed Martin's critique to McRay, he furrowed his brow and then went into a flurry of activity, pulling a Greek version of Mark off his shelf, grabbing reference books, and unfolding large maps of ancient Palestine.
"What these critics seem to be assuming is that Jesus is getting in his car and zipping around on an interstate, but he obviously wasn't," he said.
Reading the text in the original language, taking into account the mountainous terrain and probable roads of the region and considering the loose way "Decapolis" was used to refer to a confederation of ten cities that varied from time to time, McRay traced a logical route on the map that corresponded precisely with Mark's description.
"When everything is put into the appropriate context," he concluded, "there's no problem with Mark's account."
Again archaeological insights had helped explain what appeared at first to be a sticking point in the New Testament. I asked McRay a broad question about that: had he ever encountered an archaeological finding that blatantly contravened a New Testament reference?
He shook his read. "Archaeology has not produced anything that is unequivocally a contradiction to the Bible," he replied with confidence. "On the contrary, as we've seen, there have been many opinions of skeptical scholars that have become codified into 'fact' over the years but that archaeology as shown to be wrong." (Strobel, The Case for Christ - A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus [Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1998; ISBN: 0-310-20930-7], p. 100)
Hence, what started out as alleged errors actually turns out to be evidence for the care and accuracy of the biblical authors!
Though Brown attempts to explain away these geographical errors by stating that "one must admit that sometimes even natives of a place are not very clear about geography", he does not deny their presence in the text. In another footnote, he states that
Many other examples of improbable reconciliations could be offered. Since Matt has a Sermon on the Mount and Luke has a similar Sermon on the Plain (Matt 5:1; Luke 6:7), there must have been a plain on the side of the mountain. Since Matt has the Lord's Prayer taught in that sermon and Luke has it later on the road to Jerusalem (Matt 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4), the disciples must have forgotten it, causing Jesus to repeat it. Mark 10:46 places the healing of the blind man after Jesus left Jericho, while Luke 18:35; 19:1 places it before Jesus entered Jericho. Perhaps Jesus was leaving the site of the OT Jericho and entering the site of the NT Jericho!
Though Brown may assume there are alleged errors in geography, we have shown that his assumptions are clearly wrong.
The most astonishing part of all this is that by citing Browns own list of plausible harmonies, the authors end up actually proving our case! They show that there are no real contradictions in scriptures since the alleged discrepancies that skeptics often point to can be easily reconciled and harmonized, just as Brown has shown! Thanks guys for helping to prove our point!
This means that it is the authors underlying presuppositions, as well as Browns, which forbid them from accepting the plausibility of these harmonizations. Since the Quran contradicts the Gospels, and since the authors believe in the Quran, they are therefore forced to reject the Gospel records at all costs. It seems to have never dawned on them that it is the Quran which is a false book and must be rejected, not the other way around.
Furthermore, the Gospel according to Luke, another anonymous gospel, also contains a number of geographical errors that have led scholars to the conclusion that its author was not from Palestine. Brown comments:
What happens when Jesus goes to a deserted place (Luke 4:24-44) exhibits typical Lucan universalizing, since the people rather than Simon and his companions come to seek out Jesus. Compared to Mark 1:39, which has Jesus going through the synagogues of all Galilee, Luke 4:44 localizes the synagogues in Judea. That may illustrate the vagueness of Luke's ideas of Palestinian geography, since in the next verse (5:1) Jesus is still in Galilee, at the Lake. Or does Luke's Judea simply mean "the country of the Jews"?
The authors erroneously claim that Luke is "another anonymous gospel", presumably as a means of undermining its authenticity.
For a detailed refutation of the authors falsehood regarding the alleged anonymity of the Gospel writers, please read the following articles:
Furthermore, even if we were to concede the authors claim that the Gospel writers were anonymous, this still does nothing to undermine their veracity. As the above series of articles conclusively demonstrate, both the internal and external evidence supports the Gospel materials as accurate first-century accounts on the life and teachings of Christ.
This leads us to our next point. The authors assertion only exposes their inconsistency in applying their methodology fairly. The authors believe that their false book, the Quran, is the revealed word of God. According to the Muslim record the Quran wasnt produced until the seventh century AD, nearly seven hundred years after Christ. Despite this VERY late date, the authors still believe that the Quran accurately records the life and teachings of not just the Lord Jesus, but all the other prophets as well!
If the authors can accept the Quran despite it being so late, then the authors have no basis whatsoever to reject the Gospels seeing that they are first century accounts which were written shortly after the reported events took place. The fact that they do not accept the Gospels, even though they are primary source documents, only exposes their agenda and hypocrisy.
The authors may claim that since God inspired the Quran the late dating does nothing to undermine its accuracy. We too would respond that the Gospels are not only first-century eyewitness accounts, but inspired revelation as well. As such, their alleged anonymity does nothing to undermine their accuracy since their authority is not derived from the men who wrote them, but from the God that inspired these records. No matter how one looks at the situation, the authors are left with absolutely no grounds for rejecting the Gospels.
Fourth, as Brown himself proposes, it is quite plausible that Luke may be using Judea to simply mean "the country (land) of the Jews." The Zondervan NIV Study Bible 10th Anniversary Edition states in a footnote:
... Judea. Some manuscripts, as well as the parallel accounts (Mt 4:23; Mk 1:39) mention Galilee instead of Judea ... In writing to a Gentile ... Luke probably used "Judea" to refer to the whole of Palestine, the land of the Jews (23:5; Acts 10:37; 11:1, 29; 26:20). (Ibid. [Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI 1995] p.1545; underlined emphasis ours)
The following commentary concurs:
"... The summary statement to the effect that Jesus was preaching in the Synagogues of Judea does not mean he went to the region to the south. Judea in Luke can be a synonym for Palestine as a whole (1:5; Acts 10:37). (Harpers Bible Commentary, James L. Mays, general editor with the Society of Biblical Literature [HarperSan Francisco, 1988], p. 1021)
These passages validate the preceding claims:
"In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron." Luke 1:5
Herod is called the king of Judea and reigned from 37-4 BC. What is interesting about this is that his kingdom included Samaria, much of Perea, Coele-Syria and Galilee! It is therefore evident that "Judea" definitely includes these lands, showing that for Luke the word referred to "the country of the Jews."
"You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached." Acts 10:37
Here, Peter links Galilee with Judea, verifying that Luke used Judea in a broader sense at times. As such, no real contradiction exists. The only thing that this example shows is that the authors are simply ignorant of Lukes writing style and use of expressions.
Fifthly, Browns claim that Luke typically "universalized" his accounts is simply that, his erroneous claim! Nowhere does Mark say that only Simon and his companions came looking for Jesus. Nor does Luke say that Simon and his companions were not part of the people who had gone looking for Christ.
It seems to have never dawned on Brown that Luke may have provided additional info that Mark did not include. Luke simply noted that there was a group of people who came looking for Christ. This would mean that Mark was being specific, whereas Luke was speaking generally.
Finally, since the authors quote Brown approvingly let us see what happens when we apply the latters argument against the Quran:
And (it was said): What hath made thee hasten from thy folk, O Moses? He said: They are close upon my track. I hastened unto Thee, my Lord, that Thou mightest be well pleased. He said: Lo! We have tried thy folk in thine absence, and As-Samiri hath misled them. Then Moses went back unto his folk, angry and sad. He said: O my people! Hath not your Lord promised you a fair promise? Did the time appointed then appear too long for you, or did ye wish that wrath from your Lord should come upon you, that ye broke tryst with me? They said: We broke not tryst with thee of our own will, but we were laden with burdens of ornaments of the folk, then cast them (in the fire), for thus As-Samiri proposed. Then he produced for them a calf, of saffron hue, which gave forth a lowing sound. And they cried: This is your god and the god of Moses, but he hath forgotten. See they not, then, that it returneth no saying unto them and possesseth for them neither hurt nor use? And Aaron indeed had told them before hand: O my people! Ye are but being seduced therewith, for lo! your Lord is the Beneficent, so follow me and obey my order. They said: We shall by no means cease to be its votaries till Moses return unto us. He (Moses) said: O Aaron! What held thee back when thou didst see them gone astray, That thou followedst me not? Hast thou then disobeyed my order? He said: O son of my mother! Clutch not my beard nor my head! I feared lest thou shouldst say: Thou hast caused division among the Children of Israel, and hast not waited for my word. (Moses) said: And what hast thou to say, O Samiri? He said: I perceived what they perceive not, so I seized a handful from the footsteps of the messenger, and then threw it in. Thus my soul commended to me. (Moses) said: Then go! and lo! in this life it is for thee to say: Touch me not! and lo! there is for thee a tryst thou canst not break. Now look upon thy god of which thou hast remained a votary. Verily we will burn it and will scatter its dust over the sea. S. 20:83-97, Pickthall
The author of this section of the Quran claims that it was As-Samiri who fashioned the golden calf. We are told elsewhere that it was actually another group that did so:
And the folk of Moses, after (he left them), chose a calf (for worship), (made) out of their ornaments, of saffron hue, which gave a lowing sound. Saw they not that it spake not unto them nor guided them to any way? They chose it, and became wrong-doers. And when they feared the consequences thereof and saw that they had gone astray, they said: Unless our Lord have mercy on us and forgive us, we verily are of the lost. And when Moses returned unto his people, angry and grieved, he said: Evil is that (course) which ye took after I had left you. Would ye hasten on the judgment of your Lord? And he cast down the tablets, and he seized his brother by the head, dragging him toward him. He said: Son of my mother! Lo! the folk did judge me weak and almost killed me. Oh, make not mine enemies to triumph over me and place me not among the evil-doers. He said: My Lord! Have mercy on me and on my brother; bring us into Thy mercy, Thou the Most Merciful of all who show mercy. Lo! Those who chose the calf (for worship), terror from their Lord and humiliation will come upon them in the life of the world. Thus do We requite those who invent a lie. S. 7:148-152
This passage states that it was the Israelites, along with Aaron, who fashioned the golden calf. This shows a tendency amongst one of the authors of the Quran to universalize his material, especially when it comes to the nation of Israel. He seems to be going out of his way to present Israel as completely evil and wicked. This is in marked contradiction with the other author who prefers to single out specific individuals, presumably in order to safeguard Israels reputation as the people of God.
We are pretty sure that the authors would laugh off such a claim as both erroneous and far-fetched. This is precisely how we view the claims of liberal scholars such as Brown, namely that they are quite laughable and silly to say the least.
UM present us one final example of an alleged error:
Brown presents another example of Luke's confusion with Palestinian geography:
3. Last Stage of Journey till Arrival in Jerusalem (17:11-19:27). This begins with the uniquely Lucan cleansing of the ten lepers, including the thankful Samaritan (17:11-19). Jesus has been travelling toward Jerusalem since 9:51, and in 9:52 his messengers entered a Samaritan village. That at this point in the story he is still passing between Samaria and Galilee tells us that the journey is an artificual framework (and also that Luke may not have had a precise idea of Palestinian geography).
The following is taken from J.P. Holdings response to another skeptic who points out the same alleged Lukan error:
the issue of Luke 17:11, where Luke is said to be in error because in saying that Jesus went through "the midst" of Samaria and Galilee, he is imagining a geographical falsity in which the two nations are alongside one another from east to west rather than from north to south. Evans [Evan.Lk, 25] replies to this charge by noting that Luke's words are literally, "through the middle of Samaria and Galilee" -- which may suggest an erroneous view as the critics suppose, but may also indicate "only that while on his way to Jerusalem [Jesus] was in the general vicinity of both provinces." The phrasing is imprecise, but can hardly be considered erroneous. (Source)
We have spent much of our time refuting the attacks on the veracity of the Gospels. It is now time for us to turn our attention to the scholarly praise for the Gospels amazing historical accuracy in order to counter-balance the misleading impression given by the authors attacks. We will mainly focus on the scholarly views regarding the accuracy of Luke-Acts.
We begin with Sir William Ramsey. Ramsey, considered one of the world's greatest archaeologists, believed that the New Testament (particularly the books of Luke and Acts) were second-century forgeries. He spent thirty years digging in Asia Minor in order to produce evidence proving that Luke-Acts was nothing more than a lie. At the conclusion of his long journey however, he was compelled to admit that the New Testament was a first-century compilation and that the Holy Bible is historically reliable. This fact led to his conversion and embracing of the very faith he once believed to be a hoax. Dr. Ramsey stated:
"Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy ... this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians."
Ramsey further said:
"Luke is unsurpassed in respects of its trustworthiness." (Josh McDowell, A Ready Defense : The Best of Josh McDowell [Nelson Reference; September 1, 1992- ISBN: 0840744196], pp. 108-109)
Another one time skeptic was Dr. Clifford Wilson who, due to some of the archaeological discoveries he had made, concluded:
"It is the studied conviction of this writer that the Bible is ... the ancient world's most reliable history textbook ..." (Wilson, Rocks, Relics And Biblical Reliability [Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI; Richardson, TX: Probe, 1977], p. 126)
Dr. Wilson, like Ramsey, goes on to hail Luke for his amazing accuracy:
"Luke demonstrated a remarkably accurate knowledge of geographical and political ideas. He referred correctly to provinces that were established at that time, as indicated in Acts 15:6. He demonstrated a clear knowledge of local customs, such as those relating to the speech of the Lycaonians (Acts 14:11), some aspects relating to the foreign woman who was converted at Athens (Acts 17:34), and he even knew that the city of Ephesus was known as the temple-keeper of Artemis (Acts 19:35)... he refers to different local officers by their exact titles the proconsul (deputy) of Cyprus (Acts 13:7), the magistrates at Phillipi (Acts 16:20,35), the politarchs (another word for magistrates) at Thessalonica (Acts 17:6), the proconsul of Achaia (Acts 18:12), and the treasurer of Corinth (Aedile) which was the title of the man known as Erastus at Corinth (Acts 19:22; Romans 16:23 ...)
"Luke had accurate knowledge about various local events such as the famine in the days of Claudius Caesar (Acts 11:29); he was aware that Zeus and Hermes were worshiped together at Lystra, though this was unknown to modern historians (Acts 14:11,12). He knew that Diana or Artemis was especially the goddess of the Ephesians (Acts 19:28); and he was able to describe the trade at Ephesus in religious images." (Ibid, pp. 112-113; bold emphasis ours)
Hence, Wilsons statement:
"Those who know the facts now recognize that the New Testament must be accepted as a remarkably accurate source book ..." (Ibid, p. 120; bold emphasis ours)
The late NT scholar F.F. Bruce wrote:
One of the most remarkable tokens of his accuracy is his sure familiarity with the proper titles of all the notable persons who are mentioned in his pages. This was by no means such an easy feat in his days as it is in ours, when it is so simple to consult convenient books of reference. The accuracy of Luke's use of the various titles in the Roman Empire has been compared to the easy and confident way in which an Oxford man in ordinary conversation will refer to the Heads of Oxford colleges by their proper titles--the Provost of Oriel, the Master of Balliol, the Rector of Exeter, the President of Magdalen, and so on. A non-Oxonian like the present writer never feels quite at home with the multiplicity of these Oxford titles. But Luke had a further difficulty in that the titles sometimes did not remain the same for any great length of time; a province might pass from senatorial government to administration by a direct representative of the emperor, and would then be governed no longer by a proconsul but by an imperial legate (legatus pro proetore). (Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?, [InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill, 1960 fifth edition], p. 82; bold emphasis ours)
Now, all these evidences of accuracy are not accidental. A man whose accuracy can be demonstrated in matters where we are able to test it is likely to be accurate even where the means for testing him are not available. Accuracy is a habit of mind, and we know from happy (or unhappy) experience that some people are habitually accurate just as others can be depended upon to be inaccurate. Luke's record entitles him to be regarded as a writer of habitual accuracy. (Ibid., p. 90; bold emphasis ours)
Roman historian A. N. Sherwin-White states in regards to the book of Acts:
"For Acts the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming ... Any attempt to reject its basic historicity must now appear absurd. Roman historians have long taken it for granted." (White, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament [Clarendon Press, Oxford 1963], p. 189; bold emphasis ours)
Professor Henry J. Cadbury from Harvard University, writes:
The historical worth of the Acts of the Apostles is not to be expressed merely in such negative terms. In itself it often carries its own evidences of accuracy, of intelligent grasp of its theme, of fullness of information. Its stories are not thin and colorless but packed with variety and substance. There is reason for the modern scholar to ponder them carefully, to examine them in detail and to compare them point for point throughout the volume ... The data which throw light on the history in Acts are also the data which confirm its place in history. But there is a difference in the approach. To a large extent the material with which I shall deal is capable of an apologetic use. It can be cited to show that the author of Acts is dealing with facts and reality. (Cadbury, The Book of Acts in History [Harper and Brothers, New York 1955], pp. 3-4; bold emphasis ours)
Some of the evidences which led the preceding men to conclude that Luke is highly trustworthy can be seen from the latters ability to accurately name key historical figures in the correct time sequence as well as applying the correct titles to government officials in various areas such as:
The use of politarchs in Thessalonica.
Ephesus and the temple wardens.
Cyprus and the use of procouncil.
Reference to the first man of the island in Malta.
Other examples demonstrating Lukes accuracy include:
Luke mentions, "Lysanius tetrarch of Abilene." (Cf. Luke 3:1) At one time, scholars questioned Luke's credibility since the only Lysanius known for centuries was a ruler of Chalcis who ruled from BC. 40-36. Interestingly, an inscription dating to be in the time of Tiberius, who ruled from AD. 14-37, was found near Damascus which records a temple dedication and names Lysanius as the "tetrarch of Abila".
In Acts 18:12-17, Paul was brought before Gallio, the proconsul of Achaea. Archaeology has helped to confirm this account. An inscription of a letter from Emperor Claudius was discovered at Delphi. It states, "Lucius Junios Gallio, my friend, and the proconsul of Achaia ..."
The inscription has been dated to AD. 52 and corresponds with the time of Paul's stay in 51.
Paul, writing to the Romans, speaks of the city treasurer Erastus (Romans 16:23). A 1929 excavation in Corinth unearthed a pavement inscribed with these words: ERASTVS PRO:AED:P:STRAVIT: ("Erastus, curator of public buildings, laid this pavement at his own expense.")
Luke mentions a riot in the city of Ephesus which took place in a theater (Acts 19:23). The theater has now been excavated and has a seating capacity of 25,000.
The following writer provides another example of Lukes accuracy in relation to the latters precise details in his sea travels as recorded in Acts 27:
As I began to investigate Luke's account more carefully, one detail kept jumping off the pages of Scripture at me: after all the horror and travail of the storm at sea, and the ship's narrow escape by putting out four stern anchors in the middle of the night, the next morning ". . . casting off the anchors, they left them in the sea . . ." (Acts 27:40). A quick check of the original language let me know that the sailors did, indeed, cut loose the four anchors and did not bring them on board. And research into sailing ships of the day informed me that the anchors in question would have been huge, lead-and-wooden Roman-style anchors common on huge freighters like the one Paul sailed on ...
Having confirmed Luke's precise details of the anchors' location - a "bay with a beach" (v. 39), a place where "two seas meet" (v. 41), the depth of "fifteen fathoms" (v. 28) - we then secured permission to examine the anchor stock itself. What we found was a classic first-century Roman anchor, as used on Alexandrian ships sailing on official Roman business in Paul's day. Then, with detailed photographs and videotapes in hand, we consulted a scholar from the local university, who confirmed what we already knew. The evidence we had personally discovered fit every detail of Luke's description of the anchors Paul's ship left in the sea.
Excitedly but deliberately, we took inventory. What had our expedition yielded? We had an impartial eyewitness to the existence of four Roman anchors in a location precisely matching the Bible's description. We had instrument readings showing they were left in the sea at the precise depth recorded by Luke. We had a shoreline matching every detail of the eyewitness account in Acts 27, including a bay with a beach, a location where "two seas meet," and a sloping reef between the anchor site and the shore. And - most important of all - we had photos and videotape of a physical, verifiable artifact which, with all reasonable certainty, we could identify as having been specifically mentioned in Scripture!
How had all this come about? Not by the cleverness of any individual, and certainly not by assuming that the Bible cannot be trusted. Rather, it had come about by taking the Bible at face value, using it as a "road map" to guide our research, and then stepping out in faith and putting its details to the test in a tangible way. AS ALWAYS, the Bible proved itself reliable and historically accurate. (Source)
The next writer concurs:
Luke, by tradition the author of Acts, constantly refers to city, regional, and provincial political boundaries, notes political titles, and writes about unique local social and political characteristics. Many of the details that he records were true only during the middle decades of the first century.
In all of these dozens of details, Luke is consistently shown to be accurate by independent evidence. We need to remember that, in antiquity, there were no research libraries. Nor were ancient historians interested in digging up details to make an account more historical. They simply reproduced what their sources told them, though exercising editorial judgement. This is a key point. Luke's accuracy on these dozens of details must flow either from his own experience or from the experience of his immediate sources. When we read Luke, we are back in the middle decades of the first century. The historical accuracy is that certain.
There are other collateral evidences as well. The distances that Paul traveled on land and on sea, and how long it took him to cover those distances, can be confirmed by objective evidence. The most spectacular evidential confirmation of all is found in Luke's brief account of Paul's shipwreck on the island of Malta. Modern meteorological and nautical evidence demonstrates that Paul's shipwreck must have occurred just as Luke reports it. Reading this evidence is like reading a police report of an auto accident.
There is also the evidence found in Luke's account of Paul's many arrests and trials. Paul's legal maneuverings took place in often quite different jurisdictions. Studied in the light of modern knowledge about ancient law, and its local applications in the eastern Roman empire, Luke proves to be surprisingly accurate in his legal commentary. Further, his accounts often refer to legal situations that existed only in the middle decades of the first century. Again, we discover just how reliable Luke is as an historian ...
In short, what the empirical evidence reveals is that Luke's history in Acts is as reliable as we may expect an ancient history to be. It is reliable in the details, and the details are numerous. In studying the historical evidence, one discovers the truth of what the Apostle Paul told Herod Agrippa: that these things were not done in a corner. (Source)
Yachtsman James Smith of Jordanhill, having been quite familiar with the areas that Paul sailed, wrote:
I do not even assume the authenticity of the narrative of the voyage and shipwreck contained in the Acts of the Apostles, but scrutinise St. Luke's account of the voyage precisely as I would those of Baffin or Middleton, or of any ancient voyage of doubtful authority, or involving points on which controversies have been raised. A searching comparison of the narrative, with the localities where the events so circumstantially related are said to have taken place, with the aids which recent advances in our knowledge of the geography and the navigation of the eastern part of the Mediterranean supply, accounts for every transaction--clears up every difficulty--and exhibits an agreement so perfect in all its parts as to admit but of one explanation, namely, that it is a narrative of real events, written by one personality engaged in them, and that the tradition respecting the locality is true. (Smith, The Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul [Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans: London 1848), pp. v-vi; bold emphasis ours)
We conclude with the words of Christian apologist Norman Geisler writes:
"In all, Luke names thirty-two countries, fifty-four cities, and nine islands without error." (Baker Encyclopedia of Apologetics (Baker Books: Grand Rapids, MI 1999], p. 47)
It is evidence such as this that leads Christians to completely trust the Holy Bible, and is also one of the reasons why Christians believe that there are no real errors in scripture. Christians have overwhelmingly good evidence to trust the accuracy of the inspired writers, giving them the benefit of the doubt when there are passages that seem to be contradictory. The evidence leads us to confidently presume that these alleged errors are easily reconciled with enough time and careful, prayerful study of the historical-grammatical-cultural contexts.
This is unlike the Quran with all its gross errors and lies:
The Quran is a false book that contradicts the very scriptures which it testifies is the true revelation of God, namely the Holy Bible, see the links provided at the end of the first part.
This concludes our rebuttal by Christs sovereign grace. We remain faithful to Gods true and pure word, the Holy Bible, the only true guidance for an erring and dying mankind.
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