Why Apologists Are Not Historians

This showed up on my Facebook page this morning. Too good not to share:


Features section of a lecture by Robert M. Price on history vs. apologetics. Price is professor of theology and scriptural studies at the Coleman Theological Seminary and professor of biblical criticism at the Center for Inquiry Institute.


  1. says

    I really liked that video. as a bachelor of history I think it's nice to see someone put forward the method behind history, and why wishful thinking should stay out of it.Way too often I see people looking at history at just pick and choose because like the natural sciences history can only offer theories. The difference is that in science theories can be proven to a much greater degree of probability because you can actually test things. History cannot test theories, whatever happened happened and isn't reproducable for a test. That said there are still theories that are more likely to be true due to supporting data. I think Price did a magnificent job of explaining that

  2. says

    I sometimes end up in debates with Christians about the historicity of the Bible, especially the Gospels and I often get irritated by the amount of things that they take for granted, even when they are not Biblical literalists. They think for instance that the Gospels of Matthew and John were written by the Apostles, that the Census happened, that the Exodus did happen, etc. even when I point out and explain why these are asumptions supported by no evidence, and sometimes contradicted by evidence to the contrary that we gained from archeology and history. They often throw "historians" that comfort them in their belief and use this to dismiss any point I can bring. It gets very frustrating to debate with these people, especially since I do have knowledge in history, which I studied at university level (although it was not my specialty), while they have nothing but quote miming apologists that they label as historians.

  3. says

    Brings me back to my undergrad days as a history major :)I would have pursued it professionally, because it interests me, and I love everything about history except the damn research methods. I love learning new things, but sometimes spending hours upon hours in a dusty library doesn't appeal to me. Good video. I love to listen to Dr. Price

  4. says

    Guillame:>They think for instance that the Gospels of Matthew and John were written by the Apostles,I had a fellow Christian tell me this when I was a believer, but losing faith in Christianity. Note that "Luke" never was an apostle. I find it funny.

  5. says

    @tracie-Neither was Mark, I think, alledgedly. I would find this argument funny if it wasn't so darn frustrating. I have heard that one so much: "Two of the Gospel writers were contemporary of Jesus and knew him personally". No they were not, or at least there is no evidence that they were, or even that it was their name and that those two Apostles ever existed. A Catholic once told me that what was I saying it was pure conspiracy theory Dan Brown style. What can you say after that? Any historian knows that until the Renaissance at least (and even after), we knew zilch of many writers but their name (or pen name)and that modern notions of authorship were foreign to writers and copists of those times. But when I mention this, they are already far gone, they already labelled me as a conspirationist who dares to think that there was no Mister Matthew and Mister John.

  6. says

    Agree with the comments on apostolic authorship of Matthew and John. If Matthew really was a disciple of Jesus, you wonder why he had to plagiarise 90% of Mark's version of events.* Mark, as Guillaume pointed out, wasn't a disciple. Perhaps he lacked confidence in his own literary abilities. Who knows?Robert Price is a great scholar. Could listen to him all day.*assuming that Mark was the first gospel written.

  7. says

    I'm currently reading his book "The Reason Driven Life". Absolutely fantastic, if anyone is interested. I would love to hang out with him for a beer sometime.

  8. says

    There seems to be a problem with the blog Tracie, I can't seem to find the other 8 pages of your post ;)All seriousness, good link.

  9. says

    They think for instance that the Gospels of Matthew and John were written by the ApostlesI once had a Christian state that the gospel of John was written by one of the Apostle as fact even after he agreed that that gospel was likely written well into the second century. He found no problem in that that would mean the author would have to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 110- 120 years old, even after I pointed that out as well.

  10. says

    @Jeremy-Boy that is worse that I ever came up with! Even "my" apologists presumed that the Gospels were written relatively shortly after Jesus's death, they only think that the originals have been lost. Why they think that Matthew and John were anything more than pen names and that they were the same persons as the Apostles (which we know nothing about outside the Gospels), I have no idea.

  11. says

    Guillaume- This one, who is actually a pretty good friend, has some seriously post- modernist "we make our own reality" beliefs. Depending on his mood he'll agree that the gospels were written long after Jesus was supposed to have died and other times he'll say they were written soon after. Sometimes in the same conversation. He's even once claimed they were written while Jesus was alive. To point out what he has said in the past is pointless and met with something along the lines of "Well, I was wrong then" or "You just misunderstood what I said". Again, this depends on his mood.