Ancient Insights ☦️🇺🇸

Ancient Insights ☦️🇺🇸

17-01-2022

22:25

In her excellent book The Eye of the Beholder, Lydia McGrew makes an interesting argument for the reliability of the dialogue recorded in the Gospels. She notes how “Jesus” was the sixth most common name in 1st century Judea, and how this makes sense of an interesting pattern...

in the Gospels. Rather than simply referring to our Lord as “Jesus,” people would call Him Jesus “of Nazareth” (Mk. 1:24), “the Galilean” (Matt. 29:69), or “who is called Christ” (Matt. 27:17). When people were speaking about our Lord, they would use a disambiguator to signify...

which Jesus they were talking about, because so many people bore His name. This doesn’t sound too impressive, until you consider this: disambiguation is almost exclusively used in the Gospels’ dialogue, and isn’t found in the narrative voices of the evangelists. While...

characters in the Gospels’ stories refer to Jesus as “Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (Jn. 1:45), the narrative voice will simply refer to Him as “Jesus” or “Jesus Christ,” with no qualification (Jn. 1:43, 47, 50, 2:2-4, etc.) This is one of those minor details that, if...

you were inventing fake dialogue, you would almost certainly forget about. You would forget that, while you can simply say “Jesus” and have everyone know who you’re talking about, the actual people interacting with Him in your stories wouldn’t have been able to do this...

Indeed, just a few decades after the death and resurrection of Jesus, Christians stopped referring to Him with disambiguators. We already see this in the Pauline and Petrine epistles, where we rarely hear about Jesus “of Nazareth,” “the Galilean,” or “the son of Joseph,” and...

instead more commonly get His theological title, “the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 1:7, Gal. 1:3, 1 Tim. 1:2, Eph. 6:23, 1 Pet. 1:1, 2 Pet. 3:18, etc.) The fact that the title “Jesus Christ” arises so quickly in early Christianity, yet isn’t falsely mixed into Gospel dialogue, is...

a genuine mark of authenticity. This is in contrast to known forgeries like the 2nd century “Gospel of Mary.” In this false Gospel, people simply speak of “Mary” with no disambiguators, despite this being one of the most popular female names in first century Judea! Likewise...

people call Jesus “the Savior,” instead of using His actual name with disambiguation. It’s incredibly unlikely that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John would all have avoided this error, and remembered to insert disambiguation in their fake dialogue to make it seem “more authentic"...

The simpler explanation is, as usual, the traditional one: the reason the Gospels record disambiguation in their dialogues, is because they record words that were actually spoken by people in 1st century Judea.



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