Four items appear below:
1 And Jesus said "……" But did he? #90 H Edwards
2 Why "Jesus Said…" Is Credible #92 Anonymous
3 Journalists Absent #93 H Edwards
4 Journalists Present #94 Anonymous

And Jesus said "……" But did he?

H Edwards

(Investigator 90, 2003 May)

Its now 2003 and war rages in Iraq. From the comfort of our lounge rooms we can watch mankind killing, maiming and destroying. Another sad chapter in history in which every word, every act and every sound is recorded for posterity.

We have an incontrovertible and accurate account of events that can be passed on without any argument as to whether they represent the truth or otherwise.

Two thousand years ago when someone addressed a crowd in a public square, there were no reporters taking notes, no TV crews vying for a better view and no print or electronic media to spread the news. What the speaker said relied entirely on mouth to mouth transmission for its propagation. So how much credence can be had in the accuracy of the words attributed to Jesus as they've come to us down through the ages?

Try this little experiment.

List the years 1980 to 1990 inclusive. Now by the side of each year write one verbatim sentence (other than your own) you can recall from any conversation you had with anybody during that year.

When you get tired of looking at your blank sheet of paper ask yourself this: "If I can't remember what was said ten years ago how accurate are the alleged quotations of Jesus?"

They were not recorded at the time but passed on by word of mouth and not committed to paper until sixty years after his death by someone who wasn't even there. Thereafter, over a period of two thousand years, how they have been misquoted, mistranslated and reconstructed to suit each and every purpose is anyone's guess.

The next time you are told that "Jesus said…", ask for more substantive evidence than, "it says so in the Bible."



(Investigator 92, 2003 September)

Is the Bible credible whenever we read "Jesus said…"?

Harry Edwards (#90) argued that no one wrote down Jesus' words at the time he spoke and therefore reports of what "Jesus said…" cannot be reliable.

The Bible, however, does not state whether or not anyone wrote anything down.

The Old Testament repeatedly foretold the coming of one who would rule the world:

… he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. (Zechariah 9)

Anyone who believed that Jesus was this individual would have given rapt attention to every word Jesus spoke. And anyone who could write might, for the same reason, have written things down.

I'm still able to recall many sentences spoken by my university lecturers 25 years ago. A few ex students cooperating could reconstruct a summary of the courses taught – including many direct quotes – just from recall. If some former students still have their lecture notes we could reconstruct the things taught in detail, not just a summary. We could do this despite having regarded the lecturers as ordinary people and not as world-changing messengers of God.

It's inaccurate to say Jesus has, over 2,000 years, been "mistranslated and reconstructed" and leave it at that. There are guys called "textual critics" who compare thousands of ancient manuscripts and manuscript fragments and check modern Bibles against them and, where necessary, restore the original. The Bible can be translated direct from early manuscripts.

The New Testament also claims that the disciples had divine help to remember Jesus' words:

"But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit…will…bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." (John 14:25-26)

Although we cannot at present confirm that "Jesus said" or that the disciples had divine help to remember, we can sometimes test the content of what Jesus allegedly said.

And that is what I usually prefer to do. I seek statements in the Bible that can be checked by observations or scientific research that can be done now. This approach is not only objective but has also revealed hundreds of claims in the Bible to be accurate. The Bible is therefore credible, a book we can trust.


H Edwards

(Investigator 93, 2003 November)

Regarding what "JESUS SAID…" Anonymous says, "The Bible however, does not state whether or not anyone wrote anything down." (#92 p23)

Of course not, and this is where the Bible fails to be accurate and reliable. There could well have been a reporter present at the gatherings from the Bethlehem Bulletin, a journalist from the Jerusalem Times or even a cub scribe from the Aramaic Advertiser, but there being no back issues available to check what was said there is no confirmation.

I doubt even devoted believers in that day and age would have had on their person notepads and biros as, unlike today's cargo pants, ancient Hebrew abas had no pockets in which to carry them!

While Anonymous may be able to recall sentences from 25-year-old lectures and with the help of other ex-students reconstruct a summary – that's not how the Bible was put together. The gaps are bridged with speculation and interpreted as a means to an end. This being the case it is difficult to see how it can be accurate and credible.



(Investigator 94, 2004 January)

Contrary to Edwards' claim (#93 p.4), parts of the Bible were put together by writers interviewing eyewitnesses:

"…they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses …" (Luke 1:1-4)

Furthermore, in first-century Judaism, students of leading rabbis often memorized their teacher's teaching verbatim. Such memorization was standard procedure at a time when writing materials were scarce.

Christians believed their teacher was not just any rabbi but the "son of God" whose teaching would affect the entire world. Such a perspective would have led many "eyewitnesses" to be at least as diligent as the Jewish students and memorize what "Jesus said" word for word and, later, "deliver" it.

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