One could reasonably ask how accurate the New Testament is as a historical document. A modern scholar might consider the following:
Was the author an eyewitness of the events of Jesus life?
Tradition Modern Matthew Yes No Mark Yes Possible Luke No No John Yes Possible Acts No No Paul's Epistles (14) No No James Yes Unlikely 1 Peter Yes Unlikely 2 Peter Yes No 1 John Yes Unlikely 2 John Yes No 3 John Yes No Jude Yes No Revelation Yes No Total Yes 11 0 Total Questioned 0 5 Total No 16 22
Note: Gospels and Acts may draw second hand from unknown eyewitness accounts in specific cases.Pauline Epistles: Was Paul the actual author?
Modern scholars analyze the books of the Bible by studying linguistic form and word usage. Since most authors maintain a reasonably consistent style and draw from their own general vocabulary, clues can be obtained as to the authorship of different books. Ephesians for example has more unique words in it than any other New Testament book and coupled with it's stylistic differences is not likely to be by the same author as say Romans.
Admittedly, this is not conclusive, but consistent patterns have emerged, five of the epistles do appear to be by one author with the remaining books at various degrees of probability.
This is controversial since all of the books (except Hebrews) state in them that Paul is their author.
Tradition Modern Romans Yes Yes I Corinthians Yes Yes II Corinthians Yes Yes Galatians Yes Yes Ephesians Yes No Colossians Yes Unlikely I Thessalonians Yes Possible II Thessalonians Yes Possible I Timothy Yes Unlikely II Timothy Yes Unlikely Titus Yes Unlikely Philemon Yes Yes Hebrews Possible No Total Yes 13 5 Total Questioned 1 7 Total No 0 2 Note: Hebrews does not mention its author, but has at times been considered to have been by Paul.Note: Paul's Epistles appear in the Bible in order of diminishing length within two groups - letters to churches and letters to individuals (followed by Hebrews).
Return to Bible Studies Page
Return to Home Page