Trusting literature?

I’ve heard scholars & authors (e.g., Tim Mackie & John Mark Comer) justify trust in the hebrew bible with the following logic: ‘Jesus believed the hebrew bible and I believe in Jesus’…but why trust Jesus?

  1. What makes the miraculous, science-defying Gospel literature any more believable than the OT?
  2. Why conclude that the miracles performed in the Gospels literally happened (giving authority to Jesus as God), when so many of the miracles performed in the OT (giving authority to Jehovah as God) are viewed as just ancient literary techniques, symbolism and misinterpretation of another culture & time? Running with that thought:
    • Couldn’t Jesus’ resurrection be purely symbolic?
    • Couldn’t ‘eternal life’ simply be propagation of Jesus’ value system?
    • Couldn’t our promised resurrection simply be representative of humanity’s elevation to a greater respect for each other and ‘the greater good’?

And if we each can’t anticipate being literally resurrected into an individual, conscious, eternal existence, then following the teachings of Jesus into suffering & sacrifice is much tougher for me to continue to buy into.

Interesting questions. Related to this was a topic that came up in the study of Daniel last night as his three buddies were tossed into the fiery furnace. They said something to the effect that they trusted God to deliver them, but if not ( indicating perhaps some uncertainty) then they were content to die for their faith. The Israelites had no theology of afterlife at that point, just the grave, so there was no “I’ll be in a better place” or “I’ll know where I’ll be if I am toast” but they followed God with no quid pro quo. Shouldn’t we do the same?


Yes, absolutely right…if God exists as the OT authors believed Him to exist -as an intentional, feeling, involved being- then yes. But if God doesn’t exist [or if “He” exists merely as a set of cultural values, and superstitious explanation of the human experience], then I have no reason to walk into the furnace. Their faith was justified by faith.

I can answer better later but one thing to consider is that the Bible project is coming from the position of people already having faith. It’s goal is not to convince unbelievers that the Bible is true but to help Christian’s who already believe to follow the biblical patterns to see the truth in Christ.

So it’s answering different questions from different starting points.

But there are reasons why we can trust that at least people in the first century believes these events happened. But even then it still requires faith. There is no evidence to concretely support the supernatural events in the Bible without faith.


If Jesus’ resurrection is purely symbolic; “eternal life” is simply the propagation of Jesus’ value system; and the promised resurrection is an allegory for a desired transformation in human behavior, then I say-- with Paul (1 Cor. 15:19):
*If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied."


Yes! I love this section of Paul’s, and totally agree with his logic. But as I learn how much else that I previously took to be true and literal (face-value English) is not true and literal, I’m just not as convinced as I once was that the following verse is true and literal.

I want to believe that Jesus is the real deal. Which doesn’t make His human epistemology valid in the slightest. He saw Himself in the OT. And He isn’t there. But He was wrong for the right reason and vice versa.


Yes, I agree.
It’s good to note that there were lots of eyewitnesses and the adversaries did not deny the miracles, they just tried to find another explanation for what happened. Jesus himself said to those that were not sure of the reliability of his words that ‘believe because of the works themselves’ (John 14:11).

As far as I remember, the first reports of what Jesus did were written at the time when many eyewitnesses were still alive. Those writings circulated among the followers and probably others as well. If the reports would have been fake, the remaining eyewitnesses would have reacted and told that these stories were not true. Adversaries would have been more than happy to spread the word that eyewitnesses told that the stories were fake.


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