Are the Gospels "Historically Reliable"? A Focused Comparison of Suetonius's Life of Augustus and the Gospel of Mark

Are the Gospels historically reliable? Authors of ancient historical literature had objectives for writing that differed somewhat from those of modern historians. Consequently, the literary conventions that were in play also differed. Therefore, it is difficult to speak of the historical reliability...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Religions
Main Author: Licona, Michael R. 1961-
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
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Published: [2019]
In:Religions
Year: 2019, Volume: 10, Issue: 3, Pages: 1-18
Further subjects:B Gospel of Mark
B Suetonius
B Gospels
B historical reliability
B Life of Augustus
Online Access: Volltext (Kostenfrei)
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Summary:Are the Gospels historically reliable? Authors of ancient historical literature had objectives for writing that differed somewhat from those of modern historians. Consequently, the literary conventions that were in play also differed. Therefore, it is difficult to speak of the historical reliability of ancient texts without certain qualifications. In this essay, a definition for the historical reliability of ancient texts is proposed, whereby such a text provides an accurate gist, or an essentially faithful representation of what occurred. Four criteria that must be met are then proposed. Suetonius's Life of the Divine Augustus and the Gospel of Mark, are then assessed by using the criteria. Suetonius was chosen because he wrote more closely than his peers to how modern biographers write, and the Augustus was chosen because it is the finest of Suetonius's Lives. The Gospel of Mark from the Bible was chosen because it is probably the earliest extant account of the "Life of Jesus." The result of this focused comparison suggests that the Life of Augustus and the Gospel of Mark can be said to be historically reliable in the qualified sense proposed. However, an additional factor challenging this conclusion is described, and further discussion is needed and encouraged.
ISSN:2077-1444
Contains:Enthalten in: Religions
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.3390/rel10030148