Question:

Are the trials of Jesus historically accurate? I ran across a web site that claims that some of the details of the trial were not historically accurate, but rather made up.

The web site also claims that Pilate was not portrayed accurately and that the trial before the Sanhedrin (or I assume the questioning with Caiaphas) could not have taken place at night because it was against their law to do so. It also says that the incident involving releasing Barabbas was fiction because Pilate's historically brutal character wouldn't have allowed him to give in to the Jewish crowd to release Barabbas.

Along with these, there are many other claims involving other aspects of the gospels that have to do with historical accuracy.

How do you respond to these claims? What is the truth here?


Answer:

Don't you just love it when people living 2,000 years after the fact, who make their living trying to write something "new" so they can get published, are taken more seriously than a document written by the eyewitnesses to the events, which document was proven to be inspired of God and accurate. What gets me riled is that these same people give more credence to the accuracy Pliny, Homer, or other ancient authors than they do the Bible. I know why it is, because accepting it would mean accepting responsibility for not following it, but the lack of historical honesty still irks me.

The author of the site you gave me is a follower of "higher criticism" and appears to be involved with the Jesus Seminar group. This group has taken it upon themselves to judge what is true or not true in the Bible -- not based on any factual evidence but upon their personal logic and opinions. Everything I've seen written by this group and the broader "higher criticism" crowd has been junk.

If you didn't notice, the author claims not to know who Jesus actually was. He speculates that Jesus was crucified because he was a part of a armed rebellion during the Passover that year! If you're going to throw out the eye-witness accounts, then why even accept that he was crucified? And his "proof?" One of Jesus' disciples was a member of the Zealots. Where did this evidence come from? Why the same book that tells us why Jesus was crucified. Doesn't it seem strange that one piece is accepted as truth and other pieces are tossed out? What criteria was used other than the author's personal opinion?

Actually, all the way through I find the author offering a series of speculations with no real conclusion. He gives more credence to modern authors even though they disagree in their conclusions than he does to the source document they are discussing. To put it bluntly, this man is what the Bible calls a "scoffer." He doesn't believe anything is really true, but he loves to poke holes in other people's beliefs. His hobby is to casts doubts without coming to any firm answers. "A scoffer seeks wisdom and does not find it, But knowledge is easy to him who understands" (Proverbs 14:6).

Let's take the point about the Sanhedrin meeting before dawn. He said it couldn't have happened because it was illegal by Jewish law. Yet, he ignores the fact that people, including rulers, have been known to break laws. The gospels record a long series of violations by the Jewish rulers, of which the meeting before dawn was just one of them. It proves how corrupt they had become. The fact that it was illegal isn't proof that it didn't happen. Just to give you an example, it is illegal to run a stop sign. So "obviously" when I saw someone do it last year, it must have been my imagination, because such a thing can't happen. Yeah, right.

Let's see the proof that Barabbas wasn't released is because in this man's opinion it goes against Pilate's personality. But wait a minute! What this man knows about Pilate's personality comes from the gospel accounts. The same accounts which tell us that Pilate caved under pressure of the Jews. So what basis is used to accept one part of the information and reject another? Why claim to know Pilate's personality when dealing with only a self-chosen subset of the evidence presented? And then, use this illogical view of a man as the basis of judging whether an event took place or not? It defies logic!

The solution is to recognize a scoffer for who he is. Since he is interested in promoting doubt, it isn't worth your time or my time with his "arguments." "Cast out the scoffer, and contention will leave; yes, strife and reproach will cease" (Proverbs 22:10).

You ask what is truth, the answer is "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17). God's word has stood the test of time. I don't mind when people have honest questions about the accuracy of the Bible. With such people we can sit down and discuss what the Bible said and what we can find in other historical documents and archaeological finds. But when a person starts with a bias that everything which appears in the Bible is false for no other reason than that they want to disbelieve it, well, we have no foundation on which to hold a discussion because they don't treat other historical documents in the same manner.

So let's turn this around. Based on what historical fact (not speculation or opinion) does the Gospels contradict in regards to the trials of Jesus? Lack of supporting evidence in history doesn't count, we lack a lot of details about countless events in history. As far as I know every detail of the gospel accounts could have taken place historically. The few historical details that we know from outside of the Bible matches what the Bible states. Internally, the four eye-witness accounts match in their details. The only way doubt is seeded is by selecting and rejecting portions of the witnesses accounts. But the basis of editing the witnesses account is something that would not stand up in any court of law today, because it is the accusers who are deciding what to accept or reject and we already know they have an agenda to discredit the witnesses.