We live in an era of growing, misinformed skepticism about the historical reliability of the New Testament’s account of Jesus and his early followers. According to Richard Dawkins, ‘The only difference between The Da Vinci Code and the gospels is that the gospels are ancient fiction while The Da Vinci Code is modern fiction.’ And the late Christopher Hitchens said: ‘Holy writ is probably fiction, of a grand sort, to begin with.’
But is this actually the case?
Christian philosopher and apologist Peter S Williams is the author of several books, including CS Lewis vs the New Atheists and A Sceptic’s Guide to Atheism. His latest publication – Digging for Evidence, a free-to-download booklet published by Christian Evidence – gathers together the archaeological finds of the...
Chris Sinkinson explains how archaeology can serve to confirm the stories, people and places in the Old Testament.
The discovery of what could be the biblical city of Sodom at Tall el-Hammam in Jordan was shared widely by Christians on social media in 2015. But not everyone is convinced that the Bible’s account and the archaeological record are easily matched. The claims of sceptics such as Sheffield University professor Philip R Davies, who dismisses the biblical King David as ‘about as historical as King Arthur’, have attracted plenty of attention and publicity through popular media.
In reality, however, the development of archaeology as a discipline has produced a wealth of material evidence for the essential reliability of the Old Testament. Wherever the truth of the Bible can...
New movie Risen (Sony Pictures, 117 mins) dramatically tells the story of the days immediately after the death of Jesus – as seen through the eyes of the Romans who crucified him. Where other biblical epics make Jesus their central character, Risen puts Roman tribune Clavius in the leading role, as he investigates the most famous ever disappearance of a dead body.
The result is a movie where the resurrection of Jesus is recast as a detective story. The empty tomb of Christ is treated as a crime scene. The disciples of Jesus are caught up in ‘the manhunt that changed the course of human history’, in the words of the movie poster. One film critic describes it as ‘Law and Order: Judean Desert 33 AD’.
‘I’d describe it as the greatest murder mystery ever written,’ says Joseph...
When it was reported that the face of Jesus had been spotted on a three-cheese pizza fresh out of the oven at Posh Pizza in Brisbane, everyone who examined the fuzzy image knew what they were looking for: shoulder-length hair and a beard. Jesus has looked that way for centuries, whether it’s in church paintings, Sunday school books, or plastic statues to stick on the dashboard of your car. He is instantly recognisable.
But is that how Jesus really looked when he was a carpenter in 1st century Galilee?
The Professor of Christian Origins at King’s College London, Joan Taylor, thinks it’s unlikely that Jesus ever looked like this.
‘Jesus, as a philosopher with the “natural” look, might well have had a short beard,’ she says, ‘but his hair was probably not very long.’...
Biological scientist, Fellow of the Royal Society, former Master of St Edmund’s College, Cambridge, and government adviser Professor Sir Brian Heap talks to Nigel Bovey about the challenges facing the planet.
Sir Brian, what are your professional responsibilities?
I’ve just finished a project on whether GM crops can help to feed the world. We have been focusing on Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda.
Africa is one of the worst continents in terms of sustainable development and food security. The project examined the possibility of using genetically modified crops or at least using the advanced technologies that are available in plant breeding.
Although I am a scientist, the focus was on implementation rather than science. The science is pretty well established. The question is how...
Steve Tomkins interviews Alister McGrath in this month’s issue of Reform magazine.
After gaining a degree in chemistry at Oxford, Alister McGrath stayed on for three years to complete a doctorate in molecular biophysics – in which time he also got a first class honours degree in theology in his spare time. He has since written more than 50 books in the space of 30 years.
In case that brain-the-size-of-a-planet sounds daunting, it’s fortunate, for readers and interviewers alike, that he has spent his career trying to engage lay people in the issues of faith and science. Talking with him is surprisingly like talking to an ordinary human being, and the same goes for reading him. (Though he does use the word ‘ontology’ in this interview, meaning – should you want a reminder – what...
In the film The Theory of Everything, Stephen Hawking (portrayed by Eddie Redmayne) claims that cosmology is ‘a religion for intelligent atheists’. The idea haunts the film as it haunts Stephen Hawking’s books.
In a video lecture just released on YouTube, William Lane Craig, philosopher and theologian, examines this claim, critiquing both dialogue from the film and Stephen Hawking’s own writings. Does a beginning to the universe entail a creator? Does Hawking’s latest ‘no boundary’ Big Bang model eliminate the need for God? What hope is there in a godless universe? And is philosophy dead, as Stephen Hawking claims?
All these issues are explored in the video lecture, which can be viewed below.
William Lane Craig’s Kalam Cosmological Argument is the most widely discussed argument for...
How does the Christian concept of God as the all-powerful creator of the universe fit with authentic human choice and random events in the natural world? Philosophy professor Michael Murray thinks through the issues, with the help of some chess moves and a lemon meringue.
Professor Murray, what attracted you to study philosophy?
I became a Christian right before I went to university. My intention was to study chemistry. I was also very interested in the intersection of science and faith. At university, I kept running into people who had philosophical questions and concerns. One of my room-mates had a philosophy professor who was notorious for his atheism. He would challenge his classes, saying: ‘If anybody give me a reason why I should believe in God from a philosophical point of...
Michael Northcott, who is Professor of Ethics at the University of Edinburgh, believes that ‘until we see an environmental crisis as a people crisis, we run the risk of not seeing its scale, impact or urgency’. He talks to Nigel Bovey about the challenge facing the planet and its people, and the positive role which faith can play.
Professor, how did you become interested in the environment?
I have a longstanding interest in the relationship between Christianity and the environment. It goes back to the time when I was a missionary priest in Malaysia, where I saw enormous damage being done to the earth through habitat destruction, particularly people being made homeless.
As science is increasingly revealing, ecological destruction is not only about what we do to creatures or to land but...
‘The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife’ controversy has taken a fresh turn this week. The scholarly journal New Testament Studies has devoted the whole of its July issue to the subject and concludes that the papyrus fragment at the heart of the debate is a forgery. The story, which has echoes of The Da Vinci Code, first hit the headlines three years ago.
In 2012, a scrap of ancient papyrus the size of a business card caused intense debate in the academic world and a storm on social media because on it Jesus was reported saying, ‘My wife… she will be able to be my disciple…’ The academic who introduced it to the world, Professor Karen King of Harvard Divinity School, said that the papyrus, which she then believed was written in the 4th century CE, does not prove that Jesus was married, but only that...
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We are constantly adding to and updating our resources. We produce written and audio materials which we hope will help answer some of the questions you might have about the Christian faith. Photos above by Taro Taylor and Jon Sullivan