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Can We Trust the Gospels?: Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John Paperback – June 8, 2007

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Editorial Reviews


"Can We Trust the Gospels? is quite simply the best effort I have ever read by a serious scholar to communicate what scholars know about the Gospels and why that should indeed encourage us to trust them and thus to trust Jesus Christ."
Hugh Hewitt, nationally syndicated radio talk show host; Professor of Law, Chapman University

"There is a crisis of confidence about the Gospels, fueled by sensational claims about supposedly new Gnostic Gospels with a 'revised standard' view of Jesus. As Mark Roberts makes clear, the earliest and best evidence we have for the real Jesus is the canonical Gospels, not the much later Gnostic ones."
Ben Witherington III, Professor of New Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary, author of What Have They Done with Jesus?

"This book not only makes a compelling case for trusting the Gospels, it illuminates the creative ways in which God worked to bring us His Word. Roberts's brilliant little book deserves to be widely read by both skeptics and believers."
Joe Carter, Senior Editor, Acton Institute; co-author, How to Argue Like Jesus

"What F. F. Bruce did for my generation of students, Mark Roberts has done for the current generation. Any student who asks me if our Gospels are reliable will be given this book, and then I'll buy another copy for the next student!"
Scot McKnight, Karl A. Olsson Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies, North Park University

About the Author

Mark D. Roberts is senior pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church. He received his Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard University and teaches at Fuller Theological Seminary. Mark has published dozens of articles and several books and blogs daily at He and his wife, Linda, have two children.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway (June 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581348665
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581348668
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #324,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

The Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a pastor, author, retreat leader, speaker, and blogger. Since October 2007 he has been the Senior Director and Scholar-in-Residence for Laity Lodge, a multifacted ministry in the Hill Country of Texas. Before then, he was for sixteen years the Senior Pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church in Irvine, California (a city in Orange County about forty miles south of Los Angeles).

Mark studied at Harvard University, receiving a B.A. in Philosophy, an M.A. in the Study of Religion, and a Ph.D. in New Testament and Christian Origins. He has taught classes in New Testament for Fuller Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary.

Mark writes an "almost-daily" blog, found at He also writes a devotional for The High Calling of Our Daily Work, a website associated with Laity Lodge. His "Daily Reflections" can be viewed online or sent as a daily email (

Mark serves on the editorial board of Worship Leader magazine, where he publishes articles and reviews, including his regular column "Lyrical Poetry." Additionally, he has published dozens of articles in leading magazines and journals. He often speaks for churches and other Christian groups, and has been interviewed on over seventy-five radio programs nationwide.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 71 people found the following review helpful By B. D. Weimer on June 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
Mark Roberts received his Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard University. Since he is fairly conservative theologically, you might expect this book to represent a disavowal of his Harvard training. The truth is more interesting.

Dr. Roberts does distance himself from some of the secular and skeptical assumptions of his professors at Harvard. But he puts the tools of critical scholarship to use in a manner the public is not accustomed to seeing -- demonstrating the reliability of the four traditional Gospels.

Dr. Roberts' scholarship is subordinate to his fluid, plain-language dissection of common doubts about the Gospels. In many cases, he dispatches modern skeptics with amazing brevity. For example, in about two pages, he pretty much demolishes Bart Ehrman's popular book Misquoting Jesus. Roberts quickly shows the contradiction at the heart of Ehrman's book. Ehrman argues that intentional scribal modifications have rendered the original Gospels unknowable, producing numerous disparities in the thousands of ancient Gospel manuscripts. But, in the process of explaining how these changes were introduced, Ehrman produces convincing arguments for the language of the original texts. Thus, while attempting to highlight modern discrepancies, Ehrman inadvertantly shows that the multitude of manuscripts enables the modern critic to work back fairly easily to reconstruct the original texts.

Roberts presents these types of arguments in such a calm and clear manner that it makes you wonder why the traditionalists have had so many difficulties responding to modern skeptics. Where have these traditional arguments been hiding all this time? Apparently they have been lying dormant ... in the New Testament program at Harvard University!
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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful By C. Price VINE VOICE on August 14, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was drawn to this book because one of its endorsers compared it to F.F. Bruce's invaluable The New Testament Documents, Are they Reliable. Published decades ago and now in its sixth edition, The New Testament Documents is a masterpiece of condensing a wealth of scholarly knowledge into a readable guide for the layman. Mark Roberts' Can We Trust the Gospels is a different kind of book. Although Roberts has respectable academic credentials and writes with extensive knowledge, his approach is more pastoral. The fusion of academic knowledge and pastoral insight makes this a different kind of book than most apologetics works. It is not an extended argument for the most conservative positions possible about the Gospels. Although arguments for conservative positions are present, they are not the unique focus of the book.

Can We Trust the Gospels is really a collection of FAQs as one might find on a website (which Roberts states is intentional). It addresses the usual issues, but not necessarily in the usual way. The traditional case is made adequately in each chapter, though other recent treatments offer more thorough defenses of the varied topics. This does not detract from Robert's book because it is clear that he did not intend to make extended arguments for each position. He regularly refers his readers to lengthier and more scholarly discussions. What this book offers is more of the broad strokes of good arguments, which is likely all that many of his readers desire, and something more. Roberts often explains why the existence of questions about issues such as authorship and dating and contradictions should not damage Christian belief.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Tod Bolsinger on June 23, 2007
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With the scholarly skills honed by earning a PhD from Harvard, and the connection to thousands of readers each day in his award-winning blog, Mark Roberts is uniquely qualified to address the issues that are currently being batted about the airwaves and bestseller lists questioning the credibility of the New Testament Gospels. But what makes this book most helpful (besides its pithy brevity!) is that Dr. Roberts writes for the pew and the pub more than the academy. This book is written for the lay reader who is interested in more than attention grabbing sound bites, but doesn't have the time to master the original languages (like Roberts has.) He also writes in a style that address biblical critics questions without (thankfully!) resorting to ridicule and hype. It is a model of good, edifying scholarship that is useful in the real world.

Roberts reinforces the confidence that a Christian can rightly have when reading the accounts of the life of Jesus and he dispels a number of long-discredited criticisms that have been making a comeback. An excellent resource for pastors who want to equip their members with facts, straightforward analysis and helpful illustrations for truly trusting the biblical gospels.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Corey Layne Wilkins on September 4, 2007
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While I was anticipating some wussified, Harvard, upper-academia pot shot at the Synoptic Gospels strung out in a multi-plex of footnote mania, what I got was quite the opposite. Roberts takes the complex and makes it readable and understandable to a lay guy like me that just wants to know if Dan Brown is a blow hard?! After seeing the Dead Sea Scrolls in Seattle last Winter, I wanted to read more about the canonization of the Holy Bible. This book lays it all out there in a cool FAQ format that coherently dovetails each chapter into the next. He leaves no stone unturned and articulates his thoughts and points with brevity, wit, and oftentimes humorous personal stories. He's Harvard turned Fuller (odd combo?) and one of my new favorite, contemporary minds. This book is a well-thought out, short read that will paint you a convincing picture of the Gospels and their formation. For the Christian, atheist, agnostic, scholar, or simple lay guy like me; this one is worth the time and scholarship. Thanks, Mark! Sorry...Dr. Mark.
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