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64 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Conservative Harvard Perspective on Gospels
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...
Published on June 22, 2007 by B. D. Weimer

versus
5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a conservative spin
this book is a conservative "believers" spin on the subject of the trustworthiness of the written gospels. as such, it attempts to make a case for them as being historically true and reliable in what they report. this is not meant to be an all encompassing work, as it is more of a short survey type. Roberts' book takes a look at some of the issues having to do with...
Published on October 14, 2012 by David Stump


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64 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Conservative Harvard Perspective on Gospels, June 22, 2007
This review is from: Can We Trust the Gospels?: Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (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
4.0 out of 5 stars How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love New Testament Studies, August 14, 2007
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This review is from: Can We Trust the Gospels?: Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (Paperback)
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. For example, although Roberts' gives "good reasons" for accepting traditional authorship of Matthew and John, he concedes that "we can't be certain." Rather than end there, however, he proceeds to explain why--from the more established evidence--we can trust the Gospels despite that lack of certainty. This approach is characteristic.

Indeed, an alternative title could have been, "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love New Testament Studies." Rather than simply argue for the earliest possible date of the Gospels, Roberts spends more time explaining why the gap between Jesus and the Gospels does not diminish the latter's accuracy given the nature of oral tradition and available sources. Rather than argue each apparent Gospel contradiction in detail, Roberts provides some helpful broad guidelines in dealing with them. This includes, in Robert's opinion, understanding the literary intentions of the authors. For example, Roberts discusses Mark's reference to digging through a roof and Luke's reference to removing tiles to get through a roof and notes that they are telling the same story but that Luke has made the story more understandable for his more gentile audience who would have found the concept of digging through roofs somewhat odd. Roberts seeks to reassure his readers with the knowledge that alteration of such details are not really a problem and served to make the truth more, not less, understandable.

If you want a less combative and more pastoral, though informed, book about the accuracy of the Gospels, you will like this book. It is also suitable for the student taking a secular religion or New Testament class who will face just these kinds of questions or the Christian who finds himself or herself discussing these issues with a more skeptical acquaintance. But when dealing with more informed or determined opponents, check the footnotes and dig deeper.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Blogger's Breadth, A Scholar's Depth and a Pastor's Heart in One Important Book, June 23, 2007
By 
Tod Bolsinger (San Clemente, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Can We Trust the Gospels?: Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (Paperback)
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Roberts Fires Both Barrels, September 4, 2007
By 
Corey Layne Wilkins (Bonney Lake, WA, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Can We Trust the Gospels?: Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (Paperback)
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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful Articulation of the Gospel's Veracity, November 20, 2007
This review is from: Can We Trust the Gospels?: Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (Paperback)
Recently I have been reading a lot on bibliology, it has been a steady and refreshing diet. The guys whom I have been reading tend to be guys who think and articulate things like I would, or at least how I try to. So when I picked up a book from Mark Roberts, a professor at Fuller Seminary I figured that I was meandering a bit out of my familiar neighborhood.

Mark Roberts is the senior pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church and he blogs at [...] This book is a `blook' that is, it is a series of articles that appeared on his blog and were of such a quality that Crossway approached him about publishing the series as a book.

Roberts received his Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard and this book is written from the perspective of a guy who was reared in this system. However, there is a substantial difference, Roberts is actually arguing for the veracity of Scripture!

From the beginning Roberts lets us know that he is writing the book to himself or a guy like himself from 30 years ago. For some reason I did not make the connection that this guy, to whom the book was written, was not me (perhaps a little insight as to why I have walked through Harvard Square countless times but never been invited in for a class). As a result of this my presuppositional apologetical antennae were on high alert from the outset. Roberts continued to demonstrate the historical and literary veracticy of the Scriptures through logic, consistency, and historical standards. I just wanted him to pitch his tent in 2 Timothy 3.16-17 and go for it. I was reminded at the conclusion of the book that, while he agrees with me on these things, he was not going to do this in this book, for the scope of it was to interact with the Harvard-type guy in a readable, respectable, and consistent way.

So from this perspective it is a great book. As I sat in a Starbucks swigging down my Venti Red-Eye I came to enjoy the work and care that Roberts put into this book.

For example, his tone is apologetic in anticipating many of the common objections levied at the Gospels. He writes the following chapters:

Can We Know What the Original Gospel Manuscripts Really Said?

Did the Evangelists Know Jesus Personally?

What Sources did the Gospel Writers Use?

Are There Contradictions in the Gospels?

Do Miracles Undermine the Reliability of the Gospels?

Overall, as I mentioned, I did enjoy this book and I think Roberts did a good job. I actually have a couple of people in mind that I may send a copy for Christmas.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, You Can Trust (The Gospels), July 1, 2007
By 
W. Nelson (Broomfield, CO United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Can We Trust the Gospels?: Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (Paperback)
This is an excellent current read for any layman interested in this subject matter. Besides the excellent scholarly content of this book, what sold me most on his conclusions is reading the reviews posted on Amazon for the books "Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why" and "The Da Vinci Code." After reading this book I believe you would fully understand my assertion that many of the "5 Star/positive reviews" for these two extremely popular books support Mr. Robert's conclusion better than Dan Brown himself(or Christopher Hitchens)could inadvertently do. Well done Mark Roberts!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Layman's Primer on the Reliability of the Gospels, January 13, 2009
By 
G. Kyle Essary (Melaka, Malaysia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Can We Trust the Gospels?: Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (Paperback)
I'm thankful that Dr. Mark Roberts did not write this book for fellow academics. After doing undergraduate, graduate and doctoral studies at Harvard, Dr. Roberts is very familiar with the arguments of the most critical scholars in America. He has also spent much of the past thirty years continuing in these academic discussions at the highest levels.

As someone who has also been schooled in biblical criticism, reads the academic journals, dissertations and books, I often get excited over new arguments and discussions that I may read, yet know that sharing the excitement with my family and friends would be pointless due to having different backgrounds of study. This book doesn't fail in that regard, but instead takes his study of very complex arguments for and against the dependability of the gospels and communicates them clearly to the layman who may not have a background in New Testament studies. Having spent much of the past two decades pastoring a large church in Orange County, California, he understands how to communicate and how the person in the pew thinks. This gives him an advantage over a seminary or divinity school professor who may desire to communicate to the layman, but is so used to writing and speaking to university and postgrad students that he has forgotten how people talk outside of academia.

Another advantage is that this book comes following a discussion at Dr. Robert's blog on this topic. When discussing these topics, his blog became a hub for Christians, people of other faiths and atheists to think together through the questions and arguments he presented. In the end, Roberts claims that his arguments for the dependability of the gospels were actually sharpened and made stronger. I agree.

Dr. Roberts understands the broad spectrum of biblical scholarship, and doesn't let his arguments fall back into simplistic apologetics, instead pushing forward on the premise that all truth is God's truth. He shows that critically studying the text can lead people to understand the gospels better, and may strengthen their faith in the dependability of the canonical gospel accounts.

I highly recommend the book for those who are unfamiliar with the details of biblical criticism, yet have questions about whether the stories they read in the gospels have any historical truth or value. This is the book that I've wanted to give to my friends and family in the past to help them understand the gospels better, but simply didn't have access to in the past.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Timing Mark D. Roberts!, August 20, 2007
This review is from: Can We Trust the Gospels?: Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (Paperback)
With all of the doubt cast over the Gospels lately (thanks to issues raised by things like The Da Vinci Code and the Jesus Seminar and Bart Ehrman) there is no doubt that pastor, blogger, and author, Mark D. Roberts' new book comes at a good time. I found the book to be a clear and reasonable argument for the historicity of the gospels. It's very accessible, the kind of book you want to give away to everyone who told you to read "Misquoting Jesus." It is perfect for the doubting or seeking lay reader.
Another successful aspect of Robert's book is the way that Internet culture is integral to its style. It is written in a useful FAQ format in intimation of a website. Each chapter title is a different question he then addresses. Plus, if you have questions, you can actually join in on a conversation in the discussion section of the website. So it is not merely conversational in tone, the book is connected to an actual dialogue. I would buy this book, and I already have plans to give it to several people.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pastor Mark Turcio, October 1, 2008
This review is from: Can We Trust the Gospels?: Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (Paperback)
Mark Roberts has done the church of Jesus Christ a great service. In his book entitled
"Can we trust the gospels?" Mark has taken the information that has generally been for graduate students and professors, and placed it in the lap of the layperson. This work equips the layman, with a clear concise walk thru history and textual criticism, giving the layperson the ability to stand for the faith. The book enables the layman to answer the critics of the New Testament concerning the authenticity of the New Testament documents, the historic documentation concerning the authorship of the gospels and the early church's attesting to that truth. Mark sets out in his book to answer such questions as "When were the gospels written", "are there contradictions in the gospels"," and did the political agenda of the early church influence the content of the gospels". Since these issues are being brought up today to an audience that is unfamiliar with the historical record this book comes in as a refreshment course setting forth what is history and how we are to approach the investigation of it. I highly recommend this work to all even to those who have questions concerning the historicity of the New Testament documents. I encourage anyone who reads this book come to it with an open mind and you will see why the gospels as Irenaeus has stated in150 AD are as "solid as the four winds of the earth" Take up and read!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Synopsis, March 26, 2008
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This review is from: Can We Trust the Gospels?: Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (Paperback)
This book is a great little piece (Roberts calls it a "blook") on the trustworthiness/historicity of the Gospels. Although Mr. Roberts doesn't go into grand detail in every chapter (something he states could easily be done), he does illustrate vividly, and in ways the lay reader can understand, the points he is making in each chapter. I loved the book for its brevity and clarity. Roberts does point his reader to other more detailed works in the footnotes as all good authors do.
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