New Testament Ethics

Einstein once said that his only exceptional quality was his curiosity. I'm glad to take that quality upon myself. I need to have answers. 

I've spent nearly two years studying the historical reliability of the New Testament and it's modern ethical implications under the guidance of renowned New Testament scholar Jan Van Der Watt. I am particularly interested in the nature of history and its implications on theology and ethics. 

 

What is history? How certain can we be that an event happened or that a statement was made in the past and what does it mean for us today? We don't have direct access to history. Our access is through artifacts and sources. Artifacts can tell us a bit about a time before us but require our interpretation, the assigning of meaning to things like the discoveries of pottery and architecture.

Written sources give us more detail and insight but come colored by the unique experiences of the one recording what they thought important. So can sources be trusted? We've all heard that history is written by the "winners." Is that true, and if so can we trust the history of the "winners"? Does personal bias necessarily equate to a mis-reperestentaion of the "facts"? Were, for example, the New Testament writers driven by an ideology that distorted their reporting of history? These questions and more drive my work.

The answers to these questions about history have obvious implications on theology. Christianity is a historical religion. The center of our faith is a historical event: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And as the apostle Paul said, if there is no resurrection of the dead then our faith is in vain. If Jesus did not come back to life physically in history, our theology and faith are worthless. Those outside Christian ranks see the truthfulness of Paul's words and have accordingly focused their attack on the historical credibility of the New Testament. They ask some good questions that require a honest answer. 

But many before me have done the work I am doing now. And there is good reason to trust in the historicity of Christian claims. That is to say, we are right for believing that what we think happened did happen.