Evidence that the gospels were based on eyewitness accounts (how to avoid being buried in the details)

I was watching Peter Williams lecture on evidence in the gospels and it occured to me as a laymen, that it would require a lot of work to research these claims and validate them. As a person who has a limited amount of time and whose career isn't apolegetics I was wondering what resources there are to counter some of evidence presented in his lecture.



I haven't watched the whole lecture yet however one of the points he makes early on is that the frequency of people's names used in the gospels implies that the they are based on eyewitness accounts, basically because certain names are more popular at different times in history.


My main concern is that it takes a lot of effort to find this evidence. You have to find non-bilbical texts from that time period that use names of people in that time period count them, and perhaps graph the frequency, then do the same with the gospels. For a layman thats a lot of work but the problem is that Christians will use Youtube lecture in an effort to convince themselves and non-believers that their belief is rational. It becomes hard for someone to respond rationally to it because you get bogged down in details, and it becomes a never ending battle that's better suited to a proffesional historian.


So my real question is how to avoid being buried in the details?


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I'd like to add that having to deal with biblical apologetics is like having to deal with Star Wars or Discworld apologetics in that you have to know about the subject in order to form rational arguments that subject that fit within the framework of that universe. It's the same problem with the Christian universe, in that it requires an inordinate amount of effort for something that is inherently fiction.


Dr Bart Ehrman shoots a number of holes in the alleged historical authenticity and integrity of the texts. (see http://edition.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/05/15/bible.critic/)

Well hang on a second, how do you know that what he's telling is incorrect?

I can't speak with certainty since I don't know Dr. Peter Williams and I don't have time to watch the lecture now, but from the synopsis this seems like pretty ho-hum stuff. Two-source theory etcetera.

It's pretty much certain that both Mark and the Q source were based on oral traditions not too far removed from Jesus itself, as we can tell by the Aramaic expressions in Mark and the intimate knowledge of Jewish scripture and societal structure. And those oral traditions are probably based on eyewitness accounts to some extent.

That sounds like pretty standard stuff which few scholars would take issue with.




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