I have been quoting from the Gospels inan extensive way. But one may ask: Are the Gospels historically accurate, or, as Muslims
have claimed, were their texts tampered with by some Christians in the early centuries? How can one establish beyond reasonable doubt the authenticity of the historical documents that give us the information about the life of Jesus Christ?
Apart from Muslims since the seventh century, it was only in the last 200 years or so that Western skeptics have cast doubts on the
Gospels’ authenticity. For more than 1,500 years Christians have accepted their historicity without question. Who is right? First of all, there is a basic principle of natural justice that we must consider: The onus of the proof is incumbent on the accuser, not the defender. In other words, the skeptics and the Muslims must present their arguments to persuade us to change our minds about the historicity of the Gospels. Merely expressing doubts or accusing without proving carries no value or weight whatsoever. Only if they can present objective, sound argumentation — not just more doubts to support the previous doubts — can one give them some room to expound the reasons for their accusations or skepticism.
Otherwise, it is like one being presumed guilty until proven innocent. We don’t fall for that. In order to investigate the authenticity, historicity, and reliability of the New Testament, there are three fields of research: textual, literary, and theological. The textual field refers to the authenticity of the actual texts of the New Testament. Scholars study the oldest Greek documents with the intention of discovering any discrepancies among them. Then they consult the most ancient translations in Latin, Coptic, Syriac, Arabic, and so on in order to find out if the texts are old enough, independent enough, and close enough in their readings to demonstrate
that they are what Matthew, Mark, or Paul actually wrote. In this way, they assess the accusation (still groundless to this day) that Christians had tampered with the texts in subsequent centuries. The conclusion of most reputable scholars is that those books are what they claim to be, namely, the writings of apostles and their close associates, and not — as gratuitous accusations would have it — forgeries or writings put together centuries after the death of the apostles. It is also a gratuitous claim that the Christian Gospels are basically the stories of the apostles’ spirituality and religion, and not a true portrait of Jesus Himself. It is not our task here to delve into the very complicated realm of different opinions among Bible scholars and Gospel detractors. It is sufficient for us common mortals (the non-scholars, like most of us) to realize that there are no grounds to assume that the New Testament writings are not authentic. Quite on the contrary. A few arguments will demonstrate the point.