Clever stories

Back in 2012, Harvard professor Karen King announced that she had translated the words from a tiny scrap of papyrus from the fourth century. The words were supposedly a copy of an early Christian gospel written in the late second century. The translation appeared to quote Jesus as referring to “my wife,” Mary Magdalene.

The announcement made front pages all over the country. Reporters said it called into question traditional beliefs about marriage.

But within days, more experts came forward. The owner of the fragment refused to be identified. No one knew where it came from. It hadn’t been fully tested. Harvard officials began to waffle; King’s work had not been peer reviewed. The fragment was likely a modern forgery.  

In 2020, CNN did a story on the incident: “How a mysterious man fooled a Harvard scholar into believing the ‘Gospel of Jesus’ Wife’ was real.” CNN said that King thought her “discovery” would “validate her life’s work: claiming a place for women in the early days of Christianity.” Instead, the story “capsized her career.”

“Discoveries” like this usually come out around the holidays: An ancient text has been found that should be in the Bible but isn’t. The stories suggest there were factions vying to be the one true church, and the Bible was written by the winners. Others say the stories about Jesus were legends or were made up after his death. 

So, can we trust what’s in the Bible? 

The Apostle Peter said, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” 

Evidently Peter had the same problem we do. Peter is saying, “It’s not made up. I was there. I saw Jesus with my own eyes.” 

The truth is, the New Testament was written too early to be legend. The people who wrote the New Testament were either witnesses or had met the original witnesses. The New Testament was completed within their lifetimes. The supposed new “discoveries” were written centuries later.

The style of writing point to eyewitness accounts.

If you were making up a new religion, you would never include stories that made you look so bad. But that’s just what the disciples did. 

We’re all like the professor. We all love stories which reinforce our worldview.

But a god of your own making is no help at all.

Clever stories can’t save you. Only the Truth can.

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