Are the Gospels Legends?

Is it possible that the New Testament stories are something similar to our “urban legends” of today?  How do we know the four gospels in the Bible are reliable? 

There are a number of reasons why it is reasonable to embrace the gospels as credible.  I’ll just give you one in this post:  The timing of the events of the life of Jesus and the writings about the life of Jesus.  The time gap is the crucial element.  Timing is everything.

There simply wasn’t enough time for legends about Jesus to have developed and been included in the New Testament documents. The source documents for Jesus’ life are very close in time to the life of Jesus.  Consider this:

Crucifixion:  30AD
Paul’s Letters: 48-66AD
The Four Gospels: 50-70AD
Josephus, Jewish Historian: 75-94AD
Tacitus, Roman Historian: 98-117AD 

The gospels were written about real people who actually lived, real events that actually occurred, and real places that actually existed.  When the gospels were first circulated, there were people who could have refuted these writings as spurious because of personal names, events or places that were named in those writings. 

 It has been suggested that stories about Jesus were passed on through the generations and ultimately, fact became fiction. Interesting theory.  However, the timeline doesn’t support this. 

There is simply not enough time between the death of Jesus and  the writings of the gospels for legends to have made their way into a specific community.

 The most crucial aspect of time is not the gap between the evidence and today.

The most crucial aspect of time is the gap between the evidence and the event.

 Evidence is not bad just because it’s old.  If the gap between the evidence and the event is short, then it doesn’t matter how long ago the event occurred.  The evidence is still good.