I think the answer to this question comes down to what you mean by the word KNOW. It's obviously a key word for you (you used it 3 times). I think one of the biggest false dilemmas in a cultural is insistence on certainty. People feel like they need to know things with absolute certainty, but that's just not how life works (in any area, let alone faith). If the question is.. how can we know with absolutely certainty that the writers of the Bible were credible?.... then the answer is... we can't! If the question is... is there good reason to believe that the biblical writers are credible?... then the answer is... sure. There are many solid reasons for believing that (including arguments in different fields... logic, history, etc).steve7150 wrote:We don't need to know the authors but we need to know they are credible and how exactly do we know that?
The nature of literary preservation has a funny way of telling us what is credible. Only works worth reading tend to survive the passage of time. You simply don't get hundreds and thousands of copies of something that isn't considered a serious literary work. That's not to say that the literary work in question must be true... but it is to say that people believed it to be true.The supposed authors are mostly unknown characters outside of the bible, and if it has not been proven that the bible is credible then what credibility do these people unknown to secular history have?
Outside of the bible what evidence do we have about the bible authors? In fact what evidence do we have of Jesus himself? Luke said he interviewed many people but we only know that from Luke. How do we know Luke is credible, from Paul? How do we know Paul is credible, from Luke? We have some references to a "Christos" possibly in a couple of secular letters but it's not definite that "Christos" is even Jesus. What if the bible authors just conspired to make up a story and convinced others that a man rose from the dead. At that time in history 2,000 years ago people were very gullible to wild stories like resurrection, why don't things like that happen now?
The argument that for the existence of any character in history there may not be a lot of evidence yet for example we believe Alexander the Great was real isn't strong because the claims of Jesus are so extraordinary and demands life changing changes that there must be a stronger level of evidence then your typical character in history. Where is the evidence outside of the bible that Jesus rose from the dead?[/quote]
Actually, I think the evidence is quite good for most of the NT books. Even liberal scholars tend to recognize the authorship of a good portion of the Pauline corpus. The last decades of scholarship have basically destroyed the notion that the New Testament was written late (post AD100). Basically, there aren't really good reasons for doubting that traditional authorship claims (unless, again, you are insisting on absolute certainty). Steve has already addressed the credibility of Paul.
Historians, Christian or otherwise, do not really doubt the historicity of Jesus' existence or death by crucifixion. Historians, Christians or otherwise, also do not doubt the empty tomb or the appearance testimonies. Of course, many of them do doubt the interpretation (that Jesus rose from the dead), but none of the theories they've come up with to explain the empty tomb or appearances are convincing. Then, of course, you'd have to explain a third major piece of evidence that the Gospel account is reliable... the existence of the Christian movement in the first through fourth centuries, coming to reign in the midst of the Roman Empire. How could this be? Christianity was illegal. It's adherents were persecuted. Any explanation other than that they actually believed Jesus rose from the dead... that they believed the New Testament writings to be credible... is very difficult to argue.
So it's not just a Scriptural argument. Alone, it does sound circular (why do I believe in Jesus... b/c Scripture says so... why do I believe Scripture... b/c God tells me to). But we also have reasonable arguments, traditional support, and, of course, experience on our side. Jesus actually is alive and leading his people today.