Here at Blogging Theology we like to keep abreast of the best current biblical scholarship created by top scholars in the field. This post is about one such work by Rev Professor John Drane. He is a theologian who is probably best known for his two best-selling books on the Bible, Introducing the Old Testament and Introducing the New Testament (both published by Lion Hudson in the UK and Fortress Press in the US, and translated into more than sixty languages worldwide). He studied in the University of Aberdeen where he was a student of I. Howard Marshall, and he holds a PhD from the University of Manchester, where his mentor was F. F. Bruce. In other words his evangelical credentials are impeccable.
In his popular work Introducing the New Testament, Drane explains what kind of literature the four canonical gospels are. With disarming honesty he writes:
The early Christian communities clearly had no problem in accepting that within the gospel traditions there would be a subtle combination of factual and fictional elements.
To put this in plain English, Drane is saying that the early Christians were cool in accepting made up stories about Jesus and some of them ended up in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the New Testament. Drane continues:
While all four gospels combine literal reporting with creative storytelling, the fourth gospel [the Gospel of John] appears to have a greater preponderance of the latter.
To put this in plain English, Drane is saying that John’s Gospel has much more fiction in it than Matthew, Mark and Luke. This is a shocking admission. It was a major factor in my departure from Christianity. Here are the two quotes in context. It’s worth reading. Beneath these photos is a quote from the Qur’an which explains its vital role in sorting out this colossal mess.
The Qur’an says speaking of the Qur’an and the books of the Christians and Jews:
And unto thee [O Prophet] have We vouchsafed this divine writ, setting forth the truth, confirming the truth of whatever there still remains of earlier revelations and determining what is true therein. Judge, then, between the followers of earlier revelation in accordance with what God has bestowed from on high, and do not follow their errant views, forsaking the truth that has come unto thee.
Surah 5:48. Translation by Muhammad Asad.