The records which we possess up to this point are, as we have seen, comparatively full. But with the settlement at Nazareth, after the return from Egypt, our information comes to a sudden stop, and over the rest of the life of Jesus, till His public ministry begins, a thick covering is drawn, which is only lifted once.
Jesus made his entry on the stage of life so humbly and silently; the citizens of Bethlehem dreamed not what had happened in their midst; the emperor of Rome knew not that his decree had influenced the nativity of a king who was yet to bear rule.
The whole land was set in motion; for, in accordance with ancient Jewish custom, the census was taken, not at the places where the inhabitants were at the time residing, but at the places to which they belonged as members of the original twelve tribes.
The book PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL deals with their reputations, the authenticity, and the trustworthiness of their New Testament books (Acts and Galatians), which Bible critics have sought to undermine for centuries. Sadly, this attack also comes from “the new generation of evangelical scholars [who are] far more comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty than previous generations.” (Wallace forward, Page xii) Herein the Bible critics and modern evangelical scholars are the prosecutors in this trial, and Andrews is serving as the Christian apologist in defense of the Apostle Paul and the disciple Luke. Andrews will take on the Bible critics who have dissected the Word of God until it has become the word of man and a very jumbled word at that.
“THIS is big. A lot of people are going to be upset.” “This changes the history of early Christianity.” (Andrew Cockburn, “The Judas Gospel,” National Geographic, May 2006, p. 91) These overly dramatic in the extreme statements came from scholars who, with open arms, welcomed, the publication of the “Gospel of Judas.” Did these predictions come true?
Was there really an epistle to the Laodiceans, and, if so why is it not in our Bibles? Some scholars maintain that the letter to the Ephesians was not specifically to those at Ephesus but rather it was a general letter to the Ephesians and the Laodiceans, mentioned at Colossians 4:16. In addition, they say, is that the words “which are at Ephesus” found in most translations of Ephesians 1:1 are an addition to the text. They argue the letter that we know as Ephesians was a general epistle sent to the churches in Asia. Are they correct?
Throughout the first 17 centuries of Christianity, the reliability of the Gospels was never really questioned in any serious way. However, especially from the 19th century forward, a number of scholars have viewed the Gospels, not as the inspired, inerrant Word God, but as being invented by men. Also, they have rejected that the Gospel writers had firsthand knowledge about Jesus Christ.
The Double Standard from Skeptics
When we are looking at secular history, historians come across balanced, fair, reasonable but when it comes to the gospels, there is a tremendous double standard. The Gospels, for example, are presumed to be guilty of being frauds, authors unknowable until they are proven innocent, and the bar is raised when it comes to the level of evidence needed. The normal way of investigating historical events, peoples, and places ostensibly are thrown out the window.
There is much in-depth information in this article: The Synoptic Gospels in the Ancient Church: The Testimony to the Priority of the Gospel of Matthew. We have a brief introduction to papyrus from Tyndale Bible Dictionary. We have a lengthy apologetic article on Papias and the arguments from higher critics by F. David Farnell. This is followed by Papias' writings from two leading scholars on the Apostolic Fathers, Michael W. Holmes, and J. B. Lightfoot.