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Article

Are the Gospels “Historically Reliable”? A Focused Comparison of Suetonius’s Life of Augustus and the Gospel of Mark

Department of Theology, Houston Baptist University, Houston, TX 77074, USA
Religions 2019, 10(3), 148; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030148
Received: 2 February 2019 / Revised: 20 February 2019 / Accepted: 22 February 2019 / Published: 28 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Trends in New Testament Study)
Are the Gospels historically reliable? Authors of ancient historical literature had objectives for writing that differed somewhat from those of modern historians. Consequently, the literary conventions that were in play also differed. Therefore, it is difficult to speak of the historical reliability of ancient texts without certain qualifications. In this essay, a definition for the historical reliability of ancient texts is proposed, whereby such a text provides an accurate gist, or an essentially faithful representation of what occurred. Four criteria that must be met are then proposed. Suetonius’s Life of the Divine Augustus and the Gospel of Mark, are then assessed by using the criteria. Suetonius was chosen because he wrote more closely than his peers to how modern biographers write, and the Augustus was chosen because it is the finest of Suetonius’s Lives. The Gospel of Mark from the Bible was chosen because it is probably the earliest extant account of the “Life of Jesus.” The result of this focused comparison suggests that the Life of Augustus and the Gospel of Mark can be said to be historically reliable in the qualified sense proposed. However, an additional factor challenging this conclusion is described, and further discussion is needed and encouraged. View Full-Text
Keywords: Gospels; Gospel of Mark; Suetonius; Life of Augustus; historical reliability Gospels; Gospel of Mark; Suetonius; Life of Augustus; historical reliability
MDPI and ACS Style

Licona, M.R. Are the Gospels “Historically Reliable”? A Focused Comparison of Suetonius’s Life of Augustus and the Gospel of Mark. Religions 2019, 10, 148. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030148

AMA Style

Licona MR. Are the Gospels “Historically Reliable”? A Focused Comparison of Suetonius’s Life of Augustus and the Gospel of Mark. Religions. 2019; 10(3):148. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030148

Chicago/Turabian Style

Licona, Michael R. 2019. "Are the Gospels “Historically Reliable”? A Focused Comparison of Suetonius’s Life of Augustus and the Gospel of Mark" Religions 10, no. 3: 148. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030148

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