Arcadia University, Glenside, PA                           Dr. Robert C. Newman

23 Feb 2006                                              Prof of New Testament, Biblical Theological Seminary

Web addresses as of 11/24/08                         Director, Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute


                           Some Materials Relevant to the Question: "Who Is Jesus?"


PowerPoint Talks:  These can be viewed with a standard web browser by going to the address listed and waiting for the talk to download (first panel is displayed).  Then advance using "page down," and go back using "page up."  Escape from talk using "back" button on browser.


Authorship & Date of the Synoptic Gospels 

Sketches the historical evidence regarding the author and date of writing of each of the three so-called "synoptic" Gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke.  Also included is a brief sketch of some of the distinctive features of each.


Jesus: The Testimony of Prophecy and History

The Jewish Scriptures we call the Old Testament point to a promised individual, traditionally called the Messiah, who is to come and rescue his people from oppression, bring in a Golden age, make Israel the chief nation, rule humanity with justice for all, and ensure that all may live safely on their own property and enjoy the fruits of their labor.  Christians think he has already come and he is Jesus.  Jews believe he hasn't come, but he will; he is certainly not Jesus!  Secularists think the whole idea is wishful thinking.  Who is right?  We suggest that the evidence of biblical text and human history supports two propositions: (1) If the Messiah has come, he is Jesus.  (2) The Messiah has come.


Evidence for the Resurrection 

The resurrection of Jesus is enormously important to the truth of Christianity, yet many have sought to substitute various non-supernatural alternatives for it.  Here we look at the stolen body theory, the coma theory and the hallucination theory, and the various problems these views face.  We then sketch the evidence from history and prophecy for a real, physical resurrection of Jesus.


Search for the Historical Jesus

Why all the variety of opinions about the real Jesus?  Many don't like the biblical Jesus.  Others won't admit the occurrence of miracles.  So they try to reconstruct Jesus from various hypothetical sources.  But the historical evidence regarding Jesus is really quite good if one doesn't reject the miraculous in advance.  We sketch evidence from early pagan and Jewish sources compared with the Gospels and the testimony of Paul.  The earliest sources, though they disagree in their estimation of Jesus, agree on several items that moderns often wish to reject.


The Synoptic Problem

It is often claimed that the Gospels of Matthew and Luke are not independent witnesses to what happened in the career of Jesus of Nazareth, but are merely edited copies of material from the Gospel of Mark and another work we call Q which has not survived.  We here examine the phenomena of the Gospels and suggest that another proposal better fits the internal and external data concerning the Gospels.


They Saw Jesus É Centuries in Advance

What did Jesus say to the two on the road to Emmaus that caused their hearts to burn with excitement?  We look at some NT hints that point us to events in the experience of Abraham, David and Isaiah that point to Jesus.


The Passion of the Christ or the Da Vinci Code:  Which is Good History and How Do We Know?

These two recent popular works give a very different picture of the historical reliability of the NT Gospels and of the person of Jesus.  Various lines of evidence are examined to give judgment on the historical reliability of the film and the mystery-thriller.


Mary Magdalene: History and Hype

As a result of Dan Brown's book The Da Vinci Code, there has been considerable interest recently in Mary Magdalene.  Was she really married to Jesus?  Did they have a child who united the two royal houses of Israel?  What do we really know about Mary Magdalene?  Here we survey and evaluate our ancient sources.


The Star of Bethlehem:  What Was It?

Here we propose a hybrid view, featuring both natural and supernatural elements.  This involves a very striking and rare conjunction of planets together with something like the pillar of fire in the wilderness.


Some Papers:  These can be downloaded for free from the addresses noted.


The Biblical Narratives of Easter Week: Are They Trustworthy? 1980.

The positive side of a debate at Cornell University (whole debate is on cassette #IRN‑02).  Argu­ments against the miraculous examined; NT docu­ments compared with other ancient histories; corroboration with pagan and Jewish authors.


The Synoptic Problem: A Proposal for Handling Both Internal and External Evidence. 1980, 1990.

Matthew and Luke are often seen as literarily dependent on Mark, though this requires rejecting early tradition regarding their origin.  But how can these traditions square with internal evidence on which the dominant two-document theory was built?  A synthesis is proposed.


The New Testament Model of the Messiah. 1981, 1988.

Various attempts made in the centuries following the Old Testament to understand its prophecies regarding the coming Messiah B by the rabbis, Qumran, the apocalyptic literature and the New Testament B are here compared with the Old Testament data to show the striking superiority of the NT model in fitting certain paradoxical features.


The Time of the Messiah. 1981, 1988.

Historical sources from the 1st two centuries AD indicate that the Messiah was expected to appear about that time in fulfillment of some OT prophecy, probably Daniel 9:24-27.  By taking the "weeks" of this prophecy to be the OT seven-year land use cycle, the result points to Jesus as the fulfillment of this prophecy.


Synoptic Harmonization: Some Principles from History and from the Book of Acts. 1987.

Problems reconciling parallel passages are often raised against the reliability of the Gospels in Scripture.  Here, principles derived from history, history writing, and parallel passages in a single author suggest why and how we should harmo­nize.


Jesus:  the Testimony of Prophecy and History.  1990

Several Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah are examined.  It is suggested that (1) if the Messiah has come he is Jesus; (2) the Messiah has come.



Robert C. Newman is professor of New Testament at Biblical Theological Seminary and director of the Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute there.  He has a BS in physics from Duke University, a PhD in astrophysics from Cornell, an MDiv from Faith Theological Seminary, and an STM in OT from Biblical Theological Seminary.  He has done additional graduate work in cosmic gas dynamics at the University of Wisconsin, in biblical geography at Jerusalem University College, in religious thought at the University of Pennsylvania, and in biblical interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary.  He is author or contributor to a number of books, including Genesis One and the Origin of the Earth (InterVarsity), Three Views on Creation and Evolution (Zondervan), The Evidence of Prophecy (IBRI), The Biblical Firmament: Vault or Vapor? (IBRI),  Evidence for Faith (Word/Probe), and What's Darwin Got to Do With It? (InterVarsity).  He has had over a hundred articles published in various magazines and journals, as well as several articles in dictionaries and encyclopedias, including "Rabbinic Parables," in Dictionary of New Testament Background and "kokav" in the New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis.