The Christmas Story: Myth Or History?

Billboards established by the American Atheists are telling us that the Christmas story found in the New Testament is a myth! Are they right? Is the Christmas story irrational? Do we have to discount the New Testament’s account of the nativity in order to “celebrate reason?” And perhaps the biggest claim – that it’s a myth – is that true?

Strange and bizarre characters like the three wise men, A virgin birth, the apparent rage of King Herod leading him to kill some babies in Bethlehem? These can’t be real historical accounts, can they?

The following will be a quick look at some historical facts and background which support the claim that the gospel narratives surrounding Jesus’ birth are in fact historically credible.

 Note: Historians never expect to be able to find support or corroboration of all details in an ancient text. But if the text is completely reliable, then the things we are able to check will be accurate.

Time Period Of The Birth Narratives

 Before moving on to the people, places and events in the text, the first thing that should be established is when the narrative is supposedly taking place. The authors of Luke and Matthew give us some hints (ordered in terms of general dates to specific dates):

  1. “Caesar Augustus” (Luke 2:1) reigned from 31 B.C. – A.D. 14.

  2. “In the days of King Herod of Judaea” (Luke 1:5 and Matthew 2:1) refers to Herod the Great, known to have been in power from 37 – 4 B.C.

  3. “When . . . Archelaus reigned in Judaea after his father Herod” (Matthew 2:22) refers to Herod’s son – Archelaus – who reigned from 4 B.C. – A.D. 6.

  4. “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar” (Luke 3:1) was somewhere around A.D. 25 – 27. Luke 3:23 tells us that soon after this time Jesus was 30 years old, which gives us a birth date of around 5 B.C. – give or take a couple years.

Since the authors of Luke and Matthew give us these hints and time markers, we can see whether the persons, places, and events mentioned in the text match what we know from other sources of information.

People From The Birth Narratives

Jesus Of Nazareth: The main personality in the text is clearly Jesus. He is the climax of these events being described and is the reason the story is being told. Do we have any historical certainty about whether Jesus actually existed, who he was, what he did and when he lived?

Modern historians would tell us that Jesus of Nazareth is probably the person who is found in more separate and independent sources than any other from antiquity. So what kind of data do we have? Let’s look at some non-biblical and non-Christian sources exclusively.

 Flavius Josephus was a Jewish / Roman historian writing the first century (within a generation of Jesus’ death). He gives us a few mentions of Jesus:

“At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus . . . Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die . . . They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive . . .” 1

“Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James . . . “2

Other ancient historians have much to say about Jesus. Here are a few more before we move on (first and second century Roman historians Tacitus and Pliny the Younger):

“Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome . . “.3

“. . . they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up . . .”4

We can see that many events and details about Jesus are given to us solely by these ancient historians: Jesus existed, he came from Judaea, he harbored a large following, lived during the reign of Tiberius and Pontius Pilate (see Luke chapter 3), was crucified by Pilate, had a brother named James (the just), and his followers claimed that he was raised from the dead on the third day after his death! Jesus is clearly a historical figure, and the New Testament picture of Jesus matches that of the secular historical record perfectly.

As for the nativity account, important details to note are his existence, he lived during the right time period that the New Testament describes, he lived in the right place, etc.

There are many other Jewish and Greek sources which document details of Jesus.5 This brief look at sources outside the New Testament confirm the validity of the nativity account in many of the details concerning Jesus of Nazareth.

John The Baptist: In the biblical account John the baptist’s birth is recorded for us. Aside from other mentions in the New Testament concerning John, what we are looking for in this article is any mention of John outside the New Testament (although this is not what a historian would necessarily do – since the New Testament documents are themselves primary sources of historical information about John).

Once again, we find that ancient historian Josephus has given us a fascinating insight into the biblical account:

“Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army (Antipas) came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist: for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only], but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. Now when [many] others came in crowds about him, for they were very greatly moved [or pleased] by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, (for they seemed ready to do any thing he should advise,) thought it best, by putting him to death . . .”6

Thus, we know that John the Baptist was definitely a historical figure who also lived around the time of Herod Antipas. The text above corroborates John’s death (Mark 6, Matthew 14 and Luke 9) along with many other details, but for our purposes it corroborates a few important points from the nativity account: John existed, he was an adult during the time of Herod Antipas which matches with the claim that John was born during the reign of Herod the Great, he was Jewish, and he lived in Judaea (as Antipas reigned and lived in the Sea of Galilee region.)

Herod The Great: Displayed in the gospels as the King of Judaea and a rather paranoid and violent character, we find that this portrayal is exactly what the historical record gives us.

Josephus records Herod’s becoming ruler of Judaea:

“Antony informed them further, that it was for their advantage in the Parthian war that Herod should be king.”7

Josephus also records instances where Herod killed his own family members – sons and wives (which was a common occurrence due to his jealousy and paranoia). Here’s such an account:

“. . . the young man, at the instigation of Herod, went into the water among them, while such of Herod’s acquaintance, as he had appointed to do it, dipped him as he was swimming, and plunged him under water, in the dark of the evening, as if it had been done in sport only; nor did they desist till he was entirely suffocated. And thus was Aristobulus (Herod’s son) murdered, having lived no more in all than eighteen years . . “.8

Herod’s jealousy is mentioned in this next text, as Herod had suspicion that Antony had a “thing” for his wife:

“[Herod made] a private charge, that if Antony should kill him, he also should kill Mariamne [Herod’s wife] immediately; for that he had a tender affection for his wife, and was afraid of the injury that should be offered him, if, after his death, she, for her beauty, should be engaged to some other man: but his intimation was nothing but this at the bottom, that Antony had fallen in love with her, when he had formerly heard somewhat of her beauty. . .”9

In the next account we see the climax of a long and ongoing dispute between Herod’s family and his wife. Other issues arise and Herod takes his anger out in fatal fashion, basically killing anyone who at the very least could possibly have something against him:

“. . . and when [Herod] was very desirous of her [his wife’s] company, she showed her contempt of him; and added, by way of reproach, that he had caused her father and her brother to be slain. And when he took this injury very unkindly, and was ready to use violence to her . . . and he ordered that eunuch of Mariamne, who was most faithful to her, to be brought to torture . . . he gave order that Sohemus should be seized on and slain immediately . . .and thus was Mariamne led to execution.”10

Archaeological digs have also discovered things such as coins from Herod’s rule which confirm his existence and the dating of his life and reign. There are many more stories of Herod’s violent and paranoid temperament in his personal and professional dealings.

Therefore, the picture of Herod we get from the New Testament matches that of other ancient sources.

The Magi: Some “wise men” are recorded as coming from “the east” to give gifts to Jesus. Most find this a strange occurrence because nothing more is really said about these men.

But there is evidence that such “Magi” (the Greek term for these men) were commonly known about in ancient times. This term is where our common term magic comes from. The Magi were known for their natural potions and the like. Here’s some information on the Magi, found in a particular translation of Pliny’s Natural History:

“Originally they were a local tribe of the Medes, who became a priestly caste, thus presenting a curious parallel to the tribe of Levi among the Hebrews. Greek tradition had it that the Magian religion was introduced among the Persians by Cyrus, and there is nothing improbable in this belief. It certainly contained much esoteric knowledge and priestcraft, but whether any “magic” was employed is a matter of dispute; a fragment of Aristotle [Fr. 36] expressly denies it, but Herodotus [See e.g. VII. 191.] speaks of Magian incantations. This narrow denotation of Magi was gradually widened, resulting finally in the use of the word “magician” . . . Cicero speaks of them as “wise and learned men among the Persians,” [De Div. I. 23, 46 and I. 41, 90. Cf. Juvenal III. 77.]”11

Note that W.H.S. Jones mentions a few other references to the Magi found in other ancient texts. Thus, these characters who are seemingly strange and bizarre were in fact a particular group of people (from the “east” – Mesopotamia or Persia) who, needless to say, were fairly particular and ecstatic.

Three Events From The Nativity Account

Was Jesus Born Of A Virgin?

Obviously, the only way to prove that Jesus was born from a virgin would be to check his chromosome count – but we are not in the position to do so. However, there are some interesting Jewish texts which show us that there was a popular tradition or rumor among the Jewish people that Jesus’ father was not Joseph, the man Mary was married to, since Jesus’ genealogical record did not note his father’s name.

I’m going to quote from Evidence That Demands A Verdict, as it relates this information well:

“Hugh Schonfield, the Jewish skeptic, relates: “R. Shimeon ben Azzai said: ‘I found a genealogical scroll in Jerusalem, and therein was written, ‘so-and-so (Jesus), bastard son of an adulteress.’ ”

R. Shimeon lived at the end of the first and beginning of the second century A.D. According to Schonfield, this document must have been in existence at the time of the capture of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. In the older Jewish records, Jesus’ name is represented by “so-and-so.”

Schonfield then goes on to say that “there would be no object in making it unless the Christian original (genealogy) made some claim that the birth was not normal. . . that he was the bastard son of an adulteress, goes back to an early date.”12

In this same section of text it is mentioned that there was a tradition among the Jewish people that Jesus’ father was actually a Roman solider named Panthera or Pandera (although a rumor, not a documented fact). The early church father Origin makes mention of this in his work Contra Celsum and goes into detail to say that such a claim on the part of the Jewish opponents simply reveals the fact that Jesus’ birth was unusual, in the least.

We have no way to prove the virgin birth, but if Jesus was actually born without a biological father, before the official marriage of Joseph and Mary – which would have made its way into the Jewish genealogical records of the time – then we would expect those records to mention that Jesus didn’t have a father, or at least his name wasn’t known (which needed to be known since the person in question would carry his father’s name – which is why Jesus was called “so-and-so” because they didn’t know his father’s name). This explains why the records apparently said that Jesus was a bastard child, since – aside from a miracle – that would be the obvious deduction. We would also think that certain Jewish persons who didn’t accept Jesus as the Messiah would have perhaps made mention of Jesus’ strange genealogical situation to their own advancement – which they did!

Another note: If this were true, then we would expect Jesus’ brothers and sisters to perhaps have a rather negative attitude towards Jesus. Imagine that the official genealogical records said that your oldest brother’s father wasn’t known. Would you think that he was a bastard child? Is this perhaps what Jesus’ family thought? And keep in mind that this would utterly destroy a family’s reputation in first century Israel / Palestine. Here’s a portion of the gospel of John where Jesus’ brothers express their true feelings to him:

“Now the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near. So Jesus’ brothers advised him, “Leave here and go to Judea so your disciples may see your miracles that you are performing. For no one who seeks to make a reputation for himself does anything in secret. If you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” (For not even his own brothers believed in him.)” (John 7:2-5 from the NET Bible)

Some other sources which mention the virgin birth are the Koran and many of the early church fathers (some writing within two generations of Jesus).

Herod’s Slaughter Of All The Children In Bethlehem?

Come on now. Herod murdering all the children in Bethlehem? Isn’t that just oulandish?

As we already saw, we know that Herod was very paranoid, jealous and violent – he wasn’t afraid of killing those who stood in his way. If the Magi came to Herod and said that there was a chance, albeit big or small, that there was going to be a new King of Judaea, what would Herod think? In line with his already known character, he would want to make sure this king was eliminated at all costs. Remember, according to the biblical chronology this probably would have taken place around 5 – 4 B.C. – which was right before most think Herod died (which Josephus records for us).

Although we do not have any early extra-biblical sources relaying this event, we do have a first century document which mentions that Herod killed “the young”. We also have a fourth century source describing what certainly seems like this exact event – the location is accurate, the time in history is accurate, the two figures mentioned are accurate and the age of the young boys (2 and under) is exact to the Bible’s description.

First, writing in the fourth century, Ambrosius Theodosius Macrobius writes in his Saturnalia, “When Augustus heard that Herod King of the Jews had ordered all the boys in Syria (which included Galilee) under the age of two years to be put to death and that the king’s own son was among those killed, he said, ‘I would rather be Herod’s sow than Herod’s son.’ ”

Also, written in the first century (within a generation of Jesus), the well known Jewish writing called The Assumption Of Moses records (in a pseudo-prophetic device, i.e. past history recorded as prophecy), “An insolent king will succeed [the Hasmonean priests] . . . he will slay all the old and young.”13

In light of these documents and of what we know about Herod from Josephus, such an event was definitely within Herod’s character. If the fourth century document quoted from (Saturnalia) is relaying a somewhat accurate history, then we may even have an extra-biblical description of the event! Keep in mind that many ancient biographies, for example, were written hundreds of years after the fact, yet are still consider reliable depending on the nature of the text. Thus, such an account – depending on it’s sources – could very well be reliable.

Thus, I see no reason to doubt the historicity of this account, and there’s actually some potential positive evidence in favor!

The Flight Into And Return From Egypt?

Because of Herod’s attempt to murder all the children in the vicinity of Bethlehem, Joseph and his family (Mary and baby Jesus), according to Matthew, fled to Egypt for a time. We’ve already dealt with this in light of the historical details.

Near the end of Matthew chapter 2 an angel came to Joseph and told him that those who sought to kill Jesus were dead (which was Herod and his regime). Joseph returns to Israel, but then in verse 22 the text says that Joseph hears that Archelaus (Herod’s son) had replaced Herod as the governing power. Joseph is frightened by this news – but the text never tells us why. The reader might assume that Archelaus was known for being violent or something similar to that, but it would be mere speculation.

But is this correct? Is Matthew’s situation accurate to what we know from other historical sources?

Once again, Josephus gives us the details we need. In the following section of Antiquities Of The Jews, the Jewish passover is taking place during the beginning of Herod Archelaus’ replacement of Herod the Great. There was a commotion by the Jews over a previous assault that Herod the Great had made, and the story picks up from there:

“And as Archelaus was afraid lest some terrible thing should spring up by means of these men’s madness, he sent a regiment of armed men, and with them a captain of a thousand, to suppress the violent efforts . . . so [the Jews] made an assault upon the soldiers, and came up to them, and stoned the greatest part of them . . . Now Archelaus thought there was no way to preserve the entire government but by cutting off those who made this attempt upon it; so he sent out the whole army upon them, and sent the horsemen to prevent those that had their tents without the temple from assisting those that were within the temple, and to kill such as ran away from the footmen when they thought themselves out of danger; which horsemen slew three thousand men, while the rest went to the neighboring mountains. Then did Archelaus order proclamation to be made to them all, that they should retire to their own homes.”14

What was Joseph so worried about when he heard “the news” about Herod Archelaus? Well, Archelaus started his reign by slaughtering three thousand people in the temple during passover! Some of the Jews who were in the temple precincts during passover were causing trouble, and stoned many Roman soldiers who came to check it out. Archelaus’ immediate reaction was to surround the temple, killing any who attempted to come out, and then killed three thousand who were in the temple during their passover rites! To the Jewish audience, this would be the greatest offense possible.

Thus, when Joseph heard about Archelaus he undoubtedly heard about this splendid record of Archelaus’ interaction with the Jewish people!

Another potential source of information of this issue is in Origin’s Contra Celsum, where Origin quotes from a work of Celsus – who was an adamant critic of Christianity. The point here is that we have an enemy of Christianity agree on one of the events specifically in the nativity narrative – that Jesus was brought to Egypt for a time and then returned to Judaea (Matthew 2:13).
“He (Jesus) was brought up in secret and hired himself out as a workman in Egypt, and having tried his hand at certain magical powers he returned from there, and on account of those powers have himself the title of God.”15

Thus, the historical context and background surrounding the flight and return from Egypt are certainly accurate, and we also have potential testimony from an enemy of Christianity. Once again we see outside sources to the New Testament filling in the gaps and also confirming details, of which many do not think are historically veridical. Perhaps this skeptical position is due not to the weighing of the evidence, but as a conclusion made due to the unwanted implications of the New Testament’s being actual history?

The Census: Historically Inconsistent?

The biblical text says that when Quirinius was governing Syria, Caesar Augustus took an Empire wide census (Luke 2:1-2). The problem is that this would have taken place around 7 – 6 B.C. Josephus tells us that Quirinius began his governing of Syria in A.D. 6, where he took a census! Did Luke get his information wrong?

Critics of the Bible also claim that such a rare event – an Empire wide census – seems out of place. If it was so rare and such an important event, why hasn’t it been recorded by any other historical sources?

Is this event out of place, and a rare one at that? First off, Caesar Augustus has left us an inscription which lists off his greatest achievements. One of those achievements is that he took 3 censuses of all the entire Roman population!

“In my sixth consulship, with my colleague, Marcus Agrippa, I made a census of the People. [By it] the number of Roman citizens was 4,063,000. Again in the consulship of Gaius Censorinus and Gaius Asinus [8 B.C.] I [took the census, when] the number of Roman citizens was 4,230,000. A third time . . . in the consulship of Sextus Pompeius and Sextus Appuleius [14 A.D.], with Tiberius Caesar as colleague, I [took the census when] the number of Roman citizens was 4,937,000.”16

Unarguably one of the greatest biblical scholars of the last century, F. F. Bruce, gives us some more details on this issue:

“It is now widely admitted that [this census in Luke] . . . may have taken place during the reign of Herod the Great . . . [and] may have formed part of an Empire-wide census . . . all Judaea took an oath of allegiance to Augustus as well as to Herod [Josephus, Antiquities, 17.2.4]. The holding of an imperial census in a client kingdom (as Judaea was during Herod’s reign) is not unparalleled; in the reign of Tiberius a census was imposed on the client kingdom of Antiochus in eastern Asia Minor [Tacitus, Annals, 6.41] . . . There is scattered evidence of the holding of enrolments in various parts of the Empire between 11 and 8 BC, the papyrus evidence in the case of Egypt being practically conclusive.”17

According to F. F. Bruce, this not necessarily a rare event and there are good reasons to suspect that such an event could have taken place as a complete census in its own right. Thus, it is entirely possible that Luke was right about such an event (the issue with Quirinius is dealt with below).

Another possible explanation is that this census which Luke is speaking of was really a preamble or preparation to when Quirinius took power in A.D. 6. Historian Paul Maier explains,

“Luke is extremely careful in naming Greek and Roman officials, and since a similar provincial census in Gaul required forty years to complete, Luke may have been referring to a preliminary enrollment in Herod’s Judea, during which census data was collected and then used later for the actual assessment of taxes under Quirinius in 6 A.D.”18

Thus, one of the possibilities is that the census mentioned in Luke was the one issued by Augustus in 8 B.C., or this was a preliminary operation that was part of Quirinus’ taking power in A.D. 6. Thus, there is no reason to doubt that such a census would have taken place.

As for the apparent issues with Quirinius being governor in A.D. 6 and thus not being able to take a census around 6 B.C., it’s first worth noting that the author of Luke was aware of a census taken around this time (Acts 5:37). If we give the text the benefit of the doubt then it seems that there’s more going on here than a mere blunder.

Experts in Greek have noted that the original Greek manuscripts of Luke’s gospel, this section could be translated as “taken place before Quirinius was governing Syria . . .” The Greek term in question here is protos, which if looked up in any Greek dictionary will have two main usages: former/before or first/beginning. Thus, it’s possible that Luke was only speaking of one census and the events in question (Josephs traveling to his homeland) were a preamble to this later dated census (as Maier suggested above).

If this was a full census taken during the time of Quirinius (in around 6 B.C.), was he governor of Syria . . . twice?

Again, F. F. Bruce gives us an overview of this situation. He states:

“There is good inscriptional evidence that when Quirinius took up office in AD 6 this was the second occasion on which he served as imperial legate. The first occasion was when he commanded an expedition against the Homanadensians, a mountain tribe of Asia Minor, some time between 12 and 6 B.C.”19

To build upon this information, and to bring a fairly important point to light, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia notes (underline added):

“The Lapis Tiburtinus [a Latin inscription] speaks of a person (unspecified, due to the fragmentary nature of the inscription) who had earlier been proconsul of Cyrene (in North Africa) and Crete, and who had later effectively put down the Homonadensians, finally to be rewarded by receiving “again” (Lat. iterum) the legateship of Syria and Phoenicia. The parallels with Quirinius’ career make it natural to associate the inscription with him . . .”20

In conclusion, based upon the information we have examined, there is really no reason to doubt Luke’s account. We don’t have any explicit mentions of a 8 – 6 B.C. census, except for in Luke’s gospel (if interpreted that way), but we do have some pieces of evidence which make the account very plausible indeed. A few options have been discussed which are are plausible and are able to make sense of Luke’s account.

 Although, as F. F. Bruce makes notes, “The question is not yet finally decided,”21 the bottom line of the Quirinius census is that “. . . several plausible possibilities exist for explaining the evidence without the assumption that Luke erred.”22


We have seen that the persons examined in this article are most definitely historical figures and that the New Testament’s description of these people are completely accurate. The events dealt with are also seen to have much historical support in their favor and there aren’t any strong reasons to doubt their validity. Finally, although the issue concerning the census ultimately rests in the hands potential future discoveries for a complete explanation, we saw that any attempt to call the census of Quirinius into question is misinformed and most definitely rationally explainable and historically supportable.

Although the issue of the supernatural is beyond the scope of this article, this really is the hidden issue at hand for the atheists. But how are angels and God against reason? Again, the things in the text that we are able to test historically have been found to be accurate. Just because we are unable to test the claim about the supernatural doesn’t mean that the supernatural therefore is false.

Those who discredit the Bible due to supernatural inclusions are not basing such claims upon evidence, but upon prior philosophical assumptions. Such assumptions must be dealt with at the philosophical level, which, I think, are unfounded when critically dealt with. For this reason many are simply unwilling to deal with the historical evidences because they have already made up their mind by presuming such things cannot happen. But what happens when the evidence is rubbing up against those presumptions?

I hope this article has been thought provoking and perhaps uncomfortable for some. Remember, truth can be tested and will stand up to and be revealed through critical and honest examination!

1Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 18.3.3 (From Arabic version passed down through Muslim hands)

2Josephus, Antiquities, 20.9.1

3Tacitus, Annals, 15.44

4Pliny, Letters, transl. William Melmoth, rev. W.M.L. Hutchinson (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1935), vol. II, X:96

5There is also the possible mention of Jesus found on his brother’s ossuary which reads: James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus. This practice only took place in the first century and only prominent figures had their names on them; which means we have a trio of prominent figures – James, Joseph and Jesus – from the Palestinian area.

6Josephus, Antiquities, 18.5.2

7Josephus, Antiquities, 14.14.4

8Josephus, Antiquities, 15.3.3

9Josephus, Antiquities, 15.3.5

10Jospehus, Antiquities, 15.7.4

11Pliny, Introductory notes to vol. VI, Natural History, trans. W.H.S. Jones (Massachusetts: Harvard Univ. Press, 1954), vol. VI, xviii

12J. McDowell, Evidence That Demands A Verdict (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1972), 116

13The Assumption Of Moses, 6:2–6

14Josephus, Antiquities, 17.9.3

15Origin, Contra Celsum 1.38

16“Res Gestae Divi Augusti,” Ancient History Sourcebook, accessed December 18, 2011,

17F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1981), 86–87

18P. Maier, In the Fullness Of Time: A Historian Looks At Christmas, Easter, And The Early Church (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1997), 28

19F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents, 87

20Melvin G. Kyle, ed., The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1988), 12–13

21F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents, 88

22Melvin G. Kyle, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 13

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