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HomeSpiritual GrowthHow did the Gospel writers remember everything Jesus said?

How did the Gospel writers remember everything Jesus said?

The same way I remember an event from 50 years ago. Some things you never forget.

I had a near-death experience 50 years ago. I was driving about 50 miles per hour on a highway. I looked over at the passenger as we were talking. When I looked up I was in the wrong lane and looking at an oncoming car. I swerved hard and the other driver did as well.

To this day I do not know how we kept from colliding. I saw the other driver’s face not three feet from mine. We could not have missed by more than a few inches.

It was such a traumatic experience. I remember everything like it was yesterday.

The other driver had black hair, a mustache, and a chubby face. He had a green work shirt on. There were other people in the other car as well. The other car was a yellow Dodge Dart with a black stripe. I remember the look of terror on the other driver’s face.

My passenger was a young lady I was seeing. I remember what she was wearing.

We sat beside the road after the incident for a long time trying to come to grips with what had happened. I remember her taking my hand and saying we are ok now.

I should have died that day. God decided to spare the two of us for some reason. I remember every detail. It was a straight stretch of two-lane blacktop. Trees on the left, and a creek on the right. There was a lot of greenery.

I remember every detail of what happened one afternoon 50 years ago. It’s no stretch for me to think the disciples remembered everything about Jesus for the same reason.

When something traumatic happens, it affects every fiber of your being. They saw Jesus walk on water and tell a storm to be quiet — and it did. They saw water become wine, and a few fish turned into thousands of fish. Most significantly they saw Him rise from the dead. These things would have been traumatic and hard to forget.

The culture

Our world is very different than theirs.

We can access information from the last 1000 years with a mouse click or two. We can write on our phones, and send messages without even using a piece of paper.

People in 40–50 AD, had none of these things. Scholars believe most people could not read or write. The material to write on was very expensive. Very few people could afford to write and even fewer could afford to read. No one owned a book. The few books that existed were in libraries, owned by the educated elites and the church.

The books that existed were long scrolls rolled up. To find something specific you had to unroll the scroll and search for it.

Timing

The gospels were hand-written on scrolls. When we say one of them was written in 50 AD, that means it was finished then. It probably started several years before.

The gospel of Matthew has just over 18,000 words, and the Gospel of Luke has 19,480 words. Imagine how long that would take to write, even if you had an outline and knew exactly what you were going to say. How well the stories fit together is nothing short of miraculous.

It may have taken 20 years to write each book. It took a few years for books to be copied — again by hand. It may have been years before they were public. They could have started writing a couple of years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. If that were the case, finishing around 50 AD makes a lot of sense.

Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

The spiritual edge

God did not literally “write” the Bible. Still, we call this the “Word of God,” and we believe the Holy Spirit had a significant role in writing the scriptures.

The very early church was led by the Holy Spirit. They were likely more in tune with Him than many of us today. The Spirit helped them remember. Finally, what they penned was directly inspired by God and, in its original autographs, without error. 

Conclusion

Here is why Jesus’ disciples could remember enough details to write the New Testament. 

  • Traumatic events stick in your mind and soul
  • It took years to write each book. They may have started soon after Jesus rose from the dead.
  • The Holy Spirit inspired them, with what eventually became canonized in the Scriptures we hold today.
  • They relied more on memory, so their memory skills would have been sharper than ours.

Salvation – Eternal Life in Less Than 150 Words

AuthorJames Jordan | BCWorldview.org 

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