Did the Gospel Writers Fabricated Details to Make it Appear that Jesus Fulfilled Prophecies of the Messiah?
“Isn’t it possible that the gospel writers fabricated details to make it appear that Jesus fulfilled the prophecies? “For example,” I said, “the prophecies say the Messiah’s bones would remain unbroken, so maybe John invented the story about the Romans breaking the legs of the two thieves being crucified with Jesus, and not breaking his legs. And the prophecies talk about betrayal for thirty pieces of silver, so maybe Matthew played fast and loose with the facts and said, yeah, Judas sold out Jesus for that same amount.”
But that objection didn’t fly. “In God’s wisdom, he created checks and balances both inside and outside the Christian community,” Lapides explained. “When the Gospels were being circulated, there were people living who had been around when all these things happened. Someone would have said to Matthew, ‘You know it didn’t happen that way. We’re trying to communicate a life of righteousness and truth, so don’t taint it with a lie.’
“Besides,” he added, “why would Matthew have fabricated fulfilled prophecies and then be willing to be put to death for following someone who he secretly knew was really not the Messiah? That wouldn’t make any sense.
“What’s more, the Jewish community would have jumped on any opportunity to discredit the Gospels by pointing out falsehoods. They would have said, ‘I was there, and Jesus’ bones were broken by the Romans during the crucifixion,’” Lapides said. “But even though the Jewish Talmud refers to Jesus in derogatory ways, it never once makes the claim that the fulfillment of prophecies was falsified. Not one time.”
Today’s reading is drawn from “The Case for Christmas” and is based on an interview with Louis S. Lapides, MDiv, ThM.