I am a graduate (MA) from Utrecht University, The Netherlands. My MA was focused on New Testament and Judaism, especially the languages Greek, Targum Aramaic, Mishnaic Hebrew. Since 1975, I worked as a high school teacher in Christian Religion. I had an active part in preparing a series of textbooks for Christian education as editor and co-author.
How Did I Come to the Subject of Documentation?
When I started as a high school teacher for Christian religion to adolescents, I was forced to reconsider the old and central problem in theology; “What about the words of Jesus?” My senior pupils leaned back, saying, “Sir, it was all written long after the events, wasn’t it? So how do we know it is true?” Another remarked: “Yes Sir, its fiction, just as we have learned with Dutch Language and Literature.” There I stood, empty-handed after five years of academic theological studies. Of course I knew the dilemma, but it was so clear presented by my pupils that I could only feel respect for them. This experience brought me again to the books to seek for the answers.
I started with the first verses of the Gospel of Luke (1:1-4), which contain the basic ideas about the oldest Christian transmission:
“1. Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us, 2. just as delivered to us the eyewitnesses also being ministers of the spoken word.” (RSV, elaborated: v. 2 in the active form as in the Greek)
Us = us
I don’t know how often I have turned the words of this Bible passage over in my mind. Slowly, an entirely new reality started to unfold. This text spoke of professional writers, who promptly followed Jesus, to deliver their reports to his followers (us = us = bystanders). And they in turn could copy the reports on their wax tablets to make their narratives. Later, the reports were copied by the gospel writers.
For the work with my high school students, my discoveries gradually made an impact. They did not lean back anymore, this was real; an evidence based approach of the gospels. Now, I am retired and I decided to work out my discoveries in the gospels and to write.
Many have written about the gospels. All have taken their starting point in the theory of the oral tradition which has led to the custom to explain alleged dissimilarities in and between the gospels as inaccuracies. Finally, this working method has brought a terrible result: “The spoken words of Jesus have become the lost sheep of (modern and conservative) theology.”
The documentation theory shows a completely different picture: no inaccuracies, but an overflow of details in the gospels regarding the sayings of Jesus and the presented observations of Jesus’s rapid writers. The outcome is that all his words can be accepted as original without any intellectual reservation.
What Christians Need
Listening to Jesus’ Biblical words is listening to him. If this creed is active in a Christian community, then there is hope. This website wants to share helpful insights for every visitor to move forward on this biblical path of hope.