C F Martin D28 acoustic guitar
I AGREE! We're speaking to a non-Christian in the O.P.'s question. You start going into the history thing and you'll hear "oh yeah, so some guy got swallowed by a whale?" OR " some woman got turned into salt."
See? I know about the bible Oz. I'm speaking as to how to present it to a non-believer who has studied it in university as a literary book. I'd keep away from the history and stick to the spirituality.
If the discussion goes to Jonah and the whale, we have to deal with the historical evidence, how one demonstrates evidence to be historically reliable, and God's supernatural intervention. That means one has to deal with the nature of the God whom we serve. Same with the woman turned into salt. The Bible is an historical document that involves the Lord God Almighty. We can't avoid these issues - only if they are raised by the non-Christian.
Sticking to spirituality may be OK for you, but it runs into so much competition with Hinduism, Buddhism, New Age, occult, etc. How does the non-believer know which spirituality matches reality when there are so many alternatives? I would not go into spirituality as a starter in building common ground as there are no objective ways I know to discern the differences among spiritualities.
Have you ever taken a basic theology course? The first things you learn are:
1. Christianity is a religion based on reason.
2. It could be believed by using intelliectual reasoning.
3. Faith is passed down by the Apostles. Our trust in these men, Apostles, can assure us that what they passed down to us is true.
Do I come across as a theological nincompoop? If so, I apologise for that. I have a PhD in NT. I've done many theology courses - many. You may have learned that Christianity is a religion based on reason, but I didn't. It is a religion based on revelation that includes reason, history and God's intervention.
Faith comes from confessing with your mouth and believing (Rom 10:9-10 ESV). I do not accept that faith is passed down by the Apostles and is available to me. Scripture is God's demonstration of revelation, with oral tradition passed down by the Apostles and others until it was written in Scripture.
Another good book: Who Moved The Stone by Frank Morison
It's about the resurrection and proof that it's true.
The book you post re the authenticity of the gospels is probably very good - but will a non-believer accept what it says? 1 Corinthians 2:14
I read Frank Morison when I was an undergraduate. Today I prefer N T Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, as much more detailed research than that of Morison. I know Morison's content but there are better resources for me. I'm not asking a non-Christian to read the resources I suggested (Craig Blomberg). It is to prepare the person sharing his/her faith.
You could start here, I just got it for you:
There's much more - just ask Professor Google.
I have more than that in the 3,000 volumes in my personal library.
The above is so complicated I'm just not willing to get into it. As I said, it all depends on which theologian you're reading. THEY DON'T AGREE! And WHY are dates disturbingly fundamental data? HIS research leads to the dating you post for the 3 gospels, but he doesn't get to lay down the law. Have you ever read a book that gives different dates? Why do you think that WHEN a letter was written has significance for interpretation? Or a gospel, for that matter? Are you willing to discuss whether or not an actual census was taken by Herod? Who was the governor at the time, did it actually happen that all had to return to their town of birth? Do you know about the debate regarding this?
Dates are important for determining historicity. Different dates do not close down my research. I'm a researcher who investigates different dates and interpretations when I need to. When a letter was written is an indication of authenticity; just one of them. I have letters from my late father. Dating is important for them, but even more so for biblical documents. It's part of historical investigation.
You may like to start another thread about Herod's census. I've been over that a number of times through the years. Of course I know the debate concerning this. Your inference is treating me as a biblical illiterate. I'm not!
What I'm saying is that it doesn't matter unless you're studying to become a theologian. And, unless you are, it's best to stick to the simple and believe what is written and not worry too much about when it was written.
If it's very important to you, then I wish you the best in studying this. I gave it a good shot some years go and for me it just isn't important enough. And definitely not for witnessing since it brings up more problems than it solves.
As a researcher, writer and Bible teacher I have a different view to you on this topic. I hope that is OK.