The Bible repeatedly attests to its own inspiration, authority, and reliability. But in recent decades, skeptical scholars have challenged the assumption that the Bible we read today is the same as it was written thousands of years ago.
The Gospels in particular have come under fire: What if these foundational documents were doctored to push a theological agenda?
In a new feature-length documentary from Faithlife Films, Dr. Craig Evans takes this claim head on, traveling the globe to track down the most ancient New Testament manuscripts.
We’ve partnered with Fathom Events to bring Fragments of Truth to the big screen for one night only on April 24. I sat down with the film’s director, Reuben Evans, to discuss the new movie and how it demonstrates that the evidence for the Bible’s reliability is stronger than ever.
Some scholars claim that Christians tampered with New Testament documents to push a theological agenda. What kind of changes do they say were made?
It’s been alleged that church leaders, well-meaning scribes, or poorly educated Christians corrupted the text of the Gospels to increase the status of Jesus as more than a simple Jewish teacher. There have been all sorts of ideas over the years that church leaders conspired to suppress ideas and propagate others to solidify their own power.
Without giving too much away from the film, how does that claim hold up?
Fragments of Truth lays out new research by Dr. Craig Evans demonstrating that the burden of proof has shifted away from those who believe the Gospels are reliable, and onto those who propose that the Gospels we have don’t resemble the original writings.
Anybody familiar with the term “textual criticism” knows that it’s not the most obvious choice for a feature-length documentary. Why is this issue important for the Church to understand?
Many people have heard of textual criticism and assume it has to do with which Bible translation you pick. It does have something to do with that. But this film is really more about the overall integrity of the Gospels themselves. How were they written? What is the significance of these sheets or even shreds of papyri unearthed in the sands of Egypt? Can we trust the Gospels? Regardless of what Bible version you use, it is tremendously important to know about the oldest written evidence for our faith.
How does Fragments of Truth differ from the other film you made with Dr. Craig Evans, Archaeology + Jesus?
In one sense, Fragments of Truth is a sequel to Archaeology + Jesus. In that mini-series (available on Faithlife TV Plus) we examined the “material culture,” or the artifacts that come out of the ground. We asked if those artifacts echo the world described in the Gospels. In this film, we investigate the process of writing and preserving those records. The question we ask is, “If the artifacts corroborate the Gospels, and if the Gospels have been accurately preserved, then what is the basis for skepticism regarding the claims of Christ?”
How will learning about the history of the NT manuscripts help the average pastor, teacher, or Bible student?
Our faith rests on trusting Jesus for forgiveness of sins. Many today challenge that he actually claimed to be able to do just that. Dr. Craig Evans published some exciting research that genuinely reframes the debate.
What was the biggest thing you personally took away from exploring the issues covered in Fragments of Truth?
That we are unaware of so many assumptions that we as modern people make about the ancient world. The closer we look at the words of Jesus on these fragments and codices, the stronger our faith becomes.
Fragments of Truth is coming to theaters nationwide on Tuesday, April 24, 2018, for one night only. Tickets are available on Fathom Events’ website and at participating theater box offices.