How Did They Get That Right?


What we find is an exact corollary between the top 9 most common male names in both the New Testament documents and other non-scriptural sources of that same time frame.

When researchers looked at the top 9 Jewish names of first century men living in Egypt they got a much different list of names that did not correspond at all to the list of names in Israel.

This means that it’s very unlikely that someone living in Egypt, for example, would have been able to guess at the right proportion and types of names to include in a story about Jewish men living in Jerusalem, even if they lived during the same time period. Much less likely that someone living outside of Jerusalem would have been able to accurately guess the types and proportions of Jewish names a half century later.

“It’s not just that they have the right proportion of names,” says Dr. Williams. “They also have the right features of names [e.g., especially common names like Simon and Mary are often qualified so that they can be disambiguated].” … We see a Gospel record that retains very specific details about seemingly minor characters and accurately communicates their names, decades after the facts and thousands of miles away. … The Gospel authors are also aware of the names of several cities and villages in the area, and they speak of them with amazing expertise. … “The Gospel authors … know that Capernaum is next to the sea. They know whether the land in those areas goes up or down, they know traveling times, etc. How did they get that right?” … [T]he Gospels of Philip and Peter and Thomas only mention Jerusalem and Nazareth whereas the Gospels mention a total of 23 towns and villages.… “… [T]hey’re getting it right on botany, on the shape of houses, on the description of the Temple, they’re getting the coinage right, they’re getting the social stratification right, they’re getting the religious setting right. After a while you think, there are so many opportunities for them to go wrong if they’re making it up. But they don’t seem to get it wrong.”

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