Their result for The Historical Christianity Test ...


You understand 74% about the facts of Christianity!

You understand a great deal about the New Testament and where it comes from, including many of its limiations. If you're not a Christian, you probably prepare yourself against the overzealous religious ferver of the faithful who don't understand their own religion. If you are a Christian, you understand the limitations of your faith and make an intellectual decision to choose to believe despite the inherent flaws. Either way, you have made your decision based on your knowledge and understanding and I salute you!

The Answers:

1. Jesus was a Jew, and taught the Jewish Law.

2. The earliest book to be written in the New Testament is generally considered to be 1 Thessalonians. Paul wrote his apostolic letters around 15-20 years after the death of Christ, and 10-15 years before the first Gospel, Mark.

3. There are 27 books in the Christian New Testament: 4 Gospels, 1 Acts, 22 letters and 1 Apocalypse.

4. We do not have the originals of the New Testament texts. The earliest versions of the texts we have were made several generations later, copies that were created several hundred years after the originals were written.

5, 6. In the early 1800s a German scholar named John Mill managed to meticulously count the differences in the sources he had available to him, and came up with the first itemized list of differences - at 30,000. We currently have around 5400 surviving copies of the New Testament texts in Greek. Within those 5400 fragments there are - at last estimation - somewhere around 200k to 400k differences between the texts (depending upon which scholar you pay attention to). Even with computers, we cannot count them all. One way to look at it is to express it this way: there are more differences in the copies of the texts that we have than there are words in the new testament itself.

7. Gospel comes from the Old English term "god-spell" (pronounced goad-shpell, meaning "Good News." It is a direct translation of the Greek "euangelion", from which we get the modern English word evangelical.

8. Jesus came from an extremely poor Jewish community (Nazareth) and likely spoke the language of that time and place - Aramaic.

9. All of the books of the New Testament were written in Greek.

10, 12. The first gospel to be written was Mark, written 30-35 years after Jesus' death.

11, 13. The last gospel to be written was John, written 60-65 years after Jesus' death.

14. None of the Gospels in the Bible give an eyewitness account of Jesus' resurrection from the tomb. One gospel not included in the canon - The Gospel of Peter - gives an account of the resurrection of Jesus as a 30 foot tall man followed by a walking, talking cross.

15. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are so similar in their stories that they can often be "seen together," which is the literal meaning of synoptic. John is the gospel that differs so dramatically that it is seen on its own.

16. 1 Corinthians is the only one in this list that is generally considered to be written by the man who claims to have written it. 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, the "pastoral epistles" are widely held to be forgeries due to vocabulary, writing style, and theological inconsistencies with the undisputed letters.

17. The gospels in the bible give discrepant accounts of exactly when Jesus dies. In John (19:14-16) it is quite clear. It happens the day of preparation for the passover feast at around noon. In Mark (15:25), Jesus dies on the day *of* the passover feast at around 9 in the morning.

18, 19 Roman legions were stationed in Jerusalem (and generally, Judea) only during times of potential uprisings. The Passover celebration was a historical time when Jews, celebrating God's release of them from Egyptian captivity, tended to revolt. This time of year was particularly violent and problematic. The Maccabees, for instance, did this around 167 BC. Another notable time was the revolt that led to the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 AD. During this time the Roman prefect (during Jesus' time this was Pontius Pilate) would send in troops and even visit the region to keep the peace. The Passover feast was traditionally a time of tension and potential revolution.

20, 21. We have no non-Christian sources that mention Jesus during his lifetime or immediately thereafter. The only two we have within the first hundred years of Jesus' death come from Josephus, the Jewish Historian to the Romans around 94 AD, and Pliny the Younger, who briefly mentioned Christianity in a letter to Trajan around 110 AD.

22 - 24. Revelations is a form of apocalyptic writing which was common among Jewish and Christian authors. Some forms of apocalypses made it into the Bible, such as the book of Daniel in the Old Testament, and the Shepherd of Hermas written in the second-century AD. As a form of literature, Apocalypses served as a sort of science fiction tale, designed to give hope to those who were suffering at the moment. The idea was to show believers how God had a plan to make the evil of the current world come to an end in a cosmic form of come-uppance.

Clues inside the texts give an insight to who is going to get their come-uppance, and who the believers are going to overcome. In the case of Revelations, the number 666 ("the beast") is the numerical equivalent of "Caesar Nero" when spelled in Hebrew. However, there were two ways to spell Nero, with one summing 666 and the other, with the final letter left off, summing 616.

25. The first time that we have recorded that the 27 books currently in the New Testament - and ONLY those 27 books - should be used as orthodox scripture, was in 367 by Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria. However, that didn't settle the matter as debates continued for hundreds of years. Generally, however, the canon became settled sometime during the middle ages.

26. False. Before Christian authors began writing about Jesus, the Jewish concept of the Messiah focused around a David-like figure who was a bold military leader who would rescue the Jews from oppression or a wise philosophical leader who would change the political landscape. At no point did Jews believe the Messiah would be a crucified criminal.

27. Jesus was an itinerant Jewish Rabbi who taught the Jewish Law and demanded that it be adhered to by his followers even more rigorously than the most devout of the Jews: the Pharisees and Sadducees.

28, 29. The original debates surrounding how many Gospels there should be focused around the various groups that were choosing one or several for their scripture. Jewish Christians were holding on to the more Jewish Gospel of Matthew, while those who felt that Jesus was the adopted son of God (and not fully divine) were following only Mark. Those who believed that Jesus was completely divine accepted either John or a form of Luke.

However, Church leader Ireneaeus said that these groups were in error because "it is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or feewer in number than they are. For, since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is scattered througout the world, and the pillar and ground of the Church is the Gospel... it is fitting that she should have four pillars." (Against Heresies, 3.11.7). In other words, four corners of the earth, four winds, four pillars, and therefore four Gospels.

30. False. There are passages in the Old Testament that are often used by Christians to foretell the coming of Jesus as the Messiah, and several of the Gospels (Matthew, in particular) bend over backwards to try to show that Jesus was foretold by scripture. However, many of the passages that are referred to (including Isaiah 53) do not mention or refer to the Messiah specifically. Many of them are metaphors for Israel, not for a specific individual.

Matthew's gospel refers to predictions in scripture, but even a quick glance back at the scriptures he's referring to indicate that he has had to do some fancy footwork to bend the story of Jesus' prophecy to prove his point. Luke, for his part, had to create an entire fabric of a story to justify Jesus being in Bethlehem to be born, as is predicted in the scripture (there is no record of a worldwide census ever been decreed, in Rome or elsewhere, outside of the New Testament).

31. There is only one passange in the entire new testament that contains the traditional orthodox docrine of the trinity, that there are three members of the trinity and the three members are One. This is found in 1 John 5:7-8, and says: "For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement" (or, depending on the translation, "in heaven: the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one.") Unfortunately, it's a passange that DOES NOT EXIST in any of the greek copies of the new testament until around the time of the invention of the printing press in the 15th century.

Much of the scholarly research used as the basis for this test comes from a variety of sources, with particular emphasis on Bart D. Ehrman's works: Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, Lost Christianities, The Historical Jesus, and The New Testament, in addition to other sources.

Just remember, you can't be sure what the New Testament means if we're not sure what it says.

Their Analysis (Vertical line = Average)

  • Accuracy Distribution

    They scored 74% on Accuracy, higher than 86% of your peers.

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The Scholar

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