Dr. Richard Dawkins notes that the gospels were written long after Jesus’ death, even after the Letters of Paul, and therefore we cannot trust them as reliable historical records. Dawkins also suggests that the authors of the Gospels had twisted the facts in order to serve their bias and satisfy Old Testament prophecies (The God Delusion, 93).
Today biographies are often written even while the subject is still living. But that’s today. It is true that the Gospels were written after Jesus’ death, yet still within the same century that he lived. However you want to slice it, the distance between Jesus’ death and the written account of his life very obviously cannot exceed one hundred years (or even come close). That might seem like a long time in today’s terms, but really it is a very short time for the first century. The earliest accounts of Alexander the Great—also written in the first century—were penned four hundred years(!) after Alexander’s death.
A gap of four centuries leaves a lot more room for suspicious fabrication. I am curious whether Dawkins would accuse the Greek historian authors like Arrian of the same flim-flam that he accuses Luke and the other Gospel authors. That is, twisting the facts in order to fulfill Old Testament Prophecies.
Granted there are questionable stories surrounding Alexander the Great, but I do not think very many question much about Alexander’s seige of Tyre–an event in history that Archaeologist Dr. Merrill Unger sees as a powerful fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy in Ezekiel chapter 26: (Archeology and the New Testament, 31)
4 They will destroy the walls of Tyre and pull down her towers; I will scrape away her rubble and make her a bare rock. 5 Out in the sea she will become a place to spread fishnets, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign LORD… 12 They will plunder your wealth and loot your merchandise; they will break down your walls and demolish your fine houses and throw your stones, timber and rubble into the sea. (niv)
Speculative? perhaps. But it really is very curious when you study how Alexander invaded and conquered the city of Tyre. He demolished the main land city and threw the remains into the sea in order to build a land bridge to reach the island portion of the city…
Probably the best-known episode in the history of Tyre was its resistance to the army of the Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great who took it after a seven-month siege in 332. He completely destroyed the mainland portion of the town and used its rubble to build an immense causeway (some 2,600 feet [800 metres] long and 600–900 feet [180–270 metres] wide) to gain access to the island section…. Alexander’s causeway, which was never removed, converted the island into a peninsula.
“Tyre.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 09 Dec. 2008 <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/611914/Tyre>.