Catholics/Curiosity and Faith


In the Jesus stories some of the material may be historical and some of it not historical. How much do you think is historical? How would you separate the materials into each group? Do you think such a thing is possible or worth while and is covered by faith? Or is one not to question the historical incidents and conversations in the New Testament at all?

The Gospels are historical documents.  The Jesus of "Faith" is the Jesus of "history" and visa-versa.  They cannot be separated out as though they are two different persons.  Liberal Scripture "scholars" are the ones who do that.  They do not believe many of the Gospel accounts are historical. At the extreme end, they believe the miracles are not historical.  

The Gospels closely conform to ancient biography stories of the time.  This means that the "historicity" of the Gospels has to be understood the way the ancient Jewish people would have understood historical documents.  The Gospel writers were not interested in exact dates and times.  Modern Americans read history in terms of precise dates, times and events, but the ancient people did not think that way about history.

The Gospel writers record accurate statements, miracles, events, preaching, teaching, etc, in the life of Christ.  However whether they record everything exactly as it happened, and whether they record the events in the correct order isn't so important.  For example: did Jesus cleanse the Temple before he began his public ministry or right before his passion?  Did he do it twice?  It does not really matter to the Gospel writer exactly when Jesus cleansed the Temple.  What matters is that he did it, and the meaning of the action.

Was one angel present at the tomb, or two angels?  Does it matter?  Not necessarily to the Gospel writer.  What matters is what the angel said.  Did Jesus preach the Beatitudes on a mountain as Matthew says, or on a plain as Luke says?  Did Jesus preach the Beatitudes in one sermon as is recorded by the Gospels, or did the Gospel writers bring together the sayings into one sermon? It doesn't matter.  What matters is that Jesus taught the beatitudes.  

The Gospels writers are going to tend to emphasize things they think are important, and things that resonate with them.  This is why each Gospel gives a slightly different picture of Jesus, and why one Gospel might emphasize or record something that another Gospel does not.

In any case--the Jesus of history cannot be separated from the Jesus of Faith as many liberal "scholars" want to do today.  The Gospel accounts record true history.


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Father Dave Bechtel


I am a Catholic priest in good standing and in active ministry in the Diocese of Scranton PA. I can answer most any question about the Catholic Faith, however my area of specialization is Systematic Theology. Systematic Theology is a branch of theology that focuses on the fundamental tenants of the Faith and the Dogmas of the Faith. I have specialization on the Reformation and Catholic vs. Protestant theology/issues and answering Protestant challenges to the Faith.


I was ordained in June of 2008. Since that time the thrust of my ministry has been specialized. In my first assignment I was an assistant pastor. A year later I was sent to work in education. I spent six (6) years in education and have now assumed my first pastorate. While education was the thrust of my ministry, nevertheless I continued to have a hand in parish ministry, hospital chaplaincy and prison chaplaincy. Now that I am out of education I will obviously be focusing more on parish work than specialized ministry. I have two years of formal Clinical Pastoral Education and prior to ordination I successfully pursued Board Certification for health care ministry through the NACC. My certification needs to be renewed and I plan to seek dual certification in health care ministry (NACC and APC) when I renew my certification. I have a breadth of experience working with Protestant ministers and collaborating with them to achieve the goals of hospital pastoral care and chaplaincy. These ministers run the spectrum from the liberal to the conservative.

Bachelors of Science-- University of Scranton PA Masters of Arts Theology--- Saint Mary's Seminary and University Baltimore MD Masters of Divinity--- Saint Charles Borremeo Seminary Philadelphia PA Board Certified Chaplain (up for renewal)

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