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Is the Crucifixion Account Credible?
Holy Week 1997 has come and gone, but what will surely continue throughout the year, and what has always persisted down through the years, is the speculation about whether the Biblical accounts of the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth are fully credible. The questions and the objections take many forms, but the bottom line is always the perpetration of some doubt as to whether this event ever really happened as reported, and whether the Biblical narratives are truly reliable. Following are two questions and an objection regarding Jesus’ crucifixion as recorded by the Gospel writers. There are many other questions and objections, but what this brief exchange will hopefully illustrate is that for every question there is always a good answer, and an adequate response for every objection.
Why is there such a difference in the accounts of the last words of Jesus between Matthew 27:46 and Luke 23:46?
How do we know that Jesus wasn’t actually drugged on the cross-that the “sour wine” wasn’t in fact a stupor-producing narcotic?
There is a glaring discrepancy in the four Gospel writers’ accounts of the message on the sign placed on top of Jesus’ cross.
In addition, it is possible that the actual statement read: “This is Jesus of Nazareth the king of the Jews”, but that the Gospel writers quoted from that inscription only what they considered to be essential information, as follows:
Matthew: “This is Jesus [of Nazareth] the king of the Jews.”
If such is the case, there is no “glaring discrepancy” or contradiction at all, but rather complementary accounts that demonstrate the individual perspective of the writers-much as two witnesses to the exact same event will typically note different aspects of that event.
* Article in the Journal of the American Medical Society, 3/21/86, p1463. Other sources include: When Skeptics Ask, ©1990 SP Publications