This is a challenge emailed to me from Johnny Pearce. It's interesting:
I think it helps contextualize how impossible reliability must have been for the Gospel writers. Some of the premises are rough around the edges, and need tweaking, or may be fallacious (eg time frame of 70 years), but the gist is there.
I get frustrated that apologists seem to think the speeches that Jesus made were accurate, and that his actions were accurately reported, when constrained by those sorts of criteria.
I challenge you to write an accurate history of Karl Dane, a 20th century Danish man.
This person spoke a different language than you, and never wrote anything down, and lived in a different country to you.
you are writing about him some 70 years after his death.
you cannot use the internet.
you cannot use the library.
you cannot use any book, since no other book has ever been written about him.
you cannot use the telephone.
you might be able to write some letters, but the reliability of them and time taken for delivery is highly suspect, plus knowing where the people live you need to speak to are is also a problem.
there may be some people alive who knew him, but they live in denmark, and contacting them is nigh on impossible as you don't know who they are or where they live, and transportation must be done by boat or donkey.
you have no idea of exactly what he said, other than by (possibly, if you could meet any contemporaries) asking people for oral recollections.
you speak a different language than any of his contemporaries, even if you could meet them.
traveling for any research purposes would require donkey / sail boat.
any information you get from others must come from people that haven't used the internet, books, libraries etc.
do you think you could write an accurate biography of this man now? could you accurately find out exactly what Karl Dane said when he said those things 70 years ago?
Just thought this might be an interesting line to take with some theists.