14 A.N. Sherwin-White, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament(London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963), p. 187.
15 Michael Grant, Jesus: An Historian’s Review, especially pp. 175–184, 198–201.
16 Ibid., p. 182.
17 Sherwin-White, Roman Society, p. 189.
18 Ibid., p. 186.
yet the history they record can still be ascertained.^19 Another contemporary historian, Paul Maier, makes the same point in reference to the contradictory material in the sources for the great (first century AD) fire in Rome.^20
(5) Form critics speak much of the experiences of the earliest disciples, but history looks for adequate causes behind these experiences.^21 (6) Some portions of the New Testament, like the book of Acts, are confirmed by external indications of historicity.^22 (7) The principles of form criticism do not preclude an important place for history in the Gospels. Although the primary interest of the Gospel writers was spiritual, history was also very important. There is no good reason why they would pervert the historical in order to preserve the spiritual, when both were so important and even complemented one another.^23
Sherwin-White and Grant are examples of modern historians who have pointed out some of the many weaknesses in the form-critical method as espoused by Bultmann.^24 Both scholars conclude that if the same criteria which are applied to other ancient writings are applied to the New Testament, we can delineate a historical basis for the life and teachings of Jesus.^25
Our fourth critique is not really aimed specifically at Bultmann, but at any critics who would challenge the text of the New Testament, which measures exceptionally well against ancient classical works. This is especially the case in three areas: manuscript number, the time of the writing in relation to the time of the events described, and the completeness of the text. So, in addition to our previous subject concerning factual content, as noted by historians, the New Testament texts can be ascertained.