How Could ‘Illiterate’ Disciples Write Jesus’ Gospels In Greek?

Among the most common objections to the credibility and historical reliability of the Gospels — the first four books of the New Testament, authored, respectively, by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — is how could such men write in Greek if they were illiterate?

That objection is frequently accompanied by the claim that 90 percent of the people in the ancient world were illiterate. Several of the disciples who first proclaimed Jesus’ resurrection were viewed by Jewish leaders as “uneducated and untrained,” according to Acts 4:13. Compared to members of the Sanhedrin, the disciples likely weren’t as educated, but that’s not the same thing as being illiterate.

And both Matthew, a former tax collector, and Luke, a physician, certainly weren’t illiterate. Biblical scholars have long noted that Mark’s Greek is simple and direct, which suggests a lower level of education but clearly not illiteracy.

As for John, his Gospel is the most philosophical, which, since he outlived the other disciples, likely reflects that he thought long and hard before putting pen to scroll.

Cross-examined.org’s Dr. Frank Turek responds to this and related objections regularly, as seen in the following video in which he specifically addresses the critique of New Testament scholar and skeptic Bart Ehrman of the University of North Carolina.