Isaac Taylor on the Gospels as Credible Historical Sources


Happy Birthday to Isaac Taylor!

Isaac Taylor (1787 – 1865) was a British philosophical and historical author, artist, and inventor, regarded in his lifetime by many as the greatest English lay theologian since Coleridge.

Taylor was an Anglican but held many friends among the dissenters. He was described as very knowledgeable, pious, and mechanically inclined. Among his works are Fanaticism, Considerations on the Pentateuch, Elements of Thought, Four Lectures on Spiritual Christianity, Natural History of Enthusiasm, Natural History of Enthusiasm, The Process of Historical Proof, and The Restoration of Belief.

A very nice line from Isaac Taylor, The Process of Historical Proof (London: J. Holdsworth, 1828), pp. 285-86:

If asked why he believes the miracles and resurrection of Christ, the Christian is bound to give no other answer than the simple one, that—these facts are recorded by respectable contemporary historians. He who is not content with this reply is bound, for his own sake, to seek further information. Meanwhile, all reasonable men are quite satisfied to read Luke as they read Thucydides;—being convinced that both records were published while many of the actors in the scenes described were living—that both authors, by their manner and the sentiments they advance, make a good claim to the respect of posterity, as honest memorialists of the transactions concerning which they had made it their business to obtain accurate information; and that the affirmations of both are abundantly corroborated by a various mass of independent testimony.