Do we have in the four Gospels in the New Testament reliable means of access to the real Jesus? Are the Gospels history, legend, myth, or mere propaganda? Many people in the contemporary world, perhaps especially in the media, and even in the contemporary church have come to think that the four Gospels in the New Testament are basically very unreliable sources for knowing anything about Jesus.
Bauckham briefly looks at the way in which apostolic eyewitness functioned as a criterion of authenticity. He focuses on in the period from the second to the third centuries. During that period issues around what we call the canon of the four Gospels were sorted out as authoritative Scripture for the church. This was a crucial process through which early mainstream Christianity was defining itself.