Fact one: the bibliographical test (corroboration from textual transmission).
The historical accuracy of the New Testament can be proven by subjecting it to three generally accepted tests for determining historical reliability. Such tests are utilized in literary criticism and the study of historical documents in general. (These are also discussed by Sanders. 1 They involve 1) bibliographical, 2) internal and 3)external examinations of the text and other evidence.
The bibliographical test seeks to determine whether we can reconstruct the original manuscript from the extant copies at hand. For the New Testament we have 5,300 Greek manuscripts and manuscript portions, 10,000 Latin Vulgate, 9,300 other versions, plus 36,000 early (100-300 A.D.) patristic quotations of the New Testament — such that all but a few verses of the entire New Testament could be reconstructed from these alone. 2 What does this mean?
Few scholars question the general reliability even of ancient classical literature on the basis of the manuscripts we possess. Yet this amount is vastly inferior to that of the New Testament manuscripts. For example, of sixteen well-known classical authors, such as Plutarch, Tacitus, Seutonius, Polybius, Thucydides and Xenophon, the total number of extant copies is typically less than ten and the earliest copies date from 750 to 1600 years after the original manuscript was first penned. 3 We need only compare such slim evidence to the mass of biblical documentation, which includes over 24,000 manuscript portions, manuscripts and versions, with the earliest fragments and complete copies dating between 50 and 300 years after originally written.
Given the fact that the early Greek manuscripts (the Papyri and early Uncials*) date much closer to the originals than for any other ancient literature and given the overwhelming additional abundance of manuscript attestation, any doubt as to the integrity or authenticity of the New Testament text has been removed — no matter what the “higher” critics claim. Indeed, this kind of evidence supplied by the New Testament (both amount and quality) is the dream of the historian. No other ancient literature has ever come close to supplying historians and textual critics with such an abundance of data.
Dr. F. F. Bruce, the late Ryland’s Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at the University of Manchester, asserts of the New Testament: “There is no body of ancient literature in the world which enjoys such a wealth of good textual attestation as the New Testament.” 4 Professor Bruce further comments, “The evidence for our New Testament writings is ever so much greater than the evidence for many writings of classical writers, the authenticity of which no one dreams of questioning. And if the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt.” 5
It is this wealth of material that has enabled scholars such as Westcott and Hort, Ezra Abbott, Philip Schaff, A. T. Robertson, Norman Geisler and William Nix to place the restoration of the original text at 99 percent plus.6 Thus no other document of the ancient period is as accurately preserved as the New Testament:
Hort’s estimate of “substantial variation” for the New Testament is one-tenth of 1 percent; Abbott’s estimate is one-fourth of 1 percent; and even Hort’s figure including trivial variation is less than 2 percent. Sir Frederic Kenyon well summarizes the situation: The number of manuscripts of the New Testament… is so large that it is practically certain that the true reading of every doubtful passage is preserved in some one or another of these ancient authorities. This can be said of no other ancient book in the world. Scholars are satisfied that they possess substantially the true text of the principal Greek and Roman writers whose works have come down to us, of Sophocles, of Thucydides, of Cicero, of Virgil; yet our knowledge depends on a mere handful of manuscripts, whereas the manuscripts of the New Testament are counted by hundreds and even thousands. 7
In other words, those who question the reliability of the New Testament must also question the reliability of virtually every ancient writing the world possesses! So how can the New Testament logically be rejected by anyone when its documentation is 100 times that of other ancient literature? If it is impossible to question the world’s ancient classics, it is far more impossible to question the reliability of the New Testament. 8 In addition, none of the established New Testament canon is lost or missing, not even a verse, as indicated by variant readings. The New Testament, then, passes the bibliographical test and must, by far, be graded with the highest mark of any ancient literature.
Fact two: the internal evidence test (corroboration from content accuracy).
This test asserts that one is to assume the truthful reporting of an ancient document (and not assume either fraud, incompetence or error) unless the author of the document has disqualified himself by their presence. For example, do the New Testament writers contradict themselves? Is there anything in their writing which causes one to objectively suspect their trustworthiness? The answer is no. There is lack of proven fraud or error on the part of any New Testament writer. But there is evidence of careful eyewitness reporting throughout the New Testament. The caution exercised by the writers, their personal conviction that what they wrote was true and the lack of demonstrable error or contradiction indicate that the Gospel authors and, indeed, all the New Testament authors pass the second test as well (Luke 1:1-4; John 19:35; 21:24; Acts 1:1-3; 2:22; 26:24-26; 2 Peter 1:16; 1 John 1:1-3).
The kinds of things the Gospel writers include in their narratives offer strong evidence for their integrity. They record their own sins and failures, even serious ones (Matthew 26:56, 69-75; Mark 10:35-45). They do not hesitate to record even the most difficult and consequential statements of Jesus, such as John 6:41-71. They forthrightly supply the embarrassing and even capital charges of Jesus’ own enemies. Thus, even though Jesus was their very Messiah and Lord, they not only record the charges that Jesus broke the Sabbath but also that He was a blasphemer and a liar, insane and demonized (Matthew 26:65; John 7:20,47; 8:48, 52; 10:20).
To encounter such honesty from those who loved the Person they were reporting about gives one assurance that the Gospel writers placed a very high premium on truthfulness.
Fact three: the external evidence test (corroboration from reliable sources outside the New Testament).
This test seeks either to corroborate or to falsify the documents on the basis of additional historical literature and data. (In this section, we will look at Christian sources; in the next section, fact four, we will look at non-Christian sources.) Is there corroborating evidence for the claims made in the New Testament outside the New Testament? Or are the claims or events of the New Testament successfully refuted by other competent reports or eyewitnesses? Are there statements or assertions in the New Testament that are demonstrably false according to known archaeological, historic, scientific or other data?
The New Testament again passes the test. For example, Luke wrote one-fourth of the New Testament. His careful historical writing has been documented from detailed personal archaeological investigation by former critic Sir William Ramsay, who stated after his painstaking research, “Luke’s history is unsurpassed in respect of its trustworthiness.” 9 A. N. Sherwin-White, the distinguished historian of Rome, stated of Luke: “For [the book of] Acts the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming. Any attempt to reject its basic historicity even in matters of detail must now appear absurd.” 10
Papias, a student of the Apostle John 11 and Bishop of Hierapolis around 150 A.D., observed that the Apostle John himself noted that the Apostle Mark in writing his Gospel “wrote down accurately… whatsoever he [Peter] remembered of the things said or done by Christ. Mark committed no error… for he was careful of one thing, not to omit any of the things he [Peter] had heard, and not to state any of them falsely.” 12 Further, fragments of Papias’ Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord, ca. 140 A.D. (III, XIX, XX) assert that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and John are all based on reliable eyewitness testimony (His portion on Luke is missing). 13
Even 200 years of scholarly rationalistic biblical criticism (such as form, source and redaction approaches) have proven nothing except that the writers were careful and honest reporters of the events recorded and that these methods attempting to discredit them were flawed from the start.
Fact four (corroboration from non-Christian sources).
The existence of both Jewish and secular accounts, to a significant degree, confirm the picture of Christ that we have in the New Testament. Scholarly research such as that by Dr. Gary R. Habermas in Ancient Evidence for the Life of Jesus, and other texts, indicates that “a broad outline of the life of Jesus” and His death by crucifixion can be reasonably and directly inferred from entirely non-Christian sources. 14
Using only the information gleaned from these ancient extrabiblical sources, what can we conclude concerning the death and resurrection of Jesus? Can these events be historically established based on these sources alone? Of the seventeen documents examined in this chapter, eleven different works speak of the death of Jesus in varying amounts of detail, with five of these specifying crucifixion as the mode. When these sources are examined by normal historical procedures used with other ancient documents, the result is conclusive.
It is this author’s view that the death of Jesus by crucifixion can be asserted as a historical fact from this data…. 15
Further, Habermas points out that the empty tomb can reasonably be established as historical from extrabiblical sources and that the resurrection of Christ Himself can be indirectly inferred from non-Christian sources. 16
Fact five (corroboration from archeology).
There exists detailed archaeological confirmation for the New Testament documents. 17 Dr. Clifford Wilson is the former director of the Australian Institute of Archaeology and author of New Light on the New Testament Letters; New Light on the Gospels; Rock, Relics and Biblical Reliability and a 17-volume set on the archeological confirmation of the Bible. He writes: “Those who know the facts now recognize that the New Testament must be accepted as a remarkably accurate source book.” 18 Many recent scholarly texts confirm this, such as Dr. Randall Price’s The Stones Cry Out: What Archaeology Reveals About the Truth of the Bible (Harvest House, 1997); A. J. Hoerth, Archaeology and the Old Testament (1998); and J. McRay, Archaeology and the New Testament (1991).
Fact six (corroboration from enemies’ silence).
The complete inability of the numerous enemies of Jesus and the early Church to discredit early Christian claims (when they had both the motive and ability to do so) argues strongly for the veracity of the early Christian claims in light of the stupendous nature of those claims (Christ’s Messiahship, deity and resurrection) and the relative ease of disproof (Jesus’ failure to fulfill prophecy; producing Jesus’ body).
Fact seven (corroboration from eyewitnesses).
The presence of numerous eyewitnesses to the events recorded in the New Testament 19 would surely have prohibited any alteration or distortion of the facts, just as today false reporting as to the events of the Vietnam War or World War II would be corrected on the basis of living eyewitnesses and historic records.
Some argue that the gospel writers’ reporting of miracles can’t be trusted because they were only giving their religiously excited “subjective experience” of Jesus, not objectively reporting real miraculous events. They thought Jesus did miracles, but were mistaken.
What is ignored by critics is what the text plainly states, and the fact that the gospel writers could not have gotten away with this in their own day unless they had been telling the truth. They claimed that these things were done openly, not in a corner (Acts 26:26), that they were literally eyewitnesses of the miraculous nature and deeds of Jesus (Luke 1:2; Acts 2:32; 4:20; 2 Peter 1:16), and that their testimony should be believed because it was true (John 20:30-31; 21:24).
Indeed, they wrote that Jesus Himself presented His miracles in support of His claims to be both the prophesied Messiah and God incarnate. In Mark 2:8-11, when He healed the paralytic, He did it so “that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — a clear claim to being God. In John 10:33, when the Jews accused Jesus of blaspheming because as supposedly only a man He was yet claiming to be God, what was Jesus’ response? “Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father” (John 10:37-38) — another claim to deity. When John the Baptist was in jail and apparently had doubts as to whether Jesus was the Messiah, what did Jesus do? He told John’s disciples to go and report about the miracles that He did, which were in fulfillment of specific messianic prophecy (Matthew 11:2-5). Many other examples could be added.
The truth is that the teachings and miracles of Jesus, as any independent reading of the Gospels will prove, are so inexorably bound together that if one removes the miracles one must discard the teachings and vice versa. It is logically impossible to have any other Jesus than the biblical one. It is precisely the biblical Jesus — His deeds and teachings — who has such abundant eyewitness testimony, as any reading of the Gospels and Acts proves.
Fact eight (corroboration from date of authorship).
The fact that both conservatives (F. F. Bruce, John Wenham) and liberals (Bishop John A. T. Robinson) have penned defenses of early dating for the New Testament is a witness to the strength of the data for an early date. For example, in Redating Matthew, Mark and Luke, noted conservative British scholar John Wenham presents a convincing argument that the synoptic Gospels are to be dated before 55 A.D. He dates Matthew at 40 A.D. (some tradition says the early 30s); Mark at 45 A.D. and Luke no later than 51-55 A.D. 20
German papyrologist Carsten Peter Thiede has argued that the Magdalen papyrus, containing snippets of three passages from Matthew 26, currently housed at Oxford University, are actually the oldest fragments of the New Testament, dating from about 70 A.D. Thiede’s book, Eyewitness to Jesus (Doubleday, 1995), points out that the Magdalen papyrus is written in Uncial style, which began to die out in the middle of the first century. In addition, the fragments are from a codex,21 containing writing on both sides of the papyri, which may have been widely used by Christians in the first century since they were easier to handle than scrolls. Further, at three places on the papyri the name of Jesus is written as KS, which is an abbreviation of the Greek word kyrios or Lord. Thiede argues that this shorthand is proof that early Christians considered Jesus a sacred name just as the devout Jews shortened the name of God to YHWH. This would indicate a very early belief for the deity of Christ.
New papyrus discoveries, Thiede believes, will eventually prove that all four gospels, even the problematic one ascribed to John, were written before A.D. 80 rather than during the mid-second century. He argues that a scroll fragment unearthed at the Essene community of Qumran in 1972 almost certainly contains a passage from Mark’s gospel and can be accurately dated to A.D. 68. In Thiede’s opinion, recent research has established that a papyrus fragment of Luke in a Paris library was written between A.D. 63 and A.D. 67. 22
Even liberal bishop John A. T. Robinson argued in his Redating the New Testament that the entire New Testament was written and in circulation between 40 and 65 A.D. 23 And liberal Peter Stuhlmacher of Tubingen, trained in Bultmann’s critical methodology of form criticism, says, “As a Western scripture scholar, I am inclined to doubt these [Gospel] stories, but as historian, I am obligated to take them as reliable?. The biblical texts as they stand are the best hypothesis we have until now to explain what really happened.” 24
Indeed, it is becoming an increasingly persuasive argument that all the New Testament books were written before 70 A.D. — within a single generation of the death of Christ, and probably earlier. Given Jesus’ miracles, claims and controversy, which began early in His ministry, it is inconceivable that His disciples would not have recorded Jesus’ words as He spoke them or immediately after. Even before He began His public ministry there had to be stories circulating about Him, such as about the unique circumstances surrounding His birth, the visit by the shepherds, His presentation in the temple, the visit by the Magi, His escape to Egypt, the return to Nazareth, the event in the temple as a boy and so on. At His baptism the Holy Spirit descended on Him as a dove and He went to the desert to be tempted by Satan. His first miracle in Cana, the changing of water to wine, His cleansing of the temple, the healing of a nobleman’s son and so on were all done in the first six months or so of His public ministry. Even the people of His hometown tried to kill Him at Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30). 6 It is likely the Gospels would have been constructed from these accounts as soon as necessary, which could have been as early as 40 A.D. or even earlier.
The implications of this are not small. A New Testament written between 40-70 A.D. virtually destroys the edifice on which higher critical premises regarding the New Testament are based. If true, insufficient time elapsed for the early Church to have embellished the records with their own particularist views. What the New Testament reports, it reports accurately.
Fact nine (corroboration from critical methods themselves).
Even critical methods indirectly support New Testament reliability. Although higher critical theories in general reject biblical reliability a priori, nevertheless, when such theories “are subjected to the same analytical scrutiny as they apply to the New Testament documents, they will be found to make their own contribution to validating the historicity of those records.”26
Fact ten (confirmation from legal testimony and skeptics).
We must also concede the historicity of the New Testament when we consider the fact that many great minds of legal history have, on the grounds of strict legal evidence, accepted the New Testament as reliable history — not to mention also the fact that many brilliant skeptical intellects, of both history and today, have converted to Christianity on the basis of the historical evidence (Saul of Tarsus, Athanagoras, Augustine, George Lyttleton, Gilbert West, C. S. Lewis, Frank Morison, Sir William Ramsay, John Warwick Montgomery and others).
Lawyers, of course, are expertly trained in the matter of evaluating evidence, and they are perhaps the most qualified in the task of weighing data critically. Is it coincidence that so many of them throughout history have concluded in favor of the truth of the Christian religion? What of the “father of international law,” Hugo Grotius, who wrote The Truth of the Christian Religion (1627)? What of the greatest authority in English and American common-law evidence in the nineteenth century, Harvard Law School professor Simon Greenleaf, who wrote Testimony of the Evangelists in which he powerfully demonstrated the reliability of the Gospels? 27 What of Edmund H. Bennett (1824-1898), for over 20 years the dean of Boston University Law School, who penned The Four Gospels From a Lawyer’s Standpoint (1899)? 28 What of Irwin Linton, who in his time had represented cases before the Supreme Court, and who wrote A Lawyer Examines the Bible in which he stated:
So invariable had been my observation that he who does not accept wholeheartedly the evangelical, conservative belief in Christ and the Scriptures has never read, has forgotten, or never been able to weigh — and certainly is utterly unable to refute — the irresistible force of the cumulative evidence upon which such faith rests, that there seems ample ground, for the conclusion that such ignorance is an invariable element in such unbelief, And this is so even though the unbeliever be a preacher, who is supposed to know this subject if he know no other. 29
Finally, what of the eminent Lord Chancellor Hailsham, who twice held the highest office possible for a lawyer in England (that of Lord Chancellor), and who wrote The Door Wherein I Went, in which he upholds the singular truth of the Christian Religion? 30 What of hundreds of contemporary lawyers who, on the grounds of strict legal evidence, accept the New Testament as historically reliable?31
Certainly, such men are well acquainted with legal reasoning and have just as certainly concluded that the evidence for the truthfulness of the Scriptures is beyond reasonable doubt. It is also a fact that on the basis of legal evidence, no competent jury should fail to bring in a positive verdict for either the reliability of the New Testament or the Resurrection.
Apologist, theologian and lawyer John Warwick Montgomery asks people to consider several things: the “ancient documents” rule (that ancient documents constitute competent evidence if there is no evidence of tampering and they have been accurately transmitted); the “parol evidence” rule (Scripture must interpret itself without foreign intervention); the “hearsay rule” (the demand for primary-source evidence); and the “cross-examination” principle (the inability of the enemies of Christianity to disprove its central claim that Christ resurrected bodily from the dead in spite of the motive and opportunity to do so). All these, writes Montgomery, coalesce directly or indirectly to support the preponderance of evidence for Christianity, while the burden of proof proper (the legal burden) for disproving it rests with the critic, who, in 2,000 years, has yet to prove his case. 32emphasize that to reject the New Testament accounts as true history is, by definition, to reject the canons of legitimate historical study. If this cannot be done, the New Testament must be retained as careful historical reporting.
The New Testament has thus proven itself reliable in the crucible of history, while the New Testament critic has been unable to prove his case. The implications of this are tremendous. Legal scholar J. N. D. Anderson observes in Christianity: The Witness of History:
…it seems to me inescapable that anyone who chanced to read the pages of the New Testament for the first time would come away with one overwhelming impression — that here is a faith firmly rooted in certain allegedly historical events, a faith which would be false and misleading if those events had not actually taken place, but which, if they did take place, is unique in its relevance and exclusive in its demands on our allegiance. For these events did not merely set a “process in motion and then themselves sink back into the past. The unique historical origin of Christianity is ascribed permanent, authoritative, absolute significance; what happened once is said to have happened once for all and therefore to have continuous efficacy.” 33 Notes:
1. Chauncey Sanders, An Introduction to Research in English Literary History (New York: MacMillan, 1952), p. 160.
2. J. McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, rev. 1979, pp. 39-52; and Norman Geisler, William Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), pp. 238, 357-367.
3. McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, p. 42; Robert C. Newman, “Miracles and the Historicity of the Easter Week Narratives,” in John Warwick Montgomery (ed.), Evidence for Faith: Deciding the God Question (Dallas: Probe, 1991), pp. 281-84.
4. F. F. Bruce, The Books and the Parchments (Old Tappan, NJ: RevelI, 1963), p. 78.
5. F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1971), p. 15.
6. J. McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, pp. 43-45; Clark Pinnock, Biblical Revelation: The Foundation of Christian Theology (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), pp. 238-39, 365-66.
7. Robert C. Newman, “Miracles and the Historicity of the Easter Week Narratives,” in John Warwick Montgomery (ed.), Evidence for Faith: Deciding the God Question (Dallas: Probe, 1991), p. 284.
8. See John Warwick Montgomery, Faith Founded on Fact (New York: Nelson, 1978); F. F Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity); John Warwick Montgomery, History and Christianity (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity); Norman Geisler, Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1976), pp. 322-327. ““““““ 9. William M. Ramsay, The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1959), p. 81; cf. William F. Ramsay, Luke the Physician, 177-179, 222 as given in F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?, pp. 90-91.
10. A. N. Sherwin-White, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965) from Norman L. Geisler, Christian Apologetics, p. 326.
11. Gary R. Habermas, Ancient Evidence for the Life of Jesus: Historical Records of His Death and Resurrection (New York: Nelson, 1984), p. 66.
12. Philip Schaff, Henry Wace, eds., A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, 2nd series, vol. 1, Eusebius: Church History, Book 3, Chapter 39, “The Writings of Papias” (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1976), pp. 172-173, emphasis added.
13. Gary R. Habermas, Ancient Evidence for the Life of Jesus, pp. 66, 177.
14. Ibid., pp. 112-115.
15. Ibid., p. 112.
16. Ibid., pp. 112-113.
17. See our chapter on archeology in Ready With An Answer and F. F. Bruce, “Are the New Testament Documents Still Reliable?”, Christianity Today (October 28, 1978), pp. 28-33; F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?, chs. 7-8; Sir William Ramsay, The Bearing of Recent Discoveries on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1979); C. A. Wilson, Rocks, Relics and Biblical Reliability (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1977), ch. 2, New Light on New Testament Letters and New Light on the Gospels (Grand Rapids, Ml: Baker, 1975); Edwin Yamauchi, The Stones and the Scriptures, Section II (New York: Lippincott, 1972).
18. C. A. Wilson, Rocks, Relics and Biblical Reliability (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1977), p. 120.
19. See any complete concordance listing under “witness,” “eyewitness,” etc. 1 John Wenham, Redating Matthew, Mark and Luke, (Downers Grove, IL, 1992), pp. 115-19, 136,183, see pp. xxv, 198,147, 200, 221, 223, 238-39, 243-45.
2 “CODEX [COE dex] — the forerunner of the modern book. A codex was formed by folding several sheets of papyrus in the middle and sewing them together along the fold.” (Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
3 John Elson, “Eyewitness to Jesus?” Time, April 8,1996, p. 60.
4 John A. T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1976).
5 In Richard S. Ostling, “Who Was Jesus?”, Time, August 15, 1988, p. 41, emphasis added.
6 See the chronological “Life of Christ” chart in The NIV Study Bible, red letter edition, Zondervan 1985, pp. 1480-1481.
7 F. F. Bruce “Are the New Testament Documents Still Reliable?”, p. 55, cf., Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1987), pp. 247, 253.
8 Reprinted in J. W. Montgomery, The Law Above the Law (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany, 1975), appendix, pp. 91-140.
9 Reprinted in The Simon Greenleaf Law Review, Vol. 1 (Orange, CA: The Faculty of the Simon Greenleaf School of Law, 1981-1982), pp. 15-74.
10 Irwin Linton, A Lawyer Examines the Bible (San Diego: Creation-Life-Publishers, 1977), p. 45.
11 The Simon Greenleaf Law Review, vol. 4 (Orange, CA: The Faculty of the Simon Greenleaf School of Law, 1984-1985), pp. 28-36.
12 See our Ready With An Answer.
13 John Warwick Montgomery, The Law Above the Law (Minneapolis: Bethany, 1975), pp. 87-88.
14 204. J. N. D. Anderson, Christianity: The Witness of History (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1970), pp. 13-14.
Copyright © 2006 John Ankerberg, used with permission. Read more at johnankerberg.com