As we are preparing to discuss the evidence for the claims of Jesus of Nazareth, in this chapter we will further research the quality of the witness’ accounts that the Bible gives us about Jesus. As we will see, these witnesses are the four gospels (including the book of Acts, which we will consider as an integral part of the Gospel of Luke) and Paul’s testimony, relayed to us through his letters.
The Witnesses – Once Again, the Gospels
No other books in the entire Bible have been more studied, memorized, quoted, scrutinized, criticized, questioned, discussed, praised, and rejected as the four gospels in the New Testament, the good news or gospels about Jesus: Matthew's Gospel, Mark's Gospel, Luke's Gospel and John's Gospel. And for good reasons. Not only do these four gospels contain valuable information about the birth, ministry, and teachings of Jesus, but they also record His miracles and His resurrection. These supernatural events proclaim and point to Jesus as part of the Trinity, fully God and fully man.
The Last Supper (Leonardo DaVinci)
In previous chapters, we have already established compelling evidence for the authorship of the four gospels by the names associated with these gospels as well as the date of writing. Due to their importance, we have included an evaluative list of some other general observations about each of the synoptic gospels (Mark, Matthew, Luke) and John's Gospel.
Table 16-1 Comparing the Four Gospels
Another Important Witness – Paul
The evidence for the life, teachings, and resurrection of Jesus is not limited to “only” the four gospels; the other New Testament books are also written by witnesses of Jesus. The large number of Pauline epistles, along with their independent testimony to Christ, makes Paul an important corroborating witness. Most of what we know about Paul comes through Scripture:
Writing a historically reliable account does not make the accounts of the witnesses to Jesus also honest and trustworthy. Before we can use the accounts as reliable evidence we need to evaluate whether these testimonies about Jesus are truly honest, and not biased representations or exaggerations, or just made up with good intentions.
In his book, Letters from a Skeptic, Dr. Gregory Boyd suggests a set of criteria that historians apply to ancient documents in order to examine their credibility. They can be divided into two groups: internal and external criteria. The “internal” criteria apply to the content of the documents themselves, the “external” criteria deal with the corroborating evidence from the outside world in order to confirm the accuracy of the texts. In many ways these criteria also make plain common sense. Click the link to read about the analysis of each of the criteria:
At the end of this discussion you will hopefully agree that the gospels, Acts, and Paul’s letters pass all these tests and criteria with remarkable ease and high scores, building a well grounded base for the conclusion that these witnesses indeed are honest and trustworthy.
Start reading about the next question: Is Jesus God?
 Dr. Gregory A Boyd and Edward K. Boyd, Letters from a Skeptic (1994), pages 80-81.
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