Historiography 101: A Look at the Role of the Testimony and Witness in the New Testament

The New Testament does not reveal Jesus as any ordinary prophet or religious teacher. Rather, it reveals Him as God incarnate (John 1:1; 8:58-59;10:29-31;14:8-9;20-28; Phil. 2:5-7; Col. 2:9; Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:8; 2 Pet. 1:1). And of course, anyone who reads through the Gospels will see that Jesus made some very challenging statements that force us as humans to face our own autonomy before our Creator. So it should be no surprise that there is a great deal of skepticism about the reliability of the very documents that make such claims. For those that are skeptical towards the New Testament due to the miracles that are recorded there, that is philosophical issue that won’t be dealt with in this post. If you want to read a small tidbit on that issue, click here:

We can now allow for the following syllogism and work from there:

1. The New Testament documents are historically reliable evidence.

2. The historical evidence of the New Testament shows that Jesus is God incarnate. This claim to divinity was proven by a unique combination of His miracles/His speaking authority, His actions, and His resurrection.

3.Therefore, there is reliable historical evidence that Jesus is God incarnate.

Genre Issues

First of all, If someone makes the claim that the Gospels or other parts of the New Testament are myth (meaning half-truth, folklore, fantasy, or a fictionized account of history, etc), genre studies help clear up the confusion about this issue. Most of the modern world’s standard of accuracy is defined by an age where tape recorders, video cameras are prevalent. As Ben Witherington says so well, “Works of ancient history or biography should be judged by their own conventions.” I have written about that here:
Genre Issues/What Are The Gospels?

Reconstructing The Past

How do historians reconstruct the events of the past? After all, even though the earliest life of Alexander the Great (356-323) was written 200 years later, it is regarded by historians as a reliable source of information. Any historian will quickly admit that they can’t verify that Alexander the Great existed by observing him directly. What about the life and deeds of Julius Caesar who was responsible for transforming the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire? The earliest copy we have for the life of Caesar is nearly 1,000 years after when it was first written. Many people assume Caesar existed and did the deeds that are attested about him from the sources we have available to us. But once again, the historian knows he can’t verify Casers’ existence by observing him directly.

Epistemology: Knowledge By Testimony

Since historians can’t verify the events directly, they rely on things such as written documents (both primary and secondary sources), external evidence/archaeology, and the testimony of the witnesses to the events. New Testament faith is portrayed biblically as knowledge based upon testimony. As a Christian, I share the faith of the early witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. Epistemology is a branch of philosophy that investigates the nature and origin of knowledge. We as humans come to know things by a variety of ways such as reason and logic, intuition, inference, personal and religious experience, the scientific method, listening to authorities on a subject matter, etc.

Epistemologically speaking, one of the tools that plays another important element of discovering the past is the testimony of witnesses. As a Christian, I share the faith of the early witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. New Testament faith is portrayed biblically as knowledge based upon testimony. By the way, lest anyone think I am begging the question by using passages from the New Testament, feel free to go to our articles section to evaluate the evidence for the reliability of the New Testament. Happy Reading! Also, any questions about the telephone game objection- read here Are the New Testament Gospels Reliable?

Philosophers sometimes disagree about the epistemic status of knowledge by testimony. In other words, are we justified in believing in the testimony of others? And when it comes to the historical aspect of the life of Jesus, one of the key components to this issue is the testimony of the witnesses in the New Testament. So let me mention a few things that will allow us to say we are most certainly justified in trusting the testimony of the witnesses in the New Testament.

First, given the emphasis on education in the synagogue, the home, and the elementary school, it is not surprising that it was possible for the Jewish people to recount large quantities of material that was even far greater than the Gospels themselves.

As Paul Barnett notes, “Jesus was a called a “Rabbi” (Matt. 8:19; 9:11; 12:38; Mk. 4:38; 5:35; 9:17; 10:17, 20; 12:14, 19, 32; Lk. 19:39; Jn. 1:38; 3:2), which means “master” or “teacher.” There are several terms that can be seen that as part of the rabbinic terminology of that day. His disciples had “come” to him, “followed after” him, “learned from” him, “taken his yoke upon” them” (Mt. 11:28-30; Mk 1). (see Jesus and the Logic of History. Downers Grove, IL: InterVaristy Press. 1997, 138).

Therefore, it appears that the Gospel was first spread in the form of oral creeds and hymns ( Luke 24:34; Acts 2:22-24, 30-32; 3:13-15; 4:10-12; 5:29-32; 10:39-41; 13:37-39; Rom. 1:3-4; 4:25; 10:9; 1 Cor. 11:23ff.;15:3-8; Phil. 26-11; 1 Tim.2:6; 3:16; 6:13; 2 Tim. 2:8;1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 4:2). One of the earliest creeds that attests to the death and resurrection of Jesus is 1 Corinthians 15: 3-7. To read more about this, click here:

Second, as The Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Theology notes, the biblical concept of testimony or witness is closely allied with the conventional Old Testament legal sense of testimony given in a court of law. Its validity consists in certifiable, objective facts. In both Testaments, it appears as the primary standard for establishing and testing truth claims. Uncertifiable subjective claims, opinions, and beliefs, on the contrary, appear in Scripture as inadmissible testimony. Even the testimony of one witness is insufficient—for testimony to be acceptable, it must be established by two or three witnesses (Deut 19:15). It can also be observed that the emphasis on eyewitness testimony was carried on through the early church.

As Gregory Boyd and Paul Eddy note in their book The Jesus Legend: A Case For the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Tradition, Christianity cannot be understood apart from it’s first century Jewish context. The Sinai teaching that multiple witnesses was retained Mark 14:56,59; John 5:31-32; Heb 10:28) and also used for church discipline (Matt. 18:16; 2 Cor 13:1;1 Tim 5:19). Also, the principle of giving a true testimony and making a true confession are evident in the early church (Matt 10:18; Mark 6:11;13:9-13;Luke 1:1-2;9:5;21:12-13;22:71;John 1:7-8,15,19,32,34;3:26,28;5:32; Acts 1:8,22;3:15;5:32;10:37-41;13:31;22:15;18;23:11;26:16).

The Gospel of John uses words that are usually translated as witness, testimony, to bear witness, or to testify. The total usage of these words in John’s Gospel is larger than any of the Synoptic Gospels. The book of Acts is the next book with the most references to the terms related to eyewitness testimony.

We see in the following New Testament passages where testimony and witness is used as a means to verify events:

• Luke 1:4: “Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us, I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received”

•Acts 2:32: “This Jesus God raised up, and we are all witnesses of it.”

• Acts 3:14-15: “But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses.”

• Acts 5:30-32: “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. “He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. “And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

•1 John 1:1: “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life”

•Acts 10:39 : “We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and (in) Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree.”

•Acts 4:19-20: “Peter and John, however, said to them in reply, “Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges. It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.”

•1 Peter 5:1: “So I exhort the presbyters among you, as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed.

•2 Peter 1:19: ” We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty.”

•John 21:24: “This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.”

•1 Corinthians 15: 3-8: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”

One book that has recently handled the issue of eyewitness testimony issue within the New Testament is Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony by Richard Bauckham.

What is significant about Richard Bauckham’s book is his mentioning of Thomas Reid. Reid was a Scottish philosopher and contemporary of David Hume who played an integral role in the Scottish Enlightenment. It was in Reid’s “common sense” philosophy of the eighteenth century where Reid understood testimony as an integral part of the social character of knowledge. In other words, for Reid, to trust the testimony of others is simply fundamental to the kind of creatures we are.

As Bauckham notes:

“Trusting testimony is indefensible to historiography. This trust need not be blind faith. In the “critical realist” historian’s reception and use of testimony there is a dialectic trust and critical assessment. But the assessment is precisely an assessment of the testimony as trustworthy or not. What is not possible is independents verification or falsification of everything the testimony relates such a reliance on testimony would not longer be needed. Testimony shares the frugality of memory, which is the testimony’s sole access to the past, while also, when it predates living memory, existing only as an archived memory, cut off from the dialogical context of contemporary testimony. But for most purposes, testimony is all we have. There are indeed, other traces of the past in the present (such as archaeological finds), which can to a degree corroborate or discredit testimony, but they cannot, in most cases, suffice for the study and writing of history. They cannot replace testimony. In the end, testimony is all we have.”

As Bauckham notes, the Greek word for “eyewitness” (autoptai), does not have forensic meaning, and in that sense the English word “eyewitnesses” with its suggestion of a metaphor from the law courts, is a little misleading. The autoptai are simply firsthand observers of those events. Bauckham has followed the work of Samuel Byrskog in arguing that while the Gospels though in some ways are a very distinctive form of historiography, they share broadly in the attitude to eyewitness testimony that was common among historians in the Greco-Roman period. These historians valued above all reports of firsthand experience of the events they recounted. Best of all was for the historian to have been himself a participant in the events (direct autopsy). Failing that (and no historian was present at all the events he need to recount, not least because some would be simultaneous), they sought informants who could speak from firsthand knowledge and whom they could interview (indirect autopsy).

This, at least, was historiographic best practice, represented and theorized by such generally admired historians as Thucydides and Polybius. The preference for direct and indirect testimony is an obviously reasonable rule for acquiring the testimony likely to be reasonable. (Pg 479).

Loveday Alexander, in his book The Preface to Luke’s Gospel offers the translations: “those with personal/firsthand experience; those who know the facts at hand” (Bauckham, pg 117). One of the greatest assets of Bauckham’s book is the reminder that ancient historians thought that history had to be written during a time when eyewitnesses were still available to be cross-examined.

If we look at Luke 1:1-4, we see even though Luke was not a direct eyewitness of Jesus’ ministry, he says the information he received was given to him by those who were “from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word” (1:2). Luke’s reference to the information as being “handed down” would be understood in a Jewish culture as something a rabbi did when he would “hand over” a body of teaching or legal opinion to his disciple or disciples (Mark 7:3-5). We can conclude that just because those recording the events may have not been direct witnesses to the events, this should not serve as a defeater to the reliability of their testimony of the event itself.

Perhaps another illustration will help: How many biographies do you own that were written by authors that personally knew the individual they were writing about? If the biographer did not know the person they were writing about, does that automatically negate the trustworthiness of the biographer? Maybe in some cases it does. But I doubt that this is a regular occurrence.

Third, let’s look a question posed by historian Louis Gottschalk : (1) Was the author of the document able to tell the truth; and if able, (2) Was he willing to tell the truth? (1)

The Principle of Embarrassment

The Principle of Embarrassment is a test that was put forth by John P. Meier in his A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus: The Roots of the Problem and the Person, Vol. 1. This criteria seeks out material in the Gospels that would have been would create awkwardness or difficulty for the early church. This type of material would most likely have not been created by the early church because it would have been provided material useful for the early church’s opponents. For example, if the New Testament authors want to convince their audience that Jesus is the Lord, why say the following?

• “The Father is greater than I” (John 14:28)
• Jesus seems to predict incorrectly that he is coming back to earth within a generation (Matt 24:34)
• Jesus then says about is second coming, that no one knows the time, “not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son” (Matt 24:36)
• Jesus is seen cursing a fig tree for not having figs when it wasn’t even the season for figs (Matt 21:18)
• Jesus seems unable to do miracles in his hometown, except heal a few sick people.

If the New Testament writers were making up a story, why leave hard- cross cultural sayings that make it so hard to consider becoming a disciple of Jesus? We see this in the following statements:

• ” Be perfect, because your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48)
• “I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully already committed adultery in his heart.”
• “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may like your Father who is in heaven” (Matt 5:44-45)
• “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matt 7:1-2)

The New Testament authors included embarrassing details about Jesus such as the following:
• Jesus is considered “out of his mind” by his mother and brothers (his own family), who come and seize him
in order to take him home (Mark 3:21,31)
• Jesus is not believed by his own brothers (John 7:5)
• Jesus is though to be a deceiver (John 7:12)
• Jesus is deserted by many of his followers (John 6:66)
• Jesus turns off the Jewish people who had believed in him (John 8:30-31) to the point that they want to stone him (vs 59) (2)

Contradictions?

What about all those complaints of contradictions? You can go ahead and read this post here that deals with this issue:

The Gospel of John

Something else that helps solidify the truthfulness of eyewitness testimony is the use of archaeology or external evidence. In his book The Reliability of John’s Gospel, Craig Blomberg has identified 59 people, events, or places that have been confirmed by archaeology such as:

1.The use of stone water jars in the New Testament (John 2:6).
2. The proper place of Jacob’s well (2:8)
3. Josephus in (Wars of the Jews 2.232), confirms there was significant hostility between Jews and Samaritans during Jesus’ time (4:9).
4. “Went Up” accurately describes the ascent to Jerusalem(5:1).
5. Archaeology confirms the existence of the pool of Siloam (9:7)
6. The obscure and tiny village of Ephraim (11:54) near Jerusalem is mentioned by Josephus.

Luke’s Gospel

Furthermore, Luke’s Gospel shows displays a variety of historical figures that have been confirmed. For example, Luke gives correct titles for the following officials: Cyprus, proconsul (13:7–8); Thessalonica, politarchs (17:6); Ephesus, temple wardens (19:35); Malta, the first man of the island. (3) Each of these has been confirmed by Roman usage. In all, Luke names thirty-two countries, fifty-four cities, and nine islands without an error. (4) Over all, here is a list of 30 historical persons in the New Testament.

30 Historical Persons in NT

• Agrippa I—-Acts 12
• Agrippa II—Acts 25
• Ananias—–Acts 23, 24
• Annas——-Luke 3; Jn. 18; Acts 4
• Aretas——-2Cor. 11
• Bernice—–Acts 23
• Augustus—Lk. 2
• Caiaphas—Mt. 26; Lk. 3; Jn. 11, 18; Acts 4
• Claudius—-Acts 11, 18
• Drusilla—-Acts 24
• Egyptian (false prophet)–Acts 21
• Erastus—-Acts 19
• Felix——–Acts 23
• Gallio——-Acts 18
• Gamaliel—Acts 5

Acts

One book in the New Testament that plays as indispensible role in evaluating the resurrection is the book of Acts. It is within Acts that we see the resurrection was part of the early apostolic preaching and the evidence given that Christianity is true (Acts 2:25-32; 3: 15; 10:39-41; 17:2-3, 18, 31). It is also within Acts that records Paul’s testimony to the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 9:1-9; 22: 1-11; 26: 9-19).

In his book, The New Testament Concept of Witness, author Allison Trites says the following about the Book of Acts:

Luke therefore wants to present the evidence, particularly that for the resurrection, which vindicate Jesus….. he seeks to provide for the truth of the events which have transpired, thereby giving Theophullis “authentic knowledge” [asphaleia], ….the same word used by Thucydides in the preface to his historical work, 1:22) and vindication his name as an historian…..He uses the historical material for the Book of Acts according to the standards of his time as they were expressed by such ancient historians as Heroductus, Polybius, Thucydides and Josephus, and certainly intends to offer evidence that will stand the test of the closest scrutiny.”

Eduard Meyer, the distinguished historian of classical antiquity, commented that Luke’s work in spite of a more limited content, “bears the same character as those of great historians, of a Polybius, a Livy and many others.” In his monumental work called The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History, classics scholar Colin Hemer has shown that Luke has also done his work as an historian.There are at least 84 events, people, locations, etc, which have been confirmed by archaeology. Some of them are:

1. A natural crossing between correctly named ports (13:4–5). Mount Casius, south of Seleucia, stands within sight of Cyprus. The name of the proconsul in 13:7 cannot be confirmed, but the family of the Sergii Pauli is attested.
2. The proper river port, Perga, for a ship crossing from Cyprus (13:13).
3. The proper location of Lycaonia (14:6).
4. The unusual but correct declension of the name Lystra and the correct language spoken in Lystra. Correct identification of the two gods associated with the city, Zeus and Hermes (14:12).
5. The proper port, Attalia, for returning travelers (14:25).
6. The correct route from the Cilician Gates (16:1).
7. The proper form of the name Troas (16:8).
8. A conspicuous sailors’ landmark at Samothrace (16:11).
9. The proper identification of Philippi as a Roman colony. The right location for the river Gangites near Philippi (16:13).
10. Association of Thyatira with cloth dyeing (16:14). Correct designations of the titles for the colony magistrates (16:20, 35, 36, 38).
11. The proper locations where travelers would spend successive nights on this journey (17:1).
12. The presence of a synagogue in Thessalonica (17:1), and the proper title of politarch for the magistrates (17:6).
13. The correct explanation that sea travel is the most convenient way to reach Athens in summer with favoring east winds (17:14).
14. The abundance of images in Athens (17:16), and reference to the synagogue there (17:17).

Paul’s Letters

And by the way, the earliest documents we have for the life of Jesus are Paul’s letters. Paul was a very competent rabbi who was trained at the rabbinic academy called the House of Hillel by ‘Gamaliel,’ a key rabbinic leader and member of the Sanhedrin. His letters Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and Philippians provide a variety of historical details found in the Gospels. To see the post Resurrection Reported Early-click here: Here are some of them:

1. Jesus’ Jewish ancestry (Gal 3:16)
2. Jesus’ Davidic descent (Rom 1:3)
3. Jesus’ virgin birth (Gal 4:4)
4. Jesus’ life under the Jewish law (Gal 4:4)
5. Jesus’ Brothers (1 Cor 9:5)
6. Jesus’ 12 Disciples (1 Cor 15: 7)
7. One of whom was named James (1 Cor 15: 7)
8. That some had wives (1 Cor 9: 5)
9. Paul knew Peter and James (Gal 1:18-2:16)
10. Jesus’ poverty ( 2 Cor 8:9)
11. Jesus’ humility ( Phil. 1:5-7)
12. Jesus Meekness and Gentleness (2 Cor. 10:1)
13. Abuse by Others (Rom 15:3)
14. Jesus’ teachings on divorce and remarriage (1 Cor. 7:10-11)
15. On paying wages of ministers (1 Cor 9:14)
16. On paying taxes ( Rom 13: 6-7)
17. On the duty to love one’s neighbors (Rom 13: 9)
18. On Jewish ceremonial uncleanliness ( Rom 14: 14)
19. Jesus’ titles to deity ( Rom 1: 3-4; 10:9)
20. On vigilance in view of Jesus’ second coming ( 1 Thess: 4: 15)
21. On the Lord’s Supper ( 1 Cor. 11: 23-25)
22. Jesus’ Sinless Life ( 2 Cor. 5:21)
23. Jesus’ death on a cross ( Rom 4:24; 5:8; Gal. 3:13; 1 Cor 15: 3)
24. Specifically by crucifixion ( Rom 6: 6; Gal 2:20)
25. By Jewish instigation ( 1Thess. 2:14-15)
26. Jesus’ burial (1 Cor. 15: 4)
27. Jesus’ resurrection on the “third day” (1 Cor.15:4)
28. Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances to the apostles ( 1 Cor.15:5-8)
29. And to other eyewitnesses (1 Cor 15:6); and
30. Jesus’ position at God’s right hand ( Rom 8:34)

Church Fathers:

Of the four Gospels alone there are 19,368 citations by the church fathers from the late first century on. This includes 268 by Justin Martyr (100–165), 1038 by Irenaeus (active in the late second century), 1017 by Clement of Alexandria (ca. 155–ca. 220), 9231 by Origen (ca. 185–ca. 254), 3822 by Tertullian (ca. 160s–ca. 220), 734 by Hippolytus (d. ca. 236), and 3258 by Eusebius (ca. 265–ca. 339). Earlier, Clement of Rome cited Matthew, John, and 1 Corinthians in 95 to 97. Ignatius referred to six Pauline Epistles in about 110, and between 110 and 150 Polycarp quoted from all four Gospels, Acts, and most of Paul’s Epistles. Shepherd of Hermas (115–140) cited Matthew, Mark, Acts, 1 Corinthians, and other books. Didache (120–150) referred to Matthew, Luke, 1 Corinthians, and other books. Papias, companion of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the apostle John, quoted John. This argues powerfully that the Gospels were in existence before the end of the first century, while some eyewitnesses (including John) were still alive.(Geisler, BECA, pg 529-530)

Other Eyewitness Testimony?

What about the other so-called eyewitness testimony in other religions? This is where context counts. For example, Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, claimed an angel appeared to him and directed him to what are called the golden plates. Smith then showed them to eleven others. Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, claimed to have received personal revelation from God on the basis of two visions, (the first allegedly given to him in 1820, the second one in 1823). Smith is supposed to be responsible for translating these plates into The Book of Mormon. Like the apostles of Jesus, Smith suffered and died for his beliefs. However, there is a major difference between the eleven witnesses to the gold plates and the apostles of Jesus.

First, while six of the eleven witnesses left the Mormon Church, we have no record of the apostles of Jesus (Paul, James and John, others) ever leaving the early Christian movement.(5) Secondly, in the case of Joseph Smith, even though they may have been eyewitnesses to the plates, this does not mean the plates contain the revealed truth of God. (6) Is there any external evidence to support the Mormon claim? The Book of Mormon tells the story of a Nephite civilization in the New World. There is no archaelogical evidence to support the onetime existence of a Nephite civilization in North America or a huge battle in New York. (7)

Thirdly, in the case of the Mormon claim as well as supposed supernatural sightings etc, they fail the test of coherence. In examining an ancient document, a historian asks whether an event or teaching fits well with what is known concerning other surrounding occurrences and teachings. Coherence involves the extraordinary consistency of Jesus’ resurrection with his unique life and teachings, including his predictions of his death and resurrection. The resurrection coheres with Jesus’ entire ministry and His divine claims-His Amen and Abba statements (His entire speaking authority), His messianic actions, the use of Jewish divine categories such as Wisdom, Shekinah, the Name, Son of Man, etc, and His ministry that is built on the messianic expectations of the Hebrew Bible. Hence, there is a large body of background evidence to the life of Jesus.

If you want to go deeper in studying the issue of testimony and the New Testament- here are a great set of articles: Hope you enjoy!

1. Gottschalk, L. Understanding History: A Primer of Historical Method. 2d.ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1969, 53, 54.

2. See Geisler N.L. and Frank Turek. I Do Not Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004.

3. See Geisler, N. L. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Baker Books, 1999.

4. Ibid.

5. See See Habermas. G.R. and Licona, M. L. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus.
Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2004, 185-186.

6. Ibid, 185-188.

7. See Ropp, H.L. The Mormon Papers: Are the Mormon Scriptures Reliable? Downers Grove, ILL: InterVaristy Press, 1977, 47-54.

Uncategorized

One thought on “Historiography 101: A Look at the Role of the Testimony and Witness in the New Testament

  1. Bino Bolumai October 9, 2009 / 11:47 pm

    Does this accuracy business apply, do you think, to the gospel writers’ direct reporting of the exact words spoken by various people?

    I have in mind how often our gospels’ writers “quote” other people. Besides Jesus’ the gospels also record words of the disciples, Herod, angels, demons, Satan, tax collectors, and crowds of people all saying the same words all together. The gospels even record long speeches spoken in dreams, and verbatim accounts of inner thoughts that were never spoken, but that Jesus knew because He could read minds.

    Here’s our historical accuracy question : How’d they do that? How did the gospel writers know, all those decades later, exactly—word for word—what the angel said in Joseph’s dream, or Herod said in his secret meeting, or the Pharisees thought in their private thoughts but never spoke? What possible method could our gospel writers have used to come up with the verbatim quotations they claim to give?

    Or did the gospel writers get all those “quotations” by just making them up? Is it more likely that “Matthew” knew the words Herod spoke in a secret meeting, or did “Matthew” probably, like everyone else back then, just make up quotes because that was the standard way to tell a story?

    And if the only reasonable non-magical explanation is that the gospel writers got their “quotations” by making them up, then …. our gospel writers made stuff up. Just made it up. And it is not true the gospels are historical, not in the sense that the sayings and events we read about in them actually happened.

    Bino Bolumai

    / In Bino Veritas /

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.