At present time it is practically proved, that the Gospels were written by direct witnesses, or, at least, on the basis of the first-hand information. Thus, evangelical descriptions are recognized historically authentic. So, how it was proved that all evidences of evangelists were truthful?
The investigation “Greenleaf Analysis” is based on principles are used in jurisprudence and now. Reliability of evidence depends, firstly, on frankness of recognitions; secondly, on competence of the witness; thirdly, on quantity and sequence of evidence; fourthly, on conformity of evidence to the standard experience; fifthly, on concurrence of evidence to the minor facts and events”. Simon Greenleaf led the strict analysis of four Gospels on the basis of these five principles; his work became precedent in history of jurisprudence. Many outstanding lawyers continued his researches.
Analysis 1 Were the attestations frank?
To be sincere in the recognition means to trust in authenticity of event. Reading the Gospel everyone collides with simple and sincere narrations of events, failures of Christ’s pupils, severity of His doctrines and His painful internal struggle at idea about death. On Greenleaf’s deep belief all four evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were the fair people, testified that they saw, heard and felt, and about what they told frankly.
Analysis 2 Were the writers of Gospels competent?
- Greenleaf considers that competence of witnesses depends on such factors as: an opportunity of the witness to observe event, skill to estimate correctly a situation and ability to remember. Is it possible to explain these three factors?
а)Having been Jesus Christ’s pupils Matthew, Mark, Luke and John had a lot of time and opportunity to observe the events occurring in His life. John described Jesus Christ’s death penalty he directly was the witness of (John 19, 16-37). Matthew’s and Luka’s narrations tell us that Peter was present at court, that they three were witnesses of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion too (Matthew 26, 57-75; Luka 23, 49). John and Peter became witnesses of that Jesus Christ’s tomb after His funeral appeared empty (John 20, 3-8); revived Jesus Christ (John 20 and 21 chapters) at various times appeared to Matthew, Luka and Peter.
- b) The evangelist Luka was the doctor, Matthew was the collector of taxes before his joining group of Jesus’ pupils. Both of them were rather pragmatic people with advanced professional ability to carefulness of the researches and reports, and to the analysis of the done work. They were people on which judgement it was possible to rely.
- c) In connection with all aforesaid, there is no need to put under doubt mental faculties of four witnesses of the Gospel. The rank of “ignorant fishermen” is hardly applicable to the authors of four Gospels. The fact that the Jews wrote Gospels in Greek proves that they were not illiterate or uneducated people as they could be represented.
Analysis 3 Quantity of evangelical certificates and identity of their statement
The quantity of evangelical testimony is more than enough to satisfy strict judicial investigation. There are enough of discrepancies and the divergences in all Gospels proving that there was no special arrangement between authors. At the same time the Gospels are coordinated in the main point proving that four pupils independently from each other stated the same great event. Discrepancy means that each witness had the individual style of statement.
Analysis 4 Do evidences correspond to our everyday experience?
Many sceptics assert that this is the weak spot of Christianity. Pupils of the Christ speak about miracles and about revival, and it cannot correspond to usual everyday experience in any way. Nevertheless here is a double problem for the strict professional lawyer. Firstly, if to start with the theory of denying of miracles, it is possible to pass easily by the fact that many people on their own experiences tested miracles, whether it be healing or the Divine help in heavy minute. The events confirming supernatural protection are rather distributed and quite real in daily life of many people. Secondly, this analysis is not final. Some experts name it “the analysis of the improbable statement”. However, if the facts demand the certain conclusions we should make them no matter how improbable they seem. The investigator should be always impartial. The professor Greenleaf tells about miracles, made by Jesus Christ: “In each separate case when there was a healing patient, the following was observed: 1. The former condition of the patient was known to people around; 2. many people saw instant recover of the sick person; 3. people saw how Jesus touched the patient (in most cases); 4. people heard, that Jesus spoke. These facts considered separately are simple and clear by nature, it is easy to understand them, they are quite conceivable for the person which is able to observe. If these facts have been testified separately by different people with average mental abilities jurymen of any court should believe him.”
Analysis 5 Do the testimonies of evangelists correspond to circumstances and the facts of that time?
This main analysis is applied in case when by virtue of different circumstances the witness cannot present at court. In our case it serves to definite the conformity of testimony and the historical data of those times life. Did the testimonies of authors of the Gospels pass test? Yes, all four Gospels have sustained this analysis. Researches showed that everything, that evangelists spoke about geography, history and social factors of that time, correspond to the reality of Jesus Christ’s times.
Thus, testimonies of evangelists maintain this analysis of five points.
- King James Version
The Gospel of John.
The Gospel of Luke.
The Gospel of Matthew.
The Gospel of Mark.
- Greenleaf, Simon. Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence administered in the Courts of Justice, with an account of the Trial of Jesus. New York, 2001.