Re: Applying the Art of Lie-detecting to the Resurrection Accounts
What practices are used by investigators who must sift through numerous eyewitness accounts of an event to sort out what happened and did not based on consistencies/inconsistencies in the accounts given? When considering whether or not a particular aspect of the incident did or did not occur, what value might consistent accounts add to support the incident's happening? What effect might inconsistent accounts have on the believability of the account?
One of the methods used by scholars who look through the New Testament in search of the 'historical Jesus' is what Robert Stein calls the Criterion of Multiple Attestation:
quote:Stein in The Synoptic Problem (1987):
We still must ask how our knowledge of the relationship between the synoptic Gospels assists us in historical criticism. One way is by means of the "Criterion of Multiple Attestation." Essentially this criterion works as follows: Assuming that the Markan, the Q, and the unique Matthean (M), Lukan (L), and Johannine material come from different sources, if a teaching or activity of Jesus is witnessed to in a number of these sources rather than just one (e.g., John or M), the probability of its historicity or authenticity is much greater. In other words, each source of the Gospels acts as a witness before the judgment seat of history, and the more independent witnesses (i.e., sources) that can give testimony, the stronger the case. An example of how this works is as follows. Did Jesus teach that the kingdom of God had actually come in some way in his ministry? ... We find support for this view in the Markan material (Mark 2:21–22), the Q material (Luke 11:20/Matt. 12:28), the M material (Matt. 5:17), the L material (Luke 17:20–21), and in John 12:31. With this kind of multiple support from a fivefold tradition, certainly any burden of proof should then lie with those scholars who would deny that Jesus taught that in his coming the kingdom of God had arrived in some unique way. (p. 142)
quote:Ehrman in The New Testament (2004):
In any court trial, it is better to have a number of witnesses who can provide consistent testimony than to have only one, especially if we can show the witnesses did not confer with one another to get their story straight. A strong case will be supported by several witnesses who independently agree on a point at issue. So too with history. An event mentioned in several independent documents is more likely to be historical than an event mentioned in only one. This principle does not deny that individual documents can provide reliable historical information, but without corroborating evidence it is often impossible to know if an individual source has made up an account, or perhaps provided a skewed version of it. (p. 218)
Ehrman gives the examples of John the Baptist encountering Jesus, Jesus' brothers, and Jesus' teaching in parables—things multiply attested, and so more likely to be true.
For this thread, I'd like to examine some of the techniques used in detecting false accounts given multiple different tellings, and then apply those techniques to the post-resurrection appearance accounts in the gospels and try to determine whether the gospel accounts are trustworthy evidence of a resurrection or not. For this purpose, I think we can ignore the 'empty tomb' story, and just stick to the appearances, which occur in Matt. 28:16–20, Luke 24:13–53, and John 20:11—21.1
When we apply whatever lie-detecting tools we might have to the accounts of Jesus' post-resurrection appearances, what can we conclude about the veracity of the claims? And, if the claims are likely true, does this validate the resurrection account? If the claims are likely false, does this invalidate it?
When we interrogate the apostles, do we find them lying or telling the truth?
Jon __________ 1 Perhaps to this list we could also add the short and long endings of Mark, even though they don't appear to be original to his gospel. __________ Ehrman, B. (2004) The New Testament: a Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, 3rd ed. New York: Oxford UP. Stein, R. (1987) The Synoptic Problem: an Introduction. Michigan: Baker Books
Why would you use lies of other people to mix with your own lies to find the truth in a book that's impossible to find it in?
God is the only one with the truth and if you're one of his chosen ones, he'll reveal his knowledge in you while you write and speak the inspired words he gives you. He's the only one who can interpret the scriptures so your effort of searching for the truth is worthless. God gives the truth to his chosen ones and no one else.
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