What Should We Expect If the New Testament Accounts are From Multiple Eyewitnesses?
by Bill Pratt
J. Warner Wallace, a former cold case detective and expert on eyewitness testimony, tells us in his book, Cold-Case Christianity, what we should expect to see if the New Testament accounts are provided by multiple eyewitnesses. Wallace’s first observation is that
THEIR STATEMENTS WILL BE PERSPECTIVAL.
Each eyewitness will describe the event from his or her spatial and emotional perspective. Not everyone will be in the same position to see the same series of events or the same details. I will have to puzzle together statements that might at first appear contradictory; each statement will be colored by the personal experiences and worldviews of the witnesses.
Wallace’s second observation is that
THEIR STATEMENTS WILL BE PERSONAL.
Each eyewitness will describe the event in his or her own language, using his or her own expressions and terms. As a result, the same event may be described with varying degrees of passion or with divergent details that are simply the result of individual tastes and interests.
Wallace’s third observation is that
THEIR STATEMENTS MAY CONTAIN AREAS OF COMPLETE AGREEMENT.
Some aspects of each eyewitness statement may be completely identical. This is particularly true when witnesses describe aspects of the crime that were dramatic or important to the sequence of events. It’s also true when later witnesses are aware of what others have offered and simply affirm the prior description by telling me, “The rest occurred just the way he said.”
Wallace’s fourth observation is that
LATER STATEMENTS MAY FILL IN THE GAPS.
Finally, as described earlier, I expect late witnesses who are aware of prior statements to simply fill in what has not been said previously.
Do the New Testament accounts contain these elements? According to Wallace, they do. With respect to the four Gospels, Wallace writes…
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