- Number of witnesses;
- Human experience; and
- Coincidence of witnesses.
One criticism levelled against these witnesses is that they testified from a position of bias, that being ardent disciples of Jesus their testimony must be greatly affected by that bias and colour everything they wrote about Him. There is the suggestion that this would have resulted in exaggeration and distortion of the facts. On the face of it I suppose that sounds plausible. However, when you read their writings, you do not encounter the language of fanaticism, the language of prejudice, or language normally associated with a lack of objectivity.
Another example: The Gospel writers include in their accounts some of their own stupid actions and mistakes, even recording that Jesus called their leader ‘Satan’. Calculating, subjective and prejudiced men do not operate in this fashion.
Experience teaches us that where a witness divulges material or facts which belittles the witness and puts him or her under criticism or in a bad light, and that material could have remained hidden but for the witness volunteering it, you can be pretty sure that such a person is telling the truth. Men and women do not invent stories to their own discredit. So why would the Gospel writers include incidents which showed up their past weaknesses, mistakes and stupidities? And why would they assert that women were the first witnesses to the Resurrection, when that society regarded women’s testimony as worthless, unless women really were the first witnesses?
They also included difficult sayings of Jesus which could be misinterpreted and place Jesus in a bad light. For example, we think of His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane where He shrinks from the thought of death and again His cry of God-forsakenness on the cross. Men who wrote with a lack of objectivity, for example with the agenda to present Jesus in the most heroic light, would be sorely tempted to omit that view of Him. That the authors of the Gospel did not is a tribute to their honesty, to their obvious desire to be accurate in the facts about Jesus.