New Evidences the Gospels were Based on Eyewitness Accounts

About Peter Williams
Handouts that go with this lecture

Some main points of the lecture:

The gospels have the pattern of names we would expect them to have if they are reporting what real people said and did, and that’s a pattern that would be very complex and difficult for an ancient forger to produce.

The gospels demonstrate a vast knowledge of the geography where the events of their testimony took place. They know not just the big cities of 1st century Palestine, but also the little villages. They know where they’re located and the right distance between towns.

They also exhibit a good knowledge of the botany of the time and place in which their events occurred. They know of sycamore trees in Jericho (Lk 19:1-3) and that there would be a lot of green grass near Bethsaida around Passover time (Mk 6:39; Jn 6:10).

They’ve got many other aspects of the time and place of their events right (shape of houses, shape of the temple, coinage, tax system, politics, culture, customs, politics, law, social stratification, etc.). They pass all those tests that could be applied to them to see if they were based on eyewitness testimony or not. And if the gospels have correctly got the minor details, isn’t it reasonable to think they could correctly get the major ones?

The main conclusion  of the lecture:

Can’t prove everything to be historical. But if the gospels result from conspiracy or incompetence this is not what you would except. If the gospels were produced on the basis of stories several steps removed from eyewitnesses this is not what you would expect.

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