So, is it true that the case for the truth of the Gospels would be thrown out of court? I don’t think so.
First of all, Matthew is one of Jesus’ Apostles. That means that he is Jesus follower and contemporary who witnessed many of Jesus miracles as well as His Resurrection. So, Matthew is an eyewitness. Eyewitness testimony is permitted in court.
Then there’s Mark. Mark is Peter’s secretary. Also a contemporary of Jesus and one of the disciples who was with the twelve from the beginning. Mark’s gospel however, is the penning of Peter’s teachings by Mark. So, Mark’s Gospel can be considered both eyewitness testimony and substantiation of Matthew’s Gospel.
Luke’s Gospel is written by a learned man. A physician. Luke however, was not with the twelve from the beginning. He may have witnessed Jesus’ resurrection but certainly he witnessed the miracles of the Apostles and of Paul, whose companion he became. These things he wrote about also in his other book, the Acts of the Apostles. So, Luke’s Gospel is not eyewitness testimony. It is however, the documentation of eyewitness testimony by an investigator. Luke says so himself:
Luke1: 1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a narration of the things that have been accomplished among us; 2 According as they have delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word: 3 It see med good to me also, having diligently attained to all things from the beginning, to write to thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, 4 That thou mayest know the verity of those words in which thou hast been instructed.
And that leaves John. John, of course, is an Apostle of Jesus Christ. He, therefore, is also a contemporary and an eyewitness. John’s Gospel was written after the first three, or synoptic Gospels and includes in his Gospel many things which the others ommitted. He also leaves out many things which the others included. Therefore, John’s Gospel is eyewitness testimony which substantiates and corroborates the other eyewitnesses.
How might the case go had it been brought to court? It actually did go to court, see Acts 4:1-23 and Acts 5:17-42. But I’m envisioning a more modern setting.
Mr. Simon bar Jonah to the stand please!
Peter! Their calling for you!
Here I am sir! My name has officially been changed to Peter, if you don’t mind.
Who changed your name to Peter?
Jesus Christ sir.
Is Jesus Christ here present?
Yes sir. But in the Spirit. However, my brethren are here and they were witnesses to the event.
Who are these witnesses?
Well, there are many, but would four suffice?
That is more than enough. What are their names?
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Are they the four whose testimonies I have read?
There are some incredible things written in those documents. Do you expect us to believe them?
Yes sir. 16For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
17For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
18And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.
19We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
20Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
21For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Pet 1).
Well, compared to that Mohammed fellow, you have plenty of witnesses. Can you imagine he tried to pass off his 40 secretaries as witnesses? All they did was write what he told them to write. Not only that, but some fellow named Uthman came along and burned all their original writings and substituted his copy claiming it was better than the original. I wasn’t born yesterday!
I look forward to hearing your case Mr. Peter.
It’s St. Peter, sir. Thank you!
So, in my opinion, there is much more evidence for the Gospels than there is for Islam.
A long time ago, a Muslim challenged me to provide a forensic defense of the Gospels. He claimed that compared to Islam, the Gospels had no verifiable evidence of even the existence of Jesus. In fact, he, point blank stated that evidence for the truth of the Gospels would be thrown out of court!
The first thing to remember is:
There are two types of evidence which are inadmissible in a court of law. Anyone making a claim which is supported by this type of evidence is regularly thrown out of court. In other words, the court will not even consider their case.
These types of evidence are:
1. Hearsay – Evidence given by anyone other than by the person giving the testimony.
2. Copies of maliciously destroyed originals
In Mohamed’s case, he says that the Angel said that he should write the Quran and that the Angel told him what to write in the Quran. Therefore, all of Mohamed’s case is based on the testimony of the Angel which no one else saw and no one else heard. According to Mohamed, the Angel himself was not speaking for himself but for Allah.
If Mohamed were to appear in a court of law today here is what I imagine the interchange would sound like:
Mohammed sir, is it true that an angel appeared to you with a message for mankind?
Sir, did anyone else see this angel?
Did anyone else hear the angel?
Can you bring the angel to court that we might hear the testimony for ourselves?
Mr. Mohammed, do you expect us to believe such an extraordinary claim without any evidence? Let me try a different tact. In the Bible, Moses was given a staff with which he could produce many miracles in order to prove the Divine source of his message to Pharoah. Mr. Mohammed, do YOU have any such miraculous signs which prove that an angel gave you a message?
Mr. Mohammed, there is not enough evidence here to warrant a case. Goodbye sir.
And that is how the case would end.
Copies of maliciously destroyed originals.
The second type of evidence that gets turned out of court regularly is a copy of an original document which was destroyed in order to prevent anyone from comparing the alleged copy to the original. In other words, a person destroys the original and substitutes the copy as evidence. If the copy was the duplicate of the original, and both were available, why not present the original?
Let me give you a bit of background in case you aren’t familiar with Islamic history:
It turns out that Mohammed never did what he claimed he was instructed by the angel to do. He dictated the Quran in brief pieces called suras to various scribes. And the Scribes dutifully memorized or wrote down what Mohammed said. In the end however, Mohammed never compiled the Quran into a single book. Although Muslims claim that he edited the Quran, it seems unlikely since the Quran was never even in one place during his life.
So, when Mohammed died, Muslims began to dispute over who had the true Quran. They compared their memorized versions to the written versions. No match. They compared their written versions to other written versions. No match. Along comes a fellow named Uthman, he orders another fellow to compile the Quran but that fellow tries and is unsuccessful. Uthman makes a decision, he decides to BURN the originalsand impose his own version of the Quran on Muslims.
If you don’t believe me, here it is in their own words:
Hudhaifa was afraid of their (the people of Sham and Iraq) differences in the recitation of the Qur’an, so he said to Uthman, O Chief of the Believers! Save this nation before they differ about the Book (Qur’an) as Jews and the Christians did before. So Uthman sent amessage to Hafsa, saying, Send us the manuscripts of the Qur’an so that we may compile the Qur’anic materials in perfect copies and return the manuscripts to you. Hafsa sent It to Uthman. Uthman then ordered Zaid ibn Thabit, Abdullah bin az-Zubair, Sa’id bin al-As, and Abdur-Rahman bin Harith bin Hisham to rewrite the manuscripts in perfect copies. Uthman said to the three Quraishi men, In case you disagree with Zaid bin Thabit on any point in the Qur’an, then write it in the dialect of the Quraish as the Qur’an was revealed in their tongue. They did so, and when they had written many copies, Uthman returned the original manuscripts to Hafsa. Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Qur’anic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 6, p.479).
What does that mean for us? Well, if that were to happen in court, the copy which is being substituted for the destroyed original would be unacceptable as evidence. Why? Because the original was destroyed in order to prevent it being put into evidence. Therefore, the copy which is now being provided in its place would be unacceptable.
Here is what I imagine the case for Uthman would sound like.
Mr. Uthman, I understand you have provided us a copy of the Quran.
Mr. Uthman, don’t you have the original so that we can compare it to the copy and see how accurate it is.
Yes, but I have already compared it and I provided you the best copy.
Mr. Uthman, the court would like to decide for itself whether you have provided the best copy.
It is no longer available, I had it burned.
You had it burned?! Didn’t you say this was the Word of God! Yet you had it burned? Pray, tell, why did you have it burned?
Because the copy I gave you is better than the original.
What!? Mr. Uthman, I suggest you leave this courtroom before I have you thrown in jail.
Who in their right mind would destroy such an important document as the original revelation of God to mankind. Unless they didn’t believe it was the actual revelation of God.
And, so, the Quranic version known as Uthman’s rescension, the only Quran used by Muslims today, would be thrown out of any court as an inadmissible copy.
In summary, Mohamed’s case would be thrown out of court for lack of evidence. Uthman’s case would be thrown out of court for destruction of original evidence and substituting an inadmissible copy.