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Overview Why Apologetics? Did Jesus Exist?  Is the Bible Reliable?  Jesus' Claims  Was Jesus God?  Conclusion

Overview > Is the New Testament reliable? > Internal Evidence Test

The Internal Evidence Test

This test determines whether what is written is credible (accurate/true) and to what extent. We may have what the New Testament writers originally wrote (the bibliographical test), but were they telling the truth? [6 p.51]

In order to establish this historical credibility of the New Testament documents please click on the following questions:

  1. When was the New Testament of the Bible written?

  2. Does the New Testament contain lies?

  3. Does the New Testament contain myths?

  4. Does the New Testament contain contradictions?

  5. What about all the supernatural events?  This includes Are Miracles Possible? and Does God Exist?

Internal Evidence Test Conclusion

In examining whether the New Testament is credible (accurate/true) in its accounts of Jesus, we investigated whether the authors of the documents disqualify themselves by contradictions or known factual inaccuracies. We did this by examining when the New Testament was written (as the witnessís nearness geographically and chronologically is closely linked to their ability to tell the truth), if it contains contradictions, and then exploring possible alternatives to it accuracy and credibility, namely does it contain fabrications, lies or myths.

We discovered that the New Testament was written in the same generation in which the events took place and that it was circulated among the very people about whom these documents spoke - while they were still alive to deny them. We discovered a number of reasons why we can safely conclude that the authors of the New Testament did not event stories or tell lies. We also concluded that the accounts of Jesus are not myth and that the New Testament does not contain contradictions.

In terms of the Internal Evidence Test, the New Testament documents pass with flying colours. When examining the internal testimony of the New Testament documents we can conclude that they are highly credible and accurate in their historical accounts.

Additonal Note: Important principles used to examine document credibility

Law professor and historian, John Warwick Montgomery, applies the following four 'fundamental principles of laws of evidence' to the New Testament documents: [31 p. 42]

  • The ancient documents rule

In order to establish the credibility of a document, Aristotle's dictum is to be followed by the literary critic. This dictum states: "The benefit of the doubt is to be given to the document itself, and not arrogated by the critic to himself." In other words, one must listen to the claims of the New Testament under analysis, and not assume fraud or error unless the authors disqualify themselves by contradictions or known factual inaccuracies. [6 p. 51]

  • The parol evidence rule

External, oral testimony or tradition will not be received in evidence to add to, subtract from, vary, or contradict an executed written instrument such as a will. This rule insists that the New Testament documents should be allowed to 'interpret itself' and not be twisted to external, extra-biblical data. In other words, we should not interpret the documents in the light of our own - or other's - preconceived assumptions. For example, we should not simply dismiss the New Testament as unreliable because we feel that miracles cannot happen. We should not make up our minds before we have examined the evidence. [31 p. 42]

  • The hearsay rule

"A witness must testify 'of his own knowledge', not on the basis of what has come to him indirectly from others i.e. hearsay. Were the writers on the New Testament documents eyewitnesses of the events that they recorded? [31 p. 42]

  • The cross-examination principle

The more a witness is subjected to close and searching cross examination, the more confidence we can place in their testimony. Were the witnesses of Jesus and his life subjected to severe opposition - hostile cross-examiners who would destroy the case of Christianity if the early Christian's testimony been contradicted by the facts? [31 p. 42]

When these four legal principles are considered, with regards to the credibility and accuracy of the New Testament documents, we find that the documents should be unequivocally pronounced valid and reliable as evidence about Jesus Christ. [31 p. 42]


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