Detective Deals with Discrepancies in Gospel Accounts
Are the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life reliable? Do discrepancies between them mean that they should be rejected?
Some skeptics claim that because the gospels differ on various details, therefore they should be rejected. But this position ignores the nature of genuine eye witness accounts of real-life events. In fact, when police detectives examine eye-witness reports, they expect to find differences between them because of the differing perspectives of the witnesses.
J. Warner Wallace is a former atheist who works as an L.A. County homicide detective. He is the author of Cold Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels. In Wallace’s book, he explains why he trusts the Gospels.
Before I ever examined the reliability of the gospel accounts, I had a reasonable expectation about what a dependable set of eyewitness statements might look like, given my experience as a detective. When more than one witness observes a crime, I expect to see the following characteristics in their statements:
…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.
J. Warner Wallace, Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels, 1st ed. (Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2013), 81.