I’ve been reading a number of detective books recently. So when someone handed me a book about Jesus written by a detective I was curious. The book is called ‘Cold Case Christianity‘ by J. Wallace. He’s a seasoned homicide detective and he applies what he has learnt to the witness accounts of Jesus, especially from ‘cold cases’.
At first I was quite captivated by all the real life stories he threw in, but as I read on he introduced more and more sophisticated analysis.
He made some very persuasive arguments in favour of the reliability of the witness accounts about Jesus.
We’ve probably all heard the argument that witness accounts often tell things from different perspectives. But he gave a much more detailed explanation of this point, using forensic analysis. Specifically he wrote about the phenomenon of ‘inadvertent support.’
No eyewitness ever gives a full account of a scene. So often their description raises a particular question. When Jesus calls Peter and Andrew in Matthew, the account at first seems odd. These men drop everything and immediately follow Jesus on their first meeting. Why would they do that?
If Matthew was the only account of Jesus this would remain unanswered. But Luke ‘inadvertently’ answers this question.
In his account we get a prior story of the fisherman encountering Jesus. Jesus used their boats to teach the crowds by the lake. He then instructed them to take him out and fish. They’d had an unsuccessful night of fishing but now they take an exceedingly impressive catch. This certainly gave them something to think about when he later asked them to follow him.
There are many of these incidental questions & answers in the Gospels.
Now these things by themselves don’t prove Christianity, but it’s exactly the kind of thing you’d expect if the witnesses are real and telling the truth.