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The Testimony of the Evangelists: The Gospels Examined by the Rules of Evidence Paperback – April 10, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853) was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and began the practice of law in Portland, Maine. Serving as professor of law at Harvard University from 1833-48, he was instrumental in organizing the university's law program. His three-volume work, A Treatise on the Law of Evidence, in considered a classic of American jurisprudence and forms the basis for his study of the Gospels.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Kregel Classics (April 10, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0825427479
  • ISBN-13: 978-0825427473
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #284,800 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 57 people found the following review helpful By rodboomboom HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on February 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
Greenleaf is well known throught jurist history as providing instruction on rules of evidence. Now that we have court tv and have witnessed some amazing trials, we understand more how what is allowed in as evidence is critical to a trial.
Here in this work this jurist expert analyzes the Gospels as being admissable. Think about it for a moment. In any given historical situation, if four different individuals were asked some time after the event common to all of their attendance to write an accurate report, the same result would happen as we find in the gospels. Stress on different events with highlights of differing focus on common happenings by multiple witnesses would occur.
Alledged contradictions thus fall aside given that each of us admits that this is just the way it commonly happens. We would be much more suspect if each of four witness accounts matched up exactly word for word. Collusion would be charged! Here though God gives four different slants through four Evangelists who do this very thing: they give different emphases and differing slants on the same event.
Bonus attachment is Dupin's "Trial of Jesus Before Caiaphas and Pilate." Interested parties might also check out Paul Maier's "Pontius Pilate" and "Flames of Rome."
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Robert E. Exum on May 20, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book for all types of people, Christians and non-Christian alike. It is especially good for those who believe they are the intellectual type. I work in the legal field, and so I found this book to be a clincher for even the most hard hearted skeptics. If they would just set their bias aside and truly absorb what this author is saying, there won't be any doubt that the evidence of the Evangelist is reliable.
This is a book I challenge my friends and coworkers to read because we deal with evidence people submit daily, seeking a benefit through this government agency. We are legally bound to recognize all applicants are "prima facie" eligible until proven otherwise through testimony and evidence. And so, we are trained to recognize what makes good evidence and what makes bad evidence. The Gospels are good evidence, unimpeachable.
I have actually gone back and purchased additional copies of this book so that I can give them out to people who need to hear it from a legal scholar with impeccable credentials. It's a very easy book to read. It can be digested in a matter of two or three hours, and its inexpensive as well, costing less than ten bucks.
Simon Greenleaf lays everything out so well, it is truly easy to follow his logic. If you are a skeptic about the Bible, doubting its authenticity, this book will explain to you why you should accept the Gospel accounts as fact, because their testimony is clear. Jesus is God incarnate as the Gospels attest. If you read this book, then this knowledge about Jesus is now in your head, and I pray that God the Holy Spirit will place it in your heart.
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66 of 78 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
It's ironic that the review below would fault Greenleaf for making biased assumptions about the Gospels, yet in his own review he makes the very mistakes he accuses this book of. For example, if the Early church randomly assigned names to the Gospels, why would they have named one The Gospel of Mark? Mark is best known in the Bible for deserting Barnabbas and Paul in the face of opposition. And Luke? Luke's name is only spoken of two times in the entire New Testament, and in a passing "Luke says hello" at that! Why not instead name them after the heroes of the Church, like the Gospel of Apollos or the Gospel of Peter?
This person also assumes that "modern scholars have deduced" that the Gospels were written several decades after Jesus' death. Scholars, infact, are dating the Gospels PHILOSOPHICALLY: it is necessary that 1) the Gospels be placed after 70 AD so it would not be allowed that Jesus predicted the destruction of the temple, and 2) that, since the Early Church had been commenting on the Gospels in full swing by 105 AD, they must fit in the first century. With such stringent requirements [and biases], all four are deliberately stuffed into a 25 year period of 70 AD (Mark), 85 AD (Luke and Matthew), and 95 AD (John), and the last one being produced just two years ahead of Clement's letter to Rome. (The context of this letter, by the way, talked about the Gospel of John so casually, it is as if the readers in Rome were highly familiar and well-read in it.)
If the Gospels were to be dated HISTORICALLY instead of PHILOSOPHICALLY, one would find that The synoptic gospels are more properly dated at around 39 - 50 AD; that is, anywhere from 9 to twenty years after Jesus' death.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Steven H Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on September 3, 2013
Format: Paperback
Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853) was a professor of law at Harvard University from 1833-1848; he wrote this brief book in 1874.

In his dedication "To the Members of the Legal Profession" Greenleaf states, "If a close examination of the evidences for Christianity may be expected of one class of men more than another, it would seem incumbent on us, who make the law of evidence one of our peculiar studies.... This influence we are constantly exerting for good or ill; and hence, to refuse to acqaint ourselves with the evidences of the Christian religion, or act as though, having fully examined, we lightly esteemed them, is to assume an appalling amount of responsibility."

He argues that for the evangelists to have written falsehoods "would also have been irreconcilable with the fact that they were good men." Moreover, "It is incredible that bad men should invent falsehoods to promote the religion of the God of truth."

He states, "The discrepancies between the narratives of the several evangelists, when carefully examined, will not be found sufficient to invalidate their testimony ... In the points in which they agree, and which constitute the great body of the narratives, their testimony is of course not doubted; where they differ, we reconcile them, as well as we may; and where this cannot be done at all, we follow that light which seems to us the clearest."

Interestingly, he notes about the trial of Jesus by the Sanhedrin: "He was arrested in the night, bound as a malefactor, beaten before his arraignment, and struck in open court during the trial; he was tried on a feast day, and before sunrise, he was compelled to incriminate himself, and this, under an oath of solemn judicial adjuration; and he was sentenced on the same day as the conviction. In all these particulars the law was wholly disregarded."

This book, though old, is still of continuing interest to those interested in Christian apologetics.
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