I want to pose yet another mystery about the four Gospel accounts: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But before I can do that, we need to consider some things. We’re allowed, in studying the testimony of these men, to consider their objectives and their circumstances as far as we can determine them. We’re assisted in this task by the testimony of a legion of expert witnesses—we call them scholars.
Now, if you’re sitting on the jury in a murder trial, the prosecuting attorney is going to put the police detective on the stand, show him a revolver, and ask him questions about it. Here he is going about establishing a chain of evidence. But he is also going to call expert witnesses in ballistics, forensics, and so on. In our little analogy, these are the scholars.
Our legal system assumes that ordinary guys and gals like you and me—with no special training of any kind—can listen to all this, decide who is telling the truth, and come to a decision beyond a reasonable doubt. We actually have to assume, in a way, that something like this goes on in biblical studies—that you and I are able to examine the evidence, hear from the experts, and draw our conclusions. So here we are, sitting on a jury talking about the Book of Matthew—whether it is true, right, and valid. But before we consult our experts, let’s establish some ground rules.