Is Evaluating the Truth of the New Testament Like Getting a New Sprinkler System?

After 13 years of living in our Phoenix Arizona home, it looks like it is time to get the sprinkler (drip) system replaced.  It is springing leaks about once a week and starting to become really irritating…  If we don’t happen to be home to catch it when one of these leaks happens, the whole yard gets flooded and the water sometimes even makes it down the street!  With this hot and dry climate out here, the black plastic tubing just starts to develop splits in various places and eventually just needs a complete replacement.

So, last week I made the decision that I would bite the bullet and replace the whole system.  Knowing that I have very minimal skills in sprinkler maintenance and would be in over my head trying to replace the whole system myself, I decided to call out various companies to give me an estimate.  So far, I’ve had 2 sprinkler repair companies come out.  I figure that my best approach is to get several estimates so that I can compare the prices they’re giving me as well as comparing and contrasting the various suggestions and options.  For example, one company is saying I need “Funny pipe” – it will last 20 – 30 years.  Another company says funny pipe shouldn’t be used for a residential sprinkler system and instead I should use 5/8″ black plastic tubing.  But both companies so far have agreed that I should get the valves replaced and that this time, I should have them buried underground.  They’ve both agreed that it is not absolutely necessary for me to replace the controller box, so they quoted that as a separate item.  This morning, there are 2 more companies scheduled to come out and I hope to learn more and get a better idea about what parts of the system I should replace, what grade of components could or should be used and roughly what this will cost me.

So, how does this relate to the New Testament?  In the same way that getting multiple estimates on something I know very little about, like a sprinkler system, will make me more sure about the truth of what I need, having multiple authors providing their accounts of interaction with and observation of Jesus gives me a clearer and more accurate picture of who He is and was.  We’ve got 27 books written by 9 authors over approximately a 60 year period.  Taken all together, they give a complete picture of the God-Man Jesus.  Just like the estimates that I’m getting, there are areas where the accounts of Jesus agree and report exactly or close to exactly the same thing.  The basic story – the basic facts are the same:

  1. Jesus was born of a virgin
  2. He lived and moved around in the area of Palestine (Nazareth, Galilee, Jerusalem, etc)
  3. He performed miracles
  4. He healed people
  5. He forgave their sins
  6. He cast out demons
  7. He taught with authority
  8. His adversaries were the elders, chief priests, scribes and pharisees
  9. He was crucified on a Roman cross
  10. He died and was buried
  11. On the 3rd day, He rose from the dead
  12. He appeared to many of His followers after rising from the dead
  13. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father

There are many other areas that agree as well.  And just like the estimates that I’m getting on the sprinkler system, in the New Testament accounts of Jesus there are divergent details, such as “Were there 1 or 2 women at the tomb?” or which disciple got to the tomb first.  And I know that there are other divergent details as well through the 27 books.  Also, there are details provided by one author that are not provided by the others (supplemental information).  So, like the sprinkler estimate, I need to decide whether I discard these differences and/or supplemental information or whether I just realize that these authors were writing the account from their own unique perspective.  Taking all of the accounts of the 9 authors together provides a more comprehensive picture of who Jesus is and was.  But certainly the divergent details and supplemental information do not invalidate the areas of agreement. Just like having more sprinkler estimates makes me more sure of the common information contained in those estimates, the commonly reported facts about Jesus make me more sure that those facts are well established.

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