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Believing in gospel truths or not
[HE IS RISEN, BUT LAWYERS CAN’T PROVE IT]

(Article published in the April 16, 2001 issue of TODAY, Business Section)

Objection, Your Honor, to the gospels as proofs of the resurrection of Jesus, the alleged Christ. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John do not speak from their own personal knowledge. Furthermore, they are biased in their testimonies. Their stories are inconsistent in material points with one another and are contrary to human experience. Tested by our rules of court, the gospel accounts are not evidence that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr., I am certain, will sustain my objections.

None of the gospel accounts claim anyone has seen the resurrection. In fact, none of the evangelists was an eyewitness to the ministry and death of Jesus Christ. Scholars admit that the gospel of Mark was likely written in the 60s, that of Matthew and Luke in the 80s and John’s in the 90s. The resurrection stories are therefore hearsay. And hearsay evidence has no probative value (People v. Valero, 112 SCRA 661).

 










Even if they were not hearsay, the gospels nevertheless do not come from unbiased sources. The Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation admits that each of the gospels was the product of selection, synthesis and proclamation designed to address the specific concerns of their respective audiences.

Mathew, speaking to the Jewish Christians of Antioch, Syria, wanted them to see Jesus as the fulfillment of the scriptures. Mark, wanting to support the morale of the Christians in Rome, spoke of Jesus as the suffering Son of Man. For Luke, Jesus was prophet and example, an inspiration to the suffering poor of Greece. John, writing for largely Jewish Christians in the process of being expelled from the synagogue, explicitly admits that his purpose was to lead readers to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Each one therefore had an angle, a spin in his story, a bias that seriously affects his objectivity (People v. Pampaluna, 96 SCRA 787).

Moreover, the gospel accounts contradict one another. Take the stone at the mouth of the tomb. Mark, Luke and John say that, when the women arrived at the tomb, the stone had already been rolled back. Matthew, however, says that, in the presence of the women, it was rolled back by an angel. Also, who was first to see the tomb empty? Matthew, Mark and Luke say, the women. But John says, Peter. And what was found at the tomb? Matthew says an angel who sat on the stone he had rolled away. Mark says a young man dressed in a white robe. Luke says two men in dazzling clothes. But John talks of two angels in white. So what was it one or two? men or angels? Since the versions are irreconcilable, they should all be rejected (People v. Ralucio, 86 SCRA 228).

Finally, the resurrection story is incredible in itself. A man dying the lowliest of deaths is raised in glory above all? It is inherently improbable, inconsistent with human experience and against the natural course of things. It "belongs to the miraculous and is outside of judicial cognizance" (People v. Berane, 54 O.G. 5652). In other words, legally unacceptable.

So how come people believe what lawyers cannot prove?

Simply because people know that law is not equal to life, that legal truth is not always real truth, that beyond the ken of the lawyer’s craft is a vast realm of the real, unfettered by wherefores and theretos, where what is so is so and not what the courts and lawyers say it is. Sad to say, at least for lawyers, in matters of life and death, here or hereafter, people would rather not believe lawyers.

Instead, people prefer to believe, and rightly so, what they see with own hearts: the truth in testimonies such as Paul’s, that after having died, Jesus the crucified appeared to Peter, then to the Twelve, then to more five hundred… then to James…then to all the apostles, and, "last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me". An appearance no legal method can establish, yet so transforming that cowards who ran for their lives when their leader was bound and led away found the courage to lose it before the wrath of Rome and the Sanhedrin. Thereafter, same appearances over all the years and all over the earth, to Ignacios, Franciscos, Theresas, and millions others, yielding lives of confession, commitment and confidence, that He, who was put to death, lives and those who cling to Him shall also live.

In our own nook in this valley of tears, our kith and kin have seen Him too. Witness Lorenzo Ruiz, Pedro Calungsod, Richie Fernando, Mary Grace Balayo, to name only a few. In a country obsessed and oppressed with lawyers and their ways, our Easter task is to throw off the blinders of legalism and see with our eyes the many ways the Christ is appearing to us and, with our hands, to make straight the path of His appearing to others.

Happy Easter to all, including lawyers.

 

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