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Statistical Significance of the Testimonium-Luke Correspondences
Comparison with Other Early Jesus Descriptions


        Is the relationship of the Testimonium and Luke’s Emmaus narrative truly significant?

        Or is it just a natural similarity due to the fact they are both short descriptions of Jesus?

        To answer this question, we should compare these texts with other short descriptions of Jesus of the era. A statistical analysis can then be applied to determine the mathematical significance of the correlations.

        On this page, the representative texts are selected. The results of the analysis are found in:

        Quanitative Content Analysis
            Comparing the overlap of the set of themes between any pair of the texts.

    Vocabulary Correlation Statistics
            Comparing the overlap in vocabulary between any pair of the texts.

Criteria for Selection of Representative Texts

    In selecting the  representative texts I have chosen to follow the following criteria. Each text must be:
              In keeping with the way the Testimoinium has been extracted from Josephus' Antiquities, all of the texts will be excerpted beginning with the first mention of Jesus' name and continuing through the resurrection and prophecies.


From Gospel to Creed

            The class of text obeying these criteria coincide with the development of the creedal statements of Christianity.

    The earliest such descriptions are found in the Letters of Paul, the Gospels, and the Book of Acts. Brief accounts of Jesus form the early gospel message of the first apostles. These grew into the more elaborate gospels found in the apostolic speeches of Acts. The texts from this era that I have selected for analysis are:

1 Co 15:3-8
Mark 10:32-34
Luke 24:18-27
Acts 2:22-36
Acts 3:13-16
Acts 5:30-32
Acts 10:36-43
Acts 13:23-41
         The reason for including so many from Acts is that the speeches show interesting variations in the way a single author can handle the same material. This is particularly interesting as this same author also wrote the Emmaus narrative that is the focus of our interest. Other possible inclusions are Mark 8:24 and 9:31, Matthew 16.21 and Luke 9:22, and Romans 1:3.

         The next stage in the development of Jesus accounts are the rules of faith of the second century. The dominant Greek authors here are Justin and Ignatius. Of these I select two:

Justin, First Apology 31   (c. 140 AD/CE)

Ignatius, To the Trallians 9  (c. 120 AD/CE)


Other choices could include these similar passages: Justin, Apol I, 6:2, 65:3, 67:2, 13, 61:10, 21:1, 31:7, 42:4, 46:5; Dial 63:1, 85:2, 126:1, 132:1. Ignatius, Ephes. 18:2, Trall. 9, Smyrn. 1:1-2.

        The final stage of development is the movement from rules of faith to formal Christian creeds. One such in Greek that I will take for the sample is

The Old Roman Creed     Word counts for these texts varies from 51 (1 Co) to 301 (Acts 13), with Luke 24 about average.

    The following tables show each of the texts in English translation. Their content, without regard for order, is analysed on the Content Correlation Statistics page.

    For development of the creeds, see:

        J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (Harper 7 Row, 1978)

        Lee M. McDonald, The Formation of the Christian Biblical Canon (Hendrickson, 1995)

Acts 2:22-36 

Men, Israelites, hear these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man from God, having been attested among you by powers and wonders and signs, which God worked through him among you, as you yourselves know --this one, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, having taken and nailed by lawless hands, you killed; but God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it. For David says as to him [Ps 16]. Men, brothers, one can plainly say to you concerning David the patriarch, that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is still among us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn an oath to him that he would raise up the fruit of his loins according to the flesh on his throne, the Messiah, to sit on his throne; foreseeing this, he spoke concerning the resurrection of the Messiah...This Jesus God raised up, of which we all are witnesses..

Acts 3:13-26 

The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. But you rejected the holy and righteous one and asked to have a man, a murderer, given to you, and you killed the author of life; but God raised him from the dead, of which we are witnesses. [Lame man healed by faith] And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. Repent, therefore, and turn back so that your sins may be wiped out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah appointed for you, that is Jesus, who must remain in heaven until the time of universal restoration that God announced long ago through his holy prophets. Moses said...And all the prophets, as many as have spoken, from Samuel and those after him, also predicted these days. ..

Acts 10:36-43 

You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ -- he is Lord of all. you know the thing that happened through all Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to become visible, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to proclaim to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. To this one all the prophets testify, that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.


Acts 5:30-32 

  The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you laid hands on, hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.

 1 Co 15:3-8 

For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still with us, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

Acts 13:23-41 

Of [David's] seed God has raised up to Israel a savior, Jesus, as he promised; before his coming John had already proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.  And as John was finishing his work, he said, "What do you suppose that I am? I am not he.  No, but one is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the sandals on his feet."My brothers, you descendants of Abraham's family, and others who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent.  Because the residents of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize him or understand the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath, they fulfilled those words by condemning him.  Even though they found no cause for death, they asked Pilate to do away with him.  When they had carried out everything that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb.  But God raised him from the dead; and for many days he was seen by those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, and they are now his witnesses to the people.  And we bring you the good news that what God promised to our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm....Through this one, forgiveness of sins is announced to you...Beware, therefore, that what is said in the Prophets does not happen to you: "Behold, you scoffers, and marvel and vanish..." 



To the Trallians 9 

Turn a deaf ear to any speaker who avoids mention of Jesus Christ who was of David's line, born of Mary, who was truly born, ate, and drank; was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate, truly crucified and died while those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth beheld it; who also was truly raised from the dead, the Father having raised him, who in like manner will raise us also who believe in him -- his Father, I say, will raise us in Christ Jesus, apart from whom we have not true life.

Justin Martyr 

First Apology 31 

In the books of the prophets we find it announced beforehand that Jesus our Christ would appear, be born through a virgin, grow up, heal every disease and sickness and raise the dead, and be despised and unrecognized and crucified and die and be raised and ascend to the heavens and be called the Son of God, and that some would be sent by him to every nation, and that the Gentiles would believe.


Mark 10:32-34  

They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, "See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.

Old Roman Creed   

(trans. Kelly)  

I believe in God the Allmighty and in Christ Jesus, His only son, our Lord, who was born from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate and buried,  and on the third day rose from the dead,  ascended to heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father, from where he will come and judge the living and the dead; and in the Holy Spirit, the holy Church, the remission of sins,  
the resurrection of the flesh, and life everlasting.