According to the Lectric Law Library a credible witness is someone “competent and worthy of belief… an individual capable of knowing the thing thoroughly about which he testifies.” It’s a solid, all-weather definition, and if we are to entertain the claims made by Christians then there has been no greater witness in history than Jesus Christ himself; a sage who personally guaranteed that he spoke for and as the Hebrew god of the Tanakh, Yahweh. “I and My Father are one,” he stated in John 10:30, and to the value of his word he left no doubt: “I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:38). Strong words, a robust statement, and certainly something one would expect a god incarnate to say. The headache however here for the Christian apologist who’s left to actually defend the claim is that if we apply the definition of credibility to Jesus he fails it in a specular and unignorable way. Indeed, through the course of his own words Jesus reveals himself to in fact be so incompetent that no court today could possibly accept him as a credible witness for it can be proven that he simply didn’t know what he was talking about.
Now admittedly it is impossible to critique the truthfulness (or indeed usefulness) of the vague and generally superficial sayings which constitute the greater part of the Jesus script handed down through the gospels. One can neither prove nor disprove the worth of an abstract colloquy except for perhaps identifying the thought as original or plagiarised like, for example, the Golden Rule which Jesus was evidently fond of yet it can be traced to multiple sources from 4th Century BCE Mohism (“For one would do for others as one would do for oneself”) to as far back as the Egyptian Middle Kingdom (“Now this is the command: Do to the doer to cause that he do thus to you”). In this instance Jesus simply fails a moral test by not identifying the ideas lineage, but of import here are the historical claims he supposedly made; clear and specific statements which can be scrutinized and judged as true or fallacious and from which we can determine his credibility as a witness.
By the gospel accounts Jesus makes a number of historical claims (including a failed prediction of his own second coming), but for the sake of brevity let us focus on just one test case: Moses. In total, Moses is mentioned a whopping eighty-five times in the New Testament with Jesus directly naming him twice in Matthew (including a rather bizarre face-to-face meeting detailed in 17:3-4), and in John 5:45 where he says: “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.” Now this is an unambiguous statement; a clear and definitive declaration that Jesus believed Moses was a real person who, we’re told, spent a great deal of time with the god of the Tanakh, who Jesus not only claims to speak for, but also be… and this is when things turn awkward. A century of exhaustive archaeological work conducted across Israel and its environs has revealed that Moses was no more a real historical character than King Arthur, Beowulf, or Sponge Bob Square Pants were real historical characters. Moses, we now know with a great deal of certainty, was a legendary motif; a fable which the majority of Jewish rabbis today openly concede was knitted together in the 7th and 6th Century BCE, and whose birth story was, for example, adapted straight from the far older Babylonian tale of King Sargon of Agade:
“My humble mother bore me secretly. She put me in a basket of rushes and sealed me in with asphalt. Then she put me into the river…. The river held me up, and carried me to Akki, the irrigator who drew water from the river for the people. As he dipped his jug into the river, Akki carried me out. He raised me as his own son.”
So definitive is the evidence against a historical Moses (and the Exodus he supposedly led) that the second edition Encyclopaedia Judaica concludes that the entire narrative was “dramatically woven out of various strands of tradition… he [Moses] wasn’t a historical character.” Indeed, so definitive is the evidence against Moses that the word “myth” has now even penetrated the thought-to-be-impenetrable walls of Orthodox Judaism. In 2012 Rabi Louis Jacobs sent shockwaves through the Orthodox world when he declared in his book, Torah from Heaven, that Moses and the story surrounding him was little more than a “foundation myth;” an origin dream, not a descriptive historical fact.
Now Jesus’ colossal blunder in naming Moses as a real person is as conspicuous as it is damning to his credibility. It doesn’t, after all, speak too highly of a witness’s authority, intelligence, competence, insight or judgment if he couldn’t distinguish the difference between inventive geopolitical myth and actual historical fact; a history he, as god, was allegedly and intimately involved in. Indeed, if Jesus’ claims are to be taken seriously then there can be zero tolerance for even minor bungles in his knowledge of any earthly event, let alone one he supposedly participated in, and yet here is an oversight so outrageous that it is the equivalent of a charismatic preacher three-hundred years from today proclaiming Batman existed. This bumbling ignorance of basic regional history exposes Jesus (if he indeed existed) to be little more than an amateurish charlatan masquerading as a supernaturally inspired magi… a naïve magician whose word was and is, by definition, thoroughly worthless.