My ongoing review of “Lord or Legend“ by evangelical apologists Gregory Boyd and Paul Eddy, part 12:
It is no accident that the Gospels each exhibit this interesting balance between essential fixity and creative flexibility. As tradents [oral storytellers] operating within the communicative content of an oral register, the Gospels authors freely rearrange events and sayings. They sometimes seem to collate or divide up events (as we previously noted Matthew doing with Mark’s version of the cursing of the fig tree). At times they seem to intentionally do this for topical reasons. But, for all we know, at other times they may do so simply because this is how the material presented itself to them as they were composing their works. In any event, by the standards of orally dominant cultures, the fact that the way events and sayings are ordered is markedly different in each Gospel does not constitute a contradiction and does not in the least compromise the genuineness of the historical interest or capabilities of the Gospel authors. To think otherwise, as many legendary-Jesus theorists do, is to think anachronistically.
Gary: Look. It doesn’t bother me that one Gospel says there was one young man in white clothing at Jesus’ tomb (Mark), another Gospel says there was one angel (Matthew), and another Gospel says there were two angels (Luke). Who cares. But what does bother me is when one Gospel says that the women fled the tomb and told no one, yet another Gospel says that the resurrected Jesus appeared to the women in the garden, causing them to immediately run to the disciples to report the resurrection! I’m sorry. That is a contradiction.
And when one Gospel says that Jesus first appeared to the disciples in Jerusalem, on the same day, Sunday (Luke), while another Gospel claims that Jesus only appeared to women in Jerusalem on Sunday, and told the women to tell the male disciples he would meet them in Galilee, where he then allegedly appeared to the male disciples on a mountain (Matthew), that is a contradiction.
And when one Gospel says that the male disciples were instructed to go to Galilee to receive an appearance of Jesus (Matthew) while in another Gospel the male disciples are specifically instructed, by Jesus, not to leave Jerusalem (not to go to Galilee) (Luke), that is a contradiction.
When two Gospels say that an angel/two angels told the women, including Mary Magdalene, that Jesus was risen (Matthew and Luke), yet another Gospel has Mary Magdalene not knowing that Jesus was risen until Jesus appears and tells her himself, that is a contradiction.
Conclusion: These reports are not reliable! Yes, they all report that Jesus’ tomb was found empty by women and that Jesus appeared or would appear (the original Mark) to his disciples. But other than that, there is very little they agree on! And if these authors can’t figure out whether Jesus was appearing in Jerusalem or in Galilee, how do we know that these appearance stories are not just legends? Maybe the empty tomb sparked the imagination (and gullibility) of many of Jesus’ followers, some in Jerusalem, some in Galilee. Pretty soon, “Jesus sightings” were occurring all over Palestine! And the best versions or amalgamations of these many appearance stories won out and ended up in four books, written decades later, in lands far away, by authors whom the majority of scholars do not believe were eyewitnesses or associates of eyewitnesses!
These ancient texts are NOT historically reliable, my Christian friends. I’m sorry to break the news to you. No one should base their entire worldview and life on these four old books!
Read part 13 here.
End of post.