More Evidence that the Gospels Are Not Historically Reliable: The Jesus of the Synoptics Is Not the Jesus of John

Why doesn’t the Jesus of the Gospel of John cast out any demons? The Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels seems to be casting out demons on every street corner!

I challenge every Christian to do the following: Read the Gospel of Mark in parallel with the Gospel of John. In other words, read the first chapter of Mark and then the first chapter of John. Then, read the second chapter of Mark followed by the second chapter of John. Follow the same pattern with the remaining chapters of both gospels. What you will see is that the Jesus of The Gospel of John is very different from the Jesus of The Gospel of Mark. Here is what NT Wright, New Testament scholar, has to say on this subject:

Only John has Jesus making pronouncements with a double “amen” (KJV: “verily, verily”), but there are more substantive differences in the words and actions of Jesus. In John’s Gospel we don’t see Jesus perform an exorcism (but note 12:31) whereas in the Synoptics that is a major feature of the ministry of Jesus. Jesus teaches in long discourses in John, but not using many parables. John has much unique material, such as the encounters with Nicodemus (John 3) and a Samaritan woman (John 4), as well as the washing of the disciples’ feet (John 13), but not instituting the Lord’s Supper. The post-resurrection appearance to Mary Magdalene alone (John 20) is another idiosyncratic feature of John’s Gospel.

There are many more examples of John’s unique presentation of the words and deeds of Jesus, such as John being alone among the Gospels in reporting the promise of the coming paraclete (John 14-16) and the seven “I am” statements. Readers of the Gospels should explore this area more noting how John’s presentation of Jesus complements that of the Synoptics.source

John compliments the Synoptics?? I don’t think so, Reverend Wright! I think the stark differences in the sayings and actions of Jesus in the Gospel of John and the Synoptics is excellent evidence that the Gospels contain massive quantities of historically unreliable material; material that was either invented by the original authors for evangelistic purposes or fanciful embellishments which inevitably crept into The Jesus Story, as occurs in all legends and tall tales.

Jews, Muslims, and other non-Christians must shake their heads in disbelief when they read the ridiculously incongruent stories about Jesus found in the Synoptics and John.

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End of post.

20 thoughts on “More Evidence that the Gospels Are Not Historically Reliable: The Jesus of the Synoptics Is Not the Jesus of John

  1. I guess we should doubt what we know about Sixto Rodriguez then too.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Searching_for_Sugar_Man#Criticism

    “The film’s narrative of a South African story about an American musician omits that Rodriguez was successful in Australia in the 1970s and toured there in 1979 and 1981.[14] Because of this omission some critics have called the documentary “myth-making”.[15][16] However, the film focuses on his mysterious reputation in South Africa and the attempts of music historians there to track him down in the mid-1990s. South Africans were unaware of his Australian success due to the harsh censorship enacted by the apartheid regime[17] coupled with international sanctions that made any communication with the outside world on the subject of banned artists virtually impossible.[18]”

    I guess this means that either he toured Australia, or he was popular in South Africa during Apartheid, but he could NOT have done/been both.

    Such poor reasoning, Gary.

    As I have pointed out on this very blog previously – see the comments here: https://lutherwasnotbornagaincom.wordpress.com/2017/11/06/can-we-rescue-liam-from-his-cult-christianity/ – historians WORK to reconcile disparate historical accounts, they do not dismiss them and claim that they are simply mythical based on “difficulties” such as you raise.

    So you continue to be stuck in the same place after four years, despite having your very weak points addressed and corrected.

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      1. I recently acquired a gospel parallels book with all four side by side on the page (I owned one with just the three synoptics side by side for many years).
        Since John is so different, many columns are blank for stories, events and sayings in the synoptics. And of course the opposite for those in John – many blank columns for Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

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    1. I know he was popular in South Africa ‘cos I live here!
      Jesus was also popular, during Apartheid, (not so much these days) .as Christians cited him… sorry Him as justification for the racial policies during this period. (They cited Jesus, not Rodriguez)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your analogy does the exact opposite of what you claim it does, Liam. Sugarman, you say, could either have ‘toured Australia, or he was popular in South Africa during Apartheid, but he could NOT have done/been both.’ Apply this to Jesus: either he talked endlessly about himself and did multiple miracles to impress the crowds (as John claims), or he talked only about the arrival of God’s Kingdom on earth while refusing to provide any ‘signs’ at all (as Mark says). ‘But he could NOT have done/been both.’
    I’m sure Gary is grateful to have been ‘corrected’ by someone as knowledgeable as you, Liam.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Neil: re: “…either he talked endlessly about himself and did multiple miracles to impress the crowds (as John claims), or he talked only about the arrival of God’s Kingdom on earth while refusing to provide any ‘signs’ at all (as Mark says). ‘But he could NOT have done/been both.’”

    I don’t think I quite get this. Why couldn’t he have done both?

    Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not “siding” with Liam’s view. And, as most already know, I’m no fan of the Gospels and don’t even bother considering them “historical”. But, regarding YOUR view, I don’t see why Jesus couldn’t have “done/been both” – which is to say, I don’t see how these two things (Jesus per John, and Jesus per Mark) are somehow “mutually exclusive”. All it might mean is that Mark wrote “X” info about Jesus, and John wrote “Y” info about him. I don’t think anybody claims that every Gospel writer wrote “all things knowable about Jesus” in their respective Gospels.

    What Liam was pointing out was that the two things HE mentioned WERE mutually exclusive.

    So, maybe you could explain how “Jesus per John” and “Jesus per Mark” are mutually exclusive.

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    1. I’ll take a crack at this: What John’s Jesus and Mark’s Jesus say are not mutually exclusive, but they are incongruent.

      If two people write a biography about you and one says that you consistently and openly claim to be God’s messenger, using very public miracles to prove that claim, while the other biographer says that you consistently do your miracles in private, telling witnesses not to tell anyone, there is a high probability that one your biographers is mistaken or inventing his material. Is it possible that you have only done private miracles in front of one biographer and public miracles in front of the other? Sure. Probable? No.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. “After healing a man of leprosy (Mark 1:41-42), “Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: ’see that you don’t tell this to anyone…'” (Mark 1:43-44). To our way of thinking, it would seem that Jesus would want everyone to know about the miracle. But Jesus knew that publicity over such miracles might hinder His mission and divert public attention from His message. Mark records that this is exactly what happened. In this man’s excitement over his being miraculously healed, he disobeyed. As a result, Christ had to move His ministry away from the city and into the desert regions (Mark 1:45) “As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to Him from everywhere.” ”

    Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/do-not-tell.html

    Gary: If anyone can find a passage in the Gospel of John where Jesus tells people not to reveal his miracles or his identity, please post it.

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  5. Gary –

    I’d totally agree that the two accounts (as you suggest) would be incongruent. But, again, that doesn’t mean the two accounts (John, Mark) of Jesus are necessarily mutually exclusive. It potentially could mean that the two writers were just writing their own impressions, memories, (whatever) and neither of them have the “whole picture” entirely right.

    Example: one person records that Lincoln was in a great mood in the carriage on the way to the Ford Theater, another records he was in a foul mood. These are not mutually exclusive: it could depend on what happened in the carriage ride; maybe Lincoln started out in a great mood, but by the time they’d gotten to the Ford theater, he was pissed off about something. Thus, it would depend on which point in time the two observers saw Lincoln in the carriage. (yes – this is a “fake” example).

    So, I’m just hoping Neil will chime in and illuminate how the two accounts are mutually exclusive, because that’s what Liam was getting at in his example…

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    1. But we aren’t talking about one man’s trip to the theatre. We are talking about multiple (alleged) events over at least a couple of years in which the Jesus of John says and acts in ways that are completely incongruent with the sayings and actions of the Jesus of Mark. I would agree with Neil: the two Jesus characters in these two books cannot be the same person. They are mutually exclusive.

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  6. Thanks, Gary. I resist responding to HolyMoly or whatever he’s calling himself this month. Like many believers he’s not open to others’ views.
    The consensus among experts is that the fourth gospel is incompatible with the other three. Scholars see John as the least historically reliable gospel, its Jesus a literary construct (which isn’t to say he isn’t also a construct in the other gospels, just a different one.) Ehrman summarises the consensus view here: https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124572693&t=1636714199776

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    1. Yes, for most Christians historical evidence is the stated reason for their belief—when speaking to non-believers. However, out of the spotlight of secular eyes and ears, Christians freely share the true reason for their belief: “the presence of Christ within them”. The true reason that most Christians believe in a first century corpse reanimation is the emotional benefits that belief in this ancient superstition gives them. Even if we could produce the very bones of Jesus, most Christians would still continue to believe due to the subjective perception of his “presence” in their heart.

      As William Lane Craig (WLC) said in his book, “The Son Rises”: “The simplest Christian, who knows nothing about historical evidence, can know that the resurrection was an historical fact by the testimony of the Holy Spirit in his heart.”

      This is why discussing historical evidence with Christians regarding their “faith” is an absolute waste of time. For the overwhelming majority of them, they did not come to belief due to evidence. They came to belief in “Lord Jesus” due to an emotion-based conversion experience.

      Only if we are successful in convincing Christians that their emotions are not reliable indicators of truth can we ever hope to rescue them from their superstition-based religious delusions.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. My favourite part of the movie. Reminds me of the scene in the last temptation of Christ when Jesus confronts Paul about Paul’s made up stories and Paul says it doesn’t matter- it’s what the people want to believe -it gives them hope.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. And this is a GREAT representation of how “Paul” turned Yeshua into the “Christ” that HE wanted him to be … and that he wrote about. But of course, it’s just a movie. Right?

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          1. I feel confident in asserting the character playing Yeshua/Jesus is hallucinating in this scene as surely these days, people realise that, Saul/ Paul was simply a projection of Marcion?

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