Were the gospels ‘fact checked’ by those in the know?

Ashes

In a discussion I’ve been having with Don Camp on his blog-site, Biblical Musings, Don has been arguing that the Gospels are completely accurate because a) he wants to believe this and b) the Gospels ‘could have been fact checked by people living who had known Jesus and who had heard the Apostles teach this very story for many years. New and embellished versions would not have been acceptable to these people’ (my emphasis).

Clearly this is not so; John’s gospel presents a very different, highly embellished Jesus from that of the synoptic gospels (a divine being who is preoccupied with himself as opposed to a prophet concerned with ushering in God’s Kingdom), yet nowhere do we have any record of anyone saying, ‘hang on, one of these isn’t right – this isn’t how I remember things.’ Similarly, Paul’s itinerary (not to mention his theology) in Acts differs from that he talks about in his letters. Yet there’s no surviving evidence that anyone pulled Luke up about his inaccuracies.

If it didn’t happen, as far as we are aware, for these discrepancies, then why should we suppose it would have happened for others? It isn’t legitimate to hail the absence of ‘fact checking’ as evidence that everyone thought the gospel writers’ versions of Jesus’ life, despite multiple contradictions and evident embellishments, were reasonably accurate. This absence is not evidence that there was nothing to be disputed; it can be explained in numerous other, more likely ways (no-one was particularly interested in the discrepancies and embellishments because the gospels are literary creations, not historical accounts; the objections weren’t recorded or simply didn’t survive; they were quashed by orthodoxy and so on.)

Still Don insists ‘nobody in the know’ objected to anything in the gospels at the time they were written. This of course is mere conjecture on his part. We simply don’t know whether anyone objected, who did and who didn’t. Perhaps the disciples did object but were overruled (just as they were by Paul over other matters); maybe they objected to being portrayed as idiots, when their interpretation of what Jesus was about was being diminished, and nobody actually cared; maybe they didn’t mind the mythologising of their leader; maybe they never even saw the gospels, written as they were well away from Palestine and long after the events they portray; maybe most of the disciples were dead by the time the gospels were in circulation – life expectancy was short. Yes, I’m hypothesising here, just as Don does, my conjecture being every bit as valid as his.

Finally, Don refuses to see the errors, discrepancies and contradictions in the Gospels, as well as the mythologising of their central figure. Even with their inconsistencies, inaccuracies and flights of fancy (that may or may not have been objected to), Don maintains the Gospels are still ‘true’ and ‘inspired’. He really knows how to stretch a definition to the point of meaninglessness.

As if that’s not bad enough, he now he wants to pray for me.

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4 thoughts on “Were the gospels ‘fact checked’ by those in the know?

  1. Wow. I never understood the people who claim everything in the bible is true and correct when it clearly is not. I simply stop talking to people like ColorStorm because of this view that our reality must be wrong because people 2000 years ago give or take must have known better than our best science can show. I do not see how they can ignore what can be shown to be not true. On the prayer, tell him you will pray to another god for him also. That will but a burn in his day. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel fairly confident there was ‘nobody in the know’ around or close by to fact check and if there were any who heard the propaganda there probably wasn’t much they could do about it,especially if they were illiterate.
    Even if the four gospels were actually written by apostles or close companions of the apostles it only shows they weren’t a very tight bunch and all had their own personal Jesus.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The consensus among scholars is that the gospels were certainly not written by the apostles, eye-witnesses or even associates of the disciples; Matthew and Luke, and John to some extent, all crib from Mark (who doesn’t claim to be an eye-witness.) When they’re not doing that, Matthew and Luke both lift sayings from a different earlier, written source (usually known as ‘Q’). Why would they do this if they had first-hand knowledge or contacts themselves?

      Liked by 1 person

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