The Unreliability Of Gospels
This article covers The Unreliability Of Gospels.
The Gospels were composed after the early Christians had become divided into different factions. They were in fact composed to propagate the special teachings of the various schools and their authors showed no hesitation in tampering with the earlier documents and other traditional material regarding the life and teaching of Jesus to bring them in line with the views of their schools. Rev. T. G. Tucker writes:
“Thus Gospels were produced which clearly reflected the conception of the practical needs of the community for which they were written. In them the traditional material was used, but there was no hesitation in altering it or making additions to it, or in leaving out what did not suit the writer’s purpose.” (The History of the Christians in the Light of Modern Knowledge, p: 320:.
The Four Gospels included in the Bible were not the only Gospels written in the early centuries of Christianity. Approximately three hundred gospels were written but towards the end of the second century the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John were included in the Canon and the rest were declared to be heretical or apocryphal by the Church. Changes continued to be made in them, as is clear from the early extant manuscripts. Referring to this, Prof. Dummelow of Cambridge writes in his famous Commentary on the Boy Bible:
“A copyist would sometimes put it not what was in the text, but what he thought ought to be in it. He would trust a fickle memory, or he would make the text accord with the views of the school to which he belonged. In addition to the versions and quotations from the Christian Fathers, nearly four thousand Greek MSS of the Testament were known to exist. As a result, the variety of reading is considerable.” (p: 16).
In considering how far the four Canonical Gospels faithfully present the inspired message or Gospel of Jesus we bust bear the following facts in mind:
1) that no written copy was made of the inspired sayings of Jesus in his lifetime;
2) that the earliest records of the sayings of Jesus, which were made shortly after the departure of Jesus, when the glorification of Jesus had already begun, have all been irretrievably lost:
3) that in the Gospels, which were written between 70 and 115 C.E. on the basis of some of those lost documents, the material contained in them was handled rather freely;
4) that none of the Evangelists had known Jesus or heard him speaking;
5) that the Gospels were written in Greek whereas the language spoken by Jesus was Aramaic;
6) that they were composed to propagate the points of view of the different factions and that they were chosen from many others which represented different view-points;
7) that for at least a century after they were written they had no canonical authority and were actually changed by the copyists of the different sects to serve their own purposes;
8) that the earliest extant manuscripts of the Gospels -Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus, and Codex Alexandrianus- belong to the fourth and fifth century, and no one knows how much the Gospels had been changed during the centuries of which no manuscript was available;
9) that there are considerable differences at many places among the various extant manuscripts of the fourth and fifth century; and
10) that the Gospels taken as a whole are full of contradictions.