I do not know the who the author of the chart above is, but it conveys fantastic information pertaining to the veracity of the Gospels. As a follow up to my previous post on “Q”, I want to explain why the synoptic gospels are written the way they are, and why a testimony of witnesses does not equal a contradiction.
If you look at the chart, you will see that there is a great deal of similarities and differences between the accounts. Some have claimed that they seem to all come from a single source document and then the authors of the synoptics just added or changed things dependent on what they wanted to teach. Note: this is to say in addition to Jesus’ teachings. I deny this claim. For some reason, when it comes to the Bible, critical scholars like to throw out normal rules and run with a presuppositional agenda when review the information. There is nothing wrong or academically dishonest about harmonizing various testimonies of the same events.
For example: You, me, and a friend of ours become part of the presidents personal entourage and travel with him everywhere for 3 years. Later in life, we decided to write about our experiences. If one were to read these accounts they would be able to substitute our names into the chart above. We are all going to tell the story of our 3 years from different perspectives and with different details, but as a whole, the accounts will be the same.
Now, let’s take a specific example from the Bible that Muslims apologists have to used:
In Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10 we have 2 accounts of Jesus and the faith of the centurion. The short version is: the centurion came to ask Jesus to heal his servant, Jesus marvels at the faith of the centurion, and heals his servant. However, the dispute arrises as to whether like in Luke, Jesus went with the centurion, or like in Matthew it would seem to indicated that He did not go, but just declared the paralyzed servant healed.
Here are the keys:
1.Jesus never actually goes to the centurions house in both accounts but proclaims the paralyzed servant healed before ever getting there.
2.Can anyone say that my summary of the account is in error or contradictory to the one in Matthew and Luke? No, it is just summarized.
3.Same with Matthew. Matthew did not seem to consider it relevant for his purposes to communicate that specific of details. Matthew does not specifically say “Jesus didn’t go”.
4.Luke is a physician who also writes like a historian. It is no surprise he was more detailed in his account.
They both tell them same story from different perspectives. This is not a contradiction. When reading the Bible, it is ok to harmonize. We need to realize that yes, the Bible is the word of God, but it was inspired not dictated.
This highlights in essential difference between Muslim belief and Christian in regards to Holy Scriptures. To a Muslim, the Qur’an is the exact, verbatim word of God (in arabic), Muhammed just wrote it down. To the Christian, the Bible is also the word of God but He used men to write it. Men who wrote through the lens of their experiences; men who wrote through their personalities; men who wrote according to their gifts; and men who wrote according to how the Spirit lead.
All this to say, you can trust the Bible. There is no contradiction with having different witnesses tell the same story from different perspectives. Some may have more detail, some may have less but I say again, THAT IS OK! We do not have 4 different gospels as the Muslim may suggest, nor do we have contradictions like the secularist claims. There is one gospel: Humanity is dead in it’s sin, it needs a savior, Jesus is that loving savior, believe and have eternal life.