Wednesday, April 25, 2007


It’s in the book pictured on pages 317-18:

“So far as popular tradition is concerned, the origin and birth of Jesus are well enough known. But in reality the Gospels, on which that tradition is based, are considerably more vague on the matter. 
Only two of the Gospels—Matthew and Luke—say anything at all about Jesus' origins and birth; and they are flagrantly at odds with each other. According to Matthew, for example, Jesus was an aristocrat, if not a rightful and legitimate king—descended from David via Solomon. According to Luke, on the other hand, Jesus' family, though descended from the house of David, was of somewhat less exalted stock; and it is on the basis of Mark's account that the legend of the "poor carpenter" came into being. The two genealogies, in short, are so strikingly discordant that they might well be referring to two quite different individuals.

“The discrepancies between the Gospels are not confined to the question of Jesus' ancestry and genealogy. According to Luke, 
Jesus, on his birth, was visited by shepherds. According to Matthew he was visited by kings. According to Luke, Jesus' family lived in Nazareth. From here they are said to have journeyed—for a census that history suggests never in fact occurred—to Bethlehem, where
Jesus was born in the poverty of a manger. But according to 
Matthew, Jesus' family had been fairly well-to-do residents of Bethlehem all along, and Jesus himself was born in a house. In Mathew's version Herod's persecution of the innocents prompts the family to flee into Egypt, and only on their return do they make their 
home in Nazareth.

“The information in each of these accounts is quite specific and—assuming the census did occur—perfectly plausible. And yet the 
information itself simply does not agree. This contradiction cannot be rationalized. There is no possible means whereby the two conflicting narratives can both be correct, and there is no means whereby they can be reconciled. Whether one cares to admit it or not, the fact must be recognized that one or both of the Gospels are wrong. In the face of so glaring and inevitable a conclusion, the Gospels cannot be regarded as unimpugnable. How can they be unimpugnable when they impugn each other?

“The more one studies the Gospels, the more the contradictions 
between them become apparent. Indeed, they do not even agree on the day of the Crucifixion. According to John's Gospel the Crucifixion occurred on the day before the Passover. According to the Gospels of Mark, Luke, and Matthew, it occurred on the day after. Nor are 
the Gospels in accord on the personality and character of Jesus. 
Each depicts a figure who is patently at odds with the figure depicted
 in the others—a meek, lamblike Savior in Luke, for example, a 
powerful and majestic sovereign in Matthew who comes "not to
bring peace but a sword." And there is further disagreement about
 Jesus' last words on the cross. In Matthew and Mark these words
 are, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" In Luke they 
are, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." And in John 
they are simply, "It is finished."

“Given these discrepancies, the Gospels can only be accepted as a
 highly questionable authority, and certainly not as definitive.”

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