As a trial lawyer, I actually find these apparent inconsistencies among the Four Gospels to be a good indicator that the accounts are reliable. Why?

If four witnesses to an event tell you the exact same story in all its details, you know they are collaborating to falsify their stories and are not trustworthy. People see different things. They stand in different places, some have a better view than others. Some are in a better position to hear what is going on than others. They remember different things. One may recall that the speaker was wearing a blue shirt while another just doesn’t recall.

Also, the details people tell about what they experienced varies greatly depending on what they see as important, their audience, how much time (or space to write) they have, etc. One may only mention the individual who is speaking, while another states that there were actually two men there. The two accounts don’t disagree, but one is providing more detail the other didn’t think was important. Remember what John said —

Jesus did many other things, but John only included the accounts he did in order to give them a basis to believe. At the end of his gospel, John states: “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if they were written one by one, I suppose not even the world itself could contain the books that would be written. John 21:25.

So these ‘inconsistencies’ are only apparent, not real. They can be explained when viewing the evidence from the practical standpoint of how people really testify.

So, the Gospels are not one account of the events but at least four accounts which agree in the main facts. The variation in the details actually bolsters their credibility since people view events from different vantage points and stress different aspects of the event. There was no collusion in developing the story.

Do you have questions about a particular detail or apparent inconsistency? Here are some good resources:
Gleason, Archer, The Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982)
Answers in Genesis
Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry
Dr. Norman Geisler

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s