When thinking about the Bible, and the story of Jesus in the gospels particularly, some people will say that the version of events in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is just one version of the events. The reason why it’s the official version in the Bible is because it’s the version that most suited the early church. Usually, this view is given some credence by pointing to the novel, The Da Vinci Code. At this stage it’s worth noting that The Da Vinci Code is fiction.
Putting aside The Da Vinci Code for a moment, is it actually true that the version of events in the gospels suited the early church? It seems that it might be the other way around: the gospels say the wrong things if they were made up to promote a fake story about Jesus. For example:
- Why would they make up stuff about the crucifixion if it didn’t happen—crucifixion assumes Jesus was a criminal which is shameful, and it assumes that Jesus died in a culture in which it looked unimpressive and foolish for God to die?
- Why would they include the details of Jesus’ struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26) when it makes Jesus look less than heroic; or why would they include his struggle on the cross to stand firm in his devotion to God (Matthew 27) when it looks like he is failing God?
- Why make women the first eyewitness to the resurrection (Matthew 28) when in that culture & age a woman’s testimony was considered unreliable?
- Why continually present the apostles, the leaders of the early church, as a bunch of gutless chimps and faithless fools who were obsessed with arguments about who was the greatest?
It simply doesn’t hold true that the version of events depicted in the gospels suited the early church. If anything, the story in the gospels was an inconvenient truth for them.