Com­par­i­son of the Texts in the Syn­op­tic Gospels Regard­ing Jesus

Abdur Rafay Ahmad

In this arti­cle, I have com­pared the accounts of one event as described in the first three Syn­op­tic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke. The read­er should real­ize after com­par­i­son that the gospels were orig­i­nal­ly trans­mit­ted through oral tra­di­tion. In the process of writ­ing, the writ­ers of the gospels had changed the tra­di­tion accord­ing to their whims and fancies.

Com­par­ing The Texts

The fol­low­ing dis­cus­sion may prove that the authors of the gospels relied on oral tra­di­tion. This tra­di­tion, when it was writ­ten, was changed.

In the gospel of Mark, a man is report­ed to have asked Jesus,

Good Teacher, what must I do to inher­it eter­nal life?” 

Jesus (P) sim­ply replied,

Why do you call me good ? No one is good but God alone. You know the com­mand­ments : You shall not mur­der ; You shall not com­mit adul­tery ; You shall not steal ; You shall not bear false wit­ness ; You shall not defraud ; Hon­or your father and mother.’ ” 

This inci­dent is also report­ed in gospel of Matthew. Luke agrees with Mark, but in Matthew the con­ver­sa­tion is com­plete­ly changed. In Matthew, the man address­es Jesus (P) as teacher,” and instead of good teacher” is in Mark and Luke, in Matthew we see good deed.” In Matthew, the man is report­ed to have said :

Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eter­nal life?”

This changes the issue in Jesus’ reply from the good­ness of Jesus(P) to good­ness of deed :

Why do you ask me about what is good ? There is only one who is good. …” (Matthew 19:16 – 17)

Mark and Luke give descrip­tions which agree with the Islam­ic con­cept of God and Jesus, that God alone is good and Jesus was His mes­sen­ger. But, Matthew could not think of Jesus(P) call­ing God good,” and there­fore, he alters the ear­li­er tradition.

Imme­di­ate­ly, this also shows that Mark was using an ear­li­er tra­di­tion which did­n’t rec­og­nize Jesus as being Divine.

All the three Syn­op­tic gospels agree that Jesus (P) went to John to be bap­tized, so that Jesus’ sins would be for­giv­en. This is in agree­ment with what we have seen above : Jesus(P) con­sid­ered God alone to be good and did­n’t preach the Trinity.

Luke and Mark men­tions that Jesus (P) was bap­tized by John, but they did not men­tion any words between them. But to Matthew, this is incon­ceiv­able. Matthew could not even think of Jesus being bap­tized for the rea­son of his sins being for­giv­en. There­fore, he fab­ri­cates a con­ver­sa­tion between John and Jesus (P):

John would have pre­vent­ed [Jesus from being bap­tized], say­ing, I need to be bap­tized by you, and do you come to me?’ But Jesus answered him, Let it be so now, for it is prop­er for us in this way to ful­fill all right­eous­ness.’ Then [John] consented.”

In Mark, we are told that :

And they cru­ci­fied with him two ban­dits, one on his right and one on his left … . Those cru­ci­fied with him also taunt­ed him.” (Mark 15 : 2732)

This time Matthew agrees with Mark, both the ban­dits cru­ci­fied with Jesus” taunt­ed him. But Luke could not even think that his Sav­ior” was cru­ci­fied with­out any sav­ing act.” There­fore, he fab­ri­cates a conversation :

One of the crim­i­nals who were hanged there kept derid­ing him and say­ing, Are you not the Mes­si­ah ? Save your­self and us!’ But the oth­er rebuked him, say­ing, Do you not fear God… we are get­ting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done no wrong.’ Then he said, remem­ber me when you come into your king­dom. Tru­ly I tell you, today you will be with me in Par­adise’ ” (Luke 23:39 – 43)

Luke has changed the ban­dit who taunt­ed Jesus(P) as report­ed in Mark and Matthew into a good guy.” Fur­ther­more, this is def­i­nite­ly a fab­ri­ca­tion because it says Tru­ly I tell you, today you will be with me in Par­adise”. This means Jesus said that he would be in Par­adise today,” i.e. the day of his cru­ci­fix­ion. But, in the gospels we are also told that Jesus(P) did­n’t go to Par­adise when he was cru­ci­fied accord­ing to his own words. Jesus said : After three days I will rise again.” (Matthew 27:93)

Through the gospel of Mark, we got to know that he went to heav­en after the res­ur­rec­tion, after he was cru­ci­fied. (Mark 16:19)

This shows that Luke too thought like Matthew about Jesus(P). Both Matthew and Luke were cor­rupters of ear­li­er tra­di­tion. It was Mark who report­ed the ear­li­er tra­di­tion as it had reached him. And yes, an inter­est­ing ques­tion aris­es : If Jesus(P) did not go to heav­en on the day he was cru­ci­fied but he went to heav­en after his res­ur­rec­tion, does this mean that Jesus(P) was not telling the truth on the cross to the bandit ?

In Mark, the last words of Jesus (P) are : My God, my God, why have you for­sak­en me?” (Mark 15:34)

Matthew agrees with Mark. But once again, Luke could not even think of Jesus (P) say­ing such words. There­fore, he com­plete­ly changes Jesus’ last words, and made him say :

Father, into your hands I com­mend my spir­it.” (Luke 23:46)

All the three syn­op­tic gospels tell the sto­ry of Jesus(P) going to his own home­town and preach­ing in the syn­a­gogue there. The peo­ple reject him, to which Jesus(P) reacts by say­ing that no prophet is hon­ored or accept­ed except in his own hometown.

Mark says that :

And he could do no deed of pow­er [mir­a­cle] there, except that he laid his hand on a few sick peo­ple and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbe­lief” (Mark 6:5 – 6)

Mark is clear, Jesus(P) could not do a mir­a­cle alone. But now, let’s see how both Matthew and Luke do not accept this. They could not even think that Jesus, the son of God,” could not do any mir­a­cle. There­fore, Matthew changes could not” to :

And he did not do any deeds of pow­er there, because of their unbe­lief” (Matthew 13:58)

Please note, could not” has been changed to did not.” And Luke once again fab­ri­cates words and attrib­ut­es them to Jesus(P):

But the truth is, there were many wid­ows in Israel [dur­ing famine] in the time of Eli­jah ; yet Eli­jah was sent to none of them except to a wid­ow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were many lep­ers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them were cleansed except Namaan the Syr­i­an.” (Luke 4:25 – 27

Thus, both Matthew and Luke had clear­ly changed could not” to did not.”

Con­clu­sions

After the above dis­cus­sion, does it mean that Mark’s gospel is the most authen­tic ? Most assured­ly not, because if it was high­ly authen­tic, then Matthew and Luke would not have need­ed to change the ear­li­er tra­di­tion. These are exam­ples of the cor­rup­tion of Scrip­tures. The above dis­cus­sion is enough to prove that the gospels is clear­ly of doubt­ful ori­gin. Should we then place our very sal­va­tion” on these texts ?

And only God knows best.Endmark

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