My question would refer to the harmonization of theme and chronology.   I’ve seen that modern liberal scholarship takes aim at disproving the reliance of the gospels by picking these things apart. My teacher will make points about the same stories being at different times in different gospels with different details (albeit small details). He will also say that the themes of the gospels allow to the writers to add stories for effect (like the sinful woman in John) . I know that the gospels are Inspired by God and I trust them wholeheartedly but I tend to have questions that arise in my mind that play to my unbelief that I don’t want to dismiss.

Things like:
•Why the long discourse in John 14-16 that isn’t present in the Synoptics.
•Why isn’t the last supper during the Passover in John.

Those are just two examples in John.  I don’t want to dismiss what I feel because I know that doubting isn’t a bad thing if I am pursuing God about it and asking people that can help me.  Being a religion major I want to consider what I am taught with caution but use it to help me grow in my faith.  I will definitely get the book you referenced (Reasons for Belief, available at .


Like John said, if all the things Jesus said and did, the world would not contain all those books. Well…. that is a slight exaggeration, but John makes a good point. The fact is that John purposefully chose material not in the synoptics. Most scholars agree that he wrote at least ten years after the other gospels were composed, and perhaps as much as thirty years later. The reason John used Jn 14-16 is because it happened and it was important to John, both personally, and for the thematic purposes he was using it. John includes many more personal one-on-one interactions of Jesus than the synoptics. I like to imagine John asking himself what things in the life of Jesus are really important, but not found in Matthew, Mark or Luke. OK, I will include that!!! Obviously, Jesus had many of these interactions, and the fact that John emphasized these does not reflect in any way on whether they actually happened or not. I assume that they actually happened and that John chose to include them for his own reasons (under the inspiration of God, of course).

What are these scholars trying to prove by noticing that John included different materials? Let me state it plainly, the fact that John included material not in the synoptics and vice versa tells us nothing about whether these things actually happened. Nothing. It may tell us some about what Luke, John and Matthew were emphasizing. In fact, it will tell us quite a lot about their main themes and will help us to understand the gospels individually and Jesus as a whole. What the will not do is somehow undermine the reality of what they say happened.

Why did Jesus not include the Last Supper? Because it was already included three times and he was aware of it. Apparently, given that his gospel would be limited in length (it is almost exactly the length of a standard vellum scroll), he had to pick and choose and he, for whatever reason, chose to exclude this. We can speculate as to why, and this might be useful, but the main point is that this Last Supper certainly happened, but John simply chose not to include it.

Liberal scholars want to use simple, relatively neutral information to try to create doubt in you about the inspiration of the Bible. They are NOT serving God in this and you should hear all that they have to say with a massive grain of salt. Most of the info you have shared from your class is accurate. You will probably learn a lot of great info in this class, but you should arm yourself for the bogus way your instructor will try to use the information. You should train yourself to recognize their presuppositions (such as against the miraculous) and look behind their biases based on their presuppositions in order to glean the truth and sift out the chaff. This will not be easy, and feel free to ask me more questions.

John Oakes

Comments are closed.