Site Meter

Contact Us

For enquiries, questions, or anything else, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Newsletter Subscription

Missionary myths: are the Gospel eyewitness accounts? (1)



We shall be running a series that from time to time, will address and dispel some of the most common myths perpetuated by Christian apologists and missionaries when engaged in evangelizing.

In this article we shall deal with the myth of the Gospels being written by eyewitnesses, the claim is made as follows:

“The Gospels are 4 eyewitness accounts, 4 accounts written by 4 men who were witnesses to the events that took place in the life of Jesus. These 4 men decided to write 4 of their own accounts concerning the events that took place during the lifetime of Jesus, it’s basically like 4 people who witnessed a baseball game, and telling everybody about what happened during the game in their own unique way”

So let’s set the record straight, not a single one of the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses. Not a single Gospel we have was written in the lifetime of Jesus, the earliest known Gospel recounting the life of Jesus came 30-35 years after his ministry, this being the Gospel of Mark.

The last Gospel, the Gospel of John, wasn’t written until the end of the 1stcentury, or the start of the 2ndcentury according to which scholarly position you take. So therefore the Gospels were not like 4 eyewitnesses to a baseball game recording what happened. Put it this way, the first Gospel writer wrote about the baseball game 30-35 years after it happened.

More to this point, not only were the Gospels not written by eyewitnesses, they weren’t even written by people who knew Jesus, they aren’t even accounts that were dictated by the disciples of Jesus, or the disciples of Jesus’ disciples. Though some Christian tradition states that some of the disciples had a role in recounting the events we find in the Gospels, there is no evidence to substantiate this claim, as the Gospel writers never make such a claim in their accounts, for example the Gospel of Mark never writes that I wrote this Gospel based on the disciples recounting of what happened.

The Gospels were written decades after Jesus, by unknown authors, we don’t know whom the authors of the Gospels were, they are anonymous writers. Not only do we not know who they are, we don’t know who their sources were, there is no chain of transmission concerning where they got their stories from. It’s always very important to know the sources of where the information is coming from, a good example is journalism. Most of the information we get is from journalists, and journalists have sources, and it’s usually based on the sources as to whether the story is strong or weak. Now in the case of the Gospels, we don’t even know who the sources are, let alone who the writers are!

What we do know is that stories concerning Jesus were being passed around and circulated amongst the people, and that’s how the early Gospels were basically written, based on the stories they were hearing. But in specifics, we don’t know who was passing these stories, and we don’t know from whom the Gospel writers got their specific stories.

What we also find amongst the Gospels are stories that are being changed. For instance a story found in the earlier Gospel, the Gospel of Mark, is modified and changed in the Gospel of Matthew and Luke. One example is an incident that takes place in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus asks Peter to tell him who he thinks he is, Peter responds back by calling Jesus the Messiah (Mark 8:29-30). The same story is posted in Matthew, yet Peter mentions something else, not only is Jesus the Messiah, but the Son of the Living of God. So we can see how Matthew has modified and evolved the story for Jesus, he is now the Son of the Living God. (Matthew 16:13-17)

Another example is the baptism of Jesus with John the Baptist. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus comes to be baptized by John (Mark 1:9-13), yet in Matthew (Matthew 3:13-17), when Jesus comes to get baptized, John protests and says Jesus must baptize him. So Matthew has once again changed and modified the story to make Jesus look better, or to remove something that might have seemed embarrassing, such as how could John baptize Jesus? So he modifies it and puts in John’s protest.

You can even find modifications concerning the criminals beside Jesus on the cross, according to Mark (Mark 15:25-32and Matthew, none of the criminals believe in Jesus; according to Matthew both of them mock Jesus. Yet in Luke (Luke 23:32-43), one of the criminals mocks Jesus, while the other becomes a believer who will enter paradise with Jesus. So Luke has taken the two earlier stories, and has changed it.

What this shows is that the Gospel writers were not honest historians truthfully recounting what happened, rather they were actively changing the stories, and evolving the stories to portray Jesus in a better light, as well as to remove any possible embarrassing incidents.

These modifications show that the writers were theologically driven, and hence they are not simple historical accounts, as evangelicals would have us believe. This makes us ask the next logical question, what else did they decide to change and modify, or perhaps even leave out due to embarrassment?

In conclusion, the 4 Gospels are not 4 eyewitness accounts, they were written decades after Jesus, by people who did not see or know him, and by people who were theologically driven in writing their accounts, i.e. they were not actual historical accounts.

Who's Online

We have 44 guests and no members online

Visitors Counter

All days

Server Time: 2017-11-18 19:10:15