Christ the Teacher and the Accuracy of the Gospels

Some people have trouble accepting the accuracy of the Gospels. Even if we accept that some of the New Testament was written just 20 to 30 years after the Resurrection, that’s still 20 or 30 years. That’s a lot of time. Dr. William Carroll put the dating of Mark in the 40s. Even so, that’s a whole decade later.

Do you remember a conversation you had 10 or 20 or 30 years ago? Would you remember it well enough to record it accurately today? Probably not.

That’s one argument leveled, at times, against the accuracy of the Gospels. Maybe they really were recorded by the named authors. Maybe Matthew and John really did meet Jesus. But why think they could remember what he said so long after?

My answer has always been that you’d remember if it was Jesus. He’s not the kind of man you forget. His actions–at least the ones recorded–were not generally everyday things, and when He did the everyday, He made it extraordinary. If you were there, you’d remember. Things like raising the dead and curing the blind have a way of sticking in your memory.

But what about the things Jesus’ said? Maybe they knew they were important, but even at the time, they didn’t fully understand them. How could they remember, accurately, what He said so many years later?

One answer to that complaint came to me while I was in my grandfather-in-law’s basement. Among his old files and memorabilia and Christmas decorations, there’s a desk with a line of books. There in the basement he has a shelf of textbooks and tools from nearly a century ago. Likewise, my father-in-law, in his basement, has a shelf of engineering and mathematics textbooks several decades old. And I still have, on my shelves, computer science, psychology, and English books. I still have my notes from most classes, and I have projects and tests from a few put away in folders.

If someone spoke decades ago, would I remember what they said accurately today? If I heard but didn’t totally understand at the time, would I have any chance of recalling them now? I would if that speaker was a teacher, and I was taking notes.

They called Jesus “Rabbi”, a teacher. The Bible tells us Jesus taught His disciples. They were in class, so to speak, and of course a good student takes notes, be they mental or written. They make sure they have exactly what the teacher said, even when they don’t understand, right away, what the teacher meant.

Copyright 2016, Joe Wetterling

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Joe Wetterling

Joe Wetterling

Joe Wetterling is a professional educator, homeschooling dad, and writer. He's appeared at national conferences, both secular and religious, speaking on education, technology, and philosophy. Joe writes online for New Evangelizers, as well as his own blogs. He's taught in the Holy Apostles MOOC program and currently teaches Natural Theology at the new Dominican Institute. He's a member of the Militia Immaculata and current President of the Catholic Writers Guild. Learn more about him at

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