Have you ever wondered about those little details that vary in the telling of the four Gospels? Of course, each Gospel was written at a different time, for a different audience, but still, how is it that certain things are omitted, and other details are there but…well, different?
A recent phone conversation with my brother went something like this:
“Remember how, on July 4th, Judy would always say, ‘well, the summer’s practically shot.’” John said. Judy is our oldest sister, now deceased.
“What? Judy didn’t say that. It was Mamie (our great-grandmother, long deceased also).”
“No, Margie, I distinctly remember Judy saying that. Besides, that’s not how Mamie talked.”
“Well, Judy must have been paraphrasing Mamie, because I remember her saying – ‘July 4th already. The summer is practically over.’”
“But I can see Judy when she said it, she’s sitting on her towel at the high tide beach “
“Where was the high tide beach?”
“The one by Ames’ property.”
“That was the high tide beach? I just called it our beach.”
See how things can get skewed? John is 8 years my senior, so he would remember things I would not know, but, now that he is in his 70s, I have him doubting his memory of events. And neither Judy nor Mamie are here to verify the facts.
To get my siblings agreeing on the subject of my falling out of a moving vehicle when I was two, would have your head spinning – four individuals, four different takes on the subject – all hilarious, except for Michael’s version. He was five and obviously traumatized by the event. “It wasn’t funny,” is always his contribution to the story.
It’s no wonder we are sometimes confused by the variations in the Gospels – different people perceive things differently. But, though some of the details may be omitted or embellished, the core of the message, that kernel of truth – about Jesus, about his words and actions – is at the heart of the matter. And that is Good News indeed. Margery Frisch