Recently in the Biblical Literature Gospels class, I had the class watch a clip from the movie “The
Princess Bride.” It was the scene where Inigo Montoya helps Wesley up the cliff, then they
proceed to enter into an epic sword fight. When we finished watching it, the students wrote a
description of what they had just seen. It was interesting to hear them read what they had
written. The students had chosen a variety of details to describe what had happened. However,
just because one person focused on different details, it didn’t make that account false - just
different. When all of the descriptions were put together, we were given a clearer picture of
what actually happened.
We then related this activity to the writers of the four Gospels. We talked about how different
eyewitnesses will often use varying language to describe an event, view it from different
perspectives, and maybe even note different details of the same event - just like the students
had just done, and just like Matthew, Mark, Luke and John did.
If anything, the varied accounts we find in the Gospels are even more evidence that those
things actually happened. The Gospel writers' accounts were based on eyewitness testimonies.
They faced persecution for those testimonies (so they had no incentive to lie), and there were
also other people around when the things they wrote about happened who could have spoken
against what was written - but they didn’t.
As Christians, we know and trust that God’s word is true - “all Scripture is breathed out by God
(2 Timothy 3:16).” It’s interesting, though, to look at the outside evidence as well. Maybe take
some time this week to ask a student what they’ve learned at Concordia about the authority and
reliability of Scripture - you might be surprised at how much they know!