Yesterday morning I jogged alone. Not having a conversation partner (yes, we talk while we jog), I listened instead to half of a lecture Jesus by N.T. Wright. He made a remarkable observation about the differences between the Gospel records of Jesus’ words–remarkable and so obvious that I wonder why hadn’t thought about it myself.
He said, in effect, that since Jesus was an itinerant teacher he would have probably had similar things to say in different places, much like Wright himself would give a similar lecture in different places. But when you teach a similar lesson repeatedly, you don’t always say the same things or say them in quite the same ways. Hence, a reasonable explanation for some of the differences between the gospels.
I suppose, too, you can add the filter/perspective of the various hearers as a factor in the differences as well. If you and I hear a lecture and then write a report on what was said, our reports won’t be identical. And that different witness sources would have heard the teachings in different times and places.
For some reason or other, I had never considered the possibility of Jesus teaching the same lesson over and over again in a variety of locations. My working assumption (albeit unconscious) was that, for instance, the material spoken at the so-called “Sermon on the Mount” was only taught once and in that location. But there really is no reason that I’m aware of to think that Jesus taught the “Sermon on the Mount” only on the mount and nowhere else.
N.T. Wright does it again!
In other news: my first critical book review was returned to me and I did very well in terms of my grade. Encouragement always comes at the right time, doesn’t it?