Yes, that’s fair. As far as I can tell, @wetlandsguy, we differ on this b/c I am approaching the issue as an historian, not a biblical scholar. Certainly I lack some of the tools of the biblical scholar, but historians do similar things when we analyze texts written long before our own time. Yes, we hypothesize about which source(s) are the most reliable, and for various reasons, but in general we aren’t going to conclude that a source written 120 or 180 years after purported events is a more reliable account of what someone actually said, than an account written within a generation or two of that person.
This doesn’t mean that we just ignore authorial agendas; show me the historian who does this, and I’ll show you a bad historian. Nor does it mean that we simply accept at face value what the earliest sources say. But, it does mean that the best sources for what someone actually said were written (if not by that person herself) by people who knew that person well, or else by people writing about that person who were (in turn) relying on people who knew that person well, or … take it back further if you wish. You don’t just get to say today that an historical person did say this and did not say that, based just on one’s own biases and viewpoints and hypotheses today. Historical actors are complex; they said many things, sometimes contradictory things, and we don’t have the right as historians to insert ourselves into the picture to settle the matter arbitrarily, as if we were actually there ourselves. What we can do, is to find as many early sources as we can–or later sources that directly refer to alternative early sources, now lost–and construct our accounts of an event on that basis.