What did Jesus say?

“Then perhaps… it was not a dream…” Don Quixote de la Mancha whispered on his deathbed to Aldonza.

(kneeling beside Quixote again.)
You spoke of a dream. And about the Quest!


Yes, how you must fight and it doesn’t matter whether
you win or lose if only you follow the Quest!

The words. Tell me the words!

She does, and his life is renewed with energy and passion. Words make all the difference.

What did Christ say? How can we figure that out? What words did He use and what did He mean by them? It seems to me the fate of mankind rests on His words and what we do with them.

He said to a few guys back in the day, “Follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men.” They did and they changed the world in fundamental ways.

Or, did He not say those words? How can we know one way or another?

Not exactly. The Greek translates as “fishers of people.”

The words are printed in red? :grinning: The saying is included in Mark and Matthew so it is a good indication that it is original, IMHO.


Ehrman has much to say on this subject. “Misquoting Jesus” was quite the hit. Odd. Don’t we have to know what He said to be able to insist He was misquoted? Of course, Bart also said he couldn’t say for sure if the NT contains one single word Jesus spoke.

Bart claims irreconcilable differences among the gospel accounts.

For example, in Mark Jesus is silent. in Luke He has an intelligent conversation. “So in effect what people do is by combining these gospels in their head into one gospel, they, in effect, have written their own gospel, which is completely unlike any of the gospels of the New Testament.” BE

I’ll tell you what is scary. Ehrman is recognized as a “distinguished professor of religious studies”.

Jesus was not talking during the entire span of His passion. And, He was not silent during those series of events, either.

Ehrman says:

an example from John is that Jesus is hanging on the cross, and he cries out, I’m thirsty. And the author tells us that the reason Jesus said he was thirsty wasn’t so much because he was thirsty but because he wanted to fulfill the scripture because there’s a scripture, a Hebrew Bible passage, an Old Testament passage, where it talks about being thirsty.

He concludes:

so in John’s gospel in particular, Jesus’s death isn’t an agonizing moment for Jesus.

Bart, with all due respect and humility, crucifixion wasn’t a bowl of cherries. No one has to say that the one being crucified was in agony. That is a given. Little kids understand that.

It’s an opportunity for Jesus to fulfill scripture. And so you combine that with what’s going on with Mark and Luke, and then you throw in the material from Matthew, and what you end up with is this famous idea that Jesus had seven last dying words - the seven last words of the dying Jesus, which becomes important in churches today that celebrate these seven last words. But in fact, they’re not found in any gospel.

That is frightening. If your average bear were to take credit for those statements, no big deal. But, Ehrman is selling books like crazy as a big scholary biblical guru and influencing many to reject Christ.

Watch this: Jesus was thirsty and Jesus fulfilled OT prophecy! They are not mutually exclusive. You see how easily that irreconcilable difference was reconciled? Just like that.

To say we all approach a text with bias is a given. However in Dr. Erhman’s case, the bias is so big I am surprised he doesn’t trip over it on his way to the text.

The reality in the cold light of day is that we cannot know empirically whether Jesus said anything. We can move up in degrees of certainty, however. Multiple attributions is one example. Yet, good historianship, archeology, and hermeneutics can only take us so far.

When it comes to Jesus, one eventually comes to the edge of precipice and must decide for themselves ‘shall I trust that what is recorded about this is man or not?’

Empirical evidence may influence the answer, but so might other lines of evidence such as the internal consistency of the Gospels, intuition, personal experience, the Holy Spirit’s witness, and the conscience’s testimony, etc.

But ultimately, it is a faith question, first and foremost.

He addresses this in Chapter 3 but basically he shows the variations in the texts we have show scribes were making intentional changes. Once you show that how do you know, without having the originals, what exactly Jesus said?

1 Like

So what is Bart’s bias?

I don’t think that’s exactly his point. You can do this with many differences in the gospels like with the “last words of Jesus.” One can easily make up some way for them to coalesce into one cogent messege but that’s not what any of the gospels actually say.

Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Matthew and Mark say he had a loud cry and breathed his last but presumably there were no words in that “loud cry.” Matthew and Mark have basically identical statements as one would actually expect in a case like this with the last recorded words being:

About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

At this point, what does one do? You can make up excuses for why they are different or use logic to combine them together in some way. But none of those is necessarily what Jesus actually said and there’s no way of knowing when we have such discrependcies. So you are left with, when under the presumption that the Gospels are recording history in the modern sense, a puzzle. But since history was different then, I don’t particularly think any of these contradictions actually matter. I came across an essay on the topic here in this thread a few months back and found it helpful:

1 Like

Did you know that Nicholas Perrin wrote a book countering some of what is written in Misquoting Jesus? It’s called Lost in Transmission. You should consider looking it up, in case you were unaware of it.

Dan Wallace might be helpful as well. :slight_smile:

1 Like

Thanks. I don’t know Nick so it’s nice to hear of him.

It isn’t very difficult. Can you describe the back of your hand? If someone describes the palm side, they won’t match. Same hand? Or, is one of you not being truthful? Or thorough?

If you look closer, can you find a way to combine them, or to view them, that eliminates alleged discrepancies?

You can always come up with a way to combine so they aren’t contradictory. But we can’t ever truly know which combination actually happened because the text doesn’t tell us which I think is one of Ehrman’s points. But my takeaway is that such contradictions aren’t actually contradictions in a modern sense, not because there aren’t contradictory statements when read at face value, but because they weren’t written from a modern historical perspective.

1 Like

That is what the gospels say. No need to make up anything. Taken together they say these things. I bet many other things took place that never got recorded or they didn’t bother to include. We have the briefest descriptions of a man’s entire life.

Yes. We have unrealistic expectations when we treat the Bible like an AP newswire.

Even today, news reports can contradict each other quite a bit on the details of an event. The shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School is a good example. Some of the initial details proved to be incorrect, but nobody claimed that the shooting didn’t even occur (except for conspiracy theorists, of course).

The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.

5 The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is

“‘the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the cornerstone.’[a]

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”

We can get a pretty good idea what Jesus said. Look what his followers said. Look at the trouble they got into for proclaiming him and his resurrection, just after healing somebody. There’s a myth that purports the early followers couldn’t decide who Jesus was. If that is true, it sure didn’t last long with a bunch of them who were out running around grabbing every human being they could find to preach Christ is risen.

You know what is goofy? Those brothers and sisters described in ACTS were on fire and if you don’t know Him, if you’ve never known what it is like to have been touched and indwelt by God Almighty, I guess you can’t pick up on their excitement. They were gushing with His Presence in their lives. They had never known anything like what was happening inside of them. They didn’t know anyone who had undergone the birth from above–except each other. A whole new bright and beautiful world was living inside them–Jesus. GOD was inside them. They couldn’t contain themselves. Don’t you see? Can’t anyone see what was going on in them and for them?

Goodness gracious, it is hard for me to know what people are missing out on, when He is right here! Right Now! Waiting to answer your prayers to dine with him. To get to know him. What do you lose? Dear GOD!

How can lives be changed, radically, if He isn’t God? Over and over and over we hear/read the testimonies of people whom He touched.

1 Like

Addicts will testify that their lives were radically changed when they discovered Islam. Does that make it just as true?


Quote some. I’m always interested in learning about others who have been delivered from impossible circumstances.

Malcom X. Ever hear of him?

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.