If I had collected a lot of stories about a person and put them together into a “biography” I would at least make sure that all the stories were at least somewhat consistent. I don’t understand why the writers of the gospels didn’t make sure their final product made sense – they certainly didn’t seem to have any problems changing things to suit them in many cases. Did they just write down everything they heard without any regard to whether one story or dialog totally contradicted another in the same story? Did they not even care?
This is a great question, and I wish there were a simple (let alone great) answer to it. Let me make a few observations more or less off the cuff, without presuming to make anything like an authoritative pronouncement on the matter….
First, the question refers to internal discrepancies *within* a single author, not to discrepancies between authors. One of the most interesting features of the canonical Gospels’ accounts of Jesus is, of course, that they are at odds with one another in little details (was Jairus’s daughter dead *before* he came asking for Jesus’ help – as in Matthew — or did she die only *after* he came – as in Mark?) and in big aspects of their overall pictures (was Jesus a human made divine as, evidently, in Mark? or was he a divine being who became human as, demonstrably, in John? Big difference!).
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