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[because copyists] either neglect to check over what they have transcribed, or, in the process of checking, they make additions or deletions as they please." Despite all this, scholars are confident that the gospels do provide a good idea of the public career of Jesus, and that critical study can attempt to distinguish the ideas of Jesus from those of later authors and editors.The creation of a Christian canon was probably a response to career of the heretic Marcion (c.Evidence of this can be seen in the conflicts between them: to take a few examples, according to the synoptic gospels, Jesus' mission took one year, was spent primarily in Galilee, and climaxed with a single visit to Jerusalem at which he cleansed the Temple of the money-changers, while in John, Jerusalem was the focus of Jesus' mission, he visited it three times (making his mission last three years rather than one), and the cleansing of the Temple took place at the beginning rather than the end of the ministry.The first three gospels are called the "synoptics", from a Greek phrase meaning "seen together", because they put the events of Jesus' life in the same order and have many of the same stories and sayings, often in the same or very similar words.He states that he offers no sign as proof (Mark) or only the sign of Jonah (Matthew and Luke).Jesus preaches in Jerusalem, launching his ministry with the cleansing of the temple.
The gospel authors altered the traditions at their disposal (their sources) to serve their own ends — thus Matthew and Luke have frequently edited Mark, and the contradictions and discrepancies between John and the synoptics make it impossible to accept both as reliable In that long chain of transmission the texts have been corrupted, leading Origen to complain in the 3rd century that "the differences among manuscripts have become great, ...
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Jesus's career in the synoptics takes up a single year while in John it takes three, in John the cleansing of the Temple takes place at the beginning of his ministry while in the synoptics it happens at the end, and in the synoptics the Last Supper takes place as a Passover meal, while in John it happens on the day before Passover.
Mark, the first gospel, never calls Jesus "God" or claims that Jesus existed prior to his earthly life, never mentions a virgin birth (the author apparently believes that Jesus had a normal human parentage and birth), and makes no attempt to trace Jesus' ancestry back to King David or Adam.
The usual way of explaining this is that Mark was written first, and that the authors of Matthew and Luke, acting independently, used Mark plus a collection of sayings called the Q document and additional material unique to each called the M source (Matthew) and the L source (Luke).