- The books of the Christian Bible (more commonly known as the New Testament ) were not written in Jesus' lifetime, or in the order presented.
- In chronological order, the earliest writings were the seven letters attributed to Paul, all from the 50's CE. Paul never met Jesus. The first Gospel is Mark (not Matthew), written around 70. Revelation is not last, but almost in the middle, written in the 90s. Twelve documents follow Revelation, with II Peter the last, written as late as near the middle of the second century.
- Since Paul's letters were written first, it illustrates that there were vibrant Christian communities spread throughout the Roman Empire before there were written Gospels.
- The authors of the Gospels are unknown (with the possible of exception of Luke who may have actually written Luke and Acts). The authors of Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source. They not only copied, but added to Mark and often made modifications.
- The authors of the Gospels wrote with their own agendas in mind. The author of Matthew wanted to convince the Jews that Jesus was a new Moses, the Messiah for whom they had been waiting. To the author of Mark, Jesus was an authoritative leader, teacher, and healer. The author of Luke wrote about Jesus as a prophet of God who preached a social justice gospel. The author of John portrayed Jesus as a mystical divine being in an attempt to prove Jesus and God were one and the same.
Given all this, there is no certainty about what Jesus said or didn't say. The stories about him were undoubtedly embellished over the decades. And while the oral tradition is good for keeping myth alive, it is notoriously unreliable for transmission of facts. But just because something didn't happen doesn't mean it's not true. In other words, the message or teaching being conveyed still has value regardless of the literary method with which it was conveyed.
Metaphysical Interpretation takes it a step further. Each event and character represents a part of us and our spiritual journey. Do we not reject parts of ourselves and our history like the Canaanite woman was rejected? Do we not try to protect ourselves from imagined harm like the disciples attempted to protect Jesus? Do we not finally come to a place of healing and forgiveness with ourselves and our past when we live from our Christ Consciousness instead of our wounded self? These are universal truths we can embrace without becoming attached to proven historicity.
If you are interested in further knowledge around Jesus and what he may have actually said, take a look at the work of The Jesus Seminar.