When I was in the seminary we studied scripture. I have also attended New Testament courses taught by a priest-friend of mine and I have often discussed scripture with another friend who is a deacon. I also continually read scripture and many commentaries on its various books. I recognize and accept it all as the inspired word of God. But through all of it I can’t get it out of my head that while it is indeed a record of God’s revelation to mankind, it is man’s recording of that revelation and I know what flawed instruments men are.
It was pointed out to me once while I was intensely studying the words You spoke in the gospels, that none of that, or only some of it, might be direct quotes because it was written down by the writers from memory or from the recounting of others long after the actual events. That being said, God had to know in spades that anything He wanted to communicate to humanity had, inevitably, to pass through the minds of men. All we can hope is that men, including ourselves, somehow get it right which, consequently, places great emphasis on our efforts to do so.
Maybe some of the details in scripture are not exact. Maybe the church we have made out of Your movement is not precisely what You were trying to convey. In any case, using what we have, what we have been given, Your grace and the help of Your Spirit, we try! We make the effort despite our own feelings and weaknesses, despite our doubts.
Man’s tendency is to embellish and adjust what is recounted to him. I think the fact that the synoptic versions are so similar bears witness to the authenticity of the recounting. What John says is appreciably the same from a different angle. Thus, even with my doubts about the exactness of men’s recounting of Your revelations, I feel confident that the message delivered by the gospels is, indeed, Your message.