Alright, so I’ve got an interesting question here.
I watched a podcast by Trent Horn with NT scholar Mike Licona where they defend the alleged contradictions in the New Testament by saying that ancient biographers wrote in a different genre than we are used to nowadays. They say that many ancient biographers would take liberties in the details, chronology, time span etc. of a story or event if they wanted a certain aspect of it to be more clear or highlighted, but that didn’t mean that they were not communicating the truth of an event. I have no problems with this explanation; it makes sense to me.
However, in the same podcast Trent mentioned a 2nd century apocryphal gospel, the Gospel of the Ebionites, which attempted to resolve one of these alleged contradictions. At Jesus’ baptism, some of the gospels say that the Father said, “You are My beloved Son, with You I am well pleased,” while others recount that the Father said “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Well this apocryphal gospel attempted to resolve this by saying that the Father spoke TWICE, first to Jesus and then to the crowd. Trent’s point in talking about this was that we need to be careful in resolving these issues because you can do “violence to the text” if you do not understand the proper genre to understand the story and narrative differences between the gospels.
But this actually got me thinking more. Why would a 2nd century writer feel the need to resolve this “contradiction” in the gospel if it was widely understood how biographies were written at the time? Like, wouldn’t a 2nd century individual understand better than we did if this difference in the narrative was a real issue or not? If all the contradictions really aren’t a problem, as Horn and Licona assert, why does it seem like a contemporary of the time felt compelled to “fix it?”