Did the Gospels-Acts include self-embarrassing details in their reports?

  • Our question

    Throughout the Gospels and the book of Acts, are historians able to discern several reports, anecdotes, and stories which they can safely say would have embarrassed Christians? Do we find in the gospels remarks which essentially disparage persons or ideas which Christians—and the gospel authors specifically—were friendly towards? Are several Gospel reports self-damaging, essentially amounting to sheepish Christian confessions about how things historically occurred, despite their preference?

“Yes, after all…
  • Gospel-depictions of Jesus were embarrassing

    The Gospels often depict Jesus in ways early Christians found embarrassing.

    Consider these 22 examples:

    • Jesus’s being a woodworker was embarrassing.
    • Jesus baptism was embarrassing.
    • Jesus looked like a failed Messiah.
    • Jesus being crucified was embarrassing.
    • Mk 3:21- “Jesus’s own family thinks he’s crazy”.
    • Jn 10:10- “Jews call Jesus insane”.
    • Mk & Jn- “Jews think Jesus is working with Satan”.
    • In Mk 10 Jesus implies he isn’t good!?
    • Jesus praises eunics!?
    • Jesus speaks harshly!?
    • Jesus says “hate your parents!?
    • Jesus cursed a fig tree!?
    • Mk 2 - “Jesus hangs w/ sinners”.
    • Jesus is very close to women.
    • Jesus’ blind-man healing seemed subpar.
    • Mk 6- “Jesus can’t do miracles at home!”.
    • Gospels depict Jesus' apostles as shameful.
    • Jesus’s being crucified was embarrassing.
    • “Why have you forsaken me?”
    • Gospels have Jesus being ignorant.
    • Synoptics don’t give Jesus a kingly burial.
    • Gospels have Jesus killed outside Jerusalem.

    This is relevant because the Gospels recording embarrassing things about their founder and Lord would constitute the quintessential humiliation for them.

  • Gospel-depictions of 12 apostles were embarrassing

    The Gospels and Acts record overtly embarrassing features and behaviors of their Christian leaders.

    Consider these examples:

    • E.g. Gospels portray Peter embarrassingly.
    • Gospels portray apostles as stupid.
    • Gospels portray apostles as cowardly.
    • Gospels portray apostles as sacrilegious.
    • Gospels portray apostles as boastful.
    • Gospels portray apostles as betrayers of Jesus.

    Of course it is all relevant because...

    • Peter Williams: “For the core texts of Christianity to contain so much material critical of the first Christian leaders is unusual when considered against other religious or political movements.” [Can we trust the Gospels (Crossway, 2018), 130.]